FAMILY and friends paid tribute to a Milford man, who was held captive in Burma during the Second World War, after he died earlier this month.
Thomas Jospeh Sparrow died aged 89 in Stafford Hospital after battling with brain and lung cancer.
He was born at The Paddock, on Chelmarsh Road in Bridgenorth to parents Alfred and Elizabeth and was one of nine children.
Mr Sparrow initally attended Richard Clarke First School in Abbots Bromley before moving on to Colton School in Great Haywood after the family moved to Staffordshire.
Shortly after his 18th birthday in 1942, Mr Sparrow was called up to serve in the army joining the North Staffs Regiment, and following training was shipped out to Burma as part of the Chindits Special Forces unit.
The Chindits took part in two operations during the war, Operation Longcloth and Operation Thursday.
While fighting in the Burma jungle, Mr Sparrow was blinded by an explosion and in the ensuing chaos from that blast, captured along with the rest of his unit and taken prisoner by the Japanese.
Mr Sparrow, like many others, did not like to talk of his time in captivity but he did recall being helped out through the jungle and convalescing in a field hospital in Burma, and being visited at his bedside by forces sweetheart Vera Lynn.
Still suffering from blindness, Mr Sparrow was unable to see his visitor but was comforted by her words and presence.
After being invalided and formally discharged Mr Sparrow returned home where, having recovered his sight he began working as a lorry driver, eventually taking a job at H Nicholls and Son of Milford as a driver and mechanic, where he worked until he retired in 1989.
It was in Milford where Mr Sparrow eventually met Marjorie Douglas, who he married on November 6 1948 at St Thomas in Berkswich.
The couple, who lived at Ivy Cottage in Milford, would have five children, Pat, Graham, Christine (who sadly died from pneumonia aged 22 months), Gill and June moving to Brocton Road as their family grew.
The family enjoyed a happy life, frequenting the Barley Mow in Milford for family meals, and taking many trips out into the countryside with Mr Sparrow driving, or holidaying in a caravan by the sea in Rhyl, North Wales.
Tom loved to fix things and always performed his own repairs on his car until the ripe old age of 83, always offering a helping hand to anyone that needed it and often disappearing into his garage for hours on end rather than let a job defeat him.
In November 2002, after 54 years together, Marjorie died and the following year Mr Sparrow was diagnosed with bowel cancer which he was treated for but never took away his independence, continuing to do his own shopping, laundry, cooking and gardening (as well as that of a neighbours) and could often be seen riding his ‘Ferrari’, a sit-on-mower, he bought so he could continue to mow his own lawn.
After a fall in August of this year, Mr Sparrow was taken to Stafford Hospital where he was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer.
He spent the last seven weeks of his life at Sister Dora’s Nursing Home in Milford before dying in Stafford Hospital on October 5 to the3 great sadness of all who knew and loved him.