|Birth: ||Jun. 20, 1914|
|Death: ||Oct. 21, 1981|
My Uncle Tom was my Mum's baby brother, and they were very close. She had to look after him a lot due to Gran's ill health, and they were inseparable.
He was a very gentle and caring man, with much compassion and humanity and my favourite Uncle.
They had a happy childhood, times were hard, but families close knit.
He and my Aunt Gladys were married and had three daughters, and three sons, but sadly lost one little boy in early childhood.
When World War II broke out, Uncle Tom joined the RAF, and was subsequently sent to the Far East to fight.
He was on Java when the Japanese invaded, and he and his companions were captured by them and interned.
Thus started three and a half years of Hell for them.
It was a year before his family had news of him, and they began to fear that he was lost to them for ever. My Mum used to tell them that she knew he would come home again. That bond between them was very strong, and she used to dream about him, and always she saw him thin, and sick, and especially that his eyes and feet were affected.
When the war was over and he was released, he and his companions were kept in the RAF hospital in order to build them up because they were so emaciated and ill.
Uncle Tom finally came home. It was a very joyous occasion, but the time spent in those camps had taken it toll. The privations he had endured were awful to see.
He had been starved and tortured, and had suffered from Malaria, Dysentary, Beri Beri, and leg ulcers. Because of malnutrition his eyesight and hearing were affected, and never again could he see or hear properly. He suffered severe pains in his head and legs, and his poor body never really recovered. Apart from the physical trauma, he had been emotionally and mentally scarred, and suffered flashbacks and would often wake at night sweating and shaking, holding his hand over his wife's mouth to keep her quiet so the guards would not hear. He thought he was back in that awful place again.
He gradually recovered enough to work, but never full time, but his employers were very understanding. He could see things close to, but could not cope alone in the street, and his daughter Judy would meet him from work and bring him home It was heartbreaking to see him so thin, and unable to walk very far.
Despite all this, he had no hatred in his heart for his captors, he forgave them, saying some of the guards were OK and would try to give them a cigarette or a bit extra food, but if caught, they would be beaten by their Officer too. He said it had happened and you could not change that. The prisoners were closer than brothers, they were united in suffering.
Uncle Tom loved to play darts, and he was a wonderful player, even with his reduced sight he could play because the board was within his range. His friends would fetch him from home and bring him back. He was the Captain and they won many a Trophy. He would arrange charity matches, and raised money for Boys clubs and other needy causes.
Everyone admired him greatly and he was a wonderful loving husband, father and grandfather. He and Mum became closer than ever. We only lived across the road from them.
He developed gangrene of the bowel, and had to be operated on, and it spread to his leg and he had to have it amputated. Throughout, he remained cheerful and was comforting towards his family. He then developed cancer of the lungs and was in such pain. When morphine was administered it induced halucinations and he thought he was back in the camp, and that his family were the Japanese guards. This was the final insult to him, he could not even pass away in peace. What he went through in his life, can only be imagined.
After his death, the Authorities took his war pension away from his widow. He had had to attend Tribunals regularly during his life to receive this, and for this to happen was a real blow. His family headed by his daughter Judy fought for two years to get it reinstated and finally won. His wife and family had their share of trauma over the years watching him suffer.
I wanted to make this tribute to my Uncle Tom because he was a wonderful gentle man, who faced adversity and dreadful privations and survived against all odds. He and others like him need to be remembered and honoured.
Men like him are rare, and his memory is forever treasured in the heart of his family.
God grant Rest and Eternal Peace to my Mum's baby brother
He was cremated at Milton Crematorium. Northampton.
Thomas Rideout (1872 - 1947)
Eunice Birdie Underwood Rideout (1879 - 1961)
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Created by: Susan Edwards
Record added: Jan 22, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10356649