John McAdam

Sergeant John McAdam served with the Royal Air Force in 41 Squadron at the height of the Battle of Britain and had many aerial battles with the Luftwaffe.


John McAdam


Flight Sergeant John McAdam from Gillingham, Kent lived in Belfast when war broke out in September 1939. He fought during the Battle of Britain and is buried in Islandmagee, Co. Antrim.

Flight Sergeant John McAdam (748076) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He saw action during the Battle of Britain with RAF 41 Squadron flying out of RAF Hornchurch, Essex.

Born in Gillingham, Kent on 21st March 1919, he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 28th April 1939 as a trainee pilot. McAdam lived in Belfast, Co. Antrim when war broke out in September 1939 and he received the call up to full-time duty.

On 30th October 1939, he went to No. 4 Initial Training Wing at Bexhill, East Sussex. A move to No. 6 Flying Training School at RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire followed on 9th December 1939. On completing his course, he received a posting to No. 6 Operational Training Unit at RAF Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire on 19th June 1940.

As the Battle of Britain began, John McAdam joined RAF 41 Squadron at RAF Catterick, North Yorkshire and converted to Spitfires.

John McAdam in the Battle of Britain

On 7th September 1940, Flight Sergeant John McAdam claimed a Dornier DO17. The same day also saw him crash at Leonard Drive, Drakes Farm, Rayleigh, Essex after combat over RAF Hornchurch in Spitfire P9430. The plane caught fire and the RAF wrote off the wreckage. McAdam escaped unhurt.

A second shooting down occurred on 23rd September 1940. His Spitfire N3118 was on patrol over the coast at Dover, Kent. He baled out after sustaining damage and was lucky. Rescued from the sea, he ended up in Dover Hospital.

McAdam’s third Spitfire crash was at Globe Road, Hornchurch, Essex, not far from the aerodrome. On 12th October 1940, his engine cut out soon after take-off. He was soon back in the air, claiming another Messerschmitt ME109 on 25th October 1940.

Remembering Flight Sergeant McAdam

He died around 1550hrs on 20th February 1941 after notching up six victories of his own. His Spitfire P7302 came down near Dover, Kent after at attack from Major Werner Molders of JG51. Reports suggest that McAdam was alive when he baled out of the stricken Spitfire. When recovered from the sea, he was dead, having taken a shot to the back as his parachute descended.

I feel that what these brave men gave for our country, many of them the ultimate sacrifice should never be allowed to be forgotten.

John Hewitt – Author and Historian.

On Saturday 2nd September 2017, the Royal Air Force staged a flypast over Islandmagee New Cemetery, Islandmagee, Co. Antrim to remember Flight Sergeant John McAdam and Squadron Leader Noel Henry Corry.

As mayor of this borough, it is humbling that among those who took to the skies to defend our freedom were two local men, Squadron Leader Noel Henry Corry, and Flight Sergeant John McAdam The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight carried out a flypast featuring Second World War aircraft.

Councillor Paul Reid – Mayor of Mid and East Antrim.

Flight Sergeant John McAdam’s grave is in Section D, Grave 48 of Ballyharry Cemetery, Islandmagee, Co. Antrim.