The death in action of John Gillespie Magee Jr. has been announced by the British Air Ministry. A pilot officer, he is reported unofficially to have been shot down while flying a Spitfire. His vivid personality and brilliant mind made an unforgettable impression on those who knew him during his two summers spent on Martha’s Vineyard. After leaving here in the fall of 1940, he suddenly decided not to enter Yale, to which he had been admitted, but to go to Canada to train for the British Air service. He was sent overseas a few months ago.
John was the oldest son of Rev. John G. Magee, who spent the summer of 1940 at East Chop with his family, following twenty-five years of service as a missionary in China. During that summer here, Mr. Magee delivered addresses on China at several of the local churches. Mr. Magee is now associate rector of St. John’s Church, Washington, D.C.
John’s mother is of English birth, and John had spent most of his life in England. He was educated at an English public school before coming to this country in 1939. Three brothers, as well as his parents, survive.


His Place in the Sun

In a letter to a friend, while in training in Canada, he wrote:
“I have found my place in the sun! I am finding that flying has really been in my blood all the time and I didn’t know it..I am rather afraid that I shall emerge from this war as a hopeless illiterate, but it seems so unimportant now. I have almost forgotten the significance and identity of self in the great war machine of which I am an infinitesimal cog. It’s rather fun...It leaves us all with the gripping - and ironical - fear that the holocaust might have blown over before we have our chance in the skies over England. We have each a definite urge to leave our impress on the firmament, if only as a black smudge while spinning to earth for the last time.”
A former student at Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, he was the author of a book of poems published while he was at school. The Avonian recently published the following poem by the young pilot.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wing along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Oh, oh, the long, delicious, burning blue!
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand out touched the face of God.