Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 18:51 UK

Flypast marks WWII pilot exploits

The harrier was flown by a pilot from Northern Ireland
A RAF Harrier GR9 staged a flypast at the ceremony

The ashes of the last Northern Ireland pilot who fought in the Battle of Britain have been scattered on Lough Erne in County Fermanagh.

Wing Commander Ken MacKenzie died in June at the age of 92. A RAF Harrier GR9 staged a flypast as the Belfast man's ashes were scattered.

He destroyed seven German fighters during the Battle of Britain, ramming one after running out of ammunition.

Later, as a prisoner of war he was involved in many escape attempts.

During his time in captivity, he feigned mental illness and cultivated a severe stammer in an attempt to confuse his captors.

He was eventually repatriated to England in October 1944 and for the rest of his long RAF career, he was known as Mad Mac.

About 20 family and friends gathered at Lower Lough Erne for a ceremony during which his ashes were be scattered.

The low-flying Harrier GR9 travelled down the County Down coast, moving across Northern Ireland to pass by the ceremony.

It was piloted by Wing Commander Harvey Smyth DFC from County Armagh - Commanding Officer of IV Squadron RAF, who has just returned from Afghanistan.

Wing Commander Ken MacKenzie
Wing Commander Ken MacKenzie destroyed seven German fighters

Mr Mackenzie joined the RAF as a pilot in 1939 and made a dramatic impact upon arriving in No 501 Squadron in October 1940, shooting down one German plane and damaging another.

Weeks later, his plane was damaged by enemy fire during a dogfight over the English channel, forcing him to make a crash-landing in a field in Kent.

However, he was soon back in action and took down three more German planes before the end of the month.

Beginning in June 1941, his role in No 247 Squadron saw him flying at night and he registered more success.

In the autumn, his plane was taken down by anti-aircraft fire on the French coast and he was forced to ditch in the sea.

He scrambled into his dinghy and paddled ashore, but his hiding place was discovered by a German patrol and he was taken prisoner.

During one of his many escape attempts, a tonne of clay collapsed on the tunnel he was in, but he managed to scramble clear and avoid being buried alive.

After the war, he became an instructor of fighter pilots and later served in the Middle East.

He later became deputy commander of the Zambian Air Force in the late 1960s and was Air Kenya's managing director from 1970 until his retirement in 1973.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO

RELATED BBC LINKS


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific