This week we celebrated the 100th birthday of Mr John McGrory who has lived at Abbeyfield House in Redland since 2014. In the morning, we held a small gathering at the house with team members, family and fellow residents, which saw John enjoying a fantastic ‘war time’-themed cake and live music. Later, John went onto the local RAFA where he was joined by more friends and family for a second celebration.
John has led an extremely interesting life which included a pivotal role in WW2. Many thanks to John’s family for providing us with the following biography which we know you’ll be interested to read.
John was born on the 31st July 1921 in Manchester and was the 4th oldest of 6 children and the family owned a thriving Cooperage business (making barrels). He was educated at the Xaverian College and Manchester College of Technology. Prior to the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, John’s main interest for many years, was in Scouting and he was a Kings Scout.
John was always mechanically-minded and, upon leaving school, went into engineering. At the outbreak of war, John volunteered for the RAF as aircrew. However, as he was in a reserved occupation, he could not join the RAF immediately. Some months later he was put on the list for the Deferred Service Squadron at Manchester College of Technology.
In 1942, John was called up for the RAF, and after basic training and flying aptitude tests, he was selected in the summer of 1943 for flying training in Canada, where he was subsequently awarded his wings and promoted to Sergeant.
In the Spring of 1944 John returned to the UK and in May he married Joan.
John then undertook pilot training on heavy bombers and, in 1945, was posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Scampton to fly Lancasters on operations in the closing weeks of the war and Operation Manna dropping food to the starving Dutch. At this time he was promoted rapidly to Flight Lieutenant.
At the end of the war, John volunteered for Transport Command and joined 46 Squadron flying the DC3 to Europe and the Middle East.
John was demobbed in 1947 and returned to civilian life at his old engineering company. He also joined the RAF reserve at this time.
Following the outbreak of the Korean War, John was recalled to the RAF in 1952 and trained as a flying instructor, initially with the Harvard and Provost, followed by Meteor and Vampire courses. From 1955 to 58 John was with 8 FTS at RAF Swinderby as a QFI (qualified flying instructor) and flight commander on the De Havilland Vampire. In the 1960’s he was flying Chipmunks with Bristol and then subsequently, Birmingham University Air Squadrons. In 1966 John was promoted to Squadron Leader and awarded the MBE which was presented to him by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. After Birmingham UAS he was posted to Cambridge as Officer Commanding number 5 Air Experience Flight. This was followed in the 1970’s with 2 tours on the Harrier OCU at RAF Wittering.
Following his retirement from the RAF in 1976 John and Joan moved to Bury for 2 years, followed by Portishead near Bristol where he worked with Wessex Water Authority. Following his final retirement, John and Joan moved to Abergele in North Wales.
Joan passed away in 2011 after 67 years of marriage, in 2014 John moved to Abbeyfield Redland Road to be near to where 2 of his children live. John has 4 children, Christopher, Roger, Pauline and Anthony.