This article is about a young boy from an Rhodesian mining village who became the top-scoring World War II flying ace for both his country of birth and his ancestral home of Greece. Seeing action in Europe and the Mediterranean, Ioannis Agorastos "John" Plagis played an important role in the Allied defence of Malta during 1942, led No. 126 Squadron RAF during the invasion of Normandy and was shot down over Arnhem during Operation Market Garden. After returning home in 1948 he moved into the north Salisbury street that had been named after him—his address was 1 John Plagis Avenue—and became a relatively prominent businessman, serving on the board of Central African Airways. He also forayed into politics as an associate of fellow WWII RAF veteran Ian Smith, running unsuccessfully for the Rhodesian Front in the 1962 general election. The story has a sad ending, unfortunately—Plagis died in his mid-50s, reportedly by suicide, in 1974.
This article passed a GA review about a year ago and I believe it now meets the FA criteria. Any and all comments are welcome. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:23, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Support – only two comments, neither of earth-shaking importance:
Showing my ignorance, I imagine, but I'm confused by Plagis's adopted citizenship: you mention that in 1939 he lacked British citizenship, but that after the war he took Rhodesian citizenship.
The Empire and Commonwealth had one common "British" citizenship until after the war, when it was decided to have separate (albeit at this time still linked) citizenships for each Commonwealth country. Southern Rhodesian nationality was therefore separate following the British Nationality Act 1948 (Westminster legislation) and the Southern Rhodesian Citizenship and British Nationality Act 1949 (passed at Salisbury). I think any explanation of this in the article would be unfortunately long and obstructive so I think it would be best to sidestep it by simply saying he "was not a citizen"—the meaning of this is clear from context. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:38, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
"having spent the night with a girl, drinking" – it doesn't bother me, but remember that line of Tom Lehrer's: "In my youth there were words you couldn't say in front of a girl; now you can't say 'girl'."
Point noted, but I don't really know what would be better in this case. "female friend"? "young woman"? "young lady"? In my view this needlessly dances around the point and, at least in the last case, sounds frankly patronising. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:38, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
I think "young woman" might be more prudent, but I leave it entirely in your hands while I retreat to a safe distance. Tim rileytalk 19:15, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Excellent article: readable, comprehensive, well proportioned, fully referenced, good images. No hesitation in supporting for FA. Tim rileytalk 10:14, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you very much for the support and the very kind words, Tim—I'm glad you like the article and enjoyed reviewing it. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:38, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
SupportComments: Mainly trivia, but there are a few points I think that need looking at. Otherwise a neat and informative short article.
In lead: "about a year" sounds a little casual. Perhaps "After a spell as..."
"his usual personal decorations" – readers might need reminding
Have substituted "He added to this a full rendering of "kay" and other personal decorations."
"Leading No. 126 Squadron on raids into Normandy during the Allied invasion, Plagis also took part in many of the attacks on German positions in northern France and the Low Countries that followed over the next few months. The syntax is wrong; it fuses two separate activities: (1) his raids into Normandy and (2) his subsequent attacks in northern France and the Low Countries. I suggest: "After leading No. 126 Squadron on raids into Normandy during the Allied invasion, Plagis took part in many of the attacks on German positions in northern France and the Low Countries that followed over the next few months". That will do it.
There's the same problem with "Leading the wing despite being two ranks below wing commander, he was officially promoted to squadron leader on 28 March..." You could simply add "After..." to the front of the sentence, or for variety say: "He led the wing despite being two ranks below wing commander, before being promoted to squadron leader on 28 March..." Note that I have deleted officially - were there unofficial promotions?
In a nutshell: it is not uncommon in an operational situation, particularly where the unit is constantly evolving due to deaths, casualties etc for semi-official "temporary" or "acting" promotions to be made in the field, and sometimes held for years, without the official ("substantive") rank actually changing. It is also possible for an officer to serve in a role higher than that suggested than his rank without such a promotion being made (as was the case with Plagis, who filled the role of a wing commander while keeping his lower rank). Anyway the point is that I included the word "officially" to make clear this wasn't a field promotion. I think you're right that we don't really need it, though, so I've binned it. Thanks for this —Cliftonian(talk) 13:27, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
One of the best-known Rhodesian flyers of the war, he married in 1954 and had three sons and a daughter." Unrelated facts shouldn't be enjoined within a single sentence. I think I would ditch the words "One of the best-known Rhodesian flyers of the war", as this fact is well established.
Suicide: I'm a bit surprised that, given the statement that he had never truly readjusted to civilian life, there has een no previous mention of depression or other evidence of maladjustment. This is 26 years – half his lifetime. Thus his suicide comes as a complete surprise. Is there nothing in the sources that gives earlier clues as to his state of mind prior to his taking his life?
Not that I can see, and indeed this was also surprising to me, hence me placing the qualifier "according to Lauren St John, an author from Gadzema" before it. I am still looking for sources online but it seems there are very few for the latter part of his life. Getting hold of back copies of Rhodesian papers like the Rhodesia Herald would be very helpful for investigating this further. —Cliftonian(talk) 13:27, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Another thing that surprises me is that, given he was one of Rhodesia's best-known and most decorated air aces, had a street named after him, was a friend and confidante of Ian Smith, etc., there is no public record of his date of birth or the date of his death. Surely the latter was reported in newspapers?
