Nambour man's heroic deeds not forgotten
WORLD War II RAAF pilot Jim Hocking, from Nambour, will be honoured by the town of March in the United Kingdom today for his heroic efforts that saved many lives.
The officer made the brave decision to sacrifice his own life to save his crew and the residents of the town of March in Fenland, Cambridgeshire, 75 years ago, on July 28 1944.
The 21-year-old was on his final training flight when the bomber's engine caught fire.
He ordered his crew to parachute to safety while he stayed in the Stirling bomber to divert it from crashing into the town and killing hundreds of people.
Pilot Officer Hocking was posthumously awarded the Australian Bravery Award the Star of Courage for his heroic actions.
His act has never been forgotten by the town of March, which is about 120km north of London.
Today the March Museum will honour Pilot Officer Hocking with an event to give people the chance to listen to letters written by him.
A book on Pilot Officer Hocking's life and actions - March Hero - will also be showcased at the event.
The BBC has honoured our region's war hero with a radio segment on his actions which will air on Sunday, July 28, and can be listened to online through the BBC app.
Pilot Officer Jim Hocking's brother Alan Hocking said it would be an emotional day for his family, but they were honoured that the townspeople of March still remembered and continued to honour Jim.
"Out of the tragedy of war a lasting friendship has developed with so many families in the March area, and March is now a second home to members of the Hocking family," Mr Hocking said.
"The March War Museum has a permanent display which includes maps, a model of Jim in his pilot's uniform and I have also provided them with a replica set of Jim's medals."
Councillor Jenny McKay has known the Hocking family for many years and said it was important we continued to honour Pilot Officer Hocking and his heroic deeds.
"I have now known his brother Alan who has kept the story of his heroic deeds of his brother that saved lives and now has allowed Nambour State College students to aim each year for the prestigious Jim Jockey Award. Through this, I feel I too have known Jim," Cr McKay said.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said Jim's sacrifice had led to the establishment in 1997 of a Friendship City Agreement between Fenland District Council and the former Maroochy Shire Council which continued with the formation of Sunshine Coast Council in 2008. This agreement was renewed by both councils in 2017, on the 20th anniversary of the agreement.
Mayor Jamieson said the Mutual Friendship Charter was based on a shared desire to pursue friendly relations and promote cooperation and understanding between the two areas.
"We have had many years of encouraging community connections between our two areas and opportunities for knowledge and skills transfer - and will continue to do so," he said.