THE son of a former teacher and RAF pilot has paid tribute to his father’s “incredible” life ahead of his milestone birthday.

John Thompson, who celebrates his 101st birthday today, taught Latin and classical studies at Harwich and Dovercourt High School and was its second master.

From travelling around the world and hitch-hiking across Canada, to flying with eggs on the floor of his plane to check its smoothness, it’s fair to say Mr Thompson has had a remarkable life.

Now living in a care home, Mr Thompson lived in Dovercourt for more than 50 years.

During his incredible life, he was sent to Canada for two and a half years during the Second World War to be trained as a pilot.

Gazette: Mr Thompson in his RAF uniformMr Thompson in his RAF uniform

During this period, one his sons David, 68, described “the high point in his life” when he hitch-hiked through the Rockies to Seattle and Vancouver, and was stationed in the Prairies, Prince Edward Island, Ottowa, North Quebec and by Lake Huron for 15 months.

Upon returning to England he joined a Mosquito Squadron until the war ended, before flying dispatches to London while covering the famous Nuremburg Trials.

A fond tale enjoyed by all the family often shared by him became known as the “12 egg story” in which he would proudly boast flights he piloted would regularly have a dozen eggs on the floor of the plane - and none had ever broken during the trips.

Mr Thompson was also a “flying newspaper boy” jetting from Croydon to Belgium, France and the Channel Islands to deliver the early morning newspapers and post.

Gazette: Joan, John, and their grandchildrenJoan, John, and their grandchildren

David added: “He was a great bridge player as well, he would often play against the other teachers.

“He told me when he went to Canada for the war they travelled by ship and he played all the way across the Atlantic.

“He certainly has had a wonderful, intriguing life.”

Mr Thompson found home in Dovercourt not long before the Great Flood in 1953, before a brief stint living in the Midlands. However, in 1961, alongside wife Joan, he found a home in Fronks Avenue, where they lived together until 2014.

Sadly, Joan died just one week before his 100th birthday in 2020.

“We returned to Dovercourt which was a lovely place for him to bring up a young family,” David, who is one of two sons, explained.

“He had every reason to come back to the area. It was thriving back then. There was the holiday camp, the caravan park, amusements down at the front and the winter gardens on the slopes. I had a great time.

Gazette: John and Joan celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in 2009John and Joan celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in 2009

“For his 100th birthday I printed out some pictures to help him recall some memories. He recalled what lovely a place Harwich was and his and Joan’s favourite spot was near the Old Naval Crane where they would often sit overlooking the estuary and watch the ships go by.

“He loved being by the sea, the setting of his house. He certainly had fond memories and enjoyed his teaching career greatly. He loved the school.”

Mr Thompson’s love of travel never left him and he combined the two.

He led school trips abroad including visits to Rome, Spain, Switzerland and Germany, and his enthusiasm for exploring rubbed off on his younger son, Roger, who has since shared this enthusiasm and travelled to 95 countries.

The final part of Mr Thompson’s career was spent at Harwich and Dovercourt High School, where he was second master and part of the senior management team.

The school has pledged to ensure it doesn’t let the occasion past without drawing up a collection of memories.

Former teachers and students have come together to collate all the messages to be put in birthday cards and as part of a memory book for Mr Thompson to enjoy.

More memories and messages are welcome. You can get involved by emailing