Service Number: NZ413126 & 133772
RNZAF Trade: Pilot
Date of Enlistment: 25th of May 1941
Date of Demob: 7th of February 1946
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: hours
Operational Sorties: Ops
Date of Birth: 10th of September 1921, at Otorohanga
Personal Details: Tom was a farmer in the Cambridge district before joining the RNZAF. He was married to Nancy, and had children Karla, Tom and David, and step-children Paul, Jan and Robyn.
Service Details: Tom trained in New Zealand and gained his wings, before spending his final leave at home in Cambridge before he embarked for the UK. The following is extracted from the New Zealand Observer magazine dated the 28th of January 1942, under the Waikato Whispers column:
"The patriotic dance held in the Cambridge Town Hall, which was a very bright affair, was arranged by the Patriotic Committee. The idea was to swell the funds for soldier's parcels.
A farewell presentation was also made to Sergeant-Pilot T. Ross. Mrs R. Newcombe (wife of the President of the Returned Soldiers' Association) made this presentation, of an engraved wallet.
The members of the Patriotic Committee did much to make this function a success. Very lovely floral decorations were in profusion on the supper-tables. The hall was gay with the flags of the Allies. Some of the members of the Committee and dancers included: Mrs G.G.L. Taylor, Mrs A.J. Law, Mrs Norman Macky, Mrs Cliff Haworth, Mrs A.H. Nicholl, Mrs Mervyn Wells, Mrs W.F. Rush, Phyllis Vosper, Pam Rishworth, Betty Ross, Gwen Speight and Pat James."
Upon arrival in Britain, Tom coverted to the Hawker Hurricane fighter at No. 55 Operational Training Unit, in Scotland. Once trained on this fighter he was posted to the Middle East. He arrived at Lagos, Nigeria, where he was issued a newly assembled Hurricane that he proceeded to ferry across Africa to Cairo.
Tom was then posted to No. 73 Squadron, flying night fighter Hurricanes with them in the desert for six months. He was then transferred to No. 601 Squadron, flying Spitfires in Sicily. The Official History book, New Zealanders With the Royal Air Force, recorded this:
"Encounters with enemy fighters were rare but early in December
Flight Sergeant Ross, who flew a Spitfire with No. 601 Squadron, had
an eventful sortie. On patrol over the Pescara area his squadron sighted
six Messerschmitts, which at once turned back north.
During the pursuit, Ross was able to catch up with one of them and shoot it down,
but while he was returning his long-range petrol tank was hit by flak.
It burst into flames which soon enveloped the Spitfire. Ross baled out
and landed safely, only to find himself behind the enemy lines. Undaunted, however, he set off across country and, after a long and difficult trek, reached his squadron."
The above-described event took place on the 5th of December 1943, and he landed south of Chieti, Italy.
He was rested for a short period, becoming an instructor at No. 73 Operational Training Unit, and then rejoined No. 601 Squadron, and he stayed with them till the end of the war.
Tom received the Distinguished Flying Cross on the 17th of August 1945, whilst flying with No. 601 Squadron, RAF. The citation read:
"Flying Officer Ross is now on his second tour of operational duty. He has personally destroyed 38 enemy transport vehicles and damaged 30 others.Flying Officer Ross has proved to be an outstanding pilot who has at all times shown skill and determination."
Colin Hanson's book "By Such Deeds" records: "When strongly recommending the above award the Gp Capt Commanding 244 Wing noted - "Fg Off Ross is one of the most aggressive F/B pilots I have ever known. He has invariably led formations against the enemy with the utmost ferocity and skill, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, setting a magnificent example."
Tom was one of the 1476 RNZAF personnel who returned to New Zealand from Britain aboard the troopship Andes, docking at the Port of Lyttleton, Christchurch, on Wednesday the 24th of October 1945
Died: 7th of July 2009, at Selwyn Park Village, Whangarei, and was privately cremated
Connection with Cambridge: Tom lived in Cambridge for an extended period before the war