Tribute given to World War Two fighter pilot who died at Seckford Hall
PUBLISHED: 08:39 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:12 20 September 2018
A memorial has been placed in the grounds of a Suffolk stately home in honour of a pilot whose fighter plane crashed there more than 75 years ago.
The plaque and bench at Seckford Hall, near Woodbridge, is in tribute to Pilot Officer George Montgomerie Marshall from New Zealand.
He was killed when his Hurricane crashed shortly after taking off from nearby RAF Martlesham Heath in 1941.
The plaque was erected by Martlesham Heath Aviation Society on a bench donated by Seckford Hall.
Society secretary Alan Powell said: “He deserves to be remembered.
“As a thriving local society it is our job to put up as many of memorials as possible whilst we still can.
“I was particularly interested that this chap came all the way from New Zealand and that he was killed over here.”
The story was first discovered by Mick Meras, who once worked at Seckford Hall, which is now a hotel.
He was told by previous owner Michael Bunn that a plane had once crashed in the grounds there.
Mr Meras took the story to the national archives, and with Mr Powell was able to research P/O Marshall’s life.
Mick said: “I think it’s brilliant, England called for volunteers and he volunteered so he deserves recognition for that.”
P/O Marshall was born in Greenbank, Marton, New Zealand, in 1918. At the outbreak of war in 1939, he became a member of the New Zealand Territorial Force and later joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a Civil Reserve Pilot.
He arrived in the UK in September 1940 and joined RAF 258 Squadron in January 1941.
On the 30th of July 1941, Martlesham was visited by, then head of the R.A.F Lord Trenchard, referred to as “Father of the Royal Air Force”.
The station personnel were mustered to hear an address by Lord Trenchard and George Marshall would have been there to hear it.
Unfortunately it was one of the last things he ever did.
Alan said: “He was killed on 30th July 1941 when his Hurricane crashed at Seckford Hall near Woodbridge after his aircraft developed a technical fault.
“He had been sent towards the North sea to scout out shipping movements and to report back, when he died he had clocked up 410 hours of flying as a pilot.
“It is likely that the chief of the R.A.F was one of the last people he ever saw.”
Alan and the aviation society contacted Seckford Hall who agreed to have the bench erected in his memory and it was dedicated last Sunday with Rev Toby Tate, vicar of Martlesham and Brightwell, conducting a short service.
He told those assembled: “We honour the memory of a brave man - just 100 years after he was born.”