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Military aircraft crashes in the south west Midlands - 1917

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.

07/01/1917 Shorthorn, serial 2953, of 5 Reserve Squadron sideslipped and crashed at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt F. A. Taylor and Sgt G. N. Wilson were both injured.

13/01/1917 Avro 504, A2650, of 28 Reserve Squadron crashed while attempting to return to Castle Bromwich aerodrome with a failing engine.  Capt. W. H. Costello was probably uninjured, but may have subsequently gone missing on 24/03/1917.

18/01/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter, serial 7801, of 28 Reserve Squadron overturned when force-landing after an engine failure, probably in the vicinity of Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt A. S. Talbot was injured.

10/02/1917 DH4 A2143, of 55 Squadron was on a flight from Lilbourne when it had an engine failure and crashed near Solihull.  Sub Lt W. H. Legge later died in hospital.  He was buried in Chingford and was probably the son of Lt H B Legge TFA, of The Nest, Hayes Common in Kent and also H B Legge & Co., St Cannon Street, London.

12/03/1917 RE8 D4810 was being collected from Radford aerodrome, to be delivered to 37 Reserve Squadron.  It crashed at Tannery Farm, after spinning.  2/Lt D Stross and 2/AM A. W. Giles were both killed.  Stross had been attached to the Machine Gun Corps and the Royal Field Artillery.  He left a wife and child at 53 Grange Avenue, Chapeltown Road, Leeds and his parents lived at West Hampstead.  His brother was Maurice Stross, Oak Bank, Harehills Lane, Leeds.  Giles left a wife and a one year old child at Kelsall, St Anne’s Road, Headington, Oxford.  He was a carpenter and joiner by trade and had transferred from the Devon Regiment.  His brother-in-law was Henry Meadows, of Yarnton Manor near Oxford.

23/03/1917 RE8 A3454, of 28 Reserve Squadron crashed at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt William Moorwood Staniforth was killed.  Staniforth, of the Yorks Dragoons, was buried at SS Mary and Margaret churchyard, Castle Bromwich.

29/03/1917 A new RE8 was being collected, for delivery to 37 Reserve Squadron.  It crashed at Radford aerodrome, in a spin.  2/Lt Arthur Boon of 7/Manchester Regiment, from Buxton in Derbyshire, was killed.  He was the son of James Boon, Traver (?) House, near Ruabon and was buried at Coventry, London Road cemy.  The serial of the aircraft has not been traced.

03/04/1917 A pilot lost control of Shorthorn A7099, of 5 Reserve Squadron, in a violent squall.  The passenger, 2/Lt Walter Pilling , was killed in the crash at Castle Bromwich.

10/04/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter A1113, of 28 Reserve Squadron, crashed, killing 2/Lt John Alexander Williamson and Cpl Clifford Norman Ryder.  The crash seems to have occurred in the Ullesthorpe area.  Williamson was from the East Kent Yeomanry. No. 941 Cpl Ryder, was from Sydney, and is also listed under 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, which was at Warloy Baillon, in France at the time. He was buried at SS Mary and Margaret churchyard, Castle Bromwich.

11/04/1917 Avro 504 A2682, of 71 Squadron, crashed after engine failure, probably at Castle Bromwich. 2/Lt J. G. Moore, 1 Rifle Brigade and 71 Squadron, was injured.

29/04/1917 Avro 504 B1394, of 28 Reserve Squadron, had an engine failure when landing at Castle Bromwich.  Sgt J. Stewart was injured.

02/05/1917 Avro 504 B1392, of 28 Reserve Squadron, had an engine failure and stalled on a turn when trying to regain the aerodrome at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt C. N. Bartlett was injured.

22/05/1917 RE8 A4688, of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park, was being flown from Coventry to Lympne.  It stalled and crashed in a spin near Radford aerodrome.  Lt Arthur Henry Felix Fletcher, who had transferred from the 13th Hussars, was killed.  His uncle by marriage was Charles Henry Davis, of 26 Jersey (?) Sheer Road, East Street, Jersey.  The Bancroftian Network page on Lt Fletcher.

