Torney, Thomas (No. 1799465)

Torney, Thomas (Tommy)

Sergeant (Air Gunner)

No. 1799465, 61 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Wednesday 21 March 1945 (aged 19)

Buried:

Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany (Joint Grave 5. C. 22-23)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee

BIOGRAPHY

Thomas Torney was born on 6 June 1925 and he was a son of George and Isabella Torney (nee Moore) of Ballyvester, Donaghadee.  Both came from Hogstown, Donaghadee and they were married on 10 March 1905 in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church.  George Torney was an agricultural labourer and farmer and he and Isabella had eleven children:

Eliza Jane (Lila, born 11 March 1905 in Herdstown)

Agnes (born 9 December 1906 in Ballyvester)

George (born 3 December 1908 in Ballyvester; served during the Second World War with the Home Guard)

Annie (born 16 February 1911 in Ballyvester)

James Adair (born 30 August 1913 in Ballyvester; served during the Second World War with the Irish Guards)

Hugh Moore (born 8 February 1916 in Ballyvester; served during the Second World War with the Royal Navy)

Isabella (born 4 September 1918 in Ballyvester)

William (Billy, born 4 March 1921; served during the Second World War with the Royal Navy)

John (served during the Second World War with the Royal Ulster Rifles)

Thomas (Tommy, born 6 June 1925)

Joseph (Joe, born 9 June 1928)

Joe Torney married Phyllis Gardner whose uncle, Robert Gardner, served with the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) and was killed in Burma on 24 June 1945 (aged 34).

Having falsified his age on his application form, Thomas Torney joined the Royal Ulster Rifles when he was 15 years old and went for training.  At one point he was granted leave of absence, but he stayed at home for longer than had been authorised and, on a Sunday morning at 2.00 am, the Military Police came to the Torney home to pick him up.  His father told the police that Tommy was only 15, but they took him back to barracks and his parents had to bring documentary evidence of his date of birth to Palace Barracks, Holywood to have him discharged.  After his discharge, Tommy worked for Short Brothers in Belfast and, while he was serving his time there, he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 6 June 1943, his 18th birthday.

On 20 March 1945, Sergeant Thomas Torney was one of a seven-man crew aboard an Avro Lancaster Mark I aircraft (RA560) that took off at 11.34 pm from RAF Skellingthorpe in Lincolnshire on a mission to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Bohlen in Germany.  Their aircraft was shot down and all on board were killed.  The other six airmen who died that night were:

  • Flying Officer John Frederick Swales (aged 23) Royal Australian Air Force
  • Sergeant Anthony J. Maxwell Davies (aged 19) from Kingsland, Herefordshire
  • Flying Officer Charles Henry Saunders (aged 32) from West Chiltington Common, Sussex
  • Flight Sergeant Ralph Taylor
  • Flight Sergeant Donald Murray Easton (aged 20) Royal Australian Air Force
  • Sergeant William Lane (aged 22) from Sheffield

Sergeant (Air Gunner) Thomas Torney (No. 1799465) was 19 when he died, and he is commemorated on Donaghadee and District War Memorial and in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee.