One-Armed Mac: The Story of Squadron Leader James MacLachlan DSO, DFC AND 2 BARS, CZECH WAR CROSSby Brian Cull, Roland Symons
Mac flew Fairey Battle light bombers during the Battle of France, winning his first DFC. He then retrained on fighters and flew Hurricanes towards the end of the Battle of Britain. Having volunteered to go overseas, he led a formation of six Hurricanes from the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Argus to the besieged island of Malta. Here, following several weeks of intense air combat during which he accounted for eight Italian and German aircraft, he was shot down by one of the Luftwaffe's top fighter aces, Oblt Joachim Müncheberg.
Severely wounded in the left arm, he nonetheless parachuted over the island and was rushed to hospital. The arm could not be saved. However, within sixteen days of the amputation, he persuaded his CO to allow him to fly a Magister two-seater, initially accompanied by another pilot, before going solo!
On his return to England, where he was fitted with an artificial arm, Mac was soon given command of No.1 Squadron equipped with Hurricane IICs for night intruder operations. By the end of 1942 he had accounted for five German night bombers and had been awarded the DSO and a Bar to his DFC, plus the Czech Military Cross.
Following a six-month goodwill trip to the United States, where he was feted as a fighter pilot hero wherever he went, he returned to operations with the Air Fighting Development Unit. In company with Geoffrey Page, he participated in the destruction of six Luftwaffe training aircraft in one single sortie; but, on his next mission, his Mustang was hit by ground fire when crossing the French coast and crash-landed, with Mac critically injured.
Taken prisoner, he died in captivity on 31 July 1943. Based on his diaries and letters, this is Mac's story, mainly told in his own words.
- Grub Street
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