Halifax 57 Rescue (Canada)
Tom Withers - American Patriot - Canadian Warrior
Here are the special passages of letters to home and family from an American in the RCAF, Flight Sergeant Tom Withers, Air Gunner of RCAF Halifax of 405 Squadron. He was killed in action on July 27, 1942.
His little sister, Flora Withers Ballard, of Wintergreen, Virginia has kept these letters all these years. She has heard of our historic quest to find RCAF Halifax LW170 and bring her home. Flora has joined 57 Rescue (Canada) to support that mission and has generously shared these family treasures to pass on the message that these young airmen must never be forgotten. The freedoms and peace we have today comes from their sacrifice and was dearly bought.
As a tribute to those Americans who fought for Canada and world freedom we wish to share these moving passages written by Tom Withers some 62 years ago.
In the USA it will soon be Memorial Day and this Canadian outfit honors our American brothers and sisters who have fought and died for our countries.
We Will Remember Them.
Flight Sergeant Thomas Austin Withers Jr.
RCAF Halifax - Air Gunner
KIA July 27, 1942
Home town - Roseland, Virginia, USA
Passages from Letters to Home:
To his Mother and Father on Jan 10,1941 from Toronto "... to say goodbye to you was not an easy thing for me to do. However, I believe you both will understand that I could not well do anything else since everything that I, as well as both of you, believe in is now in a very precarious position. My training, inclinations, and whatever abilities I may have seem best suited for the choice that I have made. And there is no question of serving Canada to the neglect of my mother country. He who serves Great Britain or any of its Dominions also serves the U.S. and vice versa. Our differences are in arbitrary boundary lines only."... Love Tom
To his Mother on Nov 20, 1941 from England " I hope you do not worry about me and Henry too much. We are doing the only possible thing that we can do - the thing we should do. We are both, I believe, satisfied. You and Dad have made our lives full ones by the very freedom that we have been taught to use in enjoying life. Now we have a more serious job to do, that of preserving this freedom. Neither of us will have any regrets. ...It is better to remember the better, the finer things, or else our own punitive efforts now will be made futile." Love to all of you, Tom
To his Mother just after Pearl Harbour on Dec 16, 1941 from England "...Keep it up Mom. We have to be brave and a little more so than the enemy. That is the way we will eventually win. It is more difficult in your job and Dad's because you cannot be carried along by the excitement of contact. You can only wait. But in this determination to wait, to be cheerful and to carry along as usual lies the secret of the existence of organized decency. The British people waited and fought back while their homes and their families were destroyed. They waited determinedly, cheerfully. To them as much as to the sailors, the soldiers, and airmen we owe the existence now of the still fought-for ideal of freedom and decency. You and Dad will stay with us I know. To do this you must, as much as possible, carry along in the normal way. ..." My love to all of you, Tom
To his mother on Feb 18, 1942 from England " Often we think the world is an abnormally stupid and selfish place. But because we know people in the world that have courage, devotion, and a tenacious love for simple fair play and honesty we are willing to work and fight for them and for ourselves as long as we physically can.
While we are trying to improve, however, we can remember that in very few undertakings national or personal has success appeared luminously at the beginning. More often success hasn't so much as seemed probable. We still have the men and the material. We have too the brains and the courage. We have to use them. Love to all of you, Tom"
To his Uncle, Philip "Light" Scruggs on May 12, 1942 from England " Last week an order came out , that we could apply for transfer to the U.S. forces. But I shall not do so. There are reasons, good ones, for changing and for not changing. My real reason for remaining with the Canadians is that I started with them. They gave me my first chance to fight hence I will stay. " Tom
To his Mother on July 23, 1942 from England "... Now I'll leave this and go to bed. We don't get up until eight. It took a war to get me some sleep. Someone is always laughing at me for sleeping so much; they don't know what a luxury it is. All of the best to the best, " Tom
On the night of July 27, 1942 RCAF Halifax W1230 of 405 Squadron was shot down over Hamburg, Germany. Air Gunner Tom Withers was one of the 7 aircrew on board. There was only one survivor, Sergeant R.A. Myers, who was captured and became Prisoner of War. Tom Withers and his crew are buried together in the Allied Kiel War Cemetery, Germany
On August 20, 2005, as part of the Memorial Dedication Ceremonies in Nanton, Alberta, Canada's Bomber Command Memorial was unveiled. It is situated on the lawn of the Nanton Lancaster Air Museum. This memorial is a wall with the names of the brave young air crew who gave their lives for the cause of freedom during the Second World War. Tom Withers is honored on this memorial Wall.