Salute to two RAF Seagry heroes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: John Brewster John Brewster

Spitfire pilots who crashed in a Wiltshire village during the Second World War are to be remembered with a lasting memorial.

Plans are under way to install a £1,500 stone marker and plaque to remember the two young RAF pilots who died during a flying accident over Seagry, between Chippenham and Malmesbury, on Palm Sunday, April 6, 1941.

Although the two pilots are buried nearby in Stanton St Quintin, villager Martin Painter, who is project leader on The Seagry Spitfire Memorial Project, is keen to see a local memorial created.

Mr Painter said: “I happened to come across a piece of metal in a field and after a bit of research I found out about these two chaps who died in their Spitfires.

“When I asked around the village virtually nobody knew anything about it – it seems inappropriate that we don’t have any memory or a memorial to them.

“As time goes on I really think we need something there, otherwise it will be lost in history.

“I have been doing a lot of research into the whole incident and the more you look into it the more interesting it becomes.

“There were these young pilots with virtually no training who put their lives at risk in service of their country.

“When I raised it with the parish council they were blown away by it.

“Everybody I speak to says ‘wow, what a great project’; and it’s something that everyone can hopefully benefit from in the future.”

Wiltshire Council has offered to fund half of the project, with the remainder hoped to be collected in donations from the community and through fundraising events.

Flying Officer John Brewster, 25, from Yorkshire, who was flying in a Spitfire Mk1a X4822, and Pilot Officer Harold Williams, 23, from Putney, who was flying in a Spitfire Mk1a X3826, both serving on 118 squadron, collided during dogfight training over Seagry Mill.

On April 11 the two young pilots were buried at St Giles Church, Stanton St Quintin.

A dedication ceremony to mark the installation of the memorial is due to take place on September 14, which is hoped will feature a fly-past from two Spitfires.

John Wheelwright, the nephew of F/O Brewster, said: “I think it is a delightful idea. I was very touched to hear that after so long people should be thinking of doing something like this.”

Members of The Seagry Spitfire Memorial Project will raise funds locally through various activities, including an evening presentation in the Goss Croft Village Hall reliving the tragic tale.

The stone memorial and plaque have been planned for the grass verge on Seagry Road, at the junction of Five Thorn Lane.

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