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RE8 plane crash 5th April 1918


gladysemmanuel
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Hi, Can anyone out there help shed some light on my Great Uncle. Matthew Charles Morton DCM . He died 5th April 1918, I know not where, however the accident report card says he was flying an RE8 D4961 at the School of Artillary and Co operation. He is buried at Ripon Cemetary in North Yorkshire, where is was born and brought up. He was 24 years old. He had been in the RFC, and had served in the Somme before being gassed and sent home. He later trained as a pilot. We assumed that he was based at Worthy down, but following other research, WorthyDown was not commisioned until August 1918, so I am assuming that he did not die there. I would like to find out where the training was undertaken, also the crash site and the colours of the RE8 as my husband is building a large flying model of the plane and we would like to have it bedecked in the correct colours and insignia!! Any information would be much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance. Hazel ;)

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The CWGC site has:-----

Name: MORTON, MATTHEW CHARLES

Initials: M C

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force

Unit Text: Artillery Co-operation School

Age: 24

Date of Death: 05/04/1918

Awards: D C M

Additional information: Son of Matthew James and Mary Jane Morton, of 32, North St., Ripon.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: D. 136.

Cemetery: RIPON CEMETERY

but I don't think that gives you any more information, I was hoping for a service number, at least! But he did get the DCM so we could look for his medal index card next, back soon.

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If you follow this link:----

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=8

you should get to:----

Description Medal card of Morton, Matthew Charles

Corps Regiment No Rank

West Yorkshire Regiment 1470 Lance Serjeant

Royal Flying Corps Second Lieutenant

Date 1914-1920

Catalogue reference WO 372/14

Dept Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Series War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War

Piece Mill J - Nolan P

Image contains 1 medal card of many for this collection

Number of image files: 1

Image Reference Format and Version Part Number Size (KB) Number of Pages Price (£)

118278 / 23638 PDF 1.2 1 383 1 3.50

Total Price (£) 3.50

Where you can download his Medal Index Card for £3.50 instantly online.

Then if you goto :---

http://www.1914-1918.net/mics.htm

You will learn what it all means.

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Hazel

He won his DCM whilst serving with the 1/5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment and was a Sgt, the DCM is Gazetted in the London Gazette dated 15/3/1916.

Regards Kevin

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Citation for the DCM.

1470 Serjeant M.C Morton. 1/5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. ( T.F )

For conspicuous gallantry. He set a fine example of cool bravery all day during the enemy attack. He took messages over ground others had been wounded, and volunteered and took charge of an isolated and important bombing post, where his presence did much to steady the men.

Medal index card for the DCM

Description Medal card of Morton, M C

Corps Regiment No Rank

West Yorkshire Regiment 1470 Serjeant

Date 1914-1920

Catalogue reference WO 372/23

Dept Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies

Series War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War

Piece Women's Services, Distinguished Conduct Medals and Military Medals

Image contains 1 medal card of many for this collection

Number of image files: 1

Image Reference Format and Version Part Number Size (KB) Number of Pages Price (£)

64213 / 9529 PDF 1.2 1 236 1 3.50

Regards Kevin

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Thanks again, Mary Jane and Matthew James were my Great grandparents, they are buried with MC along with his sister and three infants at Ripon cemetery. Matthew Charles had a brother Albert Edward, who survived the war, married twicw and had three children, but I have had no luck tracing anything of him through Ancestry or NA, he does not appear to have a service pension. His youngest brother Henry died about 2 -3 years ago aged 104. He would have been thrilled with this information, he was very young when his brother was killed.

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We assumed that he was based at Worthy down, but following other research, WorthyDown was not commisioned until August 1918,

Its possible that some flying was taking place at Worthy Down before its commissioning in August 1918.

See the following extract from a regimental obituary (Obituaries from the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders)

Captain D. H. Bell, MC

On 4th August, 1916, he left the Battalion for service with the RFC. and was

Seconded as Flying Officer on 14th November, 1916. Early in 1917 he

joined No. 13 Squadron in France and was wounded in April, 1917.

Promoted T/Capt, he was in charge of a Training Flight at Worthy Down,

Winchester, from July, 1917, until the end of the War.

I have seen other references to artillery and infantry cooperation training being at Worthy Down before August.1918. Given that the site was based on Winchester race course and surrounded by large flat fields its possible that some use of the site (obtained by the RFC in 1917) preceded the commissioning.

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RE8 D4961 was a machine re-built from salvage by 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot at Yate and issued for taining on 18 February 1918.

The AICS was, at the time based at Hursley Park, not an aerodrome but a stately home taken over by the RFC. Trainees were posted to the School of Aerial Gunnery at Hythe for a 2 week course that taught them to use the Lewis gun in the air. The Artillery Co-operation Squadron, with flights at Netheravon and Lydd, taught signalling to ground batteries.

