Rotary Club of Littleport — Update

A tribute to John Crane — Airman, Haulier, Councillor, Rotarian and Gentleman.

Sadly John died on the 17th August 2019 age 96 years. John was born in Bicester on 22nd September 1923.

John, was very young, when he and his parents moved to Littleport. The family moved into a Granby Street house, which later became Coleby’s. After leaving school John worked with his father in his haulage contracting business.

When World War 2 broke out in 1939, John volunteered to join the Royal Air Force but was not called up until his nineteenth birthday in 1942. Enlisting at Lord’s Cricket Ground he began his pilot training flying a Tiger Moth. John was later sent to America to continue his training flying Harvards, Dakotas and many more in Miami and Oklahoma— gaining his wings on 5th February 1944.

John came home in October 1944 on a troop ship—frequently the Atlantic Liners were used as troop ships, the Queen Mary alone carried 750,000 troops across the Atlantic during WW2.

During John’s voyage to England he was accompanied by Frank Sinatra, who was there to entertain the troops.

John then joined the Glider Pilot Regiment to train as a glider pilot and was involved in a number of major operations, Firstly Market Garden 17 September 1944—Some may Remember the film A Bridge too far. John fresh with his New Wings was deployed as a C47/Dakota Tug pilot which towed a glider to Arnhem together with hundreds of others.

Varsity on 24th March 1945, which was the most successful airborne operation of World War 2. John then flew to Hamminkeln in Germany in a Horsa Glider which was towed by a Halifax Bomber, John landed his glider in a field with a copse. He then had to find his own way home. After the war ended John was involved in the Berlin Air Lift, dropping food supplies into Germany.

John was demobbed in January 1946 and came home, to continue working in the family Haulage Business.

John became very much involved in many committees in Littleport, including serving over 40 years on both Parish Council and the Townlands Charity. Following in his Father Jacks footsteps — John was Chainman of the Parish Council, for many years.

Others were Littleport Village Hall, The Rotary Club, The Leisure Centre Committee and East Cambs District Council. John also helped to run tea dances and whist drives for several years. John held the Deputy Church Warden position here at St Georges for over 10 years and while still being involved with the Royal Observer Corps.

John was a great fan of Ken Dodd and also a great supporter of Arsenal Football Team and travelled to attend many matches. John and Joyce spent many years enjoying ballroom dancing together and John took interest in anything to do with aeroplanes going to lots of air shows and was lucky enough to win a trip on Concorde to celebrate their Ruby Wedding Anniversary, flying from Mildenhall to London and back.

John also took all the family on a gliding holiday at St Just in Cornwall in 1968 which everyone enjoyed. John married Joyce on 26th October 1944 here in St George’s and they would have been celebrating their 75th Wedding Anniversary this year. John and Joyce went on to have three children, eight grandchildren and 14 greatgrandchildren. John was dearly loved by all his family, will be greatly missed by everyone and fondly remembered.

John Crane was a founder Member of our club, which was charted in May 1982 He was our 3rd President for the Rotary Year 1984/85

If you want to have a chat about becoming involved in Rotary, call Ian Burrows on: 07803 088352 If you want to find out more about our Rotary Club. Take a look at our website:

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