Success in search for relatives of Spitfire pilot in Harpenden

RAF pilots holding a plaque in memory of Harold Williams and John Brewster

RAF pilots holding a plaque in memory of Harold Williams and John Brewster - Credit: Photo supplied

An urgent search in Harpenden for any possible surviving family of a Spitfire pilot has hit the jackpot, just weeks ahead of a memorial ceremony, .

Martin Painter, who approached the Herts Advertiser to help trace any immediate family or relatives of Harold Williams in the town, has been contacted following publication of his plea for information.

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

The pilots died in a mid-air collision during the Second World War.

Martin has been on an urgent mission, seeking people connected to Harold after discovering that his sister, Irene Sylvia Brown (née Williams), lived in Harpenden.

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.

Martin, who initiated the Seagry Spitfire Memorial Project, was worried about finding Harold’s relatives, as the ceremony is just weeks away.

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Harold’s sister was married to Frederick Charles Brown, an air survey pilot who worked for Hunting Surveys and Consultants and died in Harpenden in 1997.

Before her death in November 2003, Irene had been living at Roundwood Park.

Although Martin had traced the family of John Brewster, he had drawn a blank with Harold. Now, though, the final piece of the jigsaw has been found.

Martin said: “I am delighted to say that following the article I have been contacted by a close friend of the family who inherited the Williams’ estate and personal effects. She was Irene’s carer for many years.

“It turns out that Irene wrote a book about her story during the war, “One Woman’s War”, describing and illustrating family events.”

Unfortunately Irene’s carer is unable to attend the memorial service, but Harpenden residents who knew her hope to lay a wreath at the event.

Martin added: “We are obviously thrilled to have them involved and at last we will be able to see and find out more about the ‘other’ Seagry Spitfire pilot.

“This is a great result and the final missing piece of the puzzle.”