War hero’s memorabilia donated to Wings Museum in Balcombe

Eric Plank, a former WWII RAF flight engineer and Sergeant who lived in Hurstpierpoint for over 50 years, died last year at the age of 89.

Eric Plank served in the RAF from 1943-1947
Eric Plank served in the RAF from 1943-1947

When his daughter Susan Pope went through her father’s belongings, she was amazed to discover a vast array of wartime memorabilia.

She found evidence of a time in his life he rarely spoke of in a box which contained his records, rank badges, flying equipment, flight logs, forces money and pristine copies of the Daily Mirror on D-Day and VE Day.

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These plus many more historical items will be on show at the Wings Museum in Balcombe after a handing over ceremony with the family today (April 27).

Eric Plank

Eric grew up on a farm at Muddleswood Crossroad near Hurtpierpoint with his parents, two sisters and two brothers, attending the local school at Hurstpierpoint and the 1st Newtimber Scout Group where he became a committee member and eventual secretary in 1939.

He then became a member of Southdown Flight, enrolled under the Air Defence Cadet Corps, leading to his career in the RAF.

Eric worked for the RAF from 1943 until his release in 1947.

He qualified as a flight engineer in June 1944 and a few days before he was called to serve abroad he married Audrey in All Saints Church, Tooting.

Eric Gill's memorabilia will be on show at Wings Museum, Balcombe

He served as an airman and completed many operational missions in Algeria, across North Africa and in Italy between June 1944 and February 1947, often on Stirling aircrafts.

He was discharged in 1948 and went on to prepare cars for Sussex Police.

His eldest brother Fred died serving with the Royal Artillery in Egypt, whilst his brother Albert died after the war with war related injuries.

Both his sisters, Selina and Phyllis, were also in service during the war.

Eric Plank served as an airman in Algeria, across North Africa and in Italy