The fall of France to the Nazi Blitzkrieg heralded some of the darkest hours of the Second World War. The lights had gone out and Europe was occupied.
The heroics of the RAF in 1940 may have stemmed the tide, but Britain was isolated, vulnerable and on the defensive. Now Africa presented the only glimmer of hope – a chance for friends and allies to regroup under the desert sun and keep the fight alive.
But the troops in Africa lacked vital air support. This was problematic. It was impossible to fly en-masse over Nazi territory and allied shipping in the Mediterranean was beleaguered by the U-Boat menace. A new, secret supply route of men and machines was desperately needed.
In 1939, like hundreds of thousands of men across Britain and her Commonwealth, Tom answered the call and joined up.