War hero story is revealed

AN APPEAL to find the relatives of Ipswich war hero, Jack Thompson, has helped them to put an ending to the tragic story of his life.The saga began last month when 82-year-old Vivienne Owen came forward to tell the Evening Star of her ties with the second world war gunner whose plane went down over Holland in the second world war.

AN APPEAL to find the relatives of Ipswich war hero, Jack Thompson, has helped them to put an ending to the tragic story of his life.

The saga began last month when 82-year-old Vivienne Owen came forward to tell the Evening Star of her ties with the second world war gunner whose plane went down over Holland in the second world war.

A search for Mr Thompson's relatives was sparked off when a Dutch family brought news of his lighter which had been discovered by their friend, Klaus van der Heide while he was excavating the remains of Mr Thompson's Wellington bomber.

Mrs Owen was related to Jack Thompson by marriage – they shared an aunt and spent many holidays and Christmases together.

She had seen the article about Sergeant Thompson's lighter, which appeared in the Evening Star and wanted to help fill the gaps in the story.

Mrs Owen was keen to tell us her memories of Sergeant Thompson although she had lost contact with his surviving family.

Most Read

Sadly it has all come too late for his who never knew what happened to their son.

His father eventually committed suicide and was found in a pond in Rushmere Heath –something relatives have always put down to the grief of losing his son.

Now members of the surviving family living across the world have been brought together by the finding of the lighter.

She said: "Jack lived in Colchester Road, Ipswich and attended Northgate High School.

"He had two sisters Audrey and Pat who are no longer alive. Audrey had two sons and the last I heard one of them was in France and the other in Scotland.

"Pat had two daughters Jayne and Karen both who moved abroad.

"My uncle was married to Jack's aunt so we shared an aunt and grew up together."

Mrs Owen had no way of contacting Jack Thompson's relatives and it looked like the end of the story until a friend of Mr Thompson's sister came forward.

Mary Lister also attended Northgate school and was a close friend of Pat Thompson.

Although, Pat died of cancer in 1992, Mrs Lister is still in touch with Pat's ex-husband Ted Linter and he is in close contact with his daughter Jayne Eck who lives in California.

Mrs Lister said: "Jayne is very family orientated and I'm sure she will be very pleased to hear the news of the lighter.

"I have told Ted of the story, he was Pat's childhood sweetheart and, although he never met Jack he did know of him and was pleased to hear the news."

Ted is now living in Newcastle but has a close relationship with his daughter Jayne, he said: "She may want her uncle's lighter as she has a table which Jack made and likes to have memories of her family."

And Jayne certainly is keen to be reunited with the lighter she said: "It's absolutely wonderful that it has been found, I'm amazed that so much work has been done to find me.

"I have Jack's watch and some other things found in the crash and I really would love to have the lighter back."

Jayne Eck's husband Jerry is American and it is for this reason that she moved to the country, so the lighter will have to travel thousands of miles to be back with its rightful owner.

But for Mr Drijver, his hopes to reunite the lighter are set to be fulfilled.

He said: "I'm glad that you have had such a response.

"It's all moved very fast and I'm pleased with the outcome."

His connections with the plane, date back further however.

In 1941, as a young boy, he saw the plane go down and his family sent a letter to the British Red Cross stating the location of the wreckage.

The letter went missing for several years and it wasn't until it was found in the fifties that the crew members were located amid the wreckage – the first time that Jack's whereabouts had become known.

Mr van der Heide's friend Douwe Drijver researched the fallen crew and discovered that the lighter's owner, Sergeant Thompson, was from Ipswich – so, whilst holidaying in Clacton, he travelled across the border to Suffolk in order to track down Mr Thompson's relatives.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter