80th Anniversary of the first race for the Sgt Thomas cup

Brilliant sunshine but a chilly north wind for the Ted and Sgt Thomas cup, with prizes by Brian Thomas and family

The Sgt. Thomas memorial cup was first presented in April 1942, 80 years ago.  Fourteen-year-old schoolboy Tommy Thomas joined the club in 1936.  Early in WW2 he joined the RAF and was tragically killed on active service in 1941, aged 19.  The cup also remembers Ted Thomas, Tommy's brother.  Though not a racer, Ted was a long term member and supporter of the club.

Fran Lou was presented with the cup by Brian Thomas, Ted's son and Tommy's nephew.  Brian joined the club in 1967 and served as club President 2001 - 2004 and Hon. Secretary 2010 - 2017.

Natasha was the morning's hero, stepping up to the plate to warden at short notice.

Winter 1937. Tommy first on the left

Winter 1937.  Tommy first on the left

The morning's prizes followed a "growing" theme

The morning's prizes followed a

Fran Lou received the cup (and big cup prize) from Brian Thomas

Fran Lou received the cup (and big cup prize) from Brian Thomas

Wording borrowed from John Tierney's 2019 web report outlines the background to the race

Sgt Thomas Wade Thomas (Tommy) joined the club in 1936, aged 14. Just five years later (on 13 September 1941) he died when his Blenheim bomber crashed on take-off from RAF Watton in Norfolk.  All four crew on board were killed plus one airman on the ground. Tommy was a wireless operator/air gunner and is buried in Willesden New Cemetery.  In those early years of the war the RAF incurred almost as many casualties in air accidents as in action.

At the time of the crash Tommy’s father was serving in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, his sister in the WAAF,  and his brother Ted in the Middlesex Regiment. The following Easter, 1942, the cup was donated to the club for an annual memorial race.

Ted was active at Serps and often took cine footage of the club's races in the 1970s. Ted passed away in 1984 aged 64 and is also remembered by the race.

Brian, Tommy's nephew, joined the club in April 1967, aged 11.  Brian was club President from 2001 to 2004, and Club Secretary from 2009 to 2017.  Brian also worked as a lifeguard at the Serpentine Lido in the 1980 and 1981 seasons.

Tommy Thomas was introduced to the club in 1936 by one of his schoolmasters. In 1938 he won the All Clothes Race.

Tommy Thomas was introduced to the club in 1936 by one of his schoolmasters.  In 1938 he won the All Clothes Race.

Many of the wider Thomas family were present for the race

Many of the wider Thomas family were present for the race

Julie Hendry (Brian's sister), Walter Hendry, Brian Thomas, Fran (winner), Odette Thomas, Alec Hendry (plus Hugo and Lewis, out of shot). (photo: Fiona Campbell)

Fran was also presented with a jar of Odette's honey

Fran was also presented with a jar of Odette's honey

Fran Lou, the club's favourite Aussie (with apologies to Nick Hungerford - though there really is no contest!) (photo: Fiona Campbell)

John Tierney, a close second

John Tierney, a close second

(photo: Fiona Campbell)

Anita Goyos, a succulent 3rd place

Anita Goyos, a succulent 3rd place

(photo: Fiona Campbell)

Alan Mitchell represented the first race with the fourth prize. (Confused? - then see below)

Alan Mitchell represented the first race with the fourth prize.  (Confused? -  then see below)

Congratulation from one past president to another (photo: Fiona Campbell)

A bug house for James Norton

A bug house for James Norton

(photo: Fiona Campbell)

For safety reasons the field was split into two races (the turn at the 100m mark can get quite bouncy)

For safety reasons the field was split into two races (the turn at the 100m mark can get quite bouncy)

First of the racers taking-in the spring sunshine. 8c in the water, whilst the air a reported 2c. Definitely warmer in than out.

Alan Mitchell led the field at the finish with his characteristic steady, strong stroke

Alan Mitchell led the field at the finish with his characteristic steady, strong stroke

Taking breath, along with second home Sally Stott

Taking breath, along with second home Sally Stott

Mike Harris finishing serenely with his heads-up breast-stroke, watched on nonchalantly by a two Egyptian geese

Mike Harris finishing serenely with his heads-up breast-stroke, watched on nonchalantly by a two Egyptian geese

Taking in the sun after the hard slog

Taking in the sun after the hard slog

Second race (the faster half of the handicap list) gets started

Second race (the faster half of the handicap list) gets started

Race underway

Race underway

Fran Lou finished first, followed closely by John Tierney (a victory for Australia over Ireland)

Fran Lou finished first, followed closely by John Tierney (a victory for Australia over Ireland)

The rest were close on their heels. No let-up with many personal battles to decide.

The rest were close on their heels.  No let-up with many personal battles to decide.

Winner Fran telling James just how it's done

Winner Fran telling James just how it's done

Norman gave up on the conversation and led the swimmers out, making straight for the changing room and the recently reinstated tea making facility

Norman gave up on the conversation and led the swimmers out, making straight for the changing room and the recently reinstated tea making facility

Natasha stepped in to undertake a warden's shift.  Very much appreciated.  Thank you.

Natasha, warden hero of the morning

Natasha, warden hero of the morning

Sgt. Thomas Wade Thomas, 7 April 1922 - 13 September 1941

Sgt. Thomas Wade Thomas, 7 April 1922 - 13 September 1941