29/05/1917 Shorthorn B1956, of 5 Training Squadron hit a tree when landing at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt W. H. Jones was injured.  Jones was later posted missing and subsequently prisoner of war, on 24/10/1917 when flying FE2b A5706, with Lt J S Goddard.  His father was Arthur Harries, of St Helen's Road, Swansea.

04/06/1917 Shorthorn, serial 7355, of 5 Training Squadron, hit trees at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt R. H. Timmis and 2/Lt W. E. H. Blyth were both injured. 2/Lt William Ernest Hill Blyth, then of 89 Squadron, was killed while flying on 22/4/1918 and was buried in Norwich.  He was a native of Johannesburg.

08/06/1917 Shorthorn A6897, of 5 Training Squadron, crashed at Blisworth after the pilot got lost.  2/Lt L. H. Higgs died in hospital, possibly on 09/06/1917. 2/Lt Lucien Herbert J Higgs was buried at SS Mary & Margaret churchyard, Castle Bromwich.

09/06/1917 Avro 504, serial 2923, of 73 Squadron, crashed in a spin at Lilbourne. 2/Lt H. Bradley was injured.

23/06/1917 Avro 504 B925, of 28 Training Squadron, was being looped when the seat broke and jammed the controls.  It crashed in the Castle Bromwich area.  2/Lt C. W. Jacot was killed and 2/Lt E. Villiers was injured. 2/Lt (Temp) Conrade William Jacot, from Perry Bar, was buried at SS Nicholas and Peter Church, Curdworth.  Villiers was from the East Kent Regiment.

26/06/1917 FE2 A5508, of 28 Training Squadron, crashed at Castle Bromwich after an engine failure.  Lt W. F. Findlay was unhurt and 2/Lt J. Noad was injured.

05/07/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter A8262, of 71 Squadron, sideslipped and crashed on take off from Castle Bromwich.  Australian airman A/1078 AM1 A. J. Merritt, who was the passenger, was badly burned in an attempt to save the pilot’s life and received the squadron’s first decoration, the Meritorious Service Medal, which was gazetted 02/11/1917.  2/Lt Leslie Morley Fletcher, Australian Flying Corp, was killed and was buried in SS Nicholas and Peter Church, Curdworth.  He is commemorated on a simple wooden plaque inside. 

11/07/1917 Shorthorn A2493, of 5 Training Squadron was being force-landed in a field adjoining Castle Bromwich aerodrome after the engine stopped.  The machine struck a hedge, the nose hit the ground and the pilot was thrown out. 2/Lt Bertram Joseph Venn was killed.  He was the son of Mr J Venn, 24 Glena Avenue, Knowle, Bristol.

21/07/1917 Longhorn B3982, of 5 Training Squadron hit trees between Castle Bromwich    village and the aerodrome.  2/Lt W C Gray was injured.

24/07/1917 Avro 504 B954, of 71 Squadron crashed on Castle Bromwich aerodrome.  2/Lt R A Halliday (or Holliday) was injured.

25/07/1917 Avro 504 A480, of 84 Squadron crashed at Lilbourne aerodrome, when the rudder bar jammed. Lt Oliver Mortimer Johns from Toronto was being instructed prior to going solo and was seriously injured. Assistant instructor Lt E V D Matthews was slightly cut.

27/07/1917 RE8 A3772 was a newly-built aircraft, being collected from 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park.  It spun into the ground after take off from Radford aerodrome.  Delivery pilot, Lt Roy Cumestree Trout of 69 Squadron, was killed.  He was the son of Mr W J Trout, Victoria Street, Redhill, Brisbane.

03/08/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter A8257, of 71 Squadron hit a tree while spinning, near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt W F Stiver was injured.

10/08/1917 Pup A7326, of 84 Squadron spun into the ground at Lilbourne after a wing collapsed.  Lt William Alexander Taylor, was killed.  He was the son of Mr W Taylor, Florence Mount, Mary Hill Park, Glasgow.

14/08/1917 Avro 504 B928, of 71 Squadron crashed at Castle Bromwich in gusty conditions.  2/Lt T F Hosking, who had fought with the ‘Garry Horse, RES Battalion’, survived.  He was the son of Mrs Annie Hosking, 38 Victoria Street, Rozelle, New South Wales.  2/AM Sidney Bernard Larkin, Australian Flying Corps, was killed. 

