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Author Topic: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930  (Read 14181 times)

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Offline Riding With The Angels

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2011, 21:10:56 »
Looking at the 1940 era map and current aerial view it appears the curved area top left is a good bet (west of A227)


Andyb

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 19:00:48 »
Hi, I haven't lived that long in Meopham and you are right I cant find anybody who is aware of the crash. Is anybody able to pinpoint the site on a map.

Thanks

Andy

Glen

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2011, 00:07:25 »
I came across numerous newspaper reports on this from The Strait Times, and Singapore FreePress &Mercantile. May be of interest to those of you who have contributed to this topic. 

Despite it being named Singapore Pages it has loads of UK stuff.  http://newspapers.nl.sg/Default.aspx   

I just typed in Meopham, Kent and it came up with numerous articles on the disaster.

Hi Ann - I recently stumbled across that site as well. Lots of interesting stuff on there. The Meopham disaster was reported worldwide at the time due to the high profile nature of the victims. Funny that nowadays if you asked someone who lived in Meopham about it they probably wouldn't know what you were talking about.

Glen

Offline ann

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2011, 18:14:34 »
I came across numerous newspaper reports on this from The Strait Times, and Singapore FreePress &Mercantile. May be of interest to those of you who have contributed to this topic. 

Despite it being named Singapore Pages it has loads of UK stuff.  http://newspapers.nl.sg/Default.aspx   

I just typed in Meopham, Kent and it came up with numerous articles on the disaster.

Glen

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 21:31:28 »
I have been kindly given permission to post pictures of the two pilots by The Royal Aero Club Trust who contacted me after reading this thread.



Lt Col Henderson



Charles Shearing

Glen

Offline Riding With The Angels

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2010, 19:27:35 »
Thanks Glen,

 I am well thanks have been maintaining a watching brief and decided it was time to catch up fully. I dont go far away ;-)

Glen

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2010, 19:09:48 »
Thanks for the additional info RWTA. Hope you're well. Hven't seen you on the forum for a while.

Glen

Offline Riding With The Angels

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2010, 12:00:23 »
Lot Description

A Great War Fighter Pilot's M.C., A.F.C. Group of Five to Despatch Rider and Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel G.L.P. Henderson, Royal Air Force, Late Royal Flying Corps and Royal Engineers, Military Cross, G.V.R.; Air Force Cross, G.V.R.; 1914 Star with miniature Bar (Cpl. R.E.); British War and Victory Medals (Major R.F.C.), with a silver medal inscribed "Aerial Firing No 1 Group R.A.F. August 1918 Won by Major G.L.P. Henderson M.C.", extremely fine, all contained in a glazed wooden display case (6)
Pre-Lot Text

AIR FORCES
Lot Notes

INDENTM.C. Lo
ndon Gazette 22.1.1916 Lieut. (Temp. Captain) R.F.C. Special Reserve "For conspicuous gallantry and skill. On 28th November 1915, between La Bassee and Lille, after he had driven down one Albatros, he attacked two other hostile machines and, in spite of heavy fire, put them both to flight. Then under anti-aircraft fire he chased two more machines and drove them off. On 2nd December, near Don, when on escort to a bombing expedition, he was hit by a bullet in the head in a fight with a German machine. Though partially stunned and half blinded, he succeeded in bringing his own machine back to his aerodrome".

