Airborne Engineers Association

Thomas Brinkman

 

 

Thomas Brinkman by Ron Day

 

Tom died in September at the age of 75 years following a harrowing illness. He contracted cancer which, developed from facial melanoma, causing him considerable suffering. This he bore with great courage to the end; typical of the man.

Tom arrived in 9 Squadron while it was stationed in Aldershot between 1949 and 1951, prior to leaving for Cyprus in that year. He was taken on the strength of 1 Troop, then commanded by Captain Pat Munro ably assisted by Steve Crane, the Troop Sergeant.

By the time the Squadron arrived in Cyprus, Tom had become a member of my section. He was allocated the duty of section Bren gunner where he showed great aptitude for handling the weapon in addition to all the other well-learnt sapper skills. As the heaviest loaded section member he seemed to cope with the long route marches the squadron undertook as part of our fitness training at the time.

Tom was well liked and respected as a sapper in the troop. Always pleasant and very capable. Definitely the type it was a pleasure to soldier with. Utterly reliable in all that he was tasked with, and generally to be considered a stalwart member of the troop. I am not ware if he was ever offered promotion, but his attributes were such, that the troop "missed out" in not appointing him as an NCO.

Tom served as a regular on the then, 5 and 7-year engagement. Hence, on the Squadron's return to the UK in 1954 it was time for him to leave H.M. Forces. However, his time as a civilian was short lived. The Suez Emergency in 1956 saw Tom "sent for" from his Reserve Service. He became part of the seaborne force of Operation Musketeer, which of course, did not after all, see any action. Therefore, Tom, demobbed again, shortly commenced, sometime in 1957, a career in the Fire Service in the Bristol area, actually at Avonmouth. His career lasted until about 1987, by which time he had "clocked up" some 30 years pensionable service. Now, retiring at the age of 55 years, he and Yvonne were living in Portishead up to the time of his demise.

Tom served the AEA to great effect as Chairman of the South West Branch. In the year 2000 he was further voted in from "the floor" as Vice President of the Association at the Blackpool venue. A significant servant of the Association he drove for many miles to undertake tasks, seemingly often with little regard or thanks, except self-satisfaction. Always apparently available to help out and carry the standard at distances remote from home. I well recall him arriving at Brompton Barracks church for a standard dedication ceremony several years ago now. As usual, "right on the dot".

His funeral was held at the Bristol Crematorium on the 14th September 2007. The chapel was filled to overflowing for the occasion. An excellent "turn out" from association members, and also representatives from 9 Squadron, 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault), who had travelled from Woodbridge in Suffolk. As these persons were due to fly, with the Squadron to Kenya on the following day, their presence was most appreciated. Also in attendance were Fire Brigade persons, complete with fire appliance. An impressive gathering as a send off for dear Tom.

Sleep well old friend.

 

 

 

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