Flypast will honour sacrifice of pilot,24

AN heroic wartime pilot who was shot down over Suffolk during the Battle of Britain will be remembered with a poignant fly-past this month.

On 31 August 1940, Pilot Officer Gerard Maffett’s Hawker Hurricane was shot down over Walton after his squadron intercepted enemy aircraft returning from a bombing raid on RAF airfields.

Pilot Officer Maffett, 24, managed to bale out of his stricken plane – but was too low to save himself. His aircraft ended up on the saltings at the north end of what used to be the Naze Golf Course and is now a public open space.

Seventy years on, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) will commemorate the incident on Friday, August 27. A Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster will make a dedicated flypast at the Naze Tower after taking part in the Clacton Air Show.

En route the formation is expected to fly low over Frinton and Walton seafronts – weather permitting.

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Stephen Mayzes, Tendring District Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, said: “This is something special for the town of Walton and I am sure many will turn out to witness the Hurricane, Spitfire and Lancaster as they fly low over the area.

“This being the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain it is a very special occasion and will mean a great deal to so many people. There are many stories of heroics in the skies as the RAF repulsed the onslaught of Hitler’s air force and it will give people the chance to reflect.”

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There is no memorial to Gerard Maffett in Walton, although his sacrifice was brought to the public’s attention in 1973 when his aircraft was excavated by a group of local people.

The remains were sent to the RAF Museum in London and to this day form the centre piece of a memorial to those who died in the conflict.

Parts of Gerard Maffett’s 257 Squadron Hurricane are also held at the Walton Maritime Museum. Alongside them are parts from a Halifax bomber which also crashed at the Naze during the closing months of the war in 1945, killing all eight crew members.

Three propeller blades from this bomber, recovered at the same time as Gerard Maffett’s aircraft, now form a memorial to the mostly Canadian crew, in the memorial gardens next to Walton Parish Church.

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