THE final phase of the Horndean Heroes project is complete; it was scheduled to be done and dusted by June 2019.
The memorial commemorates two Australian airmen who died when their plane crashed in Horndean during the Second World War
Project manager Graham Parsons said: “Finishing it was delayed mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the agreement with Horndean Parish Council took longer to sort out than expected, but it’s been resolved amicably.”
The monument honours Pilot Officer Edward (Ted) George Wicky DFC, MID, aged 22, and Pilot Officer Navigator Oswald Mountford DFC, MID, aged 21.
The childhood friends died in the crash in the early hours of February 5, 1945.
For weeks leading up to the crash, they had been flying raids every night in their two-man De Havilland Mosquito plane and were exhausted.
On the fateful night they were returning from a successful bombing raid over the Ruhr in Germany in appalling weather conditions and low on fuel.
Their plane clipped the roof of a house in Five Heads Road.
It then ploughed through the roof of the parish hall opposite and finally crashed into a field behind the old police house in Havant Road.
The two Royal Australian Air Force pilots died in the crash close by Five Heads Road.
The crash site was just three miles from their home airfield, RAF Thorney Island near Emsworth, where they were based with 464 Squadron.
The site remained unmarked, then in 2005 a group of pensioners, known as the Horndean Children of the 1940s, began campaigning for a garden of remembrance to commemorate the young airmen.
And in February 2019, the 75th anniversary of the crash, the monument was unveiled at a dedication ceremony attended by the men’s Australian families.
As well as remembering the airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice with a monument and garden of remembrance, the project aims to preserve an important part of Horndean’s wartime history, and create a community area for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Initially the project was beset with difficulties, not least among them raising the £35,000 cost of the project.
But thanks to public donations, the generosity of local businesses and a £10,000 grant from East Hampshire District Council, the total was reached.
Graham added: “It’s been a long struggle, and I’m overwhelmed to see the final phase under way at last.
“But it’s a sad fact some of the group who started the project, now mostly in their late 80s, have not lived to see its completion, namely Peter Barge MBE, who was a founder member along with chairman Eddie Harmer.
“When it’s finished, the site will be handed over to Horndean Parish Council.
“It will then be their responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the war memorial and gardens.
“I am extremely proud and honoured to have been asked to be project manager as originally I joined the group only as a volunteer to do some fundraising.
“When the site is handed over, my work will be done and as such I will have no further involvement. It will be a sad moment, but every time I pass by I shall smile and say to myself I played a part in getting that project completed.
“I shall treasure the memories of the 75th anniversary, unveiling and commemoration event and meeting the families from Australia back in February 2019.”
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