My father completed his flying training in the Union of South Africa in 1951. After that, he started conversion courses to qualify flying Spitfires (MK IX), Mustang (P51-D) and de Havilland Vampires (DH 100). After weapons training he completed his flight simulator training in Canada, to fly the F86 Sabre.
In 1952 he was accepted as volunteer to go and fight against the oppression of the South Korean people and to halt Communist expansion. Upon arrival in Korea, he joined 2 Sqn of the South African Air Force, the Flying Cheetahs, stationed at K55.
The photo is of my Dad’s assigned F86 Sabre which he named Tomtit. Numbering L 606. After several combat sorties over the next year, he was shot down on the 21 June 1953 and taken POW by the Chinese.
He was released soon after the signing of the Armistice and returned to South Africa. He decided to make the South African Air Force his career. He retired in 1986, holding the rank of Brigadier, currently referred to as Brigadier General. The American equivalent of a one start General.
After many years enjoying his pension, he passed away in April 2013. Surviving him are his 1st born son – George Thom. 2nd born son – Alan Thom and last born – Lynette Williams (nee Thom). He had three grand children; George Thom (3rd), Jean Williams and Stephanie Thom.
2Lt George Thom's: POW Story
You can read my Dad’s experience as POW in the book Titled, South Africa’s Flying Cheetahs in Korea, by Dermot Moore (Author), Peter Bagshawe (Author). ISBN-10 : 1874800154.
Korean War - Key Events
December 6, 1950
The U.S. Marines at the Chosin Reservoir begin their “attack in a different direction” as they engage in a fighting retreat to the port of Hŭngnam. Two entire Chinese armies have been tasked with the destruction of the 1st Marine Division. They succeed in driving the American force from North Korean territory but pay an enormous price: as many as 80,000 Chinese troops are killed or wounded, and the CPVF Ninth Army Group is rendered combat-ineffective for months. “Frozen Chosin” becomes one of the most-storied episodes in U.S. Marine Corps history.
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica