100 year old WWII veteran Tommy Parkinson from Gospel Oak died on 2 June 2023.
WWII Veteran Tommy Parkinson was born on 6 March 1923 and celebrated his 100th birthday this year.
Tommy volunteered for Air Crew when he was 17. Having passed his health and aptitude tests but failing his maths, he joined the Rifle Brigade aged 19 and became a Despatch Rider on the front line.
He spent six months in Africa in 1943 before moving on to Italy.
Tommy was in Italy from 1943 fighting from the top to the bottom of the country and was at both Anzio and Monte Cassino. Following his time in Italy Tommy was always known as ‘Anzio Tom’. On VE day he spent the day riding around on his despatch bike telling everyone that that ‘La guerra è finite’.
One of Tommy’s great loves was singing and on the Taxi Charity Patron, Vera Lynn’s 90th birthday party at the Imperial War Museum he sang ‘We’ll Meet Again’ to her.
In 2017 Tommy wrote his life story which can be read here www.italystarassociation.org.uk/history/tom-parkinson Describing his arrival in Italy, Tommy said, ‘Our first sight of Italy and it looks like England with the rain and the civilians dressed rather like we dress back home – after six months in North Africa it’s such a different scene.’ And of his journey to Anzio he said, ‘We are on the move again – this time to a place called Anzio, a beachhead south of Rome where there is heavy fighting going on and he (Major) warns us we will be sitting on a “powder keg” with the hundreds of tons of ammunitions the unit will be dealing with. Sitting on a Volcano he says. Then to our surprise he says if any man thinks he can’t deal with this move he will try to get replacements so step forward now. Nobody moved. “Right” says Major Taylor, “we pack up tomorrow and we will be on our way.”’
Dick Goodwin, Honorary Secretary, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said, “Tommy was an important part of our veterans family. Over the years we got to know him really well and he was loved by us all. As a Despatch Rider in the Italian Campaign his stories were legendary and always told with a smile on his face. Every month we post a greeting card to our veterans and it was lovely to hear from Tommy’s son-in-law Tony, that Tommy had saved all the cards we had ever sent him.”
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers to veterans or to donate visit www.taxicharity.org
Notes to Editors
Tommy’s story in his words – www.italystarassociation.org.uk/history/tom-parkinson
CBC interview with Tommy where he sings ‘We’ll Meet Again’www.taxicharity.org/post/wwii-veteran-tommy-parkinson-interviewed-by-canadian-news-channel-cbc-news
About the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans since 1948. It is the only Forces charity that focuses on providing fun and entertainment and arranges free trips (for veterans from all conflicts) to the Netherlands and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or social events across the UK.
2023 is the charity’s 75th anniversary, a remarkable milestone for a small, niche charity peopled by enthusiastic volunteers.
The charity received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2021, an award approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the equivalent of the MBE for charities.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on donations, grants and sponsorship and launched a ‘75 for 75’ fundraising campaign to raise £75,000 in its anniversary year.