During World War 2 the commonwealth countries contributed large numbers of personnel to the war effort. 464 Squadron – also known as The Gestapo Hunters who were tasked with bombing strategic targets well behind enemy lines – was based at Thorney Island. RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Pilot Officers Edward Wicky and Oswald Mountford were flying a Mosquito back from an operation and trying to land in exceptionally poor weather.
While trying to land at Thorney Island, they flew over Horndean and, at a very low altitude, clipped the roof of the old Horndean Parish Hall which were then located on the end of Five Heads Road, damaging the roof. Within a few hundred metres they had flown over the Red Lion and crashed in the fields along Havant Road, sadly killing the pilot and Co-Pilot who were believed to have been fighting the damaged aircraft to avoid hitting any buildings and loss of civilian life at the expense of their own.
Photo – Horndean Parish Hall following the crash
Photo – The WW2 Horndean Parish Council officeswhich were at the end of Five Heads Road.
Over the last twelve years, a group of local residents who remember the incident (sadly now only a handful remain) have been looking to fund and install a memorial dedicated to the two pilots. This is especially important as they are not recorded anywhere else in the village, including on our own War memorial.
Cllr Sara Schillemore, who helped with the project to restore the war memorial in the village square, has given this project much support over the last few years and has been able to secure the much of the £26,000 needed to fund the project.
Hampshire County Council and their Highways contractor Skanska did the groundworks for free.
S106 funding worth £10,000 was allocated to the project.
Fullers donated £2,000 with a further £8,000 raised by public subscription including significant sums from the local Masons organisations.
The final £6,000 to make the project viable was donated by Nolan Bird, a local businessman who also made a significant contribution to the Horndean War memorial restoration project a few years ago.
Over the next few weeks the memorial will be completed with planting and some benches with a formal dedication service on the 4th February 2020 which will be the 75th anniversary of the incident. It is hoped some members of the family will be able to make it for the ceremony.