Crashed pilot remembered


In hot sunshine on Thursday September 15 – Battle of Britain Day – the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve dedicated a memorial stone to a Canadian airman killed during that conflict.

He was Harry R Hamilton from New Brunswick, just 23 years old when his Hurricane crashed into the shingle near Camber Castle on August 29, 1940.

Shortly afterwards, local man Ernest Sutton, together with Canadian troops, planted an oak sapling to mark the spot. This oak has survived and spread into a copse, yet few people notice it and even fewer are aware of the reason for its presence.

To ensure that Hamilton’s name would not be forgotten, the Friends secured a block of stone – once part of  18th century Smeaton’s Harbour at Winchelsea Beach – and found among their members a stonemason, James Tomlinson, to inscribe it, simply recording name, rank, number and date of death with  the addition of a Canadian maple leaf. The Environment Agency and a local farmer transported the heavy load to a site close to the oaks where it will be seen by passers-by.

The dedication ceremony was led by the Revd Canon David Frost and members of the Royal British Legion. It was attended by those who had helped to realise the project through their knowledge, research, skills, contacts and goodwill. Wreaths were laid by RAF/RBL, Battle of Britain Historical Society and Shoreham Aircraft Museum. Poignantly, a Canadian wreath was laid by Hugh Sutton whose father planted the first oak 76 years before.

Photo: James Tomlinson

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  1. I’ve just visited the memorial, which is in a lovely spot. Does anyone know what caused Flight Lieutenant Hamilton to crash? Was her returning from a sortie?

    I’ve taken a nice clear picture of the stone and inscription, which I’ll forward if someone tells me where to send it.


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