CAMPAIGNERS are a step closer to commemorating an overlooked story from the Second World War - thanks to a series of donations from businesses and the community.
The project will commemorate pilot Edward Wicky, 22, and his 21-year-old navigator Oswald Mountford, who died when their aeroplane crashed into the village’s parish hall during a training exercise.
The owner of Waterlooville business N A Curtain Walling, Nolan Bird, has donated £6,000 to Horndean Heroes, a project to build a memorial garden and statue in remembrance of the two Australian RAF pilots who died in 1945.
Fuller’s Brewery have made a donation of £2,000 and Hampshire County Council has gifted the land for the site, which will be on the junction of Portsmouth Road and Five Heads Road.
A spokesperson for Fuller’s said: ‘We support lots of local community initiatives. We’re always delighted to keep local history alive.’
Graham Parsons, 62, a retired navy medic and campaigner for Horndean Heroes, admits to being ‘bored with history’ in school, but the project has made him appreciate what is at risk of being forgotten: ‘It is the most major event to have happened to the village during the war.
‘Its a historic event – and not enough people know about it.’
‘We’re delighted with the support – it’s amazing news.’
The group has a fundraising target of £25,000 to pay for the landscaping of the garden and the creation of the memorial, with just over £14,000 raised so far.
The recent donations have allowed the group to commission a stonemason to create a memorial stone bearing the pilots’ 464 Squadron, with work on the site to begin ‘within the next few weeks’ according to Graham.
He added: ‘The site is next to the original site of the town hall that was damaged by the accident.
‘We’re hoping it will be a nice environment for people to visit as well as keeping the history alive.’
Horndean Junior School is set to fundraise for the project later in the year.
The memorial and garden has not official opening date, but Graham hopes it will be unveiled in time for the 75th anniversary of the accident, on Wednesday, February 5 2020.