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Hero's Star of Courage medal given to museum

A replica of a bravery medal awarded to an Australian war hero 72 years after his death was presented to March Museum last week (Wednesday, June 15).

Jim Hocking Star of Courage

The Star of Courage is the latest addition to the display in memory of Jim Hocking, the young airman who sacrificed his life to protect March from a potential disaster during the Second World War.

The copy of the medal was brought back from Australia last month by Mike Cornwell, secretary of the Fenland Twinning Association, after he had attended several ceremonies held there in Hocking's honour.

The Star of Courage is awarded for "acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril". Jim Hocking is the 149th recipient. It was awarded for his heroism during a tragic accident in July, 1944, the details of which remained secret for decades. 

 When the aircraft he was piloting caught fire on a training flight, Hocking ordered his crew to bale out while he stayed to steer the plane away from the town centre. It crashed instead in a field on the outskirts.

The medal was presented to Jim's younger brother Alan and the Hocking family by the Governor of Queensland at a ceremony in Brisbane.

Another ceremony was held in Jim Hocking's home town of Nambour, part of the Sunshine Coast Council, which is twinned with Fenland District Council. Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson visited Fenland last year

Mr Cornwell said: "My wife and I had the immense honour of being invited to the investiture at Government House and that was the start of a very busy few days which included a public acknowledgement of the award by the Sunshine Coast Council and a formal meeting at the Nambour Museum.

"At the museum I was presented with a copy of the Star of Courage on condition that I passed it on to March Museum to add to its display."

The medal was formally presented to the museum by Cllr Kay Mayor, vice-chairman of Fenland District Council. She handed it over to Ben Shepherd of the March Youth Heritage Group.

Ben said: "It is right that Jim Hocking and his sacrifice always be remembered."

The group is currently making a DVD about Jim Hocking that it plans to give to the museum. It will also be sending a copy to the museum in Nambour.

The DVD is one of various projects the group are working on in collaboration with 20Twenty Productions CIC. 

  • The March Youth Heritage Group are currently looking for young people with an interest in gaming and programming as well as history and heritage to work on an App project to promote local history and heritage throughout all the museums in the Cambridgeshire Fens. Anyone interested in joining should email Tim Nightingale (tim@20twentyproductions.co.uk)  or Amanda Carlin (amandacarlin@hotmail.com).

Article added June 21, 2016