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Obituary: Tom Schaffer 25 April 1926 - 16 March 2024

Tom Schaffer, who was affectionately known as the poster boy of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, died on 16 March 2024 - he was 97. Tom was a regular on Taxi Charity trips across the UK, and to the Netherlands and Normandy, for over 30 years.

After enlisting during the war and doing his initial training, Tom volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and was accepted and joined the 13th (Lancashire) Battalion. His first military action was in the Ardennes as part of 6th Airborne and his first jump was Operation Varsity in March 1945. The aim of this operation was to establish a bridgehead across the river Rhine for the main Allied advance into Germany.

In 2022, Taxi Charity chairman, Brian Heffernan, was thrilled to take Tom to an event at Markshall Estate, Colchester, to commemorate the 77th anniversary of those who flew in Operation Varsity. Tom said at the time: "Operation Varsity was part of our job. My only thoughts at the time were let's get this done. We lost a lot of men, but the operation was a success and we captured 3,500 German soldiers. The Taxi Charity take me to commemorations all over the country and on the continent. The volunteer cab drivers like Brian pick me up from my home and without them I would not be able to participate in so many commemorative occasions. They take us on fantastic social events too!"

On 5 December 2019, Tom was presented with the Dutch Liberation Medal by Lieutenant Colonel Rob Arts who was the Dutch Military Attaché to the United Kingdom. Tom said: "It is a real honour to have been presented with the Dutch Liberation Medal. Next May, I will be travelling to the Netherlands with the Taxi Charity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Dutch Liberation and I will wear this medal with immense pride."

Chris Watson commented on the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans’ Facebook page: "Our dear Dad has gone now. He will be in our hearts forever and will be sadly missed. Thank you all for the lovely messages - it means a lot to us - we're always so proud of our Father.”

Paul Raison, Veterans Officer, The Parachute Regimental Association, said: "Tom Schaffer was the epitome of a veteran of the Parachute Regiment from his era. Always cheerful and larger than life, he was a pleasure to be around. He will be sadly missed by everyone that knew him or had the good fortune to have met him."

Dick Goodwin, Honorary Secretary of the Taxi Charity, said: "I have had the pleasure of knowing Tom since 1998 and it was an honour. Tom was a regular on our charity trips, always accompanied by his great friend John ‘Pinky’ Pinkerton who also served with the Parachute Regiment. For many years, he was part of our veteran collection team, raising thousands for the charity he loved so much. A real character who was always smiling and joking. We always referred to him as the poster boy of the charity! He will be greatly missed by so many."

Top left photo courtesy of Glyn Dewis


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