Farmer and fruit grower
Area Commander of Groups 1, 5 and 6. Group Commander of Group 1. Lieutenant from 1st December 1941, Captain from 17th August 1944.
His son Christopher recalled his father used to go out at 9 o'clock and often not return until the small hours. He remembered they were trained in the use of explosives and fieldcraft, especially at night. They used to meet in one of the farm buildings at his home 'Colkins' which Christopher was allowed into after the war. He recalled it was full of explosives, fuses, time pencils and 'all types of gadgets'. Many were left after the war and made use of around the farm. The family were aware Thomas was up to something 'fishy' with all the nights out and men arriving in the outbuildings all times of the day and night but they were never told what was going on.
The third son of Frederick Neame of Luton, Selling, born at Macknade, he married Gwendolyn Mary Thomson, (stage name Astra Desmond) daughter of George Thomson of Torquay. Educated at St. Michael's, Westgate, he became head of the School and obtained an entrance scholarship to Cheltenham College. Whilst there, he took three further scholarships, became head of his house, Senior Prefect, Captain of the Cadet Corps, and was a member of the School XV. Then after obtaining a scholarship to Queen's College, Cambridge, and an Exhibition to Gonville and Caius, he entered the latter and took his Tripos in Natural Science and later his M.A. degree. He Captained the College XV, and played hockey and lawn tennis for the College. He held the rank of Captain of the University Rifle and Volunteer Corps. After leaving Cambridge, he spent two and a half years in factories in Germany, Austria, Poland and France. On his return, he was employed by Messrs. Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd. of Birmingham, manufacturers of steel tubes and zinc sheet rolling, as Department Manager. On the outbreak of war in August 1914, he volunteered for service and went to Gallipoli with the 9th Battalion, Worcester Regiment (part of Kitchener's first 100,000). Wounded in the assault on Sari Bair, he was sent home and was subsequently employed on munitions work. In Jan 1918 Thomas was awarded the MBE for his services. He was described as “Lieutenant Thomas Neame, Works Manager, Messrs Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd, Birmingham".
After the war he entered a partnership with his father at Macknade, Colkins and Abbey Farms, occupied in hop, fruit, dairy farming, poultry and pigs. They had Friesian cattle and developed six 2,000 gallon cows, two of which gave over 100lbs. of milk in one day. He won several open milk and dairy trials between 1920 and 1926, had the highest herd average milk yield in Kent, and was three times second in the Silcock All-England Dairy Herd's Competition. He was elected Chairman and Vice-President of the Kent Milk Recording Society, Chairman of the Canterbury Farmers' Club and the Faversham Branch of the N.F.U. He was Chairman of East Malling Research Station from 1944-1959 and Sheriff of Kent in 1948. In 1951 he toured the world studying fruit growth and development.
He was knighted for his services to fruit growing on 5th July 1960.
Sir Thomas Neame died only 12 days after his wife, the famous singer Astra Desmond C.B.E, they were a devoted couple. His prominence in the world of agriculture earned him the M.B.E in 1960.
TNA ref WO199/3390 & 1,
Hancock data held at B.R.A,
Son Christopher Neame
Faversham News 31 Aug 1973