independent

Friday 24 October 2014

Tony's travels

LYNDA CONNOLLY

Published 08/01/2013 | 11:39

THE LIFE of a Carlow man who travelled the world and witnessed many interesting things during historical times was recalled by his family this week.

Tony Timmons from Bestfield served in the RAF Military Police 1946 to 1948 and was based in Japan. He passed away a few years ago but left behind an amazing collection of photographs, stories and articles covering the period when he served both in India and Japan at the tail end of WW2.

With his little brownie camera he photographed some wonderful images in India, Japan and the Far East in general. He also gathered up postcards and other articles relating to his travels and experiences. He was born in 1922 in Carlow to Jack and Brigid Timmons. Jack was a member of the Free State army during the Civil war 1922–23 and a ploughman for Oak Park while Jack's wife Brigid was a former cook who had worked for many years at Carnew Castle.

Tony was the oldest in a family of six, he was the only son and his five sisters, all of whom would work at some stage in England over the years. His sister Sadie remained in England for the rest of her life and the other four girls would return to live in Ireland. Maura, the second oldest still lives in Bestfield, sadly all the other girls Sadie, Carmel, Nan and Claire have passed away. Tony received his education at the Christian Brothers school and he joined the Local Defence Forces (LDF) as soon as he was an eligible age. In early 1944, like most young men of his time, he wanted adventure but when Tony and his two friends initially tried to join the Garda Siochana, one of his friends was turned down as his father was a former RIC officer.

Deciding to stick together the three young men travelled to the North of Ireland and enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Tony selected the Military Police section of the RAF. Following a number of months of intense training in England, he qualified as a military police officer in June 1944, the same time that allied forces were landing on French soil in Europe. Tony was posted overseas to the far east and served initially in India and then Japan.

Although a trained soldier and police officer first, Tony was astounded by the desolation and the despair he witnessed firsthand following the sustained bombings of many of Japan's cities and towns not just the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet he found solace and hope in other parts of this beautiful country and India.

Tony was stationed at Kure, a former Japanese Naval base near the atomic bombed city of Hiroshima. Kure could best be described as one gigantic shambles, due to the fierce bombing raids that had been carried out in the closing months of the war by bombers from Okinawa and the allied fleet.

After the war he met and fell in love with a young English girl, Irene Lofthouse, they married and lived together for over 50 years.

Tony had a strong interest in the Red Cross, helping to set up a local branch near his home in Northumberland and played an active part for many years after the war.

He worked as production manager at a mineral plant for the rest of his working life and remained in touch with his former Air Force colleagues through his membership of BCAIR Japan Association.

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