Lincolnshire pays tribute to the pilot poet who died in the county 80 years ago
A memorial service was held today in Lincolnshire to honor John Magee who died 80 years ago.
Mr Magee, an Anglo-American, gave up a place at the prestigious Yale University in order to fight for freedom in Britain.
Sadly, John’s life was cut short on December 11, 1941 when he was killed in a mid-air crash over Roxholm between RAF Cranwell and RAF Digby.
He was only 19 years old.
Read more: Pilot poet John Magee recalls 80 years after fatal plane crash over Lincolnshire
His poetry has survived, however, and John’s sonnet, High Flight, is held in high regard by pilots and astronauts.
The poem was even recited by US President Ronald Reagan in 1986 following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
A commemorative plaque at RAF Scampton to Red Arrows pilots Sean Cunningham and Jon Egging paraphrases High Flight with the words: “They slipped the surly bonds of the Earth / reached out their hands and touched the face of God.”
Mr Magee was buried in a war cemetery in Scopwick and a short service was held at the village church in commemoration today.
The service included readings by representatives of the RAF, the American Air Force and the Canadian Air Force.
Wreaths were laid by Ian Walter, Richard Overton on behalf of the John Magee Jnr Foundation, Wing Commander Damien Todd, RAF Station Commander Digby and Wing Commander Neill Atkins, Station Commander RAF Scampton.
Retired RAF Squadron Leader Phil Bonner, who was involved in today’s service, told Lincolnshire Live why John’s poem resonates with so many in the air force.
“I believe it captures the spirit of flight,” he explained.
âEven if you go as a passenger on an airplane, then you take off, you are transported to a different dimension.
“I went to an aviators’ funeral when the poem was read and the fact that astronauts took this poem into space shows that it has truly captured the imaginations of so many people.”
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