Hero of the month… Captain Tomasz Jennings 1982 – 2011
Once a year in November the whole world comes together to remember our fallen heroes, however, at Scotty’s Little Soldiers we know that for families who have lost someone who served in the Armed Forces, Remembrance Day is every day.
Every one of our members has lost a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, and we believe their lives and sacrifice should always be remembered. In our hero of the month posts we celebrate the lives of our members’ fallen heroes every month of the year.
This month we honour Captain Tomasz (Tom) Jennings who was killed by a roadside bomb in 2011.
Captain Tom Jennings was in the Royal Marines when he was tragically killed in action just days before Christmas, December 2011. He was on tour in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was traveling in went over a mine.
Tom was unconscious when he was pulled from the vehicle and although he was taken to hospital, he sadly never regained consciousness. Tom left behind his wife Emylie and two children; Christopher who was three years old and Oliver who was just 19 months old at the time. One of Tom’s comrades was flown back to the UK, but he also died as a result of his injuries. Two of Tom’s comrades in the vehicle survived.
22nd December 2011 is a day Tom’s wife Emylie will never forget. She was at home in Bournemouth with Tom’s mother – who was visiting for Christmas – and their two children, when two men knocked on the door. She had Oliver in her arms and the men said they had some news and she should put the baby down. Tom’s mother went into another room with the baby, but on realising who she was, one of the officers went to talk to her, while Emylie was left with the other.
As she was given the news that every Forces wife dreads, Christopher came into the room in a fancy-dress outfit. On seeing his mum his face dropped as he intuitively knew something was wrong. Emylie told Christopher she had received some sad news but chose not to tell him his daddy was never coming home until after Christmas. Emylie – still in shock herself – broke the news to her children on boxing day, saying there was a bad accident and daddy couldn’t come home anymore. However, being too young to really understand, Christopher just stood shaking his head.
Emylie remembers Tom’s presence, confidence and motivation to achieve, she said; “He was an incredible man, he was clever, hardworking and ambitious.” He was just 29 when he died but had achieved more than many people do in their whole lives. She says he was constantly pushing himself, he wanted his parents to see him graduate and pass officer training, to see him married and become a parent. Emylie said he achieved all these things and so much more.
Tom took his career in the Royal Marines seriously, completing his training in November 2007, coming second in his Batch. His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hedges, says that Tom was “an Officer of the highest calibre.” In 2010, Tom joined the Special Boat Service. Lieutenant Colonel Hedges goes on to say; “[Tom was] a man of immense personality, able to muster a smile and joke even in the most demanding of circumstances… Tom was more to the SBS than just an effective commander; he had become a trusted friend.”
Outside of his work in the Royal Marines, Tom had a degree in Marine Biology, and he loved to scuba dive, becoming a divemaster whilst travelling in Africa.
Tom believed his greatest achievement was becoming a father. He was fortunate enough to be at the birth of both his sons. Emylie remembers the look on his face when he held his children for the first time. He was in love from the moment he met them, and his sons meant the world to him.
In his down time, Tom loved to be around his family, often heading out for family days with Emylie, the children and not to forget their dog Dushka – who adored Tom. He also loved to spend time with his friends and would go out of his way to stay in touch with his close friends when he was at home.
To help her boys to remember their dad, Emylie still talks about him often and every year on his birthday they have a BBQ with friends and family where they talk about Tom. The family also stay in touch with his military colleagues and attend remembrance services at his old base in Poole.
Christopher and Oliver joined Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2014 and the opportunity to meet other children in similar circumstances has given them a sense of belonging and unity that was lost when their father died.
For Emylie, having somewhere to turn when she needs help or just someone to talk to has meant the world. She said, “I’m so grateful for the fact that Scotty’s always acknowledges and understands our loss. They ease the stress for the boys every year at Remembrance, on the anniversary of my husband’s death and on their birthdays and at Christmas by giving them something to smile about. I love how excited they get when they see the Scotty’s logo.”
Tribute Page: tomjennings.muchloved.com