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Second World War airman’s family salute Glasgow Central station’s tribute to fallen heroes

© Jamie WilliamsonRelatives of Private James McPhilemy hold up his photo and medals at the plaque at Glasgow Central Station
Relatives of Private James McPhilemy hold up his photo and medals at the plaque at Glasgow Central Station

A war hero’s three daughters made a 400-mile pilgrimage to honour their dad at one of Scotland’s biggest railway stations.

Sergeant John Hannah became the youngest to receive the Victoria Cross in the Second World War after fighting a blaze on a bomber aircraft with his bare hands.

He died aged 25 after sustaining horrific injuries when he fought the fire on his plane after it was riddled with shrapnel during a raid over Nazi-occupied Belgium in 1940. His daughters Jenny Newman, Jackie Eckles and Jo Burdit travelled across the UK for the event to mark the 77th anniversary of VE Day at Glasgow Central Station.

They unveiled a tribute in his honour on platform one as part of a poignant wall of 156 memorial plaques marking the lives of men and women in the armed forces.

Jackie, from Sheffield, said: “It was lovely for the family to come together and remember him. My dad would have been so surprised by this. He was a humble and quiet man. He even used to use his RAF scarf to hide his VC.

“It was all really moving. We always say that it is great to have a hero dad but we always just wanted our father to be alive and with us.”

Sergeant John Hannah’s daughters Jacqueline Eckles, Jo Burdit and Jenny Newman (Pic: Jamie Williamson)

Arctic convoy hero Jimmy Doherty, 96, from Glasgow, also unveiled a memorial bench during the ceremony which attracted hundreds of people. He said: “It is important that we do not forget the sacrifices that people made.”

Sadie McPhilemy, 80, also visited with a picture of her brother James who was killed at the age of 20 in France just after D-Day in 1944.

Sadie, from Glasgow, said: “It is a lovely plaque. I never expected so many people to be down here. For years, I would just see his picture on the wall and I didn’t know who he was. It was too painful for my mum to talk about. It was only later we found out who he was and what happened.”

Former paratrooper Terry McCourt led the campaign to install the plaques. He said: “I have been overwhelmed by the turnout.

“During both world wars, hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women said goodbye to their loved ones for the last time at Central Station, so it is right to have these tributes here.”