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Military aircraft crashes in the south west Midlands - 1915 and 1916

Details of the crashes and the names of the aircrew involved appear on this page. Please contact us if you are related to somebody on the list, or know of a photograph of them. If original photographs or papers are still in the family, we can help to caption photographs and explain the codes and nicknames that were used at the time. We appreciate the opportunity to copy original material for the museum's archive.

The Midland Aircraft Recovery Group has found the sites of many of the crashes, but we are still looking for a significant number, so we'd like to hear from anyone who can pinpoint a crash that we've listed. We are always looking for photographs, log books and anecdotes relevant to the units based in the Midlands.

The details below are have been compiled from numerous sources of information in the public domain over many years. We've done our best, but errors are inevitable. Please contact us if you have more accurate information on any of the crashes or people listed, or can add the names of crew that we haven't traced. Thank you.

13/11/1915 An Irish labourer was killed at Radford aerodrome, Coventry, by an aircraft flown by 2/Lt Maurice Basden. The labourer's name and aircraft details have not yet been traced.

08/12/1915 Avro 504, serial unknown, of 5 Reserve Aeroplane Squadron  spun into the ground at Castle Bromwich. Lt Ian Macdonald was injured and 2/Lt Cyril Talbot Burley Croft was killed. 2nd Lt C T B Croft, 9/Somerset LI & RFC, was 24, son of Rev O T B Croft, of South Cadbury.  He volunteered in Canada and came to England in October 1914 before volunteering for the RFC.

31/01/1916 RE7 serial 2363, of 5 Resere Aeroplane Squadron    ascended at night to check the blackout, while Zeppelin L21 was in the area. On return, it was wrecked in a forced landing at Castle Bromwich, in mist.  Major A B Burdett and 2/Lt R A Cresswell were unhurt.

24/07/1916 Shorthorn serial 7353, of 5 Reserve Squadron crashed at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt W Hodgeson (or Hodgson) was injured.

25/07/1916 BE2d serial 5838, of 55 Squadron crashed at Lilbourne. The pilot 2/Lt G S Rogers and passenger 2/Lt Allan Stanley Hett were both injured.  2/Lt Hett suffered serious injuries which kept him from operational flying for the remainder of the war, some of which he spent flying from Castle Bromwich, Lilbourne and Coventry.  Rogers' was less fortunate: see below.

10/08/1916 Two aircraft collided near Lilbourne.  One landed safely, without injuries and has not been identified.  The other, FK3 serial 5527, of  55 Squadron had its tail cut off by the propeller and crashed. The pilot, 2/Lt George Stanley Rogers, and passenger 2/Lt Cyril de Frece were both killed. Second Lieutenant Cyril de Frece was the only son of Mr Alfred de Frece, a London solicitor of 153 Abbey Road, West Hampstead and 2 Devonshire Square. He was educated at the Haberdashers’ School, Taplow Grammar School and in Brussels.  He also studied under Professor Thompson at the City and Guilds School, London. In October 1915 he joined the Middlesex Yeomanry and obtained a commission in the RFC in June 1916.  He was buried at the Liberal Jewish Cemetery, Willesden.  2/Lt George Stanley Rogers came from Barrie, Ontario, Canada and was originally with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

17/09/1916 Sopwith 1˝ Strutter A1060, of 28 Reserve Squadron had a structural failure during aerobatics at Castle Bromwich. 2/Lt John Cyril Hodges and 2/Lt Leslie Syson were both killed. Hodges was the son of Rev’d E I Hodges, of Marl Hall Rectory, Coggeshall, Essex.  Leslie Syson, of the Royal Garrison Artillery was from Liverpool and Shepherd’s Bush and had brothers Frank and James Syson.

23/09/1916 Sopwith 1˝ Strutter, serial 7772, of 54 Squadron dived into the ground in the Wishaw area, possibly because the pilot was ill.  Lt Sidney Woodrow, from Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia, was killed.  He left a wife in Sydney.

03/10/1916 Sopwith 1˝ Strutter A889, of 54 Squadron stalled at 30 feet and crashed at Castle Bromwich.  The pilot, the Hon. M. Greville was injured.

13/11/1916 Sopwith 1˝ Strutter, serial 7797, of 28 Reserve Squadron landed fast in fog and ran through a hedge at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt J. V. A. Gleed was injured.

04/12/1916 Pup A643, of 54 Squadron stalled from a vertical bank and crashed at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt N. E. Startin was injured.

20/12/1916 Longhorn, serial 2986, of 5 Reserve Squadron sideslipped from 400 feet, crashed and caught fire at Walmley.  2/Lt Frank Leslie Garner was killed at the scene.  2/Lt Percy Andrew Wright died of his injuries on 21/12/1916.  Garner was from Runcorn; Wright was buried at Birmingham Lodge Hill cemy.

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