Pilot Officer Colin Francis - Recent Commemorations
Pilot Officer Colin Francis, on his first operational flight in 1940, became involved in a dog fight with German aircraft and fatally crashed into a field near to Coldharbour, Stansted, Kent, where it remained buried and forgotten until its discovery 1981. PO Colin Francis was only nineteen years old and was one of over 20,000 airmen in WW2 that were recorded as missing, believed killed with no known grave. Since 1940 there have been several ceremonies to mark his passing and the deaths of so many fine young men caught up in the violence of war. Details of the crash and the recovery of Colin Francis’ remains are available in another article ‘Hurricane Crash at Coldharbour, Stansted’ available on the ‘Events’ index page of the website. A synopsis with details of Colin Francis’ short life and background information leading to the crash are available from the ‘Casualties’ page under the ‘People’ section of the website.
New Memorial - November 2019
At 11:00 on Remembrance Sunday in November 2019, a plinth mounted model Hawker Hurricane was unveiled at the original crash site in Coldharbour, Stansted, by Air Vice-Marshal Mike Lloyd CB to commemorate the memory of Pilot Officer Colin Francis who crashed there on 30th August 1940. His body remained buried in the wreckage until the aircraft was excavated in 1981. He was finally laid to rest at the War Graves Cemetery in Brookwood near Woking in September 1981 where the RAF provided a full military ceremony in his honour.
The model was commissioned by local residents Judy and Paul Dyer, who were inspired by the exhibition in the Cloisters in 2018, and the recent “Lest We Forget” booklet detailing the role of the ecclesiastical parish in two world wars. It was erected alongside the plaque which was previously installed in 1987 by another local resident, Geoff Allgood. AVM Mike Lloyd, in his address, described it as a most fitting memorial to a young man who gave his life for his country on his first operational sortie aged just nineteen.
80th Anniversary - August 2020
On the 30th August 2020, some 18 people attended a memorial to Pilot Officer Colin Francis on the 80th anniversary of his death and at the site near Coldharbour, Stansted, Kent, where his Hawker Hurricane aircraft crashed in 1940. Those attending were treated to four low passes and a victory roll by one of the remaining Spitfires based at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. The video, kindly provided by Tom Sheldon, records the flypast at the event.
Author: Tony Piper
Editor: Tony Piper
Contributors: Dick Hogbin, Mike Goddings
Acknowledgements: Paul & Judy Dyer, Tom Sheldon
Last Updated: 27 Decemober 2020