World War Two pilot's Gloucester memorial is 'wonderful'

Published
Related Topics
image copyrightMike McArthur/CBC
image captionAnne Underhill was only ten months old when her father was killed in plane crash in 1940

The daughter of a World War Two pilot who died in a crash in 1940 says plans for a memorial to him are "absolutely extraordinary".

Flt Lt Robert Coventry is believed to have sacrificed his own life to avoid hitting a school when his aircraft crashed near Gloucester.

His daughter Anne Underhill, 81, has welcomed plans for a memorial which is due to be unveiled in September.

She said it was a "wonderful thing" for him to be given the recognition.

image copyrightAnne Underhill
image captionFlt Lt Robert Coventry died in the crash in Quedgeley, but two other crew members survived

Ms Underhill now lives in Canada and knows very little about her father as she was only ten months old when he died.

"What I made of it was that being born during the war, it was all part and parcel. It sounds heartless but I didn't make anything more of it than all the other people who had lost their fathers and mothers," she said.

Flt Lt Coventry, 27, was the pilot of a Bristol Blenheim bomber which crashed in a field in September 1940 while on a training mission.

image copyrightFamily photo
image captionGeorge Wilcox (left) survived the crash in 1940

He was killed after staying at the controls to avoid hitting Quedgeley School, but two other crew members survived the crash, including George Wilcox, who died aged 102 in 2018.

"I understood that there was a big house close by and one of the maids who was in the linen room rushed out with a pair of shears and people from a nearby farmhouse also came out to cut the gunner out of the back of the plane," she said.

image copyrightMike McArthur/CBC
image captionAnne Underhill pictured at a memorial in Oak Bay, Canada, near her home, on which her father and uncle's names appear

A campaign to honour Flt Lt Coventry was launched last year and Quedgeley Town Council commissioned stonemason Chris Ransome to create a memorial, which is due to be unveiled during a service in September.

Ms Underhill said her late mother would be "dancing around up there" to hear the news.

"It means a lot to me and I would love to be able to be there. I think it's an amazing and wonderful thing," she added.

image captionFlt Lt Robert Coventry is buried at Down Hatherley church in Gloucestershire

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: bristol@bbc.co.uk

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.