On this day in 1918 the First World War ended. The guns were silenced on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today we remember those who lost their lives in both World Wars and all our servicemen, servicewomen and animals killed or injured since 1945.
In Broadwindsor, there is a new name to be remembered – Jean Decloedt. As told by farmer and Parish Councillor Andrew Frampton at Monday’s Parish Council meeting…
Jean Decloedt was born in 1916 in London and was the eldest son of two Belgian diplomats. At the breakout of war, Jean joined the RAFVF (Volunteer Force) and was stationed at Burtonwood base near Warrington. His job as a member of the 37th Maintenance Unit was to repair and service allied planes, mainly spitfires and deliver them to squadrons around the country.
On 15 March 1942, Andrew’s late grandfather Jack Frampton, John Studley and Jack Wakely were on Home Guard duty in Broadwindsor. It was a dry, foggy and windy night and they heard the sound of an engine faltering and spluttering. In the cockpit unbeknown to them was Jean Decloedt taking a Super Marine Mk 2 Spitfire BL483 to 317 Squadron, based in Exeter. Sadly, he crashed into Lewesdon Hill on the north side. When the Home Guard reached it they found Jean and he had been killed on impact. Armed with only sticks the Home Guard didn’t know if they would discover a German plane or airman on the run. The following day Dudley Tolley from Wantsley Farm managed to squirrel away one of the wooden propellers which hangs in Beaminster Museum to this day.
Next March is the 80th anniversary of this event
. Jean has no surviving family and this story isn’t remembered on Remembrance Sunday.
reported that he has set up a meeting with the National Trust Area Officer
to discuss the possibility of erecting some form of memorial and information board at Lewesdon, on the site of the crash and will be establishing contact with the Belgian Embassy. The Parish Council expressed its support for a memorial and thanked the Councillor for his efforts in bringing this event to their attention.
Andrew is also liaising with Broadwindsor school and Rev. Jo to become involved.
“We are all forgotten after a third generation or 100 years and this poor Pilot has been forgotten much sooner so as a mark of respect and gratitude I would like to honour his sacrifice and memory.” – Andrew Frampton.
Photo: Annie Collins.