Designated in 2023 as an Exceptional Person From the Past.

Nominator: Robert Pelley

Note: The brief summary below includes excerpts from Darrell Hiller’s essay “John Joseph ‘Joe’ Gilmore: Aeronautical Engineer.” See the link below for the full essay.

Born in east Belfast in June 1900, John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore was a pilot, engineer, parachutist, innovator, inventor, and search and rescue specialist. He first came to Newfoundland before the outbreak of WWII, as an employee of the British carrier Imperial Airways. He helped set up the flying boat base at Botwood and flew as an engineer on several of Imperial’s experimental transatlantic flights in 1939. During the Second World War, Gilmore played a pivotal role in the success of the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. He arrived in Gander in 1941 with his wife and children as Ferry Command’s civilian superintendent of aircraft maintenance. Ferry pilots
plying the North Atlantic during the war praised Gilmore as “the greatest airplane mechanic in the world today.” By war’s end in 1945, Ferry Command had delivered some ten thousand aircraft worldwide. The busiest airfield was Gander, which handled roughly forty-percent of the total delivery number. Gilmore and his maintenance section, working around the clock, deserve much credit for the success of the operation. Regrettably, Gilmore lost his life in May 1945 when his Norseman aircraft, en route to Montréal for servicing, crashed in a farmer’s field on Prince Edward Island.

LEARN MORE > Commemorations Research Paper – John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore: Aeronautical Engineer, by Darrell Hillier


John Joseph Gilmore MBE, by Robert G Pelley

Joe Gilmore M.B.E., by Frank Tibbo

John Joseph Gilmore (1900 – 1945): Pioneer Aviator, Dictionary of Ulster Biography

Who was the first man to land in Ireland by parachute?, BBC News Channel

John Joseph Gilmore, Ulster History Circle

Captain John Joseph “Joe” Gilmore at Gander with his de Havilland Fox Moth, used for search and rescue, salvage work, and mercy flights. Courtesy Gander Airport Historical Society.
Joe Gilmore in uniform. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Joe Gilmore. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Joe Gilmore with mechanic Sammy Blandford. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Outdoors on a very cold winter’s checking an aircraft. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Generators designed by Joe Gilmore. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Jack designed by Joe Gilmore. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Push truck designed by Joe Gilmore. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.

Tows designed by Joe Gilmore. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.
Funeral parade with gun carriage. Photo courtesy of Robert Pelley.
John J. Gilmore’s revised marker at Gander’s Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, properly identifying his MBE. Photo by Darrell Hillier.