Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

William Fortescue Beachcroft and Everil Edwin Froneman


Recommended Posts

Lieutenant William Fortescue Beachcroft and Captain Everil Edwin Froneman, both from South Africa, were killed in an aeroplane accident on 21st July 1918, and are buried in the churchyard extension at Ascot, Berkshire.

Does anyone have details of the accident please?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Mick. Do you reckon they were dong an aerobatics display or just showing off?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Flight death notice is surprisingly sparse, as they often have some local detail for home front casualties:


Looking at Ancestry the probate details state that Beachcroft died "21 July 1918 at Foliejon near Ascot, Berkshire". Hopefully that'll reduce the potential districts to search if you're going down the rabbit hole of Coroner's Reports.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will be at Reading Library on Friday, so I'll look to see if there are any newspaper reports of the crash


Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting Trevor. The newspaper article says the plane crashed when they were trying to loop the loop. But there's very little - hush hush during the war I expect.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Struck the jackpot - a full report into the inquest on the Windsor, Eton and Slough Express.

26th July 1918


The Deputy-coroner for East Berks (Mr T. R. Kent) held an inquest on Tuesday last in a cottage at Knobs’ Crook Farm, near New Lodge, on the bodies of Captain Evilil Froneman, D.S.O., aged about 28, and Lieutenant William Fortescue Beachcroft, M.C., aged 27, of the Royal Air Force, who were killed after looping the loop near Foliejon Park on Sunday last. Both men came from South Africa early in the war to join up, and both had served with distinction on the battlefield, Captain Froneman gaining the D.S.O., and Lieutenant Beachcroft the Military Cross. The latter first served in the Royal Field Artillery, and was in the Cambrai battle. The King presented him with his military Cross at Buckingham Palace. He had recently been attached to the Air Force. On Sunday the two aviators were making a flight, when, owing to engine trouble, they came down at Foliejon Park. Princess Hatzfeldt, hearing of their difficulty, invited them to Foliejon Park to lunch. After lunch, they were to resume their flight, but before doing so they looped the loop, and came down in a spiral dive. A witness said that the aviators tried to flatten out the machine, but failed and it nose-dived to the earth, both men being killed instantaneously. The bodies were removed, under the direction of Superintendent Jannaway, of Clewer, to some farm buildings close by ….

The evidence relating to the death of Captain Froneman was taken first.

Lieutenant Charles Amyand Alexander Elliot, Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, attached to the royal air force, identified the body of Captain Eviril Froneman, who, he said, was a South African and a Captain in the Royal Air Force. He was about 28 years of age, and witness thought he was unmarried. He had only known him about three weeks, and he was under orders for a flight on Sunday last.

William James Rogers, munition worker, of Knobs Crook Farm, Winkfield, said that on Sunday afternoon last at 4:30 he saw an aeroplane rise from the ground and it went up about 2000 feet. Witness heard the engine stop, and the aeroplane then circled round. From its movements witness concluded that there was something wrong with the engine. An attempt was made by the aviators to loop the loop and he then saw the machine topple over sideways. When it got on a level with the tops of the treesit did a nose dive and crashed to the ground. The machine seemed to be out of control, and the engine was not going. Witness heard the crash, and went to the scene at once. He found that the two aviators had been thrown out of their seats in the aeroplane, and they were both dead. Witness stopped at the spot for about five minutes before anyone came, and then people flocked to the scene from all directions. Witness assisted to remove the bodies.

By Lieutenant Elliot: witness only saw the machine loop the loop once, and it took about two minutes for the machine to come down.

Lieut.-Colonel Lord Athlumney, residing at “Somerville”, Bray, said …. on Sunday last, between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon, he was in a field adjoining the park, when he saw Captain Froneman and Lieutenant Beachcroft. Witness had met the former officer before. He saw them get into the aeroplane, and said “Good-bye” to them. They started ff, and ascended about 3000 feet. They then “flew up wind,” and looped the loop. The machine then appeared to slide-slip, Then it began a spiral descent, and everything looked quite normal. The machine came down about 1500 feet, and then it began to nose dive. The aviator tried to flatten the machine out, and nearly did so, but it nose dived again and crashed. The officers had been to munch with Princess Hatzfeldt. After luncheon, they took some photographs and then got into the machine. After the accident, witness went to the machine, and found both officers dead. The machine was smashed to pieces. There was a very strong wind blowing on Sunday.

Dr. Edward Fielden, of Bracknell, said that on Sunday last, about 4:30pm, he was called to an aeroplane accident. He found both the aviators dead, and death appeared to have been instantaneous.

Henry Beauchamp Harrison, of Newington House, Winkfield, said he was a farmer and land agent. On Sunday last, at about 1:20, he saw an aeroplane flying about. It afterwards came down, and witness received a message from Princess Hatzfeldt to see if the aviators were all right and to ask them in to lunch. Witness knew Captain Froneman, who said he could not hen go to lunch as he had engine trouble. He stated that he had got into a rainstorm, that his engine would not pull him out of it, and that was why he came down. Witness subsequently accompanied the officers into the house and had lunch with them. They did not sit down to lunch until after 2, and they finished a little after 3 o’clock. They left the house at about 3:30, and went to the machine. They tested the machine before they started, and apparently it was all right. Captain Froneman took charge of the machine. They made two attempts to rise, and rose on the second attempt. They got up and circled the field, and five or ten minutes afterwards witness’s little son called his attention to the fact that they were coming down. The propeller was not working, and witness knew there was something wrong. The machine came down in a spiral dive, and it looked as if the aviator was trying to flatten the machine out. It disappeared behind the trees, and he afterwards found the machine wrecked and both officers dead. Witness had met Captain Froneman before. He told witness he made a good landing when they came down, but there was a gutter in the field which shook the macinhe.

The inquest on the body of Lieutenant Beachcroft was then proceeded with.

Mr Robert Henry Beachcroft said he …. was a retired civil servant. Was born and bred in Natal, South Africa, and he identified one of the bodies as that of his only son, William Fortescue Beachcroft, who was 27 years of age last February. He entered the Army as a Gunner some three years ago, and was recently attached to the Royal Air Force as a First Lieutenant. He came over from South Africa to join up like many others, including Captain Froneman. Witness last saw him alive about three weeks ago. He was training to be a pilot, and was a single man ….

The coroner having summed up, the jury at once returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

The coroner said they all sympathised with the relatives in their bereavement, and regretted that two such promising young lives had been cut short.

The jury gave their fees for a wreath to be placed on the dead aviators’ last resting place.

The funeral took place on Thursday at Ascot with full military honours.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...