Updated: Jan 10, 2019
In September 2014 the village of Lower Seagry dedicated a memorial to two spitfire pilots who were killed nearby in 1941. Situated on a grass verge on the junction between Seagry Road and Five Thorn Lane, this place is a permanent reminder of the sacrifices many of our young men made during the Second World War.
Hidden Wiltshire follower John Grech tells the remarkable story behind this striking monument:
On the morning of the 6th of April 1941, the skies over Upper Seagry reverberated to the roar of Merlin engines as two Mk.1a Spitfires from 118 Squadron, based at RAF Filton, were put through their paces as their pilots carried out dogfighting practice.
Flying Officer John Brewster, a battle of Britain veteran, took off from RAF Filton in Spitfire X4822 and rendezvoused with Pilot Officer Harold Williams, who had taken off from RAF Colerne in Spitfire X4826, over Upper Seagry in Wiltshire.
With Flying Officer Brewster's Spitfire acting as the enemy aircraft, Pilot Officer Williams proceeded to carry out mock attacks to hone his air-to-air fighting skills. During several attack runs, Pilot Officer Williams broke away too early and on the fifth run he closed too rapidly with the other Spitfire and at 09:55hrs, at approximately 2,000ft over the Wiltshire village, the two aircraft fatally collided.
The starboard wing of X4826, flown by Pilot Officer Williams, was ripped off in the impact and his aircraft plunged to the ground and burst into flames near Seagry Mill, killing him instantly. Flying Officer Brewster, in the badly damaged X4822, managed to struggle on for a couple of miles before control was lost and the stricken Spitfire crashed into Seagry Woods and disintegrated. Flying Officer Brewster died at the scene.
Both pilots were laid to rest with full military honours side by side in St.Giles Churchyard, Stanton St Quintin.
A stone memorial to this tragic accident was erected by the roadside close to where the crash occurred.
All images are copyright of John Grech.