John William LARKIN – WW2 Pilot’s Flight Log – can anyone help?

Living History

This story is in todays Grimsby Telegraph

THE family of a pilot who gave away his precious wartime flying log have made an emotional appeal for its return.

Cheryl Larkin and her brother Shane have intensified the search for the Second World War treasure that meant so much to their father Jack. He was the landlord of a Lincolnshire pub and proud of his RAF service record but reluctantly agreed to relinquish his prize possession. They believe that former 36 Squadron pilot Mr Larkin always regretted handing over his flight log – but died, aged 86, in June 2011, before he had the chance to ask for it back.

Licensee of the former Red Lion Inn, at Caistor, for seven years from 1977, he returned with wife Joyce to his native North-East on his retirement due to ill health in the early 1980s.

It was during his time in the Lincolnshire market town that the flying log was given to someone with an interest in RAF heritage. It details his flights from bases in India, South Africa and the UK between 1942 and 1945.

But the log doesn’t tell how close to death Mr Larkin came 11 years after the war ended. On October 10, 1956, a Lockheed Neptune he had been due to fly hit a Scottish mountain – and there were no survivors. The aircraft was based at Topcliffe, in North Yorkshire, but diverted to RAF Ballykelly in Northern Ireland for an anti-submarine exercise.

“My dad had a really lucky escape on that occasion when he was due to fly over the Irish Sea,” said daughter Cheryl, who lives in Hartlepool. “But he received a phone call and had to return home immediately because he heard his mother was seriously ill,” said Cheryl.

“Another pilot flew that day and the aircraft crashed on the Mull of Kintyre, killing all nine crew on board.

“After the war he stayed with the RAF and had a peace-time flying career during which he met famous people like world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano.

At some stage when he had the pub at Caistor he handed over his log books. He always regretted it but other things always took precedence over trying to get them back. Now we’ve got a memory box containing his pilot’s wings and other memorabilia – and it’s the time to get everything back for future generations of the family.

Jack’s son Shane Larkin said: Dad enlisted in 1942 and was sent to South Africa where he qualified as a fighter pilot in 1944. He travelled all over the world during his service career. After the war he was also a member of a high-speed flying squadron which tried to break the sound barrier over the Great Bitter Lake in Egypt. He was in the RAF for two periods, from 1942 until 1951, and he later re-enlisted. But we don’t know the exact dates because his log is missing.

David Stacey, the chairman of Hartlepool RAF Association, has already tried to trace the books.

“I have spoken with Mr Larkin’s daughter and she is determined to follow this search through until she finds the log books,” said Mr Stacey.

“Her father was John William Larkin (commonly known as Jack) and served in the RAF in two stints from 1942 until 1961.

“His RAF service number was 1676196 and he held the rank of flight sergeant.

“Cheryl believes that he may have given his RAF flying log books to a local RAF Association branch.

“I’ve already contacted the RAFA at Cleethorpes who have no knowledge of it. And I placed a notice in the RAF Association national magazine Air Mail.

“It is distributed to our 65,000 members – and two contacted me to say they remembered Jack, but couldn’t shed any light on the whereabouts of his book.

“I have contacted the three major air museums in Lincolnshire asking if they have it and all have contacted me to say they don’t.

“Jack’s family would appreciate it if it was to be returned now.”

Do you know where Jack’s flying log went? Call Cheryl on 01429 289437 or 07711 854483.

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