The House that Tom Built
Sergeant Thomas Hughes Royal Artillery
The Man Thomas (Tom) Hughes was born on 14th September 1915 in Manchester, the only son of Arthur, a bricklayer and Jane. He later attended Hawarden Grammar School near Chester later becoming a joiner. On 28th April 1939 aged 23 and five months before the outbreak of World War II, Tom enlisted into the Territorial Army Royal Artillery at Buckley with service number 1455342. He was described as 5’.11” tall, having a fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair and his medical category was A1. He completed his basic training including an anti gas course and was promoted to Lance Bombardier serving in the 279/71 Anti Tank Battery initially billeted Trearddur Hotel in Angelsey, transferring later to the 83rd Field Regiment. At the start of the war he spent time in Ireland patrolling the border between north and south because of the threat of German spies entering England via the country. He married Bessie Roberts at on 27th January 1942 in Hawarden, and their address was 32 Church Road, Buckley, Flintshire. They had two children Ruth Mary born on 27th March 1944 and Christopher Roger 4th May 1951. Tom saw service in the North West Europe Campaign in France and Germany during the latter part of the war and was in action at the Battle of the Bulge which ran from 16th December 1944 – 25 January 1945. This battle was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The surprise attack caught the Allied forces completely off guard and US forces bore the brunt of the attack incurring their highest casualties for any operation during the war. The battle also severely depleted Germany's armoured forces which Germany was largely unable to replace. Tom was very lucky throughout the war and avoided any injuries, although he recalled nearly dying when his unit contracted dysentery, and he lost many of his comrades. Tom survived on a diet of dried biscuits and water.
Following VE day on 8th May 1945 Tom became a member of the British Amy on the Rhine based at Krefeld in Germany and was promoted to Acting Sergeant, War Substantive Bombardier. Tom was transferred to the Z Class Reserve and demobilised on 13th February 1946, and awarded the 1939-45 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and Efficiency Medal ‘Territorial’ for his services. Following the war Tom joined the Royal Artillery Association and worked as a joiner in the post war boom in the house building industry. He bought two derelict houses locally and re-built them into one large property where he lived with his family until 1962. He later worked at John Summers Steel works at Shotton and finally the Reaseheath Agricultural College in Nantwich as a Lecturer / Repairer until his retirement in 1980 aged 65. He lived with Bessie at 2 Brick Bank off Crewe Road. Thomas, who was described as a perfectionist in everything he made, died, a Great Grandfather, aged 87 on 10th July 2003 at the Church House Nursing Home, Coole Lane in Austerson, Nantwich of Bronchopneumonia Ischaemic Heart Disease, and buried at Crewe Cemetery on 18th July 2003. Bessie lived another nine years and died on 16th January 2012.
The Story The Efficiency Medal awarded to Thomas Hughes was acquired direct from his son, Chris, on e-Bay on 29th November 2015. The medal was of interest as it came directly from the family with many photographs and documentation that helped build a detailed biography of Toms's life story. Chris was very helpful in providing much additional detail and photographs, including the ever essential portrait of 'the man' in uniform. He also allowed the MoD Medal Office to be contacted thus confirming which World War II medals Tom was entitled to. Pulling all the detail together allowed Tom's life story and medals to be preserved for posterity.
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as issued
- France & Germany Star: Unnamed as issued
- Defence Medal: Unnamed as issued.
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as issued.
- Efficiency Medal: 1455342 BDR. T.HUGHES. R.A.
Page last updated 20 Feb 16