Sergeant Joseph Beckett Thompson (566058) served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He was the son of Thomas Thompson and Sarah Thompson of Magheragall Co. Antrim.
He attended Lisburn Junior Technical High School before joining the Royal Air Force as an Aircraft Apprentice in September 1932. By August 1935, he passed out as a qualified fitter. In the following years, he undertook pilot training and gained his wings. At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Thompson served as a Pilot with RAF 25 Squadron at RAF Northolt, London.
Joseph died on 31st July 1940 aged 24 years old. At the time, the Royal Air Force was involved in the Battle of Britain defending the skies over the United Kingdom from enemy fighters. He was the pilot of Bristol Blenheim L1408 and had taken off to test the Airborne Interception radar system. During the mission, his plane collided with Bristol Blenheim L6722 of RAF 29 Squadron over the Bristol Channel.
Aircraftman E.J. Toy and Civilian Radar Engineer Mr. D.M. Gordon of RAF No. 32 Maintenance Unit died in Thompson’s plane. The occupants of the other plane; Sergeant E. Waite, Sergeant C.J. Richardson, and Leading Aircraftman T. Ward of RAF No. 32 Maintenance Unit also died as a result of the collision.
Joseph Beckett Thompson’s grave is in Grave 194 of Magheragall Church of Ireland, Magheragall, Co. Antrim. His name is on the Lisburn War Memorial, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. His headstone bears the inscription:
Until the day break and the shadows flee away.