Spitfire pilot remembered forever in Slamannan

A permanent memorial to a Spitfire pilot which features the propeller of the plane he was flying now has pride of place in a Braes village.

A service was held in Slamannan last Saturday in honour of pilot John Tristram Silvester who was killed when his plane crashed into a field near the village on Valentine’s Day 1941 as he trained for action during World War 2.

The RAF Sergeant was just 22 when he died in the crash on Hillhead Farm when on an exercise as part of 58 Operational Training Unit (58OTU) RAF Grangemouth & Balado Bridge where he was posted.

Sergeant Silvester was from Worcestershire and had only joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve service nine months before he died.

Members of Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum excavated the plane last June and organised the service along with Slamannan Bible & Crown Defender LOL 227 which maintains the memorial garden in Main Street where the memorial sits.

The accident was originally blamed on pilot error, it’s now thought the plane, Spitfire 1a (L1059), developed a mechanical fault as it had been involved in several accidents before it was commissioned to Grangemouth.

The sergeant’s brother Fred, his sisters Sarah Lewis and Mary Green and nephew Allen Wood all made the journey up from England to attend the ceremony.

Mr Wood said: “The Silvester family was overwhelmed by the wonderful welcome and hospitality of the people of Slamannan. We are very grateful to Slamannan and LOL 227 for dedicating a corner of the memorial garden to uncle John’s memory and creating such a fitting memorial.

“A special thanks also to Steven Spink and the Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum for the sensitive way in which the crash site was excavated and for establishing that the crash was down to mechanical failure and not pilot error, as the family had been led to believe by the Air Ministry in 1941.

“We hope that uncle John’s sacrifice might be both an inspiration and a reminder of the tragedy of war to future generations.”

Steven Spink (53), from Maddiston, was part of the aviation group’s team which unearthed the plane last year. He said: “We would like to thank everyone who helped us pay this tribute to Sergeant Silvester.”

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