On the 4th February 2020 Horndean paid tribute to two brave young Australian pilots who died after their Mosquito crashed in Horndean after returning from a bombing mission over Germany in 1945. The dedication was held on the 75th anniversary of the tragic event with a service led by Wing Chaplain, Padre Charles Lewis assisted by Revd Angela Johnson and Wing Chaplain, Padre Phil Hiscock. The Venerable Gavin Collins Archdeacon of the Meon gave the blessing.
Over 300 people joined together to remember these two men at the new War Memorial in Five Heads Road. Detachments of servicemen from Thorney Island, Oswald (Billy) Mountford and Edward George (Teddy) Wickys base whilst they were in England and RAF Odiham represented the Air Force. Vice Lord Lieutenant Rear Admiral Iain Henderson CB CBE DL, the Queens representative in Hampshire and Squadron Leader Cameron Robottom from The Australian High Commission. In addition to a number of attendees from the Armed Forces, there were representatives from EHDC, HCC and the RAAF. A troop of CCF cadets from Churchers College and children from Horndean Junior School who have parents in the Armed Forces also paraded.
Thirteen Standard Bearers were present in support and we very much enjoyed the musicians from the Royal Marines School of Music who played before and after the service and led the hymns and anthems.
The monument was manufactured by specialist stone workers from Yorkshire, J Rotherham Ltd who also made the very complicated replacement for the Memorial in the village square a few years ago.
We were thrilled to welcome nine members of the Airmen’s families who had travelled half way round the world to see their relatives honoured. They said they were very grateful to the people of Horndean for the magnificent memorial and service and had looked forward to this day since they had first heard of the plans.
Real thanks must be given to the Children of Horndean 1940s for their vision and persistence in pursuit of their dream. For fourteen years they have been trying to raise the money for this cause and some of them are no longer with us – but they have finally ‘made it happen’
Thank you to BBC South Today for covering the event with a brilliant feature and for allowing the clip to be used.
Thank you also to the private donors who gave so generously as without their support this would not have happened.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This passage is one that is often heard at remembrance services, because it sums up the philosophy of the armed services. When Jesus said this to his disciples he was looking forward to the time when he would be killed on a cross and then rise again in glory on the first Easter day. If we look in depth at this passage, we are told that we are Jesus friends if we do what he commands, in other words accept God into our lives.
This caveat allows us all to be a friend of Jesus and a friend of all peoples. We say that we are part of the RAF/RAAF family, we are part of the family of the church and as such these people are our friends. 75 years ago, two young men, Edward Wicky and Oswald Mountford, gave their lives for their friends in this wider sense.
They had come from the other side of the world, as members of their families have come to be here today; they had come to fight for the United Kingdom against the evil of the axis powers and like all service men then and now were aware that their service could result in the giving of their lives. On that fateful night their aircraft, a De Haviland Mosquito, serial number PZ452, had been damaged by enemy action and had chased a V1 rocket during their sortie and on the approach to the then RAF Thorney Island it is thought that the aircraft ran out of fuel. All attempts to glide back to their home station failed and the crew took action to avoid centres of population on their flight path and they managed to avoid most of Horndean, although demolishing the roof of the then village hall which was, thankfully empty, before crashing into fields just outside the village.
Their bravery had been recognised by the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross only a week before their death and is an indication that their attempts to avoid civilian casualties was not an isolated act of bravery but part of their normal behaviour.
These young men, whom we honour today, certainly gave their lives for their friends and truly deserve the praise of us all and the accolade of hero.
As we remember with thanksgiving the sacrifice of Jesus for us all let us also remember the sacrifice of these two young men and the many thousands like them.
Padre Charles Lewis