Artefact of the Month
A MEMORIAL PLAQUE FROM ZIMBABWE
Caesar Hull was born in Shangani, Southern Rhodesia and brought up in South Africa. He was accepted for an RAF commission in 1935 and, after pilot training, joined No 43 Squadron Tangmere in August 1936. In early 1940, following the outbreak of war, he destroyed a He 111 and shared in the destruction of two others before being posted in May 1940 to No 263 Squadron flying Gladiators. Having deployed with his unit to Norway he destroyed five further enemy aircraft. Unfortunately, in his final engagement he was wounded by enemy fire and was evacuated to England.
He returned to RAF Tangmere to take command of No 43 Squadron on 31 August 1940 and claimed three aircraft destroyed during the following week. However, on 7 September 1940 he was killed in action whilst attacking a large force of Do 17 bombers escorted by Bf 109 fighter aircraft. His Hurricane crashed in the grounds of Purley High School and he was later buried in St Andrews Church, Tangmere. He was 27 years old.
After his death, the citizens of Shangani erected a memorial to his honour. This consisted of a granite plinth into which was affixed a Brass plaque. Many years later the road system in Shangani changed and the monument to Caesar Hull became isolated, overgrown and largely forgotten. In January 2004 Alistair Hull, a second cousin to Caesar, visited the area and found it intact. In order to thwart Mugabe’s so-called war veterans taking the plaque for its brass, he tried to recover it but, on being shot at by nearby squatters, withdrew hastily from the scene. It was at this time that the Hull family, including Caesar’s sister in England, Mrs Wendy Bryan, decided that the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum should be the plaque’s ideal ‘resting place’. Sometime later, two patriotic Zimbabweans delivered it to Alistair in Harare. It was then air freighted to the UK and presented to the Museum by Wendy Bryan on 17 April 2004.
THE MEMORIAL PLAQUE TO CAESAR HULL CAN BE FOUND IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL.