Snave is a very small hamlet located on Romney Marsh just off the A2070 road nine miles south of the town of Ashford, about halfway between Hamstreet and Brenzett.
The hamlet still stands on a patch of land surrounded by the rich farmland of the Marsh levels, whose field shapes have been created by an intricate patchwork of ditches, dykes, sewers, sluices and walls, many of them unchanged for hundreds of years. Most field systems and sewers, along with their bridges, have retained their original names, and on the southern edge of Snave is the gruesome-sounding Hangman's Toll Bridge.
The main settlement of Snave is in the parish of Brenzett and consists of only a few houses and the 13th church of St Augustine, which is now redundant. The building remains consecrated and there is one service per year at harvest festival time. In spring, the churchyard is famed for its daffodils.
St Augustine Church
On Thursday, April 13, 1944, having ordered his crew to abandon the plane, which had been heavily damaged over Europe, Lt Johnson intentionally crashed to the south of Hamstreet to avoid killing villagers. The spot on the A259 at the junction with Marsh Road, about 3/4 mile to the north west of St Augustine church, is marked by a memorial. Location Map
Lieutenant William “Bill” Johnson was the pilot of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, known as Spare Parts, which was part of the 711th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group, of the United States Army Air Forces.
Lt Johnson, 23, and his crew were among the lead of a group of 243 B-17’s which were taking part in a raid to bomb the Messerschmitt aircraft plant at Augsburg in Bavaria, southern Germany.
Around 100 miles inland from the French coast the group came under heavy fire from anti-aircraft guns, causing a number of bombers to abort the mission.
Once the Flying Fortress was over the Kent coast at Hythe, William ordered his crew to bale out from their stricken aircraft, but he took the decision to attempt to crash land his aircraft. As he crossed the Romney Marsh and approaching the village of Hamstreet, William realised that his B-17 was going to crash into the village, and in order to avoid the inevitable loss of life amongst the local population, he sacrificed his own life by crashing the huge bomber to the south of Hamstreet village.
Memorial at Johnson's Corner