Video: Cookstown WWII hero reflects on Battle of Britain

Cookstown’s oldest World War Two veteran was this year honoured by Mid Tyrone RAF Association as the last man to carry their standard before it was laid up at Derryloran Parish Church, on Remembrance Sunday.

Joe Campbell from Stewart Avenue, served with the RAF for seven years between 1939-1946 before being demobbed.

WWII veteran Joe Campbell with a picture of himself in his RAF uniform in 1946

WWII veteran Joe Campbell with a picture of himself in his RAF uniform in 1946

The 94-year-old told the Mail how his seven years of service took him to Manchester, London and as far afield as North Africa, when he served in countries including Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and later Palestine, Israel and Italy.

As a driver for the RAF he said he always carried a rifle with him but thankfully never had to use it.

“I was in the RAF just over seven years,” he told our reporter. “I was a driver... driving the Parachute Regiment. When I finished with that I was posted to North Africa.”

From there, Joe worked in numerous other countries before the war came to an end, and he finished his service.

“I was one of the lucky lads that came home all in one piece,” he added, “something to be thankful for”.

“I think the worst part of it apart from North Africa, was the Battle of Britain. It was atrocious, it was something that will always stick in my mind - the number of planes.

“I was serving in London at the time and it was almost like a swarm of bees, there was so many - that was night and day.

“That kept up for, I think it was 18 months.”

As for what he did after the war, he said: “When I came home I met my wife Tempie Wilkinson, and we were married in England and we had a family of six. Five girls and one boy.”

Speaking about his recent honour he added: “I was really delighted to carry the standard, and being the last Ulsterman to do so - it is something that I will always remember.

Ron Griffin, chair of the Mid Tyrone branch of the RAF Association, said: “I knew he was in the Second World War, and I said ‘Joe will you carry the standard?’

“Joe carried the standard, and I presented it to Canon Porteous to be laid up in the church for the rest of time.”

Former RAFA chair Margaret Wilson read at the service.