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Military aircraft crashes in the south west Midlands - 1918

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.

03/01/1918 SE5A B681, of 28 Training Squadron dived into the ground off a turn at low altitude – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt G D Floyd was severely injured.

08/01/1918 Avro 504 A3371, of 74 Training Squadron turned with insufficient airspeed and crashed – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt D F Farrar was injured.

11/01/1918 Avro 504 A8572, of 28 Training Squadron crashed into trees and wires when the engine failed on take off from Castle Bromwich.  Cadet P A Kennedy was injured.

20/01/1918 Pup C213, of 55 Training Squadron crashed after colliding with another machine.  C213 was being flown by Lt B S Smallman and the other machine, which has not been identified, was flown by 2/Lt Smith.  Both appear to have been unhurt.

22/01/1918 Bristol F2, serial B1236, of 59 Training Squadron crashed near Lilbourne after its pilot was thrown out during aerobatic practice.  2/Lt Harold Griffith Nelson was killed.  He was the son of Mrs Nelson, 770 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York, USA and was also friends with Martha Grover of 27 Stockport Grove, Altringham, Cheshire.

23/01/1918 A formation of Pups was flying over Castle Bromwich, when 2/Lt Hamilton in Camel B2480, of 54 Training Squadron did an Immelman turn from below them.  His Camel collided with Pup B5957 and both crashed.  2/Lt Reginald Douglas Hamilton and Lt Ralph Hall were both killed.  Hamilton was the son of Mr George E O Hamilton, 314 Notre Dam Street, Montreal, Canada.  Hall was the son of Mr J H Hall (or Thomas Hall), 150 Valentine Avenue (or Ballantyne Avenue), Montreal, Canada.

27/01/1918 BE2c, serial 4419, of 59 Training Squadron stalled and crashed – presumably near Lilbourne.  2/Lt G P Kells was injured.

28/01/1918 Camel B5589, of 54 Training Squadron crashed at Castle Bromwich    when it stalled and spun after the engine choked.  2/Lt L C McHugh was injured.

31/01/1918 Avro 504 B4230, of 10 Training Squadron blew a cylinder off its engine, which hit the pilot, rendering him unconcious.  The machine crashed – presumably near Lilbourne.  2/Lt J H Waterworth survived.

16/02/1918 Avro 504 B4379, of 28 Training Squadron hit a tree while force landing close to Castle Bromwich aerodrome.  2/Lt J Farley was injured.

18/02/1918 Camel B7363, of 54 Training Squadron spun into the ground off a loop, near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Charles Brock Whitney was injured.  Whitney was born at Woodstock, Ontario and later lived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

28/02/1918 SE5A C5371, of 28 Training Squadron had a wing collapse during a roll.  It spun to the ground and caught fire.  Cadet L Ludwig was killed.  He was the son of Mr W W Ludwig, 4810, 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

09/03/1918 Avro 504, serial D57, of 74 Training Squadron crashed after the pilot attempted to turn down-wind and stalled, at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt H W Ford was seriously injured.

22/03/1918 Camel B2519, of 74 Training Squadron stalled and spun into the ground after the engine was choked.  2/Lt W F Hay was injured.

24/03/1918 Pup B7530, of 55 Training Squadron spun into the ground near Lilbourne.  2/Lt Harry Norman Van Duzer died of his injuries on 26/03/1918.  He was the son of Mrs W H Van Duzer, Grimsby, Ontario, Canada.

25/03/1918 Handley Page 0/400, serial D5403 was the 3rd of 50 aircraft built by the Birmingham Carriage Company.  It was being tested by the makers prior to acceptance by the RAF, when it crashed.  This probably occurred at the makers flying ground in Smethwick, Birmingham.  There are no details of any casualties.

04/04/1918 SE5A B8293, of 28 Training Squadron swung on take off and stalled avoiding wires, at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Victor Topping was seriously injured.

