Thursday, 26 July 2012

Battle of Britain Hurricane crashes at PGS

Remnants of a Second World War fighter flown by an ace pilot have been found at the Coulsdon College site.  An archaeology report, part of the college's planning application to build a new college and homes there, unearthed records of a Hawker Hurricane that crash-landed on the playing field during the Battle of Britain.  The plane was a Hawker Hurricane from 43 Squadron, which was based at Tangmere.  The pilot, 27-year-old Squadron Leader Caesar Barrand Hull, was killed in the crash, which happened at 5.13pm on September 7, 1940.  He had been involved in combat over Docklands and was then following a German bomber that was circling south east London. He was shot down by a second, unseen, German fighter.  Squadron Leader Hull, a Rhodesian who boxed for South Africa in the 1934 Empire Games in London, had already become a fighter ace.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courage in the Norway campaign in May when, flying a biplane Gloster Gladiator, he shot down four German planes in one action.
Squadron Leader Hull's plane crashed on the eastern side of the grounds, on the site of the former tennis court area next to the gym.

Caesar was found dead beside his aircraft, in the grounds of a boy's school in Purley, Kent. He had been killed by a bullet during the battle over the London Docks. His remains were buried at St. Andrews Churchyard at Tangmere, amongst fellow fighter pilots. It is poignant that he died on the day that the Luftwaffe changed their strategy to concentrate on bombing the major cities of Britain by night, instead of targeting the Sector station control systems and airfields. This was to prove an historic turning point, when within a matter of weeks the Luftwaffe halted their attacks on London, virtually accepting the fact that they had lost the Battle of Britain.

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Fas et Patria

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