Spitfire ‘lands’ the Ballymoney crowds

PLOT. 94yr old, Jean Mackey from Ballymoney who was a 'Plotte'r during the war.INBM34-15 054SC.
PLOT. 94yr old, Jean Mackey from Ballymoney who was a 'Plotte'r during the war.INBM34-15 054SC.

Visitors to Townhead Street in Ballymoney got a shock last weekend when a World War II Spitfire fighter plane appeared in the car park on Saturday morning!

The life size replica Spitfire belonged to the Ulster Aviation Society (UAS) and it had been generously brought to town by the UAS as part of the ‘Battle of Britain Remembered’ weekend organised by Ballymoney First Presbyterian Church.

For a small charge, visitors were invited to have their photographs taken in the cockpit and the proceeds were donated towards the church’s nominated charities, Northern Ireland Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support.

Among those to visit the Spitfire was Mrs. Jean Mackey, a former member of Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), 560 Searchlight Battery during World War II and celebrates her 94th birthday this Wednesday.

Mrs. Mackey joined the ATS as a young woman and served as a plotter, skilfully tracking enemy planes as they arrived on their bombing raids. She was selected to be posted to England during some of the most intense periods of the war and remembers continuing to work through the night as German bombs dropped perilously close by.

Also there to see the Spitfire was Linda Beattie, daughter of Spitfire pilot Matthew Cameron. Flt Lt Cameron fought in the Battle of Britain and his Flight Log Book records the daily dogfights he fought while defending the skies over Southern England against the Luftwaffe bombers.

On Sunday, Ballymoney First Presbyterian Church commemorated the Battle of Britain with a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving. The church remembered Flt Lt Robert Stevenson Cromie of 615 Squadron, who was killed on 18 August 1940. Robert was brought home to Ballymoney for burial in the town cemetery.