Jackie Mann

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Jackie Mann DFM (11 June 1914 – 12 November 1995) was a British former RAF fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, who in later life was kidnapped by Islamists in Lebanon in May 1989, and held hostage for more than two years.

Early life[edit]

Born in Northampton on 11 June 1914, Mann joined the RAFVR in Reading in 1938. As a Sergeant Pilot (Service No 127025[1]) he was posted to No. 64 Squadron RAF in July 1940 flying the Spitfire. Mann was shot down by Royal Navy AA fire on 16 August. He was then posted to No 92 Squadron RAF in late August, and was wounded in action on 14 September. Serving with No.91 Squadron later in 1941, on 4 April Mann was again shot down and wounded, being badly burned. His victor was either Oberst Adolf Galland or Leut. Robert Menge of JG 26. Awarded a DFM, he underwent plastic surgery at East Grinstead Hospital. A member of the Guinea Pig Club. He met his wife Dilys Pritchard [2]- commonly known as "Sunnie" - in wartime London when Sunnie was an ambulance driver and Jackie was recovering from his severe burns. They married at Chiswick Registry Office in 1943.[2]

When fit he joined 1 ADF at Hendon, and then served with Ferry Command over the North Atlantic routes.[3] His final fighter score was 5 destroyed, 1 probable, and 3 damaged. He was later promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader.

After the war Mann served as Chief Pilot with Middle East Airlines, Mann and his wife Sunnie moving to Lebanon where they subsequently lived for over 40 years. Jackie also ran the Pickwick pub when he retired. Sunnie ran a successful horse riding school.

Kidnap[edit]

On 13 May 1989, Mann was kidnapped in Beirut by Khalaya al-Kifah al-Musallah or "Armed Struggle Cells", a previously unknown terrorist group linked to the pro-Iranian Shi'ite Muslim militant organisation, Hezbollah.

The group demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners it claimed were being held in Britain, accused of killing Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali in 1987; in fact, no-one linked to the murder was being held by UK authorities.

The British embassy had warned three days before Mann was seized that a Shi'a group was preparing to take another Western hostage. The Foreign Office and British embassy in Lebanon had renewed warnings to British citizens still living in Beirut to leave immediately following the Salman Rushdie affair in February of that year.

Release[edit]

Jackie Mann was eventually released on 24 September 1991 after negotiations by the British and US governments succeeded in bringing about the release of several Western hostages. He had spent time with other UK and Irish hostages, notably journalist John McCarthy, church envoy Terry Waite and author Brian Keenan.

On his release, he was taken firstly to Damascus, Syria, where he was reunited with his wife, and then flown by VC10 to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, and spent some time recuperating and debriefing in the Officers' Mess, before returning to normal life. His health suffered greatly during captivity and he never really recovered. He had been kept for prolonged periods in solitary confinement, sometimes in chains. He lost over 18 kilograms in weight and suffered from heart and lung problems. He also suffered from a skin problem which required medication after being badly burnt when he was shot down as a pilot.

After his release, Jackie and Sunnie Mann settled in Greek Southern Cyprus, in the capital Nicosia. He was appointed a CBE in late 1991.

The couple wrote a book in 1992 called Yours Till The End: Harrowing Life of a Beirut Hostage. Sunnie also wrote Holding On in 1991.

Sunnie Mann died in November 1992 from lung cancer.

Jackie Mann died in Nicosia[2] on 12 November 1995. He was 81 years old.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/bobhsoc/
  2. ^ a b c Bishop, Edward (2002). The Daily Telegraph Book of Airmen's Obituaries. Grub Street. p. 226. ISBN 1-902304-99-3. 
  3. ^ Aces High , Shores & Wiliams 1994, page 424

External links[edit]