Poignant memorial for Canadian pilot killed when plane crash landed in Stansted Park, Rowlands Castle
THE family of a Canadian airman who was killed when his plane crashed in Stansted Park during the Second World War say they are honoured by his memorial.
Tragedy struck for Pilot Officer Justin Gerald Clermont, 23, as he returned from a sortie in France in his Typhoon and crashed on May 7, 1944.
A simple wooden cross marked the spot where he died in the beech avenue in Stansted Park, near Rowlands Castle.
Yesterday four of his nieces and nephews, who had flown over from Canada, were joined by more than 100 well-wishers as a new memorial was blessed.
The event, which was also attended by RCAF’s Lt Col Tressa Home, was organised by the Friends of Stansted Park (FOSP) and saw a Spitfire fly-past.
FO Clermont’s niece, Cathy Dine, said: ‘Uncle Gerry was a man we never met, we know him only through the place he held in our family’s hearts.
‘He was the first-born son and the family felt a profound loss when he was killed.
‘We were told that he was a meticulous man, very good-looking and loved the ladies – but he was always a true gentleman.
‘We are so honoured to have had this opportunity to remember him.’
Seline Clermont’s father Roger, FO Clermont’s brother, died in October.
She said: ‘I’m an emotional mess because it’s even more poignant for me with the loss of my father so recently, the last of the siblings to pass.
‘It is very touching and I’m honoured to be part of it.’
The service also saw the names of 24 other airmen, from both sides, who were killed on or near the estate, read out.
It was organised by Robert Godwin, from FOSP, who placed the memorial cross as the crosslink of Lady’s Mile, in the shade of the beech trees.
He said: ‘I’m quite amazed at the number of people who turned up.’