James Toms: Father’s tribute to Kirkcaldy-born Wing Commander after sudden death aged 55

James Toms, who rose to become an RAF Wing Commander.
James Toms, who rose to become an RAF Wing Commander.

Kirkcaldy-born James Toms, an RAF Wing Commander, has died suddenly in Oman.

He had been seconded to the Royal Oman Air Force to assist in drawing up procedures for the operation of ROAF maritime patrol aircraft.

James had previously spent three years with the ROAF and returned to the UK in January 2021.

Football fan

A keen Raith Rovers and Liverpool fan, he had settled down after work in Oman to watch the Nottingham Forest against Liverpool game on the evening of March 20.

His father Peter, originally from Liverpool, said that when his son did not turn up for a meeting the next day, colleagues visited his accommodation and found him deceased on the settee.

James, who was 55, had spent 38 years in the RAF and was due to retire in three years’ time.

James Toms in the earlier part of his RAF career.
James Toms in the earlier part of his RAF career.

His father said: “He had bought a house in Stornoway 11 years ago.

“That is where his mother’s family is from and he always had a great love of, and connection with, the area.

“After retirement from the RAF, it was his intention to spend much more time in the Western Isles.”


James was brought up in Kirkcaldy by his parents, Peter and Christine Toms.

His father was a Royal Navy man who, before retiring from the Royal Navy, was chief instructor at the damage control and firefighting school at Rosyth Royal Naval Dockyard.

James was educated at Kirkcaldy High School where he developed a love of rugby, which he went on to play during his service years.

In 1984, during an embargo on recruitment, he joined the RAF but the only service branch open to him was as a computer analyst.

He enlisted and within two years, when the embargo was lifted, he transferred to flying duties as a helicopter sergeant crewman.


He was commissioned in 1994 and did tours of duty in Northern Ireland as crewman and machine gunner in helicopters.

Over the years he rose from pilot officer to flight lieutenant to squadron leader and then wing commander.

He specialised in a variety of activities associated with flying operations and procedures.

‘James was a very modest man’

Peter said: “James deployed on three tours of duty in Northern Ireland as well as service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Naples and Brussels but did not speak much of what his duties entailed or activities he experienced.

“In 1997 he was part of the RAF squadron in Hong Kong involved in the handover to the Chinese when Britain withdrew from the colony.

“James was a very modest man who enjoyed travelling during his time off to places such as Hawaii, the United States and the Far East.

“James will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends in the service and worldwide.”

You can read the family’s announcement here

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Kirkcaldy – The Courier