This is a photograph of Private Sidney Lomas seen proudly with his Fleur de Lis cap and collar badges, taken at Loch Promenade in Douglas on the Isle of Man between 1942-1943. In the background of the photo is the Monaville hotel.
Private Lomas enlisted in the Manchester Regiment – 9th Battalion The Manchester Regiment (TA) on April 8th, 1937 until he was discharged on the February 3rd, 1945.
Private Lomas was stationed in France from April 16th to May 25th with the 9th Battalian during WWII and was engaged in particularly heavy fighting at Arras, northern France which led to the Allies eventually abandoning the town to the Germans. After which Private Lomas was repatriated in what would eventually become the largest evacuation in world history at Dunkirk in France between May 29th June 4th, 1940.
In total over 330,000 Allied soldiers were rescued in the evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, after being cut off by the advancing German troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Private Lomas was one of the fortunate soldiers who managed to scramble aboard one of what became known as the “Little Ships” – a ramshackle flotilla of 693 private fishing boats, pleasure craft and merchant vessels – that sailed from Ramsgate to the French coast knowing nothing of the horrors that awaited them (Hardy 2011).
After Dunkirk, Private Lomas was posted to the Isle of Man from Okehampton, South Devon in September, 1940, after the 9th Battalion had reorganised at Llandudno, north Wales in the aftermath of the Dunkirk evacuation.
The Isle of Man throughout WWII (1939-1945) and WWI (1914-1918) was used by the British Government as a base for Alien Civilian Internment camps, where civilians who were deemed to pose a threat to Britain were imprisoned without charge, trial or set term.
After the war broke out, all Germans and Austrians had to appear before a tribunal set up in their local area inorder to classify and categorise them by putting them into three categories of ‘risk’ that they potentially posed to Britain: ‘A’ being -doubtful risk, posing a potential threat – to be interned at once.’B’ loyal but a little suspect and can remain at liberty and ‘C’ posing no risk.
Groups who were also seen as a threat to national security were also interned on the Isle of Man, such as the British Union of Fascists (BUF) formed by Sir Oswald Mosley in 1932 and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Whilst on the Isle of Man, Private Lomas was an internee and prison guard at most of the internment camps, Douglas Aliens Detention Camp, Hutchinson Camp where world famous musicians, the Amadeus Quartet have there foundations.
Private Lomas was also stationed at camps at Sefton, Granville, Ramsey North and Moorach on the 15th November 1941
After his service on the Isle of Man came to an end Private Lomas was transferred to the Pioneer Corps in 1942 and attached to the Oldham Pioneer Department, after which he was transferred to Donningtorn on November 3rd 1942, to await his return to the Isle of Man on December 29th 1942, where he was stationed at the Onchan Internment Camp, which was the first camp in the Douglas area.
After his service on the Isle of Man came to an end, Private Lomas would also serve at the Woodhouselee POW Camp, at Milton Bridge in North Midlothian until 1944.
Private Sidney Lomas total service to the army and his country was 5 years and 156 days.
Thank you to V. Lomas for their invaluable help in writing this post.
Hardy, F. (2011). Dunkirk’s forgotten heroes: It’s a tale of extreme bravery, terrible tragedy and the cruellest twist of fate… now a new TV show finally brings it to light. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2046410/Dunkirks-forgotten-heroes-Find-My-Past-TV-brings-tale-light.html. Last accessed 31st Mar 20
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