Worthy Down was in use by January 1918, well before its official opening date, after which it handled all aerial training with its own fleet of RE8s, BE2es, FK8s and Avros. The HQ and ground training components of the AICS moved in from Hursley Park on 31 May. A sheet of 2 Area/SW Area station markings diagrams would suggest that Worthy Down's hollow white diamond marking was in use by early 1918.

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RE8 D4961 was a machine re-built from salvage by 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot at Yate and issued for taining on 18 February 1918.

The AICS was, at the time based at Hursley Park, not an aerodrome but a stately home taken over by the RFC. Trainees were posted to the School of Aerial Gunnery at Hythe for a 2 week course that taught them to use the Lewis gun in the air. The Artillery Co-operation Squadron, with flights at Netheravon and Lydd, taught signalling to ground batteries.

Worthy Down was in use by January 1918, well before its official opening date, after which it handled all aerial training with its own fleet of RE8s, BE2es, FK8s and Avros. The HQ and ground training components of the AICS moved in from Hursley Park on 31 May. A sheet of 2 Area/SW Area station markings diagrams would suggest that Worthy Down's hollow white diamond marking was in use by early 1918.

Thank you so much for this information, this certainly does narrow things down. It also helps answer what he was doing, as he wasn't killed in action. The report card simply states killed, so i am assuming it was during training. Such a waste. He had been badly gassed in the Somme Valley and sent home, when recovered he trained as a pilot. his brother could only remember that he was killed "testing a new plane", that is clearly not the case from your information, more likely to be from testing new equipment or familiarising himself with the plane, I understand they qualified after only a few hours with a trainer and solo. Kind regards Hazel

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  • 1 year later...

Hello!

Second Lieutenant Matthew Charles Morton DCM was my mother's uncle. Her father was Albert Edward Morton born in 1895, Ripon, the 'brother' referred to in the "RE8 Plane Crash" article. I have been trying to get in touch with Hazel Richards since I discovered this 'post' a couple of days ago. Until then I had no idea about this amazing man, Matthew Charles! Today, it seems, I am allowed to write on here and so I'm hoping this may bear fruit!

If anyone knows how to get in touch with Hazel Richards I would be so pleased as I have family information she may like to know about.

Davena Hooson

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Thanks again, Mary Jane and Matthew James were my Great grandparents, they are buried with MC along with his sister and three infants at Ripon cemetery. Matthew Charles had a brother Albert Edward, who survived the war, married twicw and had three children, but I have had no luck tracing anything of him through Ancestry or NA, he does not appear to have a service pension. His youngest brother Henry died about 2 -3 years ago aged 104. He would have been thrilled with this information, he was very young when his brother was killed.

Hi! I do hope you see this! I am also the great grand-daughter of Mr and Mrs MJ Morton. I have information for you regarding their family. I hope you reply to this soon as I'm so excited about this recent discovery of how very brave and how very tragic was the life of Matthew Charles Morton.

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Hazel,

The only other piece of sad information I can add is that RE8 D4961 came down in a spinning nose dive and was burnt. This came from the Casualty Card at Hendon, so you may already have this background. The place named on the card is Winchester.

Regards,

Trevor

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Hazel,

The only other piece of sad information I can add is that RE8 D4961 came down in a spinning nose dive and was burnt. This came from the Casualty Card at Hendon, so you may already have this background. The place named on the card is Winchester.

Regards,

Trevor

Oh how terrible. And this was THE plane, was it that he was in? I am appalled that this sort of thing happened while young men were training. I wonder if he'd just started to learn of if he was, in fact, the teacher.

Thank you so very much for this information.

Best wishes,

Davena

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Davena,

Yes this record would have referred to 2Lt Morton's particular crash. Having looked at the casualty record in the air in 1914-18 in a fair amount of detail it was indeed the lot of men learning to fly or subsequently honing their skills at military flying schools to in particular be more likely to crash and suffer serious injury and death. On the other hand it is also completely remarkable just how many air crashes were survived in those days with little or no injury to the airmen. Many (I'm even inclined to say the majority) simply walked away - even from a pile of shattered wood, canvas and cables - given the relatively low speeds at which these accidents happened. But of course many did not.

Morton was flying a two seater aircraft - though by implication of the Casualty Card record he was alone. He probably carried ballast in the rear cockpit (or should have...).

