A Brother-in-Law's Visit to Essex

FLT Lt JACK RAE. DFC and BAR

 

 

ORSETT FIRE STATION HAD A VERY SPECIAL VISITOR  ON  FRIDAY 30th SEPTEMBER. EX ROYAL NEW ZEALAND AIR FORCE FIGHTER ACE FLT Lt JACK RAE. DFC and BAR MADE THE PILGRIMAGE TO SEE THE MEMORIAL TO HIS BROTHER IN LAW, WING COMMANDER REG GRANT DFC and BAR, DFM WHICH WAS UN-VEILED ON FEBRUARY 28TH 2004. W/CMDR GRANT WAS KILLED WHEN HE BALED OUT OF HIS MUSTANG FIGHTER ON FEBRUARY 28TH 1944. HE WAS TOO LOW FOR HIS PARACHUTE TO DEPLOY FULLY AND FELL TO HIS DEATH IN THE VICINITY OF THE FIRE STATIONS DRILL YARD, MECHANICAL FAILURE WAS THOUGHT TO BE THE CAUSE OF THE CRASH.

Jack Rae stands by the Memorial to His late Brother-in-Law at Orsett Fire Station Essex

 

JACK, 86 HAS JUST RETURNED TO THE UK FROM TWO WEEKS IN MALTA WHERE HE WAS GUEST OF HONOUR AT NUMEROUS CELEBRATIONS MARKING THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF THE WAR. JACK IS ONE OF A HANDFUL OF SURVIVING PILOTS WHO FLEW SPITFIRES DEFENDING THE TINY MEDITERRANEAN ISLAND. DURING HIS COMBAT SORTIES JACK WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYING 11 GERMAN AIRCRAFT, 8 PROBABLE KILLS AND 6 DAMAGED.

 
 


ON THE 22nd OF AUGUST 1943 JACK WAS SHOT DOWN OVER FRANCE, CRASH LANDING HIS SPITFIRE AND NARROWLY AVOIDING BEING BURNED TO DEATH HE SCRAMBLED CLEAR OF HIS WRECKED MACHINE AND WAS TAKEN PRISONER BY GERMAN TROOPS. HE SPENT THE REMAINDER OF "HIS" WAR IN THE INFAMOUS STALAG LUFT 3 POW CAMP AND BECAME INVOLVED WITH WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS THE "GREAT ESCAPE".



THE MEMORIAL TO REG GRANT WAS CREATED BY GRAYS FIRE FIGHTER ROGER PICKETT WHO IS A MEMBER OF THE THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM AT COALHOUSE FORT IN EAST TILBURY. IN JANUARY 2004 ROGER AND HIS WIFE GILL VISITED JACK AND HIS WIFE VERA IN KERI KERI, NEW ZEALAND AND PRESENTED HER WITH AN EXACT COPY OF THE MEMORIAL PLAQUE WHICH IS MOUNTED AT ORSETT FIRE STATION. SHE WAS OVERCOME WITH THIS VERY PERSONAL PRESENTATION IN MEMORY OF HER BROTHER REG. HER OTHER BROTHER IAN WAS KILLED IN A SPITFIRE OVER FRANCE IN FEBRUARY 1943 AND SADLY..... HIS BODY HAS NEVER BEEN FOUND.



JACK SPENT AN HOUR AT ORSETT AND IN THE COMPANY OF STATION COMMANDER DAVE TAYLOR, ROGER, HIS WIFE GILL AND SON LEIGH WHO IS ALSO A FIREFIGHTER, RELATED SOME OF HIS VERY NARROW ESCAPES AND HIS FLYING DAYS WITH REG GRANT TOGETHER WITH 485 NEW ZEALAND SQUADRON RNZAF (RAF). ROGER TOLD THE GAZETTE, JACK WAS VERY MOVED TO BE AT THE PLACE WHERE HIS BROTHER IN LAW LOST HIS LIFE AND HAD, THE DAY BEFORE VISITED HIS GRAVE AT THE BROOKWOOD MILITARY CEMETERY IN SURREY. HE FOUND THE STRENGTH TO GIVE REG'S MEMORY SOME THOUGHT AND SAID A FEW VERY PERSONAL WORDS ON HIS WIFE'S BEHALF. VERA, BEING CARED FOR BACK HOME IN NEW ZEALAND WAS UNABLE TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE WORLD WITH JACK.

Roger Pickett, Jack and Stn Commander Dave Taylor.

FOLLOWING THE VISIT BY JACK ORSETT FIRE STATION COMMANDER DAVE TAYLOR SAID, THIS HAS BEEN A HUGE HONOUR FOR US TODAY. WE ARE INDEED PRIVILEGED TO BE IN THE COMPANY OF JACK RAE. MEN OF HIS CALIBRE GAVE US ALL THE FUTURE WE NOW TAKE FOR GRANTED AND WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE PRICE THEY PAID. JACK SURVIVED WORLD WAR TWO BUT HIS FRIEND AND FELLOW KIWI REG GRANT GAVE HIS LIFE DEFENDING GREAT BRITAIN AND THE LEAST WE CAN DO IS REMEMBER HIM WITH HIS OWN SPECIAL PLACE AT OUR FIRE STATION, WE SALUTE THEM BOTH.



AFTERWARDS JACK WAS TAKEN TO THE THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM AT COALHOUSE FORT WHERE HE MET ROGERS COLLEAGUES AND WAS SHOWN AROUND THE MUSEUM. HE COMMENTED WHIST LOOKING AT THE REMAINS OF A SPITFIRE, "THEY LOOK SO DIFFERENT IN ONE PIECE .... MUCH MORE GRACEFUL ........ !!!!!!!!!.
 


HIS VERY SPECIAL MOMENT CAME WHEN HE WAS INVITED TO SEE THE FEW REMAINS OF REG GRANTS MUSTANG, WHICH WAS EXCAVATED IN 1984. AGAIN, JACK BECAME VERY MOVED THAT HIS GOOD FRIEND HAS BEEN REMEMBERED IN SUCH A WAY AND THANKED US ALL FOR OUR COMMITMENT TO HIS MEMORY. AFTER JACKS DEPARTURE ROGER TOLD THE GAZETTE, WHEN WE HAD THE DEDICATION AT ORSETT IN FEB 2004 WE WERE SO PLEASED TO HAVE JACKS DAUGHTER BARBARA RAE-VENTER WITH US ALL THE WAY FROM CARMEL IN CALIFORNIA. BUT TODAY, WE TRULY FEEL HUMBLED TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF FLIGHT LIEUTENANT JACK RAE, A VERY BRAVE FIGHTER PILOT INDEED WHO STILL CARRIES THE SCARS OF WAR BUT GOOD MEMORIES OF HIS FRIEND REG GRANT.

Jack Rae with Roger Pickett in front of the display to Wing Commander Grant.

JACK FLEW BACK TO NEW ZEALAND ON SUNDAY 2nd OCTOBER AND ROGER, WITH HIS WIFE GILL INTENDS TO MAKE THE TRIP DOWN UNDER NEXT YEAR TO CATCH UP AGAIN WITH JACK AND VERA WHO LIVE IN THE EXOTIC BAY OF ISLANDS, NORTHLAND NZ.

 

Ken Levy, Jack Rae, Darren Wingrave and Dave Thorndike.

Colin Wingrave presents Jack Rae with a Spitfire Spade Grip in memory of his visit to the Thameside Aviation Museum.