Book honouring 'March Hero' Jim Hocking is relaunched in Fenland
PUBLISHED: 10:55 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:55 08 September 2017
Fenland welcomed friends from Australia this week to commemorate the relaunch of a book dedicated to a young war hero who sacrificed his life to protect the people of March.
March Hero, originally published in 2007, tells the story of Australian pilot officer Jim Hocking who died on July 28, 1944, after the Stirling bomber he was piloting caught fire on a training flight.
Aged just 21, Hocking ordered his crew to bail out as he flew the plane away from March town centre; crashing into surrounding fields to avert disaster.
Ten years on, the book by former Australian reporter Dorothy Whittington has been updated – with two extra chapters featuring more of Hocking’s wartime letters.
To celebrate the new edition, Fenland District Council organised a book launch at Fenland Hall, March, on Wednesday September 6, along with the Fenland Twinning Association.
Council chairman councillor Kay Mayor welcomed guests to the book launch including Jim Hocking’s brother Alan and his wife Helen, other relatives and family friends from Australia, and Neil McKittrick, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, and his wife Jean.
There were also representatives from March Museum, which has a display in honour of Jim Hocking, St Wendreda’s Church, which features a Jim Hocking memorial and March Library, along with twinning members and councillors.
Cllr Mayor said: “I have great pleasure in seeing so many of you here. Jim Hocking truly was, is and remains our ‘March Hero’.”
Alan Hocking also gave a speech, in which he described March as his “second home”.
He said: “Tinged with the joy in being here is always the memory of my brother Jim.
“The family owes gratitude to so many in March who have ensured Jim’s story is recorded.
“What started as a tragedy has changed the lives of so many, and has now created the relationship between March and the Sunshine Coast which will last forever.”
A limited number of copies of the new edition of ‘March Hero’ are available to buy from March Museum at £10 each, with all proceeds going to the museum.
A copy is also available to view at Fenland Hall in County Road, March.