Memorial bid for airmen killed in crash on village

A picture from the Evening News in 1945 showing the wrecked village hall at Horndean
A picture from the Evening News in 1945 showing the wrecked village hall at Horndean

THIS WEEK IN 1976: Big crowds for the big band sound

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Readers recently helped identify the exact location at Horndean of the picture at the bottom of the page.

It turned out to be Five Heads Road with the Brewers’ Arms pub in the background.

Those stories prompted Eddie Harmer to get in touch and remind us of a campaign for a special memorial in the village.

Eddie says the picture ‘evoked vivid memories to us Horndean children of the 1940s’.

He then takes up the tale: ‘Some decades after that picture was taken, on February 5/6, 1945 at 2.12am, a Mosquito of 464 Squadron crashed through the roof of those cottages into the roof of the parish hall directly opposite. It was our school during the day.’

He says the light bomber ended up embedded in a bank with pieces scattered across a field which is now the A3M flyover.

The crew were killed. Both were Australians – pilot Ted Wicky DFC and navigator Ossie Mountford DFC. Their squadron was known as The Gestapo Hunters for its ability to fly low-level bombing mission over mainland Europe to destroy targets used by Hitler’s secret police.

Eddie, of Courtmount Grove, Cosham, is chairman of the Horndean Children of The 1940s group which, for the past 10 years, has been campaigning for a memorial to the two men to be put up.

He adds: ‘We have extensively researched this tragic event in the hope of erecting a monument in Horndean Square to commemorate the crew and as part of village history.’

He says East Hampshire District Council planners and Horndean Parish Council have agreed to some form of recognition in the square, but no-one seems to be able to agree its size or shape. Eddie says that perhaps the group’s original suggestion might have been ‘a little ostentatious’.

‘Our present thoughts are that an ideal solution would be a monument or stone from Australia as on May 13, 1787 the emigrants did sail from Portsmouth.’

The campaign goes on with the Australian Veterans’ Association and their Imperial War Museum now involved.