Thomas McAvoy GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 11/12/1909 Glasgow, Scotland.  d. 20/05/1977 Glasgow, Scotland.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 15/03/1939 Jinsafut, Palestine.

Thomas “Jock” McAvoy (1909-1977) was born on 11th December 1909 at 73 Maitland St, Glasgow, Scotland, the son of John and Margaret McAvoy (nee Kelly). His father was a labourer on the quays in Glasgow. When Tommy was 18 he enlisted in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders on 30th September 1927. After seven years service, he returned to Glasgow in March 1935 when he transferred to the Reserve. Two years later, he joined the Green Howards on 19th October 1937 for their operational tour of Palestine.

Thomas McAvoy GC

On 15th March 1939 at Jinsfaut Camp, Palestine, a truck caught fire. Corporal Thomas Atkinson, with the help of Thomas McAvoy, organised the removal of the remainder of the transport to a point clear of the burning truck. Without this initiative and energy in rallying the drivers, and assisting them to move their trucks out of danger, the rest of the transport would have caught fire. Atkinson was subsequently indefatigable in his efforts to subdue the fire right up to the time that he was severely burnt while endeavouring to save the life of a comrade. To avoid another explosion, McAvoy carried out the approved but dangerous task of piercing the petrol tank of the burning truck with a pickaxe. He too was badly burned, but together they succeeded in preventing a far worse disaster.

On 3rd June 1939, he married Helen O’Connor in Glasgow, whilst still recuperating from his injuries suffered at Jinsfaut. He soon returned to the Green Howards, and on 25th July 1939, he and Thomas Atkinson were both awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal. He served throughout the Second World War, transferring to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, and the Durham Light Infantry, finally being discharged on 1st June 1946 though remaining on the Reserve. He received his GC on 9th July 1946 (a delayed investiture due to war service).

Following demobilisation, he took up employment with the General Post Office (now Royal Mail). He later became an usher at the Sheriff’s Court in Glasgow before retirement.

Tommy died in Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow on 20th May 1977, and was cremated at Maryhill Crematorium four days later. The service was attended by representatives of his old Regiments, the General Post Office and two men from the VC and GC Association – John Carmichael VC and Horace Taylor GC. Tommy’s medals including his GC, General Service Medal 1918-62 with “Palestine” clasp, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with “8th Army” clasp, Italy Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 with oak leaf, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal were sold to a friend. His original group of miniatures are held by the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.





Thomas Stewart – Image of the McAvoy GC Medal Group at the Green Howards Museum, Richmond.