A more interesting and comprehensive account of the above engagements appeared in R.F.C. Communique Nos. 22 and 23:

"Lt. Henderson (Morane Scout, 3 Sqn) left the aerodrome at 9.30 a.m. to attack a hostile machine reported over Noeux Les Mines. He found an Albatros at 8,000 feet which made off. The Morane soon reached the same altitude and overhauled the Albatros, which turned and attacked. Lt Henderson dived at him, passing over him at 50 feet and firing continuously. The enemy machine was seen to be descending rapidly and was pursued by the Morane firing as opportunity occurred. The Albatros went down to about 1,500 feet over Vending Le Vieil, where he dropped a smoke ball and was lost to view. Proceeding towards Lille with the intention of intercepting hostile aeroplanes re-crossing the lines, Lt Henderson found at 8,000 feet, a B.E.2c being attacked by an Albatros and a second German machine, type not recognised. These two machines were attacked in turn, the latter making off after half a drum had been expended against it. The Albatros showed more fight but was eventually also driven off. During this time a hostile machine stood off about half a mile east, and an Aviatik was directly above but took no part in the action. The latter was pursued to La Bassee and was last seen at 13,000 feet making for Lille."

"Lt Henderson (Morane Scout, 3 Sqn) when escorting the bombing machines to Don engaged a hostile tractor biplane of the Morane type which approached from the direction of Douai at 8,500 feet. The Morane Scout was flying just ahead of the B.E.2c's of 2 Sqn. As the German approached, Lt Henderson turned to go in the same direction and dived at him, opening fire at 150 yards. The B.E.2c's then came into the field of fire. The German machine dived, Lt Henderson diving after him and overhauling him fired a whole drum at short range. While changing the drum, the German turned sharply right-handed and at the same time Lt Henderson was hit by a bullet just above the right eye. His goggles were broken, and being temporarily blinded by blood, he was forced to discontinue the engagement and returned home. He landed his machine safely".

During the last engagement, Henderson was wounded by a bullet from a rifle, in this instance the German Observer's only weapon.

A.F.C. London Gazette 3.6.1919. Major (A/Lt.Col.) M.C. (R.E.)
Lieutenant Colonel George Lockhart Piercy Henderson M.C., A.F.C., son of Lieutenant General Sir Edward Henderson (Air Council until 1918) volunteered with a number of other Oxford University students upon the outbreak of the war to act as Despatch Riders for the B.E.F. in France; he became 2nd Lieutenant on probation, Royal Flying Corps, April 1915 and is shown as Lieutenant serving in 'A' Flight No. 3 Squadron in November that year. Henderson commanded 66 Squadron (Sopwith Pups) in England and France from June to October 1917 and is mentioned several times in McCudden's own book "Flying Fury" in particular when he and Henderson shared hits on "V" Strutter while on Offensive Patrol, 26 July 1917. During this period, Henderson attempted a forced landing in a Sopwith Pup - he crashed heavily and not being strapped in he was flung throught the central bracing wires to safety as the aircraft burst into flame. Thereafter he shunned safety harnesses stating that had he worn one he would have been burnt to death!

After the war Henderson was one of the first pilots to be engaged by Imperial Airways before he became a well known figure in aviation circles of the 1920s. By 1927 he was operating his own flying training school at Brooklands with a fleet of Avros and in the following year opened another at Croydon flying Mono-Avros and Moths. He became involved in aircraft design and contstruction and produced the H.S.F.1 known as the Flying Greenhouse and then the Henderson Glenny Gadfly - both aircraft were not successful.

On 21 July 1930, when piloting one of his company's single engined Junker aeroplanes on taxi-service from Croydon to Le Touquet, the aircraft suffered an in-flight structural failure and crashed near Meopham, Kent. Six people died in the crash, including the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Viscountess Ednam and Sir Edward Ward. The man who despised the safety harness, Lieutenant Colonel Henderson, was the only person found still in the wreckage - strapped in, but he died within minutes. (A folder of photographs and research accompany the group).

from http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=2978076

Glen

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 23:47:58 »
What a great post Glen
Well Done :)

Your very welcome Chatham-Girl85 - I have been researching this for a while now. I have been living not far from Meopham for most of my life and had never heard of the air crash. I actually stumbled on it while trying to find out about something completely different  :)

Anyway, here are some pictures -



Junkers F 13 - G-AAZK of Walcot Air Line, Croydon



The wrecked aircraft



The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava



Viscountess Ednam



Sir Edward Simons Ward



Mrs Loefller

If anyone ever comes across pictures of either of the pilots I would be grateful for a tip off.

