Hector Maclean


Born: 9 December, 1913, in Glasgow. Died: 19 July 2007, aged 93.

HECTOR Maclean was one of the last surviving pilots of 602 City of Glasgow Squadron (the Glasgow Squadron) to have taken part in the Battle of Britain, during which he was badly wounded.

On 12 September, 1925, 602 was the first formed of the Auxiliary Air Force squadrons, which, as Hector was always at pains to point out, were not to be confused with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

The AAF was formed specifically to provide fully equipped operational squadrons for the RAF, ready for immediate mobilisation as the need might arise.

Hector applied to join 602, based at Abbotsinch, in 1933 and was invited to reapply on completing his legal studies. In November 1935, after graduation, he immediately embarked on his flight training, being commissioned as a pilot officer in March 1936. At that time, 602 was a light bomber squadron, flying Hawker Hinds, shortly afterwards to be converted to a fighter unit on Hawker Harts.

Flying in the 1930s was inherently dangerous; no radio, few navigational aids and in aircraft with limited range and a restricted operational ceiling, and so, extremely vulnerable to sudden changes of weather.

When war broke out, 602 was fully operational on Spitfires, having been among the first units (in spring 1939) to be so equipped, and was immediately relocated to Drem, in East Lothian, from where, on 16 October, 1939, the squadron, in company with 603 (City of Edinburgh) shared in the first German aircraft downed over Britain.

Mid-August 1940, saw 602 at Westhampnett, near Chichester, part of the Tangmere Wing; on 26 August, Hector, shortly due for promotion to flight lieutenant, was scrambled as a flight commander with the squadron to intercept two heavily escorted enemy bomber formations. In the ensuing mle he was severely wounded over the Channel, but managed to return and belly-land his badly damaged aircraft at Tangmere. His injuries resulted in the loss of his right leg below the knee and a lengthy hospitalisation.

Although no longer able to fly on operations, he continued to fly for the remainder of the war. Hector held a number of senior appointments in the rank of squadron leader and, latterly, wing commander. On 10 May, 1941 it fell to his lot as sector controller covering Ayrshire and south-west Scotland to report to his old commanding officer, His Grace The Duke of Hamilton, that a German had parachuted into Scotland and was at Eaglesham police station asking to speak to him - the German was Rudolf Hess.

Towards the end of the war, after a tour as senior controller in Northern Ireland, Hector was one of the group of senior controllers responsible for the air defences of London and south-east England. In recognition of his ten years and arduous service he received the Air Efficiency Award and Clasp.

Hector Maclean was born in 1913 into a family of three generations of Glasgow solicitors. He was educated at St Ninians Preparatory School, Moffat, Canford School, Dorset and the University of Glasgow, whence, after a brief flirtation with civil engineering, he graduated LLB in 1935. After the war, he joined the family firm Montgomerie Flemings, Fyfe, Maclean.

He had a first-class legal brain and developed a particular forte in the field of trusts and financial matters. Highly respected, he was involved with, and gave gladly of his expertise to a number of important charities and was for many years chairman of the Association for the Relief of Incurables in Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

The Clan Maclean Association, of which he was an honorary vice-president, was close to his heart, especially the restoration of Duart Castle, the clan seat on Mull.

A lifelong resident of Kilmacolm, where his parents had moved in his early boyhood, he was a fiercely jealous guardian of the fabric of the village; any planning or other proposal likely to be threatening was certain of a rigorous but balanced scrutiny and if need be, intervention.

This care and everyday involvement with the village and county in general was reflected by his appointment as a deputy lieutenant for Renfrewshire.

Long accustomed to discipline and the habit of command, Hector had a sometimes gruff demeanour - he was not one to suffer fools gladly - that belied an extremely kindly and humorous nature; he was a good raconteur and excellent company, although in later years increasing deafness made it important that one sat on his good side.

He wore easily the respect and affection shown to him by so many people, just as he wore his years.

He married first, Marcia Dods in 1941, by whom he had two sons, Donald and Marcus, and second, Rachael Hutchesson in 1949, by whom he had a daughter and a son. He is survived by all his children and his second wife.