Book tribute to a saviour

PUBLISHED: 16:27 28 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:04 28 May 2010

The book’s front cover

The book's front cover

A TALE of sacrifice and ­heroism is told in a new book March Hero. It was launched at a special ceremony in Australia on Monday, ­witnessed by a delegation from Fenland, including the Fenland District Council chairman, Councillor Bernard Keane, and his wi

A TALE of sacrifice and ­heroism is told in a new book March Hero.

It was launched at a special ceremony in Australia on Monday, ­witnessed by a delegation from Fenland, including the Fenland District Council chairman, Councillor Bernard Keane, and his wife Sylvia.

Dot Whittington tells the story of a young Air Force pilot from Nambour on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and his bravery which saved March from destruction.

It was July 1944 when Jim Hocking sacrificed his own life to save many. He instructed his crew to jump for their lives and then stayed at the controls of his burning bomber to fly it away from the town to ensure his plane, with its heavy load of fuel, did not destroy the town.

He died as it exploded in a nearby field.

The story of his heroism remained largely unknown and unrecognised for 42 years until an investigation by the Cambs Times and the perseverance of a wartime comrade unveiled his great sacrifice.

The book covers Jim's story from his childhood in Nambour to his final flight over March.

There is a permanent memorial to Jim Hocking in St Wendreda's Church and a flats complex in the town bears his name.

The cover picture on the book is from the original artwork by L W Pooley, of Wisbech, whose picture of the Stirling bomber over St Wendreda's helped to raise funds for the Jim Hocking Memorial.

Copies of the paintings were sold and the original presented to Jim's brother Alan to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Jim's death.

Also at this week's book launch were the chairman of Fenland Twinning Association, Joan Diggle, and her husband, Barry, and association members Mike and Judith Cornwell and Roger and Julie Coulthurst, from March.

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