03/04.02.1945 464 Squadron Mosquito FB.VI PZ452 Plt Off. Edward G. Wicky DFC MiD
Operation: Night Intruder over enemy territory
Date: 3rd/4th February 1945 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 464 Squadron RAAF
Type: Mosquito FB.VI
Base: RAF Thorney Island, Surrey
Location: Horndean, Hampshire
Pilot: Plt Off. Edward George Wicky DFC, MiD. 422783 RAAF. Age 22. Killed
Nav: Plt Off. Oswald Mountford DFC, MiD. 422628 RAAF. Age 21. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Pilot Ted Wicky and his navigator Billy Mountford took off from RAF Thorney Island at 21:15hrs. One of seventeen Mosquitos that took off that evening for operations on many targets behind enemy lines. These included strafe (Strafed – To attack repeatedly with bombs and/or machine-gun fire from a low flying aircraft) attacks on lights, barges, railways and woods. Bombing attacks on barges, railways, canals, factories and roads. In the early hours of Sunday 4th February 1945, this crew was returning to RAF Thorney Island their base and it is understood that the pilot had contacted the base and then descended through very low cloud with poor visibility to determine his position. This was the last contact from the plane before it crashed.
Formation of Mosquito aircraft of 464 Squadron from RAF Thorney Island. RAF Thorney Island, Sussex
The area of the crash site, Horndean, Hampshire
From the trail of destruction and from accounts at that time the plane had flown along the line of the present Merchiston Road. This road and housing estate were the result of Post-War rebuilding to accommodate people displaced by the Blitz. In 1945 it was a stretch of open fields running from Five Heads Road to the Causeway (Catherington Lane). A footpath ran through here skirting several chalk pits. At the Horndean end the footpath met the road passing between some cottages. Looking towards the fields the right hand cottage, home to Mr. Longhurst and his family, adjoined the car park of the Brewers Arms public house. This was a gap of about 60ft. (18m.) and the wingspan of the Mosquito some 54ft. (16.5m.). In passing through this gap the mosquito clipped the roof of the cottage, the wreckage falling into the bedrooms of the sleeping children who were unharmed. This contact may have helped save the village from greater damage for the plane carried on and crashed through the roof of the Parish Hall that stood in what is now a car park, carrying the roof across a field before dropping it onto the A3. At that time the main road ran closer to the North side of Horndean Hill, long before the modern route and the A3M. The South side had a high bank topped by some mature trees through which the plane passed before crossing another field, finally coming to rest in a third adjacent to the then police cottage in the Havant Road. This field is now covered by the Rosecott complex. An intense fire started which set off many of the -303 machine gun rounds as well as the 20mm cannon shells
All attempts to put out the fire by the NFS, Police, ARP Wardens and service personnel were unavailing. Much of the structure off the plane was plywood, quite an innovative use of such then. Daylight revealed the extent of the damage with the main crash site under armed guard and clearance parties removing wreckage to open the A3. One of the twin engines was found to have leap frogged across the Havant Road and up the hill, giving some idea of the momentum of the final impact. The tail section almost intact lay against the end of a chicken run
Plt Off. Edward George Wicky DFC, MiD (courtesy of Carolyn Tozer) and Plt Off. Oswald Mountford DFC, MiD (courtesy of Sue Lindsay)
The Squadron Operation Record Book states "Plt Off. Wicky and Plt Off. Mountford crashed into a house at Horndean on returning - both being killed instantly. Yet another loss to the Squadron which has taken its full share recently. Both these boys were old hands and highly held in our affections. Arrangements made for their burial on Thursday 8th February at Brookwood Military Cemetery"
Plt Off. Edward George Wicky's DFC (courtesy of Michael Tozer) Citation letter (courtesy Australian National Archives. Invitation to Investiture at Government House, Sydney (courtesy of Michael Tozer)
Peter Barge was 12 years old at the time of the crash and lived with his family in the Police Cottage, his father being the much respected Horndean policeman. Peter remembered being thrown out of bed by the impact of the aircraft which had come to rest in a field just beyond his garden. Peter carried on to say - A local Australian newspaper report records the shock of the loss of two airmen coming only a week after the announcement that both had been awarded the DFC for completing their missions bravely. They were described as a fine team that never let either enemy opposition or adverse weather deter them from completing their missions. We who have lived through the war years and survived more than three times the lifespan of those two young men feel it is only right that some record of the events of 4th February 1945 should be placed in the village for all to see and give thanks for their sacrifice. It is proposed to erect a memorial near the crash site, support for which has been forthcoming from the Parish Council, the Australian High Commission, relatives and colleagues of the crew in Australia and of course "Horndean Children of the 1940’s"
Flt Sgt. Wicky and Flt Sgt Mountford were posted to 464 Squadron in the first few days of July 1944 and the Squadron Operation Record Book shows their first operation on the 3rd July 1944 flying in Mosquito VI 943. On the 21 October 1944 they were returning from an operation over Holland and German territory when one engine failed and they had to make an emergency landing at RAF Manston, Kent. While serving with the Squadron Ted and Billie had flown more than 50 operation together and were very highly respected and "old hands" with the Squadron. 464 Squadron had been stationed at RAF Thorney Island from the 18th June 1944 to 7th February 1945 when they moved to France.
