Page last updated at 06:16 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 07:16 UK

Ceremony to honour Rhyl World War II Spitfire hero

Flight Lieutenant Norman Carter Macqueen
Norman Macqueen was laid to rest at Kalkara Cemetery

A ceremony is to be held to commemorate the bravery of a Spitfire pilot from Denbighshire who was shot down in World War II.

Flight Lieutenant Norman Carter Macqueen was 22 when he was killed in Malta in 1942.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) days before his death.

A replica of the medal will be presented to Glyn Pickering, mayor of his home town, Rhyl, at Rhyl Library, at 1100 BST.

Local historians Charles Leach, who has written a biography of Flt Lt Mcqueen, and George Hornby first noticed the pilot's name on the war memorial in Rhyl and wanted to find out more about him.

Mr Leach said: "We thought that this chap, who was only 22 when he was killed, deserved a little bit more recognition, especially for the young people in the community to be inspired.

"Unfortunately, Rhyl seems to attract a lot of negative publicity. I'll moan and groan about Rhyl but if I go on holiday I always stick up for Rhyl and this is a bit of good news for a change.

Despite inquiries, I've not been able to locate the whereabouts of the original DFC
Charles Leach, local historian

"If youngsters can read this, understand a bit more about the Malta campaign and [know] Rhyl has these sorts of people - and take an interest in the ex-servicemen's community - then that's not such a bad idea."

Mr Hornby is also rededicating his poem about World War II, entitled The Few, in honour of Flt Lt Mcqueen.

Flt Lt Macqueen was born in 1920 in the West Midlands, but his family later moved to Rhyl, where his father was a prominent GP and surgeon.

He attended Southlawn School and later went to Fettes College in Edinburgh.

According to Mr Leach, records show he joined the RAF from Rhyl on 10 September, 1939.

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.

Overseas duties

In 1942 he was selected for overseas duties, and was sent to Malta with 249 Squadron.

His unit, based at RAF Ta Kali, played a major role in defending the island against the German and Italian forces.

It is believed he shot down at least seven enemy planes and damaged four others.

Mr Leach said: "He shot down a German pilot and this guy was picked up as a prisoner of war - he landed in the sea.

"Norman Macqueen and two of his mates went to see this guy in hospital so he was chivalrous as well as popular."

On 4 May, 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 Ta Kali.

Enemy aircraft

On 1 May, 1942, the London Gazette announced that Flt Lt Macqueen had been awarded the DFC, which was presented in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.

It is not known whether he knew of the award.

The Gazette wrote: "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."

Flt Lt Macqueen was buried in plot E of Kalkara Cemetery, which he shares with other RAF personnel.

Mr Leach added: "Despite inquiries, I've not been able to locate the whereabouts of the original DFC. This replica is very good but it's obviously not the real thing but a least people in Rhyl will be able to see it."

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