Again, see above. I am sure it would have been reported in the Herald and probably other Rhodesian papers too but unfortunately the archives I know of are not geographically feasible for me to visit (the ones I know of are in Zim, South Africa and Australia). It does not seem implausible to me however that Plagis might have had an obituary in the UK press as he was a decorated RAF war veteran. I will keep digging and try to find more information. —Cliftonian(talk) 13:27, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Brian for the kind words and the review. I will mention here that my attempts to find more information on Plagis online have unearthed that it seems he was somehow involved in the episode in 1966 when L. Ron Hubbard attempted to set up a "haven for Scientology" in Rhodesia before being deported. Hubbard apparently "purchased an interest in the holdings and Investments of Mr. John Plagis, a local property owner, and a holding company was being formed for them". A google search for "Plagis hubbard" throws up mentions of a legal case, Plagis v. Hubbard 1975 (1) SA 469, but unfortunately I can only get the book previews for these. I think this warrants further investigation and inclusion in the article, so I'll get on that as well. —Cliftonian(talk) 13:27, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
It might be worth breiefly adding mention of the Hubbard connection, which could be cited to The Chronicle via the courtesy link. If more comes to light you could expand. As Plagis won the DFC it his highly likely that an obit appeared in The Daily Telegraph, but without a death date, that would be hard to find. You could ask Tim if he can help – he seems to have means of accessing old newspapers, though not necessarily the DT. I don't think, however, that these issues should delay the article's promotion to FA, and have upgraded accordingly. Brianboulton (talk) 13:36, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you very much for all your help Brian. I have requested Tim's help in this direction. —Cliftonian(talk) 18:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Images are appropriately captioned and licensed. Nikkimaria (talk) 19:39, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Support Comments -- Recusing myself from delegate duties to review...
Copyedited the expression as I tend to do, so pls let me know any concerns there.
Style-wise, a few things:
I'm pretty sure we don't start with rank in the lead unless it's one-star and above. I can't point to a guideline on that but it's one I've observed through dozens of military bios at MilHist A-Class Review and at FAC so it seems to be the convention.
I don't remember seeing this guideline but I have no problem taking this out. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I've never seen the point of the post-noms line at the top of the infobox, given they're in the first line of the lead and are spelt out at the bottom of the infobox. Certainly they aren't required, although they don't seem to be forbidden either, so will leave to you.
Someone else seems to have taken these out. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Likewise the flag icons in the infobox seem superfluous to me. Again, though not forbidden, many of us get by without them without any objection at ACR or FAC. Again, will leave to you.
I personally like the little flags in this kind of article so I'll leave them there for now, but I don't feel particularly strongly about this and if consensus says take them out I will do so. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Content-wise, just a few things:
"He was officially promoted to flying officer on 1 October 1942." Looks to me based on the Gazette entry at FN25 that he was a probationary Flying Officer.
"He led the wing despite being two ranks below wing commander, before being promoted to squadron leader on 28 March." FN30, the only citation for this statement, simply records his promotion to squadron leader. Has some other source drawn attention to his rank relative to commanding a wing?
Not that I can see. In fact a quick check shows the sources referring to this posting seem to incorrect refer to him as a wing commander when he wasn't one at the time. Probably simpler if we just take this fragment out and rephrase. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
On a related note, I see the conversation above re. UK newspaper obits. I have access to The Times and Sunday Times digital archives through the National Library of Australia and a search there revealed nothing on Plagis after his DSO in 1944. Interestingly, though, that item refers to him as Squadron Leader Plagis, before his substantive promotion in March 1945, so it may be he was acting or temp s/l while he was leading the wing, meaning that in effect he wasn't two ranks below wing commander anyway...
That seems likely. Regarding obituaries, the British Library claims on its website to have back copies of the Rhodesian papers, and Tim is going there in a few days, so I have asked him to have a look. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Article structure and level of detail seem fine. Obviously be good to find out some more on his death, especially the date, but I've had at least one bio promoted to FA without that, so I wouldn't say it should hold up promotion as long as the effort's been made.
Image licensing looks okay, all sourced from Imperial War Museum.
No issues leapt out re. source formatting/reliability.
Nice work as usual, John. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 00:24, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you very much for the review and the kind words Ian. I'm glad you like the article. Cheers —Cliftonian(talk) 08:57, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, it's great to see you bringing your considerable article-writing talents to a WWII ace bio -- I'll scan again when/if Tim provides any further info from the library but confident enough to support in any case. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 09:21, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you very much Ian! I'm flattered you hold me in such regard. Hope you're well and have a great rest of the week. —Cliftonian(talk) 11:21, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I am very thankful to my friend Tim, who has located The Rhodesia Herald for 1974 on microfiche at the British Library in London. He has ordered it for Wednesday (20/8), and will check through for an obituary for Plagis. —Cliftonian(talk) 13:33, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
I am very sorry to report that I have drawn a blank. There may have been an obit in The Rhodesia Herald in the latter half of 1974, but I'm afraid I ran out of time at the BL today after reading through all the news pages of the Herald (there is no obit section as such) from 1 Jan 1974 to the end of June. I had underestimated how much longer it takes to scan images of pages with the naked eye rather than pressing search buttons on digitised pages, and alas I ran out of time half way through the year. So sorry, Cliftonian! Tim rileytalk 17:19, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
On the contrary, thank you for trying so hard to help! I can't imagine reading through half a year's worth of 40-year-old African newspapers could have been much fun for you. Oh well, it's a shame we couldn't find anything but I guess we'll have to draw a blank on this for now. There is no reason the death date cannot be added later if an obituary shows up. Thank you again Tim for making such an effort and investing so much of your time. It is really appreciated. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:27, 20 August 2014 (UTC)