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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. T A McCann

Thomas Andrew Mitchell McCann was born on 19th May 1919, the son of Thomas Andrew Mitchell McCann and Florence McCann (nee Sheppard) of Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland.

He went to Bangor Grammar School in September 1931 at the age of twelve. He was there for three years and in his final year, at the age of 15, he was the youngest boy ever to win the mile race at the school.

After leaving school he worked for Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

McCann joined the RAFVR about January 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.

Called up on September 1st he completed his training and arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 21st August 1940. After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 601 Squadron at Exeter on September 11th.


He married Barbara Bradshaw on 8th January 1941 in the Church of Ireland Church in Groomsport on Belfast Lough (below).



At some time later in 1941 he was posted to 134 Squadron.The squadron embarked in HMS Argus on 12th August, bound for Russia. It flew its Hurricanes off on 1st September to Vaenga airfield near Murmansk. The squadron operated with 81 Squadron, forming 151 Wing.


Above and below: Manston June 1941.



The Wing continued its operations, including bomber-escorts, until mid-November when pilots of 134 began converting Russian pilots on to Hurricanes. The squadron left Russia on 29th November, leaving all equipment behind and returned in HMS Kenya. They landed at Rosyth on 7th December 1941 and then went to Catterick to re-equip.



Commissioned in February 1942, McCann was killed in the Middle East on July 27th 1942 still serving with 134 Squadron, operating Hurricanes.

He had been attached to 213 Squadron and was scrambled from Landing Ground 154, south-west of Alexandria. The squadron was bounced by Me109s as they took off and three pilots were killed.

McCann was 23 and is buried in El Alamein War Cemetery.

Additional images and material courtesy of the O’Neill and McCann families.






Photographs courtesy of Colonel C R Romberg RA, British Embassy Cairo.


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