Tommy Broom was born in Portishead, Somerset, in 1914. After leaving school and working in a garage, he joined the RAF in 1932, training as a navigator. He served in the Middle East, initially in Sudan, and in 1937 was sent to Palestine to join No 6 Squadron. With the threat of war in Europe, however, there was an urgent need for more air observers; Broom volunteered and returned to Britain for training. In February 1939 he joined No 105 Squadron at Harwell, which was equipped with single-engined Fairey Battle light bomber, an aircraft already obsolete before the war began.
After the German advance into the Low Countries on May 10 1940, the Fairey Battle squadrons were thrown against Panzers and attacked the crucial bridges across the main rivers, suffering terrible losses. After the fall of France, Broom and some of his comrades managed to reach Cherbourg to board a ship for England. No 105 Squadron was re-equipped with the Blenheim, and during the Battle of Britain Broom attacked the German barges assembling at the Channel ports in preparation for an invasion of England.
During a raid on Cologne in November 1940 his aircraft was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire, but the crew managed to struggle back to England where they were forced to bail out as they ran out of fuel. For the next 12 months Broom served as an instructor.
He returned to his squadron in January 1942, just as the Mosquito entered service, and on August 25 was sent to attack a power station near Cologne. As the aircraft flew at treetop height across Belgium, they struck a electricity pylon and the aircraft ploughed into pine trees. Both men survived the crash, and were picked up by members of the Belgian Resistance.
They were escorted to St Jean de Luz by the Belgian-run "Comet" escape line. There were a couple of close shaves. On one occasion a Gestapo officer came into the carriage to check his papers. He didn't speak a word of German or French, so when the German said something to Broom, he just handed him his ID and railway ticket.
When the German said something else he didn't know what to do, so he just grunted. His response was sufficient and he moved on.
At one point they were fired upon by German patrols, but they managed to get away and Broom crossed the Pyrenees with the aid of a Spanish Basque guide on September 8. In accordance with the policy at the time, he was taken off operations and became an instructor before teaming up with Ivor Broom a year later.
After leaving the RAF, Broom worked for the Control Commission in Germany to "help rebuild the country I had spent years trying to destroy". Unable to speak the language, he was allocated an interpreter, a young German war widow. In July 1948 they married and returned to Portishead the following year.
Broom worked in the accounts department of Esso Petroleum for many years. Apart from the war years, he spent all his life in Portishead.
A biography," Squadron Leader Tommy Broom DFC: The Legendary Pathfinder Mosquito Navigator", by Tom Parry Evans, was published in 2007.
Tommy Broom died on May 18. His wife, Annemarie, died in 1963, and he is survived by their daughter and a stepdaughter.
19 december 1942: Pilot Officer (probation, emergency)
19 juni 1943: Flying Officer (probation, emergency)
19 december 1944: Flight Lieutenenant (war sub)
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