04/04/1918 SE5A D3447, of 54 Training Squadron spun into the ground off a roll – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Cyril Riches Lee was injured.

09/04/1918 Pup B7501, of 54 Training Squadron flew into a tree – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Cecil David James was slightly injured.  He was the nephew  of Mr A Clark, 806 Keel Street, Toronto, Canada.

13/04/1918 There was a Zeppelin raid during the night. Lt Cecil Henry Noble-Cambell of B Flight, 38 Sqn, based at Buckminster, took off 23-25 (on 12/04/1918).  While patrolling at 16,000 feet at 01-15, he saw Zeppelin L62 north east of Birmingham.  He closed in to attack.  Unknown to him, Lt Brown of C Flight, 38 Sqn, based at Stamford, who had taken off 23-18, was also making an attack.  Without warning, Noble-Campbell’s prop was smashed and he descended to a controlled crash near Radford aerodrome in Coventry. He scrambled clear before his aircraft, FE2 serial A5707, caught fire.  Brown’s FE2, A5578, also crashed at Radford.  The squadron recorded that both pilots thought they had been shot down by Zeppelin L62, but German records make no mention of this and it seems likely that the FE2s either shot each other down, or collided, without the Germans even knowing they were there.  Both airmen were injured. Lt William Alfred Brown, 12707, had been in the 24th Northumberland Fuseliers.

19/04/1918 Avro 504, serial D1, of 74 Training Squadron stalled and crashed at Castle Bromwich    when the engine failed.  Lt Henry Blackman and 2/Lt W H Hadfield were seriously injured.

19/04/1918 RE8 C2373 spun in off a turn at Radford, when being collected by a delivery pilot from 38 Squadron, Melton Mowbray.  Lt Sidney Angus Leith was killed.  He was the son of Mrs Parker, Star Hill Hostel, Farnborough, Hampshire and was from from Forest Hall, Northumberland.  His brother was John Armstrong Leith, Lyoak Cottage, Lame Rilns by Dunfermline.

22/04/1918 Pup B5943, of 28 Training Squadron dived into the ground while attacking a target in Sutton Park.  Sgt Henry Joseph Birtles was killed.  He was the son of Mr R V Young, 33 Phayre Road, Quetta, India.  Both of his parents were dead and his guardian was John Henry Martin, of Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.

22/04/1918 RE8, serial E56 was being collected from Radford aerodrome, for ferrying to the Artillery & Infantry Co-operation School at Hursely, Winchester, when it stalled and spun into the ground.  Lt A McDunlop was injured.  He was the son of Mrs J McDunlop, 29 Cartha Street, Langside, Glasgow.

25/04/1918 Camel B9230, of 10 Training Squadron flew into telegraph wires while attempting to fly underneath them, near Lilbourne.  2/Lt David Percival McIntyre was killed.  He was the son of Mrs McIntyre, Roselea, Seafield Road, Broughty Ferry

29/04/1918 Avro 504 D185 of 54 Training Squadron stalled and spun off a turn at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt C W Mercer was slightly injured.

April 1918 SE5A C6419, of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park is believed to have crashed at Radford.

05/05/1918 Avro 504 C568, of 74 Training Squadron spun into the ground – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  Sgt Mechanic Christopher Charles Dawson was slightly injured.

06/05/1918 Avro 504 B3102, of 74 Training Squadron spun into the ground – presumably near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Jim Joy was slightly injured.

09/05/1918 SE5A D3571, of 55 Training Squadron broke up in the air when pulling out of a dive, near Lilbourne.  2/Lt James Donald McRae Reid was killed.  He was the son of Mr C G L Reid, Central Park Post Office, Vancouver, Canada.

11/05/1918 Camel B9242, of 10 Training Squadron spun into the ground near Lilbourne.  2/Lt Roderick Oliver Sherar was killed.  He was the son of Mrs Sherar, 5 Charles Street, Pokran, Victoria, Australia and seems also to have been related to Mrs Percival, 51 Eastbourne Road, Birkdale, Lancashire. He was born at at Prahran, Victoria, Australia, to Caleb and Ann E Sherar of 338 Punt Road, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia.

