Fresh hope as Horndean pilots' memorial plan gets MP's backingÂ
CAMPAIGNERS are hoping a long-sought memorial project could be within touching distance after it received the backing of an MP.Â
Horndean Children of the 1940s need to raise Â£7,000 more in their bid to immortalise the names of two Australian RAF pilots who died after a crash into the village's parish hallÂ in 1945.Â
Over the past 13Â years, the group has collected more than Â£12,000 in donations and pledges to build the landmark in memory of officers Edward Wicky, 22 and his 21-year-old navigator Oswald Mountford.Â
The pair's De Havilland Mosquito of 464 squadron was returning from a bombing mission over the Ruhr in Germany in the early hours of February 5, when it became embedded in a bank with its piece scattered across a field.Â
Both men died in the crash, but the mission to mark their efforts have now scored the backing of Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery.Â
'˜The bravery and sacrifice of these two men has not been forgotten in Horndean with many still remembering the terrible events of that night when the aircraft crashed,' he said.
'˜It is fitting that a memorial and place to reflect on what happened should be built and that these two young men, who died thousands of miles from home fighting to defeat Nazi Germany, should not be forgotten.'Â
The memorial has long been the subject of discourse between community groups and planners atÂ East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) and Horndean Parish Council '“Â but despite the wait the importance of it has never wavered, say campaigners.Â
EddieÂ Harmer, chairman of Horndean Children of the 1940s said: '˜In terms of the Second World War, this was one of the biggest events to happen in Horndean '“Â an accident like that would have changed the area's landscape.Â
'˜The families of the men who died have come over here twice to meet us and it means a lot that we remember what happened in this way.
'˜George is a great supporter of the project and heÂ alongside [EHDC] councillorÂ Sara Schillemore give us hope this important memorial could soon go out to contractors.'Â
Campaigners are now seeking council funding for the plan, in a bid to accelerate chances of reaching their Â£20,000 target.Â Â
To donate to the campaign, you can make a cheque payable to the Australian Aircrew MemorialÂ Group, sending it to group chairman Peter Barge atÂ 7 Whitley Close, Westbourne, Emsworth, Hampshire, PO10 8TT.Â
Alternatively, make a bank transfer to the fund, via Mr Barge, by sending money to the HSBC account with sort codeÂ 40-17-16 and account number 32078813.Â