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R.A.F. memorial to Sgt Prior at Speech House.

Sgt Prior

Terry wrote: ... "Please find enclosed photos ... of the memorial stone in the wall at the Speech House Hotel in memory of SGT PILOT D E PRIOR who lost his life when the Westland Whirlwind he was flying crashed into the field next to the hotel on December 14th 1941 ... I intend to make this a regular thing - giving the stone a clean".

The inscription reads: RAF, In memory, 1166018 Sgt. Pilot, D. E. Prior, R.A.F.V.R. 263 SQN., Crashed here on the morning, of 14.12.1941 aged 21, flying Westland Whirlwind, P 7044

The stone is located in the Speech House perimeter wall, near to the Pavillion.

Ivor Ellis added (December 2010): "... I've done a bit of research on this crash found the operations record book for 263 Squadron. They were based at Filton it reads. 'It is with deep regret we record the death of Pilot Sgt. D.E. Prior on Dec the 14th. He was engaged on a searchlight co-operation flight, flying at 8 to 10000 feet. At about 1030hrs he was seen to crash near Coleford in Gloucestershire. After a vertical dive he was killed instantly. It cannot be known whether he lost control in cloud or whether he was the victim of ice formation. He had been with the Squadron since Sept 12th 1941 and was popular for his sense of humour and excellent spirits'".

Terry added (January 2011): "... on the day in question the aircraft took off from Charmy Down near Bath. The squadron moved there in june 1941".

Eric Nicholls added (December 2011): "... Sgt. Prior was Derrick Ellis Prior and he was buried at Harmondsworth Burial Ground, West Drayton".

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