Presentation at Rhyl Library on Monday, 23 May, 2011 of a Replica DFC, Poem and Biographical Folder in memory of Flight Lieutenant Norman Macqueen DFC, 249 Squadron.

In a ceremony at Rhyl Library in April, 2010, local Rhyl poet George Hornby and historian Charles Leach marked what would have been the 90th birthday of Norman Carter Macqueen DFC RAFVR before the Mayor, community leaders and representatives from further afield, including Sqn Ldr Bob Williams and his daughter, representing 249 Squadron.

On Monday, 23 May, this year, again at a civic ceremony at the library, George and Charles are presenting a replica Distinguished Flying Cross for permanent display in the Library, together with a poem written by George to remember the valuable contribution made not only by Norman Macqueen but also by RAF personnel during the Second World War. A Welsh translation of “The Few” will stand by the poem in the
upstairs section of the Library. This short biography of Norman Macqueen will
also be included:

Flight Lieutenant Norman Macqueen DFC RAFVR (Volunteer Reserve) entered RAF service from Rhyl, September 1939 and was killed on active service near Ta Kali, Malta, May 1942. His name is of course recorded on the memorial (with many more) at the Garden of Remembrance, Rhyl. Norman’s father was Dr. Joseph Gordon Macqueen a well known and much respected Doctor and Surgeon who was based at Clarence House, Russell Road, Rhyl for many years. Norman’s mother was Helen Fairley Macqueen who served the medical practice as a receptionist and secretary. Both Joseph and Helen Macqueen came from Balmaclellan in the Scottish Borders and before moving to Rhyl in 1930 Dr. Joseph Macqueen had been in practice in Hyde, Cheshire. The Macqueen family lived in rooms above the surgery and Rhyl was a smaller place during the dark days of the Second World War (1939-1945). It was from Rhyl that Norman Carter was to enter RAF service at Padgate; Warrington on September 10th 1939, a few days after the War had started.

In all, Norman was to serve his King and country in three RAF squadrons and the first one was 610, followed by squadron 602 and then the famous 249 Squadron. He quickly rose through the ranks, being promoted to Flying Officer by 1940,and the rank of acting paid flight lieutenant by the following year. In 1942 he was selected for overseas duties, and was sent to Malta with 249 Squadron. His unit, based at RAF TaKali, played a major role in defending the island against the German and Italian
forces. On May 4th 1942, Flt Lt Macqueen’s Spitfire sustained damage from an
enemy attack. It is thought he was also hit and may have lost consciousness.
His plane nose-dived into the ground just short of the runway at RAF TaKali.

On 1 May, 1942, the London
Gazette announced that Flt Lt Macqueen had been awarded the DFC, in recognition
of his exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air. It is not known whether he knew of the award.

The Citation in the London
Gazette read:

“This officer carried out a large number of sorties over enemy occupied territory and destroyed one enemy aircraft whilst based in this country. In the Middle East he has destroyed a further four hostile aircraft. Throughout his operational career, Flight
Lieutenant Macqueen has rendered most valuable service. He has displayed great
skill and leadership.”

George Hornby and Charles Leach hope that the medal, poem and short biography folder will serve to perpetuate the memory of a hero from Rhyl, especially for the younger generations. Lest we forget.

Text and research by Charles Leach, St.Asaph, November 2010

Footnote:

Distinguished Flying Cross

This silver cross is awarded to officers and Warrant Officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy. A straight silver bar with an eagle in the centre is awarded for a further act or acts. The year of the award is engraved on the reverse. The award was established on the birthday of King George V, June 3, 1918. Until 1919, the stripes were horizontal.

The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdoms’s Royal  Air Force and other Services, and formerly to officers of
other Commonwealth countries, for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy”.

During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded (the most of any award), with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45 second bars. Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-commonwealth countries.

In 2008,Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman  became the first woman to receive the DFC.

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