Remembering the Brave: Memorial Erected for Pilot Colin Francis, Lost in Battle of Britain

A touching memorial has been erected near the site where a courageous pilot of the Battle of Britain tragically lost his life. The stone, located in Stansted near West Kingsdown, serves as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of pilot Colin Francis, whose remains went undiscovered for 40 years.

Colin Francis, born on May 24, 1921 in Stoke d’Abernon, Surrey, joined the RAF in April 1939 at just 18 years old. After completing his training and learning to fly Hawker Hurricanes, he was assigned to 253 Squadron at RAF Kenley in Croyden.

On August 30, 1940, Francis and his squadron were tasked with attacking a large group of enemy bombers and their escort of 30 fighters. During the intense battle, Francis was shot down by an Me109 and tragically lost his life at the young age of 19.

His Hurricane crashed into a field off Wrotham Hill Road in Stansted, and for 41 years, his body remained undiscovered. It wasn’t until 1981 when aviation archaeologists discovered the remains of his aircraft, with Francis still in the cockpit. The discovery finally allowed for a proper burial, and Francis was laid to rest with full military honors at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.

The memorial stone at Stansted is part of an ongoing project by volunteers at the Shoreham Aircraft Museum in Sevenoaks. The project aims to honor all the Battle of Britain pilots who lost their lives within a 10-mile radius of the museum by erecting permanent memorials near their crash sites. This is the twelfth stone that has been erected as part of the project.

The unveiling of the memorial stone was a moving event, with a large number of villagers in attendance. Reverend Dr. Chris Noble from the parish of Stansted, Fairseat, and Vigo led a service of remembrance, while retired Air Commodore Rick Peacock-Edwards and Air Vice Marshal David Hobart represented the RAF. A lone trumpeter played the Last Post, and a two-minute silence was observed to honor the brave pilot.

The memorial stone at Stansted serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by Colin Francis and other brave pilots during the Battle of Britain. Their courage and dedication will never be forgotten.

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