Hunt for Harpenden family of pilot killed in mid-air collision

Harold Williams' grave

Harold Williams' grave - Credit: Photo supplied

The organiser of a memorial ceremony for two Spitfire pilots who died after a mid-air collision during the Second World War is desperately seeking the family of one of the men.

Martin Painter has approached the Herts Advertiser to help trace any immediate family or relatives of Harold Williams after recently discovering that his sister, Irene Sylvia Brown (née Williams), lived in Harpenden.

A new £1,500 memorial is being constructed in the village of Seagry, Wiltshire, to commemorate Harold, of Putney, and his fellow pilot, Yorkshireman John Brewster.

On September 14 about 400 people are expected to attend the dedication ceremony for the young RAF pilots who died in an accident over Seagry on Palm Sunday, April 6, 1941.

That gives Martin, who initiated the Seagry Spitfire Memorial Project, just four weeks to find Harold’s relatives.

He explained: “We have been able to trace the family of John Brewster, but not the family of Harold Williams.

“But we have now made a major breakthrough and identified that Harold’s sister lived for many years in the St Albans area.

Most Read

“We are desperate to try and trace any family or relatives so that they can attend the ceremony.”

Harold’s sister was married to airline pilot Frederick Charles Brown, who is believed to have died in 1997 in Harpenden.

An initial search by this paper has found that before her death in November 2003, Irene had been living at Roundwood Park.

Martin’s request has been swiftly followed up by members of the Harpenden Local History Society who confirmed that at one point the couple had lived at Roundwood, but their bungalow has since been demolished and replaced by a large executive home.

A local historian has told the paper that the Browns had no children and there is no knowledge of other living relatives.

If you can help Martin with his search, please contact him via email at