20/08/1917 Shorthorn B2036, of 5 Training Squadron tried to turn to avoid a machine on the ground at Castle Bromwich, but crashed when a wingtip struck the ground.  Lt Frederick Arthur Whitfield was injured.

25/08/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter A6914, of 84 Squadron force landed near Kettering.  When it took off again the engine failed and it collided with a tree.  2/Lt S H Preston was injured.

06/09/1917 Avro 504 A2640, of 28 Training Squadron crashed at Castle Bromwich after failing to flatten out on landing.  Lt G S Curtis was injured.

07/09/1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter, serial 7999, of 28 Training Squadron banked when too close to the ground after taking off from Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt J Burdekin and the wing photography corporal, Cpl Males, were both injured.

14/09/1917 Avro 504 A9803, of 71 Squadron crashed in a wood at Water Orton near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt David K Billings, had fallen out of the cockpit to his death, when the straps broke during aerobatics.  He was the son of Reverand J Billings, 5109 Kinbark Avenue, Chicago, USA.

29/09/1917 Shorthorn A4155, of 5 Training Squadron collided with a telegraph pole – presumably at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt W R Butler was injured.

01/10/1917 BE2e A3148, of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park, crashed on the outskirts of Radford aerodrome after an engine failure. Captain R H C Usher and Captain W E Reason, who was the chief technical officer from ‘Norwich EOI’, were both injured.

05/10/1917 Avro 504 B3129, of 28 Training Squadron spun in off a turn at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Cyril Thornton was killed outright and 2/Lt Granville Vernon Lewis died some hours later. Lewis was born in Melbourne, Australia but had married and settled in north east London by 1912. He had enlisted in the the 3rd London Field Company, Royal Engineers at Denham Camp by 14 September 1914. He transferred to Cadet Wing RFC, Denham, 8 March 1917 and was gazetted Flying Officer 15 September 1917, becoming an instructor at 28 TS.  He left his pregnant wife Myvanwy Jacob Lewis at 15 Aveling Park Road, Chingford Road, north east London.  His son Richard Granville Lewis was born in 1918 and was killed in action with 165 Squadron on 9 February 1943. Thornton was the son of Mr E E J Thornton, 28 Acacia Road, Bournville, Birmingham.

13/10/1917 Shorthorn B2038, of 5 Training Squadron crashed at Minworth after side-slipping on a turn.  2/Lt Robert Francis Christie died of his injuries the following day.  He was the son of Reverend E B Christie, Middleton Rectory, County Armargh, Ireland.

19/10/1917 Avro 504 A9782, of 28 Training Squadron crashed on Castle Bromwich aerodrome after the engine was choked.  2/Lt Frederick Gerald Powell was injured.

07/11/1917 Camel B2485, of 71 Squadron stalled and crashed after an engine failure – presumably at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt J Topliffe was injured.

08/11/1917 Avro 504 B3179, of 73 Squadron spun into the ground adjacent to Lilbourne aerodrome.  2/Lt Norman Euslace Sassoon Croager (or Groager) and 2/Lt Victor William Price were both killed.  Price had joined the Worcestershire Regiment and was the son of Mr W J Price, The Valley, Great Malvern. 

02/12/1917 SE5A, serial B563, of 28 Training Squadron spun into the ground after the pilot attempted too steep a turn near Castle Bromwich aerodrome.  2/Lt Walter Gordon Coutts was killed.  He was the son of Mr C Coutts, 65 Gothie Avenue, Toronto, Canada.

07/12/1917 Camel B5577, of 73 Squadron stalled on a turn at Lilbourne after the engine was choked.  2/Lt Charles Robert Rawbone was injured and died on 18/12/1917.  He was the son of Mr C J Rawbone, of 4 Templar Street, Myatts Park, London.

10/12/1917 SE5A B4870, of 28 Training Squadron struck a tree while force landing out of fuel – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt W Newby was injured.

17/12/1917 SE5A B680, of 28 Training Squadron overturned when force landing in a ploughed field after the engine cut – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt S S Punnett was injured.

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