Second World War veteran John Stewart Hart received quite the birthday celebration on Sunday.
Two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet fighter jets did a flyby to honour the Naramata man who was celebrating his 100th birthday.
“I just happened to be born in Sackville, N.B., 100 years ago, happened to be accepted to the RAF in 1939 and ended up flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain, and I survived,” said Hart in a press release. “I would like to take this recognition and dedicate it to those who fought and died and to those who survived, that we do not forget them.” Squadron Leader (retired) Hart is believed to be the last surviving Canadian Battle of Britain pilot living in Canada.
During the Battle of Britain-which ultimately saved the United Kingdom from disaster at the hands of Nazi Germany early in the war-he flew the famous Supermarine Spitfire with the Royal Air Force. Squadron Leader (Retired) Hart’s actual birthday is Sept. 11, but the flyby that took place on Sept. 18 was in conjunction with the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In addition to his service in the Battle of Britain, Hart also saw action in Burma and Italy. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on June 22, 1945 and released from the RAF in 1946.
“The Battle of Britain was a pivotal moment in the Second World War, and it is truly a privilege for 409 Squadron to be able to mark the 100th birthday of Squadron Leader Hart and honour his service in that historic conflict,” said Lieutenant-Colonel William Radiff, Commanding Officer, 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron.
The flyby occurred over Hart’s residence in Naramata at 2 p.m., and was conducted by aircraft from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta.