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  • Mark Forsdike

Tom Mallows

These past weeks have been manic both at work and on trying to complete my Malayan Emergency book, but now everything has been submitted to the publishers and I’m now just awaiting their reply.

I’ve now submitted the final text and now sent the photographs but it’s been a tough choice deciding what to take out (and what I missed initially, but subsequently thought I really should put in!). Out of the 493 photographs that I started with, I have whittled it down, to 271 and that was tough work and I hope they can squeeze all these in.

After I’d submitted the photographs, I realised that I hadn’t included photographs of either ‘Pedlar’ Palmer or Tom Mallows, and that really, no book on the Suffolk Regiment’s part in the Emergency should omit their portraits.

‘Pedlar’ was a regular soldier who was quite a character at regimental reunions. He was most musical and played the spoons to many a tune. He was quite literally, the ‘life and soul’ of any Malaya veterans gathering and knew all the words to the Battalion’s ditty of “We haven’t seen old Liew Kon Kim for a helluva time.”

Tom was a Barnardo’s boy and the last Suffolk soldier to be killed on active service. I already had a photograph of him from a previous article I had written about his life for a ‘Friends of The Suffolk Regiment’ magazine, but the quality was sadly not good enough to print in the book. I made enquiries around the veterans I knew who may have a photograph of him, but I drew a blank, Tom had to be included but I needed a picture of him.

Then, going back through the editions of the Regimental Gazette that reported his death in action in 1952, I spotted that he has served in Support Company before he joined 5 Platoon and after much scrabbling about in an album that belonged to the late Tony Gould (a mortar man in Sp. Coy), I found a photograph of Tom (above) and after scanning it at 800dpi (for it was only an small 2 x 2” ‘Brownie’ snap), it was clear enough for inclusion in the book.

However, whilst looking in greater detail at the others on the photograph, another familiar face was spotted; that of Ron Embleton, who later became a successful illustrator in the post-war years. Ron was a member of the Anti-Tank Platoon (though they never fired their guns in anger in Malaya) but he later produced the legendary artwork for the closing credits of animated series ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.’ It was also said that he repainted the Battalion’s Drums, buts that’s another story...


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