22/05/1918 SE5A C9509, of 54 Training Squadron collided with a tree on take off from Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Percy Charles Moynihan was killed.  He was the son of Mr G W Moynihan, Gloucester Road, Finsbury Park, London.

25/05/1918 SE5A D6097, of 74 Training Squadron broke up when coming out of a dive over Sutton Park.  2/Lt Raymond Tenny Balch was killed.  He was the son of Mr W M Balch, 4 Summit Place, Newbury Port, Massachusetts, USA.

27/05/1918 RE8 E139 spun into the ground at Radford.  It was being delivered to 72 Training Depot Station.  Lt Harry Philip Walter Laughton was killed.  He was the son of Mrs Laughton, Mount Villa, Mount Road, Rondeboseh, Cape Town, South Africa.  His fiancée was Miss V Bennett, of 78 Gleneagle Road, Streatham, London. Laughton was in the 10th Middlesex Regiment.  He had served with the 2nd Natal Light Horse, proceded to England and joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment, serving in Egypt, Mesopotamia and on the North-West frontier of India, where he was wounded.

29/05/1918 DH9 D5610, of 7 Training Depot Station stalled and crashed near Balsall Common.  2/Lt Roy Cowell Townsend was killed and Lt Edward Reyneald Watts was seriously injured.  Watts was a pilot instructor, of the Gordon Highlanders and 7 TDS.  Townsend was the son of Mr H E Cowell Townsend, Croft House, Hungerford, Berks

31/05/1918 Avro 504 D4364, of 55 Training Squadron side-slipped into the ground at Lilbourne.  2/Lt James Willard Ironmonger was slightly injured and 2/Lt R K Wilson was unhurt.

May 1918 SE5A C6462, of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park is believed to have crashed at Radford.

04/06/1918 Avro 504 D6299, of 28 Training Squadron spun into the ground near Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Victor George Cheeseman was seriously injured.

16/06/1918 Avro 504 D162, of 54 Training Squadron spun in off a turn when landing at Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Joseph Herries was slightly injured.

21/06/1918 Camel B6416, of 55 Training Squadron spun into the ground at Lilbourne.  2/Lt W Berwick was slightly injured.

21/06/1918 FK8 C8617, of 1 Training Depot Station spun into the ground near South Kilworth.  2/Lt Douglas Lavington Little was killed.  He was the son of Mr W G Little, 30 Vicarage Road, Rugby.  He had worked at BTH in Rugby.

25/06/1918 SE5A C1776, of 28 Training Squadron stalled and spun into the ground, bursting into flames.  It isn’t clear whether this happened at Castle Bromwich, or perhaps Hounslow.  2/Lt George Galloway Cordiner was killed.  He was the son of Mrs M Cordiner, 23 South East Street, Brechin, Scotland.

30/06/1918 Lt John Joseph McDonald took off from Lilbourne in a machine from 10 Training Squadron, giving Air Mechanic Smith a joy ride.  The identity of the machine has not been traced, but it may have been a single-seater, with both men in the cockpit.  The engine choked on take off and the machine crashed.  McDonald was thrown out and survived, but 1/AM Richard Smith hit his head on the fuel tank and died of his injuries.

01/07/1918 Handley Page 0/400, serial D4573 was built by the Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon and Finance Company Birmingham and delivered to the RAF at Castle Bromwich by 29/06/1918.  On this date it crashed while en-route to Martlesham Heath for tests.  Nothing further is known.

04/07/1918 Avro 504 D7783, of 54 Training Squadron hit a tree while taking off from Castle Bromwich.  2/Lt Neville Victor Scott was slightly injured.

