Tom Hicks' story begins when he joins the LMS straight from school and follows his early life on the railways in the 1930s, through enlistment, training as a paratrooper, wartime service, imprisonment and his return to the LMS as an engine driver. Tom volunteered for war service in 1939 and was initially placed in the military railway of the Royal Engineers. In search of adventure, he successfully applied to join the newly formed 1st Parachute Squadron of the Royal Engineers. The intensity and rigours of parachute training are described in detail, as are the comradeship and humour that came to the fore as this small 150-man unit fought throughout the Second World War as part of the 1st Parachute Brigade. The excitement of the first parachute jumps are relived together with the parachute operations in North Africa, Sicily and the Battle of Arnhem. It was here after nine days' fighting with his mates falling around him that Tom was wounded and taken prisoner. Following the battle, Tom was transported in a cattle truck to Germany where he was used as forced labour in a lead mine until being liberated by the Americans in 1945.
With insightful commentary from Tom's son Norman, this is the story of an ordinary soldier, who was motivated by pride in his unit. It was this that would not let him leave the army when he was twice given the opportunity to return home to support the struggling railway system. Tom has recounted his experiences with a keen eye and the sense of humour that has always enabled him to triumph in the face of adversity.
Norman Hicks was born at Walton Hall near Wakefield Yorkshire in 1948. He left home in nearby Royston at the age of 16 to join the Royal Air Force as a boy apprentice in 1964. Qualifying as an operating Theatre Technician he served at home and abroad in Aden (South Arabia) 1967 and Cyprus 1970-73. Upon retirement, having an interest in both railways and the military he decided to write the biography of his father Tom. Tom Hicks was born in 1919 in Widnes Lancashire. With the exception of the war years he was a railwayman all his working life from "calling up lad" to engine driver. Tom still lives in Royston and at the age of 93 Tom is currently President of the Barnsley Branch of the Parachute Regimental Association and President of Notton Tennis Club.