Tommy Todd Revisited

One day someone will write a comment on this blog and say that he or she is related either to Captain Foster, Mo Morrison, Van Sainsbury, Ron Forsyth, Stew Tosh, Gil Gillis, Johnnie Johnson, Mac Reeves or Keith Lindsay…

Tony Cannell is the first person to reach us…

He knew Tommy Todd as well as his wife Val.

I knew Tom Todd very well and despite the fact he was older (I missed the war by two years) he was my best friend.

I took him flying occasionally in light planes in the early sixties. He loved that and would sometimes recall some of his wartime experiences while we tootled around the skies west of Ottawa, or later around Maple Airport north of Toronto.

One incident he recounted was of flying a rhubarb, busting trains etc. He and his friend Izzy Isbister were warned to stay away from the Rhone Valley because of the intense flak in the area. Unfortunately, in their haste to get away after intense activity and getting low on fuel, they mistook the Rhone for another river and flew through some heavy flak. Leaving the coast, Tom could see cannon shells hitting the sea just behind Izzy just ahead. Taking evasive action, they were lucky to get out of that little mess with, no doubt, a great sigh of relief !

Other little incidents were just as interesting too !

Tom was a very quiet,  unassuming and wonderful friend.

Tony Cannell

Want to read what I wrote on Tommy Todd?

Click here to read my article. 

In fact someone else wrote it, I just copied it.

This is an excerpt in case you forgot to read it the first time…

Soon after the Spitfires arrived one of the Canadian pilots, Flying Officer Thomas Todd visited Kingsden – my home, to ask my mother if she would accommodate his wife while he was stationed at the airfield. He had married a 19-year-old Welsh air controller called Val in Swansea. The answer must have been “yes” because they both moved in with us and remained until October 1943. Toddy flew a Spitfire that had the squadron letters AUT on the fuselage (another one I always checked for on their return). One particular morning Toddy had overslept and was woken by his batman calling him from under the bedroom window. Having no time to dress or eat breakfast, with only five minutes to spare until he was due at briefing, he pulled his uniform on over his pyjamas, and went off to cause havoc over France – if only the enemy had realised!

They would fly up to three missions a day, weather permitting. Toddy flew as wingman to Johnnie Johnson and his successor; this meant he had to protect the tail of the Wing Commander’s plane, with a great risk of being shot down. This must have helped Johnnie Johnson to become the Ace! There were very few accidents or losses while the Spitfires were here. Johnnie Johnson left here on September 9th for a course in preparation for D-Day. His place was taken by Wing Commander Hugh Constant-Godefroy until October 14th 1943, when with much regret the squadron left for a permanent base for winter at Kenley. Val returned to Wales to await the birth of their baby, and later sailed to Canada to stay with Toddy’s family. During his stay with us I had taken photographs of Toddy and Val, and my mother had taken one of me with them. We each treasured these photos for 47 years until we met again. In 1990 they came over from Canada to visit Val’s family in Wales, while over in the U.K, they came to visit us and take part in the service held in September at the memorial in Bedlam Lane for Battle of Britain Sunday. There they were joined by the next generation of pilots of the same wing. The young pilots had flown over from Germany for the ceremony (and did so for a few years afterwards). We shall never forget the sight of these youngsters cornering Toddy at Elvey Farm, where we had gone for tea. They were so interested in his Spitfire flying experiences. We have remained close to Val and Toddy and have visited them three times at their home to the north of Toronto. Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted. He records his dreadful experiences in the hands of the retreating German soldiers and the Hitler Youth for his grandsons. They can be read in the blue covered book.

F/L Todd Shot Down by Flak North of Emmerich

Toddy was shot down 6 weeks before the end of the war and was taken prisoner. He should not have been flying that day, but had offered to take the place of a young pilot who was exhausted.

I told Greg I was going to write about Tommy Todd once again so he revisited his grandpa’s photo album again and found this…