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JAMES McCAIRNS’ MEDALS GIFTED TO THE MUSEUM

May, 2013

James ‘Mac’ McCairns was one of the most famous pilots to fly from RAF Tangmere. On 6th July 1941 whilst flying with Douglas Bader’s Tangmere Wing, he was shot down to force land his Spitfire on a beach near Dunkirk. He was captured but managed to escape from a German POW camp in July 1942. On his return to England, he joined No 161 (Special Duties) Squadron as a pick-up pilot flying agents to and from France in Lysander aircraft. His first operation from Tangmere was on the night of 25th/26th November 1942 and during the next thirteen months he completed 25 successful missions. During his tour with No 161 he was awarded a remarkable three Distinguished Flying Crosses to add to the Military Medal he had been awarded for his escape in 1942. He survived the war but tragically was killed in a flying accident in 1948.

His son, Chris, also became an RAF pilot and, as a squadron leader, was a flight commander on No 14 (Jaguar) Squadron in 1980/81 when the Museum’s Chairman, Group Captain David Baron, commanded the unit at RAF Bruggen, Germany.  On 9th May they were reunited when Chris presented to the Museum his father’s medals, his log books and an original Cuthbert Orde drawing of ‘Mac’ McCairns.

Main picture: Chris McCairns (left) presents his father’s medals to the Museum’s Chairman, Group Captain David Baron.

Bottom left: Chris McCairns visits the Museum’s SOE section.

Bottom right: James ‘Mac’ McCairns.

Talks by Tangmere

The Museum is able to offer speakers to interested groups or societies on a range of subjects connected with the history of operations at RAF Tangmere and other military aviation subjects.

Further details of the full range of presentations and the availability of speakers can be obtained by calling the museum on 01243 790090, by emailing your interest to director@tangmere-museum.org.uk or by letter marked for the attention of the Director.

Museum Development

The Museum car park has been enlarged and re-laid and audio guides provided with the assistance of LEADER – the European Agricultural Fund for Redevelopment.

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