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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

James Denys Perceval Chataway

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Can anyone help me with this query please?

Chataway was a pioneer airman gaining his Aero Club certificate in 1911 and  I have seen that he was with the RFC and RAF during the War.  In 1919 while flying Vickers Vimy F702 he crashed in Essex with one of his passengers being killed.  He later became a Colonial Administrator in Sudan.  He was the father of the athlete, broadcaster and MP, Christopher Chataway.  

Is anyone able to provide any information on his RFC / RAF career and indeed on his post war aviation career?  

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No sign of an AIR 76 record, so potentially could have still been serving after 1920. However, no sign of a Chataway in casualty forms, accident cards, or even the April 1918 RAF muster roll. In fact, the only trace I can find of him in the airhistory personnel files is a single line recording the awarding of his Royal Aero Club certificate #167 on 12 December 1911. There is no sign of his name in any of the Air Force lists published between 1919 and 1922, and nor is his name mentioned in the Gazette at anytime between 1914 and 1919. If he had been a serving officer in the RFC/RAF his commissioning and promotions should have been recorded in the Gazette, so given the total absence of all the usual indicators I'd conclude he never served with the RFC/RAF. Happy to be proven wrong though.    

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I believe that at the time of his 1919 crash he was flying as a Test Pilot for Vickers.



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Thanks for the advice guys.  I agree that it would seem that an RAF career seems questionable.  I gather that he was flying from the Vickers site at Crayford at the time of the crash.  Was that behind your belief that he was a test pilot Dave or did you have a separate source ?  

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1.  Fatal air accidents in Britain    30-04-1919:


Vimy F702, Vickers Ltd, Crayford

   Nosed over on forced landing after engine failure, Holt's Farm, Stebbing, Essex
  Walter Henry Jones (50) killed
  James Dennis Percival Chattaway injured (pilot)
  Harold James Geddes unhurt



2.  Western Mail  03 May 1919 (findmypast):



A fatal accident has occurred at Stebbing, near Dunmow, Essex, a large two-engined Vimy bombing aeroplane being wrecked. The machine was travelling from an aerodrome near Crayford, Kent, to Norwich. All the occupants were civilians, the pilot being James Dennis (sic) Chataway. He was accompanied by Walter H Jones and Harold James Geddes, both connected with the works. Geddes occupied the cockpit behind. The starboard engine failed over Dunmow, and the pilot came down in a wheat field at Stebbing. Jones, a married man living at Dartford, was suffocated in the wreckage. The others were taken out alive.



3.  Essex Newsman  03 May 1919 (findmypast):


On Wednesday evening a fatal flying accident occurred at Stebbing, near Dunmow, A large Vimy bombing aeroplane, with two engines, and carrying a pilot and two passengers, was observed over Dunmow in difficulties, and flying very low at 6pm. The pilot was Mr James Dennis Percival Chattaway, employed by Messrs Vickers and Son, Crawford Works, Kent and the passengers were Mr Walter H Jones, aged about 50, and married, whose home is at Dartford, and Mr Harold James Geddes, both connected with Messrs Vickers works. .........




Edited by helpjpl
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