Flt Sgt. Edward George Wicky and Flt Sgt. Oswald Mountford October 1944. Flt Sgt. Edward George Wicky and Flt Sgt. Oswald Mountford holding the certificate presented to them for completing the 1000th operation flown since D-Day by 464 Squadron (both courtesy of Australian War Memorial)
Peter continued: The boys had become close friends during flying training in Canada and remained together ever since. Both men had been twice Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) and were the chosen aircrew to fly the 1000th sortie for the Squadron since D-Day on the 19th September 1944 and the Squadron presented the boys with a printed card for their feat. Under normal flying regulations they should have been rested but such was the need that they kept on flying.
Plt Off. Edward (Ted) George Wicky DFC, MiD. Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey. Grave Ref. 4. O. 18. Son of Edouard Jean and Rita Wicky of Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia.
Ted Wicky was born on the 28th September 1922 in Bellingen, NSW and spending his childhood in Leeton and attended Leeton Intermediate High School the same high school as Billie Mountford before moving to Manly with his family. Before enlisting he was employed in the head office of the Bank of NSW. Having completed a first "tour" of duty he had completed over 50 operations. Twice MiD. Awarded the DFC on the 26 January 1945 "for a tour of operations as a Navigator mostly in adverse weather conditions. The citation continues - They have attacked enemy rail and mechanical transport concentrations achieving some excellent results. A fine team, they have never let either enemy opposition or adverse weather deter them from completing their missions".The DFC was presented to Mrs Rita Turner mother of Ted Wicky on the 13 April 1946 by the Governor General at Government House, Sydney. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Nobly Done. Dearly Loved And Ever Remembered".
Plt Off. Oswald (Billie) Mountford DFC, MiD. Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey. Grave Ref. 4. N. 18. Grave inscription reads: "His Duty Fearlessly And Nobly Done. Ever Loved And Remembered". Son of Oswald Denis and Ivy Dorothy May Mountford of Guildford, New South Wales, Australia.
Ossie Mountford was born on the 11 December 1923 in Leeton and attended Leeton Intermediate High School before entering Public Service as a clerk in Sydney. Billie had a wonderful singing voice and was a talented piano player. He enlisted at No 2 Recruiting Centre in Sydney on the 22nd May 1942. Training at No 2 Initial Training School, No 1 Air Observers Scchool, No 3 Bombing and Gunnery School and No. 2 Advanced Navigation Shool. Billie arrived in the UK on the 9th November 1943 where his training continued at 60 OTU (Operational Training Unit and No 2 Group Support Unit.
He was appointment to commission on 27th October 1944. Twice MiD. Having completed a first "tour" of duty he had completed over 50 operations. Awarded the DFC on the 26 January 1945 "for a tour of operations as a Pilot mostly in adverse weather conditions. The citation continues - They have attacked enemy rail and mechanical transport concentrations achieving some excellent results. A fine team, they have never let either enemy opposition or adverse weather deter them from completing their missions" The DFC was presented to Mrs Ivy Mountford by the Governor General at Government House, Sydney on the 16 February 1946. Ossie's sister Patricia also served with the VAAAF during the war at Richmond.
Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered for all the relatives and friends of the crew. Special thanks to: Peter Barge and Eddie Harmer - Horndean Children of the 1940’s and Christopher Aird relative of Plt Off. Mountford. With special thanks to Carolyn Tozer, Michael George Wicky Tozer, Glenn Tozer relatives of Plt Off. Wicky, Sue Lindsay, Sharyn Lindsay.