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15 October 2014
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Story of three friends

by Rathfrilandhill

Captain John McCrea

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Captain Robert McCrea, John McMorris, John Love
Location of story: 
Egypt, North Africa and Rhodesia
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 June 2005


The story of three friends

This is the story of three friends, John Love, (recently deceased), John McMorris and my late father Robert McCrea (died 1976). The three friends grew up together in the small village of Bready, in County Tyrone, N Ireland, played together and went to the same parties.

During the war John Love and John McMorris mended and checked instruments on planes for the RAF. John McMorris served in Egypt and Rhodesia, John Love in North Africa and was at the battle of El Alamein against Rommel, whilst my father served as a vet for the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in Burma, India and Italy.

Whilst in the RAVC my father caught dysentery: he lost a lot of weight and went down to 9st. He got better by treating himself with the medicines used for the animals. My father didn’t talk about the war very much. However there was one person he did confide in and that was John McMorris whom he talked to a lot about his time n Burma, with the Chindits under General Wingate, and how a party of them went behind enemy lines with orders to “do as much damage as they could”. If the Japanese outnumbered them, they split up and met at a rendezvous point the next day.

Captain Robert McCrea M.B.E. 1916-1976

John McMorris tells of how John Love did a very heroic thing while serving in Egypt. He was stationed at an airfield and the enemy was getting closer. John decided it was time to act if they were to escape with their lives. He set fire to all the planes except one and then stopped a convoy that was passing and asked if any of them could fly a plane. One man said he could but not that particular type. John said that didn’t matter, if he could fly at all then he was their man. So the party escaped; John had saved their lives and made sure that the enemy didn’t get hold of their planes into the bargain.

Of the three, John McMorris is the only one alive today. He lives with his wife Sylvia, whom he met whilst she was in the WAF, and son Michael on a farm near Bready where they have a veritable menagerie, raising goats, ducks and hens. He does not enjoy very good health but still has a zest for life and story telling.

John and Sylvia McMorris at their home. Photograph taken 12/5/2005
In the background is a portrait of Mr McMorris’s grandfather, a fleet surgeon in the Royal Navy.

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