There’ll be blue skies over Battle of Britain hero’s Rye memorial stone

Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve dedicate a memorial stone to a Canadian airman killed during the Battle of Britain. SUS-160510-135435001
Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve dedicate a memorial stone to a Canadian airman killed during the Battle of Britain. SUS-160510-135435001

The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve have dedicated a memorial stone to a young Canadian airman killed during the Battle of Britain.

Cliff Dean Chair of The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve says the airman was Harry R Hamilton from New Brunswick.

“He was just 23 years old when his Hurricane plane crashed into the shingle near Camber Castle on August 29, 1940,” he said.

“Shortly afterwards, local man Ernest Sutton, together with Canadian troops, planted an oak sapling to mark the spot.

“This oak has survived and spread into a copse yet few people notice it and even fewer are aware of the reason for its presence.”

Cliff says to ensure that Hamilton’s name would not be forgotten, the Friends secured a block of stone which was once part of Smeaton’s Harbour, Rye. Friend’s member, stonemason James Tomlinson then inscribed it.

Cliff added: “He simply recorded name, rank, number and date of death with the addition of a Canadian maple leaf.

“The Environment Agency and a local farmer transported the heavy load to a site close to the oaks where it will be seen by passers-by.”

The dedication ceremony was held in brilliant sunshine under blues skies on Battle of Britain Day, September 15, 2016 and was led by Reverand Canon David Frost and members of the Royal British Legion.

Cliff added: “It was attended by those who had helped to realise the project through their knowledge, research, skills, contacts and goodwill.

“Wreaths were laid by the Royal Air Force, Royal British Legion, Battle of Britain Historical Society and Shoreham Aircraft Museum.

“Poignantly, a Canadian wreath was laid by Hugh Sutton whose father planted the first oak 76 years before.”