Aeronautical Instruments & Tools
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Wing Commander J.A.Thomson Office Name Board
This is a rather special item from my own collection that I am currently thinning out a little. It was purchased from a dealer chum who knows of my personal interest in RAF collectables. Like with so much kit we see its provenance has been lost down the years but unlike some less scrupulous dealers (and particularly some E bay sellers who many of us in the community will know of) we prefer not to create a history when it is not known. That being said with this Officers senior rank, initials and unusual spelling of his surname, as well as his area of employment within the RAF, we had a lot to go on in terms of clues to aid our research. It now looks as though we hit the jackpot with an item with more than probable Battle of Britain associations and a distinguished member of the elusive'Few'!
Our detective work led us to James Anderson Thomson was born on 18th January 1916 and joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training on 25th November 1935. On completion was posted to 56 Squadron at North Weald but subsequently joined 64 Squadron at Church Fenton, with a further transfer to 73 Squadron at Digby and then on again to 245 at Leconfield, where he was posted in October 1939. He saw action over Dunkirk in May 1940 damaging a DO 17 and Bf 109. Thomson was then transferred to 302 City of Pozna Polish Fighter Squadron on Hurricanes as 'A' Flight Commander. He was sent to RAF Duxford with a 302 detachment from 18th to 25th September 1940 to operate with Bader's 'Big Wing'. On 29th October Thomson collided with F/Lt. JT Czerny during a routine patrol over Brooklands. He bailed out, slightly injured. His Hurricane, P3085, crashed at Penny-Pot Hill, Chobham. He was posted away from 302 on 28th December 1940.
In 1941 he took command of 258 Sqd and served with them in the Middle East. It is clear as well as being one of the 'Few' Thomson had what could be termed 'a good war'. With victory in 1945 James Anderson Thomson decided to stay on in the RAF, finally retiring on 18th December 1957, with 22 years' service under his belt, as a Squadron Leader but retaining the rank of Wing Commander. So in summary our research now indicates the correct Rank, initials and surname to form a perfect fit with our name board but the final confirmation would be to match his role in the RAF in those post war years to find out if he 'flew a desk'. Further online research via the London Gazette confirmed in October 1948 Thomson was retained in the RAF 'General Duties Branch'. So it seems fair to surmise 'The General Duties Branch' could well encompass The 'Admin/Plans ' department detailed on our sign board so the final bit of the jigsaw has slotted into place!
The sign measures 20" x 8.25" (51 cm x 21 cm) and is made from pine and a black painted frame. The painted name detail shows exactly the age wear as you would expect for an item that is now about 70 years old. The reverse shows similar and this board carries exactly the patina you would hope for and we are more than happy to guarantee this is a period piece. The back also features two metal surrounded hanging slot so looks like the board was removeable for periods when Thomson was away from his office.
The Wing Commander got his final 'posting' on 30th October 2001 and is buried in St. Mary the Virgin churchyard, Ewelme, Oxfordshire. A full summary of Wing Commander J.A.Thomson's career complete with picture is detailed in Kenneth Wynn's excellent Men of the Battle of Britain.