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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Lost of Seaplane N1636 (1917) & Court of Enquiry


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Hi All

I'm interested in information on the loss of RNAS Seaplane N1636........ I Googled it ealier today and ended up in the Forum.....yes, I know, I should always start here rather than Google!

A distant relative was killed when the plane was "lost". His name was AM Frederick Noel SCARLES. I have his service record record (see attached).

The post from 4th Oct 2005 (sorry don't know how to link it here) says there was an enquiry - so I assume the "C of E" on the service record refers to Court of Enquiry?

So my queries are:

-Where can I find details of the Enquiry (and what does the reference "NL 7258/17" mean?)

-Can I find any other details about this incident, if so where?

-On the service record attached, in the summary of the CofE, can anyone read the word following "In view of the _______?

-I've come across other references to Courts of Enquiry during the War (eg when man was lost overboard from ship).......given that millions died in the War it seems strange that Enquiries were held for the loss of just one or two men.......why was this?

Frederick Noel SCARLES is listed (from CWGC) on the Chatham Naval Memorial.......but does anyone know where I can find out where he was buried (or perhaps his body wasnt recovered?)

Any ideas on the above greatfully received!



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From "RN Aircraft Serials and Units":- "Crashed into US ship landing Whitsand Bay, damaged 30.10.17...Sank while being salved by drifter ST IVES BAY 10.12.17 (FSL SG Smith picked up & AM2 FN Scarles missing..."

"In view of the circumstances it is submitted..."

NL refers to the Naval Law Division of the Admiralty, responsible for Enquiries such as this one.

First port of call should be the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

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The comment following the NL reference (the 7258th letter of the Naval Law division for 1917) looks like a digest of the Court of Enquiry report. I think it is "in view of the circumstances it is submitted that no further action be taken in connection with the censure on Flight Commander JS Mills DSC"

Why interupt 300+ years of courts of enquiries just because there was a war on? It wasn't the first war that the Navy had fought and it meant that all deaths were investigated. Reading casualty list files for the Navy shows the detail that they went into to check identities, next of kin and ranks for those who died, including for the dead at Jutland. To be fair, they were dealing overall with fewer casualties than the army.

Chatham memorial is one of the memorials for those lost at sea when the bodies have not been recovered; so he has no known grave.

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Unfortunately I cannot open the attached PDF file (I just get a cannot open this page message). However I'm interested in the fact it hit a ship. The WW1 practice of having a small rudder on the rear float coupled with the loss of steering from the air craft's own tail rudder as the airspeed dropped on alighting meant that these seaplanes were initally largely unsteerable when setting down ( and lacked any means of slowing down other than the drag of the water itself) I wonder if the US skipper of the ship in question was unaware of this and failed to keep properly clear.

The post war approach of a rudder on each main float proved much better.

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