Poignant tribute to pilot who died in plane crash

The memorial to Pilot Oficer Justin Clermont
The memorial to Pilot Oficer Justin Clermont
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  • Canadian pilot will be remembered at ceremony in May, 72 years after plane crash
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HE was a 23-year-old Canadian pilot who volunteered to come to England to help the war effort.

But after returning from a sortie in France, tragedy struck for Pilot Officer Justin Gerald Clermont.

Pilot Officer Justin Clermont

Pilot Officer Justin Clermont

Five minutes after refuelling at RAF Tangmere, near Chichester, the engine on his Typhoon caught fire.

Witnesses said the plane dived and then levelled out before crashing at 8.15pm on May 7, 1944, on the Lady’s Mile strip by Stansted House, near Havant.

A simple wooden cross was erected to remember the accident and stood at Stansted Park for more than 70 years.

Now the memorial, which was looking worse for wear, has been given a makeover by The Friends of Stansted Park.

A memorial ceremony for PO Clermont, who was known as Gerry, will take place on Friday, May 6 and his family will make the journey from Canada to pay their respects.

Lieutenant Colonel Tressa Home will represent the Canadian Embassy at the event.

Robert Godwin, from Emsworth and a member of The Friends of Stansted Park, has helped with the memorial’s restoration and is helping to organise the ceremony.

‘We have got to perpetuate the memory of these brave pilots,’ he said.

‘He volunteered at the end of the day.

‘He was Canadian and volunteered to come here, which was extremely good.’

The new cross has been made from local materials.

Mr Godwin added: ‘It’s just a simple cross made by the carpenter at Stansted from oak felled by one of the foresters.’

Mr Godwin said plane fires were a well-known phenomena with Napier engines fitted to Typhoons.

PO Clermont’s RAF Squadron was based at Holmsley airfield in the New Forest. His body is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery, near Woking.

His grave inscription reads: ‘We think of him in silence, no eyes can see us weep, But within our aching hearts, his memory we keep.’