Glen

Chatham_Girl85

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Re: The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 19:29:35 »
What a great post Glen
Well Done :)

Glen

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The Meopham Air Disaster - 21st July 1930
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2010, 18:16:53 »
Eighty years ago today, a Junkers F 13 (G-AAZK) of Walcot Air Line set off from Berck-sur-Mer near Le Touquet, France.

At the controls were Lieutenant Colonel George "Budgie" Henderson MC AFC, a very distinguished and experienced former RAF World War 1 pilot and Mr Charles Shearing, assistant pilot - also ex RAF.

On board were four wealthy passengers returning from a weekend high society party.

The weather was very poor for the time of year with gale force winds and driving rain. However, despite the terrible conditions, the aircraft safely crossed the English Channel and continued on it's flight over Kent heading towards Croydon, which at that time, was London's main airport.

At around 2.35 PM, disaster struck!

High above the skies of Meopham, eye witnesses reported hearing a sound like an explosion and then looking up in horror as the aircraft disintegrated in mid air and bodies fell to the ground.

The wreckage from the aircraft was spread over a wide area. The aircrew and passengers all perished in the crash. Five of the bodies were found dead in Leylands Orchard but the assistant pilot was still strapped in his seat alive.

He was carefully removed from the aircraft by the local Bobby and the village Doctor was summoned quickly. Sadly the assistant pilot never regained consciousness and died shortly afterwards.

The passengers.

Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 3rd Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1875. He joined the British Army and served with distinction in the Second Boer War, was awarded the DSO and gained the rank of Captain.

After leaving the Army in 1913 he was appointed military secretary to the Governor General of Australia. In 1914 he rejoined his old regiment and was seriously wounded whilst serving on the Western Front. In the autumn of 1915 he was again seriously wounded having only returned to duty three days earlier.

In 1921 Lord Dufferin was elected to the Senate of the Northern Ireland Parliament where he served as Speaker until his untimely death.

Lady Rosemary Millicent Leveson-Gower, Viscountess Ednam was born on 9th August 1893. She was the daughter of the 4th Duke of Sutherland and wife of the 3rd Earl of Dudley whom she had been visiting in France.

Sir Edward Simons Ward, 2nd Baronet Ward was born on 1st July 1882. Educated at Eton, he served with the Grenadier Guards during the First World War and achieved the rank of Captain.

Mrs Henrik Loeffler was married to a mining engineer with business interests in South Africa. She was a very well known society hostess and had organised the party in France attended by the Marquess and Sir Edward.

The aftermath.

The loss of so many high profile society figures in one fell swoop prompted the Air Ministry to launch an extensive investigation into the cause of the crash. The enquiry was lead by Major Cooper and the results were to be made public for the first time. A precursor to the modern day AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch).

The aircraft manufacturers, Junkers and the German Government also conducted an investigation into the aircraft's loss.

Following extensive scientific tests conducted at Croydon, Major Cooper concluded that the aircraft's loss was due to a phenomenon he called "tail buffeting". Under certain wind conditions and above a particular air speed it was found that the aircraft would suffer severe vibration which could cause catastrophic structural failure.

The Germans on the other hand discounted this theory and seemed to imply that the crash may have been due to pilot error and/or the weather conditions.
 
It should be born in mind that the Great War had only ended just over ten years prior to the accident and Anglo-German relations were naturally still very strained. Admission of any potential deficiency with the Junkers aircraft would have been an embarrassment for both the company and the German government.

Needless to say, the British Air Ministry accepted the outcome of Major Cooper's enquiry.

Pathe news.

I came across a brief news film report on the Pathe archive web site. Here is the link - http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=3799

+++

I have some pics I will post up later in the week when I have more time but if you want to see them know, they are on my blog (link in signature below)

 

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