03 September 2010

Sadly the death of Wing Commander John Freeborn has been announced. Read the obituary in the Yorkshire Post.

I first got to know John Freeborn, in 2003, through a visitor to the North Weald Airfield Museum. The visitor’s cousin, Roy Smith, had been a neighbour of John’s when they both lived in Spain. I got in touch with Roy and invited him and John to our house in North Weald where my wife and I were living at that time.

As we settled down in the lounge I asked John if he had ever been to North Weald before. His answer was an emphatic “never”. He had blanked it out until recently. The difficult question then was, did he want to visit North Weald Parish Churchyard. Roy said yes. This was one of the most emotional days I can remember. There was Roy, my wife and I, with John looking at the grave of Hulton–Harrop, the man he shot down, on instruction from his Flight Leader. On the Battle of Barking Creek page there is a photograph of John looking at the grave, taken by my wife, Elaine.

I think this visit, along with visits to the Museum and the Squadron Club, where he received warm welcomes, gave John closure.

We became good friends of John’s and he visited our house again and was invited to become an Honorary Member of the Museum.

Memorably, whenever we went to Australia to visit our daughter, which we did about every nine months, we would send John a postcard. He always replied, thanking us, with a two page hand written letter.

Bill Aitken

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