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Tommy Bage - Tommy's Story

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posted on 2024-06-05, 19:09 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Thomas (Tommy) Philip Fisher Bage and his twin brother Chris were both born on the 23rd July 1919 in South Shields. In 1940 Tommy joined the Highland Light Infantry and was posted to join the British Expeditionary Force in Rouen, France. But the British troops were badly equipped to deal with the German offensive, Tommy commented "This isn't war, it's cold-blooded murder." Unable to escape back to Dunkirk they went to Cherbourg where they had to destroy their remaining equipment and then board a ship back to Bournemouth.

In the middle of 1940 Tommy was sent with the Black Watch onboard the 'Athlone Castle' to the Middle East. Nearing the Spanish coast, they were attacked by German long-range bombers using bombs and machine guns. A few days out from Gibraltar the ship came under attack again, this time from submarine torpedoes. They disembarked on Gibraltar and within a few hours were under attack from Italian planes.

On leave back in South Shields in May 1943 he got married but after a few days he was ordered to return to the Middle East. Tommy delayed his return as he was on his honeymoon and was punished with 6 weeks' loss of pay and 6 months confined on other tasks.

In 1944 he was engaged in one of the worst battles in World War 2 the battle of Monte Cassino. Tommy could remember long before he reached this area, the smell and the silence. There was no sign of any natural life and everywhere the trees had been destroyed by the shelling. Tommy cut his arm on barbed wire and it had started to swell up. Eventually a surgeon looked at it. The surgeon told him that if he had been only a half-hour later in being attended too, he would have lost his arm.

Just past Rome, during an attack on an occupied village Tommy was blown off his feet by a shell. When he regained consciousness, he was suffering from concussion and had lost his hearing, fortunately after 4 weeks in hospital his hearing returned.

He advanced through Italy as far as San Marino then he was then posted to Patras in Greece in 1945. There he caught malaria and he was laid up for four weeks in hospital. In 1946 he was sent to Austria on occupation duties and in late 1946 he was demobbed.

After the war he worked at a timber yard and then at Harton Staithes, South Shields. Many years later he applied for his medals. In 2003 he recounted his wartime stories to his son John Bage who wrote them up. Tommy Bage died in 2004 aged 85, just a few months after his twin brother Chris.

More detailed account by his son John Bage attached.

History

Item list and details

1. Tommy Bage in uniform, c1945 2. Chris Bage, Tommy's twin brother 3. Peggy Bage, Tommy's wife 4. Tommy Bage on the left 5. Chris Bage article in Shields Daily Gazette 07 August 1944 6. Tommy Bage centre back row in Shields Daily Gazette 23 March 1945 7. Tommy Bage second from left, in Vienna clearing snow, 1946 8. Tommy Bage's Medals 9. Tommy Bage's cap badge 10. Tommy Bage's Documents 11. Tommy Bage's First Aid Brochure cover 12. Tommy Bage's First Aid Brochure 13. Tommy Bage's Black Watch Menu in Gibraltar, NYD 1942 14. Tommy Bage, front of boarding pass for ship Athlone Castle 15. Tommy Bage, back of boarding pass for ship Athlone Castle 16. Tommy Bage's Reservist Card page 1 17. Tommy Bage's Reservist Card page 2 18. Tommy Bage's Vienna Pass front 19. Tommy Bage's Vienna Pass inside 20. Tommy Bage's Inspection Card for Army Vehicles 21. Tommy Bage's leave refused 22. Tommy Bage's Army Vehicle Inspection Chart 23. Tommy Bage's Black Watch Pass cover 24. Tommy Bage's Black Watch Pass inside 25. Tommy Bage's Rail Movement Order 26. Tommy Bage's telegram from brother Chris 17 June 1943 27. Tommy Bage's Telegram from brother Chris 28. Tommy Bage's Telegram from brother Chris 29. Tommy Bage's Army patch and pouch

Person the story/items relate to

Tommy Bage

Person who shared the story/items

John Bage

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Father

Type of submission

Shared at Ocean Road Community Centre, Tyne and Wear on 18 November 2023. The event was organised by South Shields Local History Group.

Record ID

116215 | SSH043