Our first day out of London on Tour and what a day it was. We started out at 0800 with Michael our driver and members of our team and headed out into the parking lot known as the M25. We thought we were heading to Forest Row which is out near Tunbridge Wells but alas, the parking lot seemed a poor second choice. However, finally we were to be able to make our way the Forest Row where we were to take part in a Ceremony associated with the death of Pilot Officer John Dallas Crossman who was killed in his Hurricane on 30 September 1940.
James Mackay, travelling with us, had brought with him a plaque to be presented to the Parish of Forest Row which commemorated the service and death of PO Crossman. PO Crossman was the only pilot from Newcastle who was killed in the Battle of Britain and his plane came down at Tablehurst Farm just outside Forest Row. A Mr Peter Wheeler from Forest Row had been the push to establish a Memorial at the site of the crash and for years had attended the Memorial on many occasions but always on the anniversary of PO Crossman's death. Peter passed away a few months ago and his daughters, Helen and Kelly were present representing him at the ceremony.
The plaque that James had brought with him was presented to the Deputy Chairman of the Parish Council, Peter Lewin, on behalf of the New South Wales Division of the RAAF Association, Fighter Squadron Branch in remembrance of PO Crossman. Anna Pearce of the Forest Row Anglican Church was greatly involved, with James, to secure permission to have the plaque attached to the Memorial Wall and Reverend Angela Martin acted as the MC for the Ceremony and Blessed the Plaque at the conclusion of the Presentation.
Following tea and biscuits in the Church we made our way to Tablehurst Farm to visit the site of the crash. Tablehurst Farm is a Community Organic Farm set in 660 hundred acres owned by a charity and operated by the community. It has many volunteers working there but also employs 30 people and most live on the farm. It has a farm shop open to the public and operates a care home for 4 lone disabled adults. Rachael Hanney escorted us through the farm to the crash site. A lovely farm set in beautiful country doing a wonderful job for the community.
Following our visit we bade farewell and headed to Brooklands for our first Museum visit of the tour. Lunch at Brooklands before viewing the collection of cars, the Loch Ness Wellington and the Vimy. There is much work going on and there are new buildings being finalised to take the displays.
After our visit to Brooklands we headed to Chalfont St Giles to visit the grave of PO Crossman. He is buried there next to his Aunty as the family wanted him buried near family and his family had come to Australia from Chalfont St Giles. We conducted a small Service at the graveside and James presented a plaque in Remembrance of PO Crossman to the Warden of the Church, David Davidge. The plaque was presented on behalf of the Merewether-Hamilton RSL Sub-Branch. Pilot Officer Crossman was a member of the Hamilton Branch of the Australian Air League before joining the RAF. The Norman Church there was built in 1165 and has frescos from the 12th Century on the walls within. A very peaceful Church and surroundings.
Goodbye to Chalfont St Giles as we headed West to Salisbury where we will reside for the next 3 days. A big day, filled with memorable moments and particularly for James as all his hard work over many months had come to fruition.