Tributes for Eastbourne Spitfire pilot who died aged 92

Maurice Macey SUS-150617-144457001
Maurice Macey SUS-150617-144457001

A Spitfire pilot who protected Eastbourne during World War Two has died aged 92.

Maurice Macey, from Pevensey, passed away at his home on Friday September 4.

The veteran fighter pilot – who was nicknamed Hawkeye because of his ability to spot aircraft – flew more than 62 operations including those on D-Day.

During his service Maurice was sometimes responsible for protecting Eastbourne by pushing unmanned doodlebug bombs into the sea using the nose of his plane.

He was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Normandy in August 1944 landing in a field full of German troops where he was captured as a prisoner of war.

He remained a prisoner until the end of the war moving between several camps before being sent on the infamous Long March in 1945.

Hundreds of prisoners died from starvation and exposure during the march as German troops retreated from the advancing Russian forces.

Maurice was able to survive and help other allied prisoners as his love of nature allowed him to find edible roots and plants on the march.

He was eventually found by American GIs who were able help him get back to England.

After the war Maurice settled down in Pevensey where he raised a family with his wife Arlene.

He is survived by his daughter Merrylyn Lester and grandchildren Caroline and Richard.

Merrylyn said, “He never felt being a Spitfire pilot was something to be glorified as he felt war is not glorious.

“But he did enjoy flying, Biggin Hill took him up in a Spitfire for his 90th birthday.

“He said it was really nice to fly over the south coast and look down onto the golf courses and scenery without someone chasing you.”

Maurice was a keen golfer and member of Eastbourne Royal Golf Club for more than 70 years.

A well known member of the community, Maurice helped raise money for several causes and organisations around Eastbourne and Pevensey.

He also remained an active part of the veterans’ community throughout his life – attending several events with the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger, which holds several Spitfires.

A spokesman for the Heritage Hangar said, “Maurice was a true gentleman who loved to visit us on every occasion possible. He will be sorely missed by all of us in the heritage hangar and our sympathies are with his family at this time. God speed Maurice on your last journey. You were indeed a warrior.”

Historian Dilip Sakar, wrote about Maurice in Spitfire Voices in 2006.

Dilip said, “I was glad to meet Maurice Macey and glad to have him in my book.

“In many ways I suppose he was typical of his ilk, these men only flew for a short time in long lives but there was so much fit into those short years it never left them.”

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