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Thomas Patrick McGarry

Rank: Group Captain
Street: Rose Cottage
Town/Village: Newtownforbes
Civil Parish: Lisbrack
Catholic Parish:
Alternative Address: 47 Clowney Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim (possible);
Census 1901: N/A
Census 1911: N/A
Regiment/Unit: Royal Air Force; [London Metropolitan Police]
Regiment Number: 129645 (probable)
Date of Death:
Cause: Survived WW2, natural causes

Thomas Patrick, known as "Paddy", was born in Belfast, possibly Clowney Street, in c. 6 March 1919, but his family moved to Newtownforbes when he was young. Thomas later attended St. Mel's College in Longford. After graduating he moved to England, and began training for entry to the London Metropolitan Police. 

At the outbreak of WW2 he was living in Bloomsbury in a station section house, and was in the police station at Kings Cross when war was declared. In 1941 he enlisted for war service and joined the Royal Air Force. He undertook training in Britain and in South Africa. Thomas had been taken as a Prisoner of War (POW) after January 1944 after being shot down at Magdeburg whilst parachuting; his ripcord failed and he free-fell 17,000 feet, sustaining a badly-broken ankle. He was detained in Stalag Luft 1, in addition to Dulag Luft in Wetzlar Camp. (Prisoner No 108661). He received a Distinguished Flying Cross in 1945, and was awarded an O.B.E. in the 1 January 1960. Thomas remained in aviation, eventually gaining the rank of Wing Commander. In 1953, he participated in a record-breaking non-stop flight from Cape Town to London in an R.A.F. Canberra bomber. 

Audio recordings of Thomas McGarry have been digitised and are available to listen to online via the Imperial War Museum website, which give an interesting insight not only into his war service, but also life in inner-city London in the interwar period. His life and achievements were also included in Longford Leader articles. 

Parents Names: Son of Thomas McGarry and Agnes (née Magauvran), Newtownforbes

Imperial War Museum audio file; link to Civil Record of Birth; Longford Leader, June 1945, Honours for Longford Airman;  link to WarHistoryOnline entry; Irish Times, Why Did The Irish volunteer as British Officers in WW2; Longford Leader, December 1953, Longford Man's Flying Career; <

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