Desperately Seeking Family Of WW2 Spitfire Pilot

Do you know the whereabouts of any relatives of Harold Williams?

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Organisers of the Seagry Spitfire Memorial Project are trying to locate family of pilot Harold Williams from Roehampton Vale. His Spitfire crashed near Bath in the summer of 1940. The urgency is due to the imminent memorial dedication service to be held on September 14th.

The project know that Harold Alfred Williams was born in London in 1918. His mother was Lily Williams, and her last known address 48 Roehampton Vale Putney in 1965 He had a sister, Irene Sylvia Williams, but they do not know if she married or what her married name was if she did. His father was Alfred Williams who died on 11 May 1941 in the Blitz exactly one month after Harold was buried on 11 April 1941.

Organiser Martin Painter said: " We do not know if there any other siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins etc and we would very much to include them in this ceremony on 14 September to remember Harold."

In the summer of 1940 Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany and only the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter squadrons of the RAF could save the country from invasion and defeat. During this historic struggle, 'the few' as Churchill called them were young men with an average age of 20 years, many would not live much past the basic 9 hours afforded for their fighter training. After the Battle of Britain finished in late October 1940, the RAF expanded with more fighters, pilots and new squadrons to both protect the country and lifeline of vital supplies entering the country.

Pilot Officer Harold Williams from Roehampton Vale had very little experience. He joined 118 Sqn following a short stint with 609 Sqn at Biggin Hill. A posting to a newly formed and currently non operational squadron would provide Harold Williams, who was described by the squadron as "promising but inexperienced" knowledge and to learn from the veterans who had real combat experience.

He joined Flying Officer John Brewster, a very skilful & experienced pilot in a series of 'mock attacks' , with Brewster's aircraft acting as tJune 20, 2014/O Williams continued to break away too early and was requested to leave the break until much later. This time flying at 2,300 feet and adopting a 1/4 frontal attack position, Harold Williams' Spitfire closed in too rapidly and at a position approximately over Seagry Mill in Wiltshire, the wing of Harold Williams' Spitfire came into contact with the port wing of John Brewster's plane. Both planes crashed and their pilots were killed instantly.

On Friday 11th April, (the day 118 Squadron became fully operational), John Brewster and Harold Williams were laid to rest at St. Giles Church, Stanton St Quintin. The funeral, which was conducted in the presence of their immediate relatives, their Commanding Officer S/Ldr conducted with full military honours and the funeral party and band were drawn from RAF Hullavington.

The 118 Squadron move to Colerne and eventually Ibsley went ahead as planned and a few months later the fellow pilots of 118 Sqn appeared alongside David Niven in the wartime film "The First of the Few". Later in the war the squadron was located at a number of bases around the UK achieving many successes and remained active after the war, eventually being disbanded in 1962.

Martin Painter said: " Although these two pilots are buried in Stanton St. Quintin, there are no markers or memorials in Seagry to these brave men who paid the ultimate price serving their country. As the memories of those that fought and experienced the struggle to defend these islands fade, the children of today and tomorrow should have the chance to learn and appreciate the sacrifice these young men made in defence of the freedom we enjoy today. Harold Williams and John Brewster made the ultimate sacrifice right here in Seagry and it would be a fitting tribute to them if a stone memorial was erected and dedicated to these two men close to the site where Harold Williams lost his life".

If you the whereabouts of any relatives of Harold Williams please email Martin Painter with their contact details

June 19, 2014