Village Near Bath Searches for Relatives of Spitfire Pilot

During the Second World War, a Spitfire pilot crashed outside of Bath. He is being memorialized by the town, and they are looking for any surviving family members they can find to take part in the event. His memorial ceremony will take place in mid-September, and will honor not only the Spitfire pilot himself but also a comrade of his who died in the same tragedy.

The men in question are Harold Alfred Williams, who hails from Putney, along with his comrade John Brewster, who hails from Yorkshire. They had been flying training routines in which Brewster pretended to be an enemy aircraft while Williams practiced his abilities to pursue another plane. The crash occurred when one Spitfire pilot accidentally got too close and the wing of his aircraft collided with the wing of the other’s. Williams was the first to go down, with Brewster crashing not long after him. Both planes were destroyed when they hit the ground and erupted into flames.

Not much was left of either man, as Williams was set aflame and Brewster was burned up even more completely. The men were eventually identified, but another problem arose in the case of Williams. This problem is that for some reason, relatives of the fallen Spitfire pilot have been extraordinarily difficult to track down. It is not simply a matter of making contact, but of locating surviving family members in the first place. The memorial program responsible for his commemoration ceremony has been trying arduously, but they are running short on time.

Enough is known about Williams that it would seem as if the search should be simple. They know he was born in London and that he last lived with his mother. His father died in the Blitz, but the mother of the Spitfire pilot never married another man and remained living at the same place of residence shared by Williams. It is also known that he had a sister, but her most recent whereabouts are unknown, the Wandsworth Guardian reports.

The deceased Spitfire pilot did not marry or father children, so whether or not he has any surviving relatives likely depends on his sister. Since the memorial project has had trouble tracing her history, it might be difficult to locate any such relatives without help from those who knew the family. As such, the memorial program is seeking information on the Spitfire pilot and his family from anyone who might be able to fill in the blanks regarding their history.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE