Remembering a fatal night in April 1944

1045, Monday, 4th April 2022 – Peak Farm, Warnford

In 1943 the 7th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers  (KOSB) was converted to the Airborne Infantry role; utilizing Gliders.  The Battalion was part of the  1st Airlanding Brigade within the 1st Airborne Division.  The Battalion fought at Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden ‘ A Bridge too Far’ in September 1944.

Through 1943 and 1944 exercises took place to prepare the 1st and 6th Airborne Divisions for parachute and glider borne operations in support of D-Day and subsequent operations in NW Europe.  On the night of 4th April 1944 the Battalion was part of Exercise ‘Dreme’.  This was a large glider borne exercise in which the Gliders with their Bomber ‘tugs’ conducted a circuit from RAF Keevil in Wiltshire to East Sussex and returning to release their gliders over RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.  This route took the gliders over Warnford on the return leg. 1 HGSU, Horsa 1 glider, LG999 towed by Stirling IV LJ-842 of 196 Squadron and containing the two glider pilots and members of No. 3 Platoon, ‘A’ Company, 7th (Airborne) Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers

The night was very dark and with low cloud forcing the pilots to fly low and with no ambient light as the blackout was in force.  Tragically the Stirling struck a tree to the East of Warnford Park, the Horsa Glider was released but crashed  in the fields of Warnford Park killing all 27 soldiers on board.  The Stirling Bomber flew on with catastrophic damage and also crashed near Romsey; also killing all 6 of the RAF aircrew.

A local group recently became aware of this accident and felt that there ought to be a memorial to the soldiers and airmen that were killed. The initial step was to obtain planning permission from the South Downs National Park Authority which was obtained in August 2021 and to gain permission from the landowners, Hugh and Sally Thomas, to place the memorial on their land and directly beside the South Downs Way. We are very grateful to both the South Downs NPA and Hugh and Sally Thomas for their support.
The memorial will be a Sussex Sandstone block with plaques detailing the event and those who lost their lives.
We will be holding dedication event at from 10-12 AM, Monday 04 April 2022 which will be open to all who wish to attend.
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. Any surplus will be gifted to the Poppy Appeal and we will also have the service charities present on the day for collections.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We will remember them

No. 3 Platoon ‘A’ Company, 7th (Airborne) Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers,  (25)

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  (Age…)

Private Kenneth William Scott-Browne. 14645622. Age 23

Lance Corporal Horace AB Pope  RAMC  7372035  Age 25

 

Glider Pilot Regiment  (2)

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 (6)

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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