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Fitting tribute to Uckfield’s saviour

Belgian Cadets, Belgian Air Component senior officers, Lord Lieutenant Peter Field, Duncan Bennett and Uckfield Mayor Ian Smith. By Ron Hill

Belgian Cadets, Belgian Air Component senior officers, Lord Lieutenant Peter Field, Duncan Bennett and Uckfield Mayor Ian Smith. By Ron Hill

A young man whose act of raw courage saved a town was honoured last Saturday.

Moving and uplifting were words used to describe the unveiling of a memorial to hero pilot Flt Lt Eugene Seghers DFC, Croix De Guerre.

A two-minute silence reigned as hundreds of people in the gardens, car parks and roadside verges at the Highlands Inn bowed their heads at 2.22pm - the exact time Flt Lt Seghers’ Spitfire exploded in mid-air 70 years ago.

He had taken off from RAF Deanland and attempted to intercept a VI rocket after a faltering engine indicated it would plunge into Uckfield. Tragically the V1 exploded, killing Eugene Seghers instantly but saving the town from destruction.

The event was conceived and organised by Duncan Bennett who supervised the split-second timings with military precision - from the assembly of senior Belgian and British military and civilian representatives, re-enactors, cadets and service organisations to the arrival of the Belgian Air Component’s display team, The Red Devils. HM The Queen was represented by Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Peter Field. Also present - Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, 95 who told the Express on that same day in 1944 he was baling out of his Tempest 5 over the Hogs Back. Air cadets from Belgium and Uckfield unveiled the memorial.

 

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