Uncle Thomas

Feb 18, 2021
This old fellow passed away; it was in the UK and probably in the sixties. After the burial procedures were completed the family met at the house of the deceased and started to sort things out.

Imagine, to their surprise when clearing up the garage they came across several cases of WW II surplus ammo. No one had a FAC including the deceased, so no one wanted to call the police. In the end they drew lots on who would take the ammo to the police. They then found the garden wheel barrow, loaded the ammo into it and the unlucky family member wheeled it through the village to the police station. On arrival he explained the situation, and received crap from the police who then locked the ammo in a cell so no one would get hurt.  

The next day they found some obsolete WW II Home Guard bolt action rifles tucked in the back corner of the garage. Now, at that time these would have been restricted firearms. After the crap they had received from the police the day before, no one wanted to take the rifles to the police station. It was decided that using the wheelbarrow for a bunch of rifles would not be very practical, and besides no one would volunteer to push the barrow. The police were called, they showed up and were really upset. Probably because none of them knew how to handle the situation. Eventually they left with the rifles, no charges were laid but the police uttered a lot of threats.

It must have been a holiday weekend as the clear up carried on the next day. In the old fellows bedroom was a large chest of drawers full of clothing. The bottom draw was full of sweaters and work shirts, underneath them was a gleaming Thompson 1928A1! We have to assume it was also Home Guard issue. The "deluxe" model, as she had the adjustable Lyman rear sight, finned barrel, Cutts compensator, pistol grip and a lovely blued finish. One side of the receiver did have some pitting and rust where she had been put away wet at some point but otherwise, she was mint. Now what the hell was the family going to do? After their previous two run ins with the local law everyone was paranoid and no one wanted to take a SUB MACHINE GUN to the police.

One family member took the Thompson home for safe keeping while they deliberated on how to safely dispose of her. A friend of the family, a farmer who was a near neighbour to me at the time used to visit the family from time to time, and they used to take "Uncle Thomas" to the local river and shoot up the river rats. This must have continued for close to 20 years, then I heard the tale. I told a friend who told a friend and then the Thompson changed hands for the princely sum of 50 GBP and was now in the hands of an enthusiastic collector. The term we used for such firearms was "OT" pronounced "Oh Tea" this was short for "Off Ticket" meaning unregistered, completely illegal. 

As a young boy in the UK we always heard tales of WW II Home Guard catches of arms and ammunition but I never did track one down. One day I did hear of a farmer who had found a catch. I visited him and he delighted in telling me that a neighbour was pouring a cement floor in a new barn, he field stripped the guns (he was an old soldier himself) and visited the site every lunch time when no one was around and pushed the parts into the wet concrete.

I am not sure where Uncle Thomas is today, I lost touch many many years ago, maybe buried in a secret location or surrendered to the police during a firearms amnesty. Another small piece of history lost for ever or maybe?

MUSING-Feb18-UncleThomas
This photo shows a WW II British army issue 1928A1 Thompson, this is not "Uncle Thomas" but a very close relative. The front sling swivel fitting is a giveaway. I wish I could remember if Uncle Thomas had this fitting, if not it may have been a US civilian Thompson that was donated to the UK in their time of great need. A large quantity of US civilian arms were donated and shipped to the UK in the early days of the war, most of these miscellaneous firearms went to the Home Guard and records were not kept for obvious reasons.

Keep your powder dry, 
Mr. Wolverine

Leave a comment