Memorial to wartime plane crash victims unveiled in Meon Valley

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A memorial to 33 British soldiers and aircrew who died in a plane crash while training for D-Day has been unveiled today in the Meon Valley.

On the night of April 4th 1944, while on the return leg of a training exercise, Exercise DREME, a Stirling bomber towing a Horsa glider containing two glider pilots and members of No. 3 Platoon, ‘A’ Company, 7th (Airborne) Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers struck a tree to the east of Warnford Park.

The glider was released but crashed in the fields nearby killing all 27 soldiers on board. The Stirling Bomber flew on with catastrophic damage but also crashed near Romsey with the loss of all six RAF aircrew.

It had been a dark night and with low cloud forcing the pilots to fly low and there was with no ambient light as the blackout was in force.

A local group recently became aware of the tragic accident and felt that there ought to be a memorial to the soldiers and airmen who lost their lives.

Planning permission was obtained in August 2021 and the landowners, Hugh and Sally Thomas, gave permission for memorial to be placed on their land and directly beside the South Downs Way.

A service of dedication conducted by the Rev Tony Forrest took place this morning and was attended by local people and service veterans. Six pupils from Droxford Junior School were given the honour of reading the names of the servicemen who lost their lives.

Rev Tony Forrest said: “Every Remembrance Sunday, we recall the enormous sacrifices made by all those in the military and civilians in conflicts around the world. Yet sometimes it is good to focus on individual incidents and recall exactly the circumstances in which people lost their lives.

“In this case, it was part of the extraordinary preparation for the most significant operation of the Second World War. Without these exercises, that D-Day invasion may not have been successful. We owe them so much.”

The memorial has been made from Sussex sandstone and has plaques detailing the event and those who lost their lives.Funds have been provided by the KOSB, AAC, RAF, RAAF, Airborne Forces Charity and the RAMC to cover the cost of the stone and the event.

Dedication service photographs by Matthew Dampier, Headteacher of Droxford Junior School


Roll of honour

No. 3 Platoon ‘A’ Company, 7th (Airborne) Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers

Lieutenant Leslie Albert Eastman. 284937. Age 26

Lance Sergeant Henry James V. Read. 4751147. Age 27

Lance Corporal David Provan. 14213409. Age 29

Lance Corporal John Murdoch Dirom. 3189248. Age 22

Lance Corporal Roy Murray Stewart. 3056450. Age 37

Corporal Robert Fowler Foley. 3193060. Age 24

Corporal Thomas MacGregor. 3187776. Age 28

Private Benjamin Philip Bamforth. 14351878. Age 20

Private William Henry Battye. 4613955. Age 25

Private George Frederick Jones. 14377951. Age 34

Private William Love. 3314631. Age 23

Private  Joseph Lucas. 4751048. Age 27

Private George Mole. 14620742. Age 18

Private Charles Myles. 991164. Age 28

Private William McMillan. 14210673. Age 37

Private Thomas McNamara. 14211483. Age 21

Private William McWhirter. 3190876. Age 22

Private James Ramsay MacPherson. 14211484. Age 21

Private John Park. 14202004. Age 21

Private Thomas Harper Reid. Age 26

Private Frank Stapleton. 5571917. Age 24

Private John William Steel. 3323987. Age 29

Private Robert Donald Wells. 1645311

Private Kenneth William Scott-Browne. 14645622. Age 23

Lance Corporal Horace AB Pope  RAMC  7372035  Age 25


Glider Pilot Regiment 

Pilot: Staff Sergeant Henry Thomas Joel. 2058248. The Glider Pilot Regiment. Age 22

Pilot: Sergeant William Geoffrey Walker. 2581834. The Glider Pilot Regiment. Age 24


Stirling Bomber Crew:  Royal Air Force & Royal Australian Air Force

RAAF  410069 WO John Hugh Lees, Captain (Pilot)   Age. 28

RAF 1697800 Sgt Shayrene Meera, (Flight Engineer)  Age 19

RAF 145397 FO John Robert Teece, (Navigator)  Age 32

RAF 1532527 Sgt John Thomas Wilkinson, (Air Bomber)  Age 29

RAAF 408353 Flt Sgt Kenrick Payne, (Wireless Air Gunner)  Age 21

RAF 1229967 Sgt Sidney Claypole, (Rear Gunner  Age 23)

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