25/07/1918 Bristol F2 B8917, of the School of Special Flying spun into the ground at Lilbourne.  Colonel Ralph Harold Austin-Sparks was killed.  He left a wife, Mrs S J Austin-Sparks at Linchams Goals, Caterham, Surrey. He had returned from the Argentine in October 1914, rejoined the London Scottish in November and was a second Lieutenant with the 11th Hussars (12th Calvalry Brigade) by December.  He was promoted to Captain in the Royal Artillery in May 1915 and attached to the Royal Flying Corps from June.  He was wounded while flying over Ypres in July 1915.  He was Colonel-in-Command RAF (Midland Area) from June 1918.  He had been a member of the Thames Rowing Club, Belsize Boxing Club and London Scottish Rugby Football Club.

19/08/1918 Handley Page 0/400, serial D4593, of 14 Aircraft Acceptance Park was on a test flight from Castle Bromwich when it lost fabric from a wing and crashed at Maxstoke.  This was quoted as the worst accident in the first year of the Royal Air Force and all on board were killed.  The pilot was Lt Robert Edward Andrew MacBeth, the son of William John and Annie Colhoun MacBeth, of 60 Brock Avenue, Toronto, Canada. He had a “BASc” from the university of Toronto and had qualified for his Royal Aero Club certificate No 3154, on the 19th May 1916.  The second pilot was Lt Frederick James Bravery, who had a father in Worthing. 1/AM J May, B/41388, was a “passenger up for a rigging test”, next of kin Mrs W May, 36 Gladstone Street, Nottingham. 3/AM Charles William Offord, 163783, was testing the dynamo and lighting system.  His next of kin was Mrs Offord, 6 Western Road, Acton Green, Chiswick, London. 2/AM Albert J Winrow, 104987, was a “passenger to make up war load to pilot’s instructions”.  His next of kin was Mrs Winrow, 56 Rosemond Street, West Chorlton, Medlock, Manchester. 3/AM G Greenland, 194997, was the passenger in charge of petrol pumps, next of kin Mrs Greenland, 145 Canal Road, Mile End, London. 2/AM H Simmons, 119946, was a “passenger to make up war load to pilot’s instructions”.  He was the son of Henry and Emma Simmonds, of The Cross, West Meon, Peterfield, Hampshire.

24/09/1918 RE8 C2897 and SE5A F851, both of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park, collided at Radford and fell to earth locked together.  Lt Charles Geoffrey Baker, pilot of the SE5A was seriously injured.  He was the son of Mr Charles Baker, 77A Queen Victoria Street, London.  The occupants of the RE8 were less fortunate.  3/AM Percival George Welsman was killed outright and Lt Hedley Herbert Berry died later in hospital.  Welsman left a wife, Mrs S R Welsman, at 3 Belle View, Colehill, Wimborne, Dorset.  Berry was the son of Mr J E Berry, 299 London Road, Westcliffe-on-Sea.  He had seen action at the Somme and at Messines Ridge in 1916, whilst flying with 21 Sqn.  He had survived a crash in France whilst piloting BE12 no. 6628. His brother, Douglas George Berry 59158, was a 2/AM wireless operator, who enlisted 12/2/17.

01/10/1918 SE5A F856, of 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park, stalled and crashed at Radford.  Sgt Dafely Taweloy Austin Jones, 2196, was killed.  He had served in the Motor Machine Gun Corps and Tank Corps.  F856 was a presentation aircraft ‘Australia No. 39 Western Australia No. 1. The Boolathana’, donated 28/8/18.

06/10/1918 Avro 504 B927, of 28 Training Squadron crashed while taking off from Castle Bromwich, when the engine failed.  2/Lt Ormand Hilton Curry was slightly injured.

06/11/1918 Pup B7533, of 28 Training Squadron stalled and crashed – presumably at Castle Bromwich.  Lt F B Bainbridge was slightly injured.

Date unknown Camel B9158, of 5 Training Squadron crashed at Lilbourne.  Lt C I Lancefield.

Date unknown Camel B9316, of 10 Training Squadron is believed to have crashed at Nuneaton.


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