Centenary of the death of Wellingborough VC hero to be honoured

Major Mick Mannock VC
Major Mick Mannock VC

A council will mark 100 years since the death of one of this country’s greatest World War One fighter pilots by supporting future generations of air cadets.

Major Edward (Mick) Mannock VC moved to Wellingborough at the age of 20 and went on to become one of Britain’s most successful fighter pilots.

With next year being the centenary of the end of World War One and the death of Mick Mannock, Wellingborough Council has been looking at ways to commemorate both.

A report prepared for a recent meeting of the council’s resources committee said: “Since the council has taken all the ‘traditional’ steps to mark Major Mannock’s death, and since the 100th anniversary of the year of his death coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, members may wish to take a different approach.”

The meeting saw members agree that the land on which the cadet centre sits in Spring Gardens, Wellingborough - home to the Mannock Squadron - be transferred to the squadron with a covenant that limits its use to that of a centre for training cadet forces.

The land was the subject of a 99-year lease from 2004 for a peppercorn rent, and the building on the land was owned by the East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.

Councillors also agreed that there will be an official hand-over ceremony attended by the mayor in 2018.

Cllr Jon-Paul Carr put forward an additional motion that a working party be established to investigate other opportunities to commemorate Mick Mannock and consider other local events that may acknowledge the centenary of the end of World War One.

His proposal was seconded by Cllr Andrew Scarborough and carried after being put to the vote.

The service and bravery of Mick Mannock, who moved to Wellingborough aged 20 and was an active member of the community, has been well-documented.

He was not only Britain’s most successful fighter pilot, with 61 victories over German aircraft officially confirmed, but also its most highly decorated.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously having already received the Distinguished Service Order three times and the Military Cross twice.

After joining the British Army, Mannock transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and in April the following year arrived in France where he got a reputation as a brilliant and ruthless fighter pilot.

On July 26, 1918, Mannock shot down another German aircraft but then made several low passes over the burning wreckage.

He flew into a storm of German ground fire and crashed.

Although buried by a German soldier, his grave was not found after the war.

The citation for Mannock’s VC, awarded posthumously in 1919, read: “This highly distinguished officer, during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty, and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed.”