Islandmagee author sheds light on ‘ordinary’ aviation heroes of WW2

Islandmagee author John Hewitt.  INLT 24-650-CON
Islandmagee author John Hewitt. INLT 24-650-CON

An Islandmagee author has penned a fascinating new book focusing on the unsung aviation heroes of World War Two

John Hewitt has spent over half his life writing stories, meeting and interviewing RAF aircrew from both north and south of the border who served during the war.

The 70-year-old has now compiled his huge collection of incredible tales into a six-volume epic entitled ‘Ireland’s Aviator Heroes of World War Two.’

As John pointed out, the greats are written about all the time; but the men he researched and met were kind and unassuming, “ordinary” modest pilots and crew.

And he is determined that these men’s stories will not be forgotten.

Explained the origins of his amazing endeavour, John said: “In the late 1970s I met a pilot who served in the RAF and he told me about his career during the Second World War.

“I told him that unless his story was recorded it would be forgotten. I asked him would he mind if I wrote his story and he kindly agreed.

“Over this past 40 years I met hundreds of these brave men and wrote down their memoirs. It is important to shed light on the role these men played.”

This a passion going back many years for the local historian, who has been interested in aviation since he was a young boy, when he would cycle to Nutts Corner just to watch the planes or take a bus to Sydenham to watch them roll out of the hangers at Shorts.

Having spent 33 years as a British Airways aircraft engineer, John took early retirement to focus on his first book, which was self-published in 2004. The second volume is now available at Book Nook in Larne, Easons, Waterstones and online at Amazon.

Among the men featured in this volume is Squadron Leader Noel Corry DFC AE. The East Antrim man was one of 10 Ulster airmen who survived the Battle of Britain waged in the skies over southern England during 1940.

As well as distinguished aviator, John described Noel was “a charming and funny man who got up to all sorts of pranks”, some of which are detailed in the new book.

Sadly, Noel and most of John’s other aviator heroes have now passed away, but the Islandmagee man concluded: “I met so many wonderful people over the years and became very close friends with some of them. I am proud to have been the one to record their stories.”