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Dangerous Perch


per ardua per mare per terram

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“A British seaplane emerged from a cloud at high speed and struck one of the masts of a shore wireless station at height of 300 feet and remained wedged in it. The pilot was rendered unconscious and thrown out of his seat on to one of the wings. From this perilous position he was rescued by three brave seamen, one of whom climbed out onto the plane, though both the damaged machine and the bent mast might at any time have collapsed, especially as one of the three supports of the mast was fractured. The Albert Medal was awarded to the rescuers.” The Wonder Book Of Aircraft For Boys And Girls, Edited By Harry Golding, Ward, Lock& Co., Limited, London, Melbourne And Toronto, 1919, p.173

Has anyone heard of this incident and can they put names to the various parties?

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The only places on the coast and within view of the sea, that had a mast this high would be New Watham, Chattenden, or Inskip and one in Scotland Crimmond. Good story, hope you get an answer. The higher the mast the lower the frequency recieved and transmitted.

Regards Charles

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An RNAS pilot did indeed crash into a radio mast and I have fairly recently seen a photo of the aircraft stuck in it, unfortunately I don't have a copy readily to hand - however it was not a seaplane and not on the coast. Someone did climb up the mast to effect a rescue but from memory not seamen. Either two seperate incidents or some embellishment. I remember the book you refer to - as a lad I had a very dog eared copy that had belonged to some relative or other when they were young - did it not have a photo in it?

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Thank you for the replies so far.

I remember the book you refer to - as a lad I had a very dog eared copy that had belonged to some relative or other when they were young
I've been buying them trying to find the one my aged Dad's brother had, but my grandparents threw away. I've decided to try to get the complete pre ww2 run as they are a fascinating contemporary series of books.

did it not have a photo in it?
yes it does, but unfortunately the dot matrix (or whatever method they used) printing reproduces badly or else I would have cropped it or added it to the post.
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There were 3 Albert medals issued in 1917 for a rescue at Horsea island, Portsmouth Harbour. 3 men climbed a 300 foot Poulsen mast to rescue the pilot of a seaplane wedged in the mast 50 feet from the top.

George Fawcett Pitts ABBOTT Deck hand. RNR.

Richard KNOWLTON Ord Smn RN. (gazetted as Knoulton)

Nicholas RATH Smn RNR

LG 14/12/17 page 13086

Mick

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The only places on the coast and within view of the sea
The caption does not mention that the wireless station was on the coast, just that it was ashore. Such ground detail as the photo shows seems to be inland. Chingford and Crystal Palace for example (one an airfield/school the other with wireless) were RNAS stations that were inland.

Here is a site with a Sopwith baby seaplane stuck in a mast
This could be the same incident, the angle of the shot is different and the supporting wires are better defined than in the one accompanying the caption.
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Thanks Mick, that sounds like them! One of them has his service register online, the others are offline.

Abbott died on 12 June 1977 (The register of the George Cross, This England, 1985) and exchanged his AM for the GC.

Name Knowlton, Richard John

Official Number: J70809

Place of Birth: Southampton, Hampshire

Date of Birth: 11 May 1899

Catalogue reference ADM 188/788

 

Knowlton died on 24 Aug 1981, The GC Register confirms he was Richard John Knowlton.

"Account of Deed - on 14th September 1917, on Hornsea island a seaplane collided with a Poulsen mast and remained wedged in it; the pilot was unconscious and had been thrown out of his seat on to one of the wings. [Deck Hand ABBOTT Ordinary Seaman KNOWLTON and Seaman RATH], at once climbed up the mast for 100 feet, when one of them [?RATH], making use of the boatswain's chair, was hoisted up by men at the foot of the mast to the place, over 300 feet from the ground, where the seaplane was fixed. He then climbed out onto the plane and held the pilot until the arrival of ABBOTT and KNOWLTON. A gantline was then secured round the pilot who was safely lowered to the ground. All three men were well aware of the damaged and insecure condition of the mast, which was bent to an angle where the seaplane had become wedged. One of the three supports of the mast was fractured, and so far as the men knew, the mast or seaplane might at any time have collapsed."

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Had a quick look for other relevent Albert medals but couldn't find any.

Mick

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There are three more in 1918 with the same date 23.3.18, but no additional information.

William Becker (Able seaman) Thomas N. Davis (Leading seaman) Robert stones (Able seaman)

(Naval Honours and Awards Hayward)

Regards John

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There are three more in 1918 with the same date 23.3.18, but no additional information.

William Becker (Able seaman) Thomas N. Davis (Leading seaman) Robert stones (Able seaman)

(Naval Honours and Awards Hayward)

Regards John

Those 3 were awarded for rescue work following an explosion in Halifax harbour, Novia Scotia. 6/12/17.

LG 26/3/1918

Mick

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There is a photo somewhere of the aircraft "attached" to the mast at Horsea Island.

When I worked there in the Navy we had a typed history of the Island in the office. I'm not sure but I think it was compiled by a local history society.

Sorry I can't be more specific but perhaps someone in Pompey could try the museum.

Roger

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Hi.

Just had a look at the Albert Medal list Can`t see anything to match this, it may be one of those "Amazing Stories"!!

Tim.

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You will find the awards listed in the London Gazette 14th December 1917 page 13086

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...;selHonourType=

 

The pilot was identified as Acting Flight Commander EA de Ville, but Sturtivant & Page did not include it amongst his list of crashes.

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It's the well-known incident of a Sopwith Baby hitting a mast at Horsey Island, Portsmouth. A photo show the precarious position of the machine. The Baby is as yet unidentified but the culprit was FSL AE de L de Ville.

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