That bried description of spinning nose dive and crash or wrecked is almost commonplace on those cards - you just find yourself writing "snd cr wr" again and again. For example, what was often happening was that a pilot was taking off and at that most prone time if any engine problem or failure asserted itself the inclination was to turn back. This was quite literally fatal, but one can imagine human nature at these times. Making a turn with insufficient speed or disadvantageous incline could lead to still less flying speed, then a stall or a side slip which could soon enter a spin or a dive - and being low this was a critical and often fatal mistake to have made. I can't believe it was not drummed into the pilots not to "turn back" for all the reasons above, but it seems to have happened wholesale. And some very experienced pilots died doing the same thing as well. The RE8 had intially had a bit of a reputation as a dangerous aircraft, but by mid 1918 changes had long been made to it to make it a safer machine and people knew how to fly it. The RE8 was an important and plentiful aircraft for the RAF by this time, being the default machine for artillery co-operation work, close reconnaissance etc.

The fire aspect was not as common as one might suppose, in my opinion. It would come about from tanks full of petrol and fuel lines full of highly flammable material suddenly being rent apart, and the escaping fuel being ignited by the heat of the engine or the electrics and so on. It is also possible (but impossible to confirm) that Lt Morton's aircraft caught fire in the air, but I suspect not - usually that is indicated in the wording of the report. It sounds more like a fire on the ground. However you look at it, it was an awful way to meet your end, though, as you say.

Regards,

Trevor

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Davena,

Yes this record would have referred to 2Lt Morton's particular crash. Having looked at the casualty record in the air in 1914-18 in a fair amount of detail it was indeed the lot of men learning to fly or subsequently honing their skills at military flying schools to in particular be more likely to crash and suffer serious injury and death. On the other hand it is also completely remarkable just how many air crashes were survived in those days with little or no injury to the airmen. Many (I'm even inclined to say the majority) simply walked away - even from a pile of shattered wood, canvas and cables - given the relatively low speeds at which these accidents happened. But of course many did not.

Morton was flying a two seater aircraft - though by implication of the Casualty Card record he was alone. He probably carried ballast in the rear cockpit (or should have...).

That bried description of spinning nose dive and crash or wrecked is almost commonplace on those cards - you just find yourself writing "snd cr wr" again and again. For example, what was often happening was that a pilot was taking off and at that most prone time if any engine problem or failure asserted itself the inclination was to turn back. This was quite literally fatal, but one can imagine human nature at these times. Making a turn with insufficient speed or disadvantageous incline could lead to still less flying speed, then a stall or a side slip which could soon enter a spin or a dive - and being low this was a critical and often fatal mistake to have made. I can't believe it was not drummed into the pilots not to "turn back" for all the reasons above, but it seems to have happened wholesale. And some very experienced pilots died doing the same thing as well. The RE8 had intially had a bit of a reputation as a dangerous aircraft, but by mid 1918 changes had long been made to it to make it a safer machine and people knew how to fly it. The RE8 was an important and plentiful aircraft for the RAF by this time, being the default machine for artillery co-operation work, close reconnaissance etc.

The fire aspect was not as common as one might suppose, in my opinion. It would come about from tanks full of petrol and fuel lines full of highly flammable material suddenly being rent apart, and the escaping fuel being ignited by the heat of the engine or the electrics and so on. It is also possible (but impossible to confirm) that Lt Morton's aircraft caught fire in the air, but I suspect not - usually that is indicated in the wording of the report. It sounds more like a fire on the ground. However you look at it, it was an awful way to meet your end, though, as you say.

Regards,

Trevor

I am so very grateful to you for all this information. How on earth did you find it? Do you live near Hendon or Kew?! I have been trawling the internet for days now, ever since I came across the headline of this initial enquiry. There is no way to get to know the details for WW1 crashes without actually going to find the documents, it seems to me.

I would love to find out more about this young man - especially where he was when he earned the DCM. I'm assuming it was the Somme but I don't know where. Another realtive of mine (on the Welsh side) was killed at Mametz Wood so they may well have been near each other. The whole thing must have been utterly hellish. It makes me want to weep at the waste.

I will copy and paste your note into my little collection of facts now. Again, many thanks to you for helping me discover more about my great uncle.

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Davena, I'm happy to have helped. I'm not sure of the exact way of doing this but you would have a high chance of help as to the Army side of your great uncle's service (and your other relative) over on the military forums. Perhaps try a fresh item specifically asking for help. I am always amazed at what people know and are prepared to share. I too had a great uncle - killed in Flanders - and within about a day of lodging a post over on the soldiers' section I had a hand written transcription of the event and a picture of the field in which it happened! (It possibly helped that he was an Aussie - the Australian records are superb in terms of access).

I do happen to live reasonably near Hendon, but Kew is 30 miles away. You're right that ultimately if you want all the details you need to track down the various records yourself at the places you mention. But there are good books about and a lot of helpful people here. I would be surprised if you don't get still more info on your great uncle on this topic you've posted here. Good luck with it.

Trevor

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hazel, Davina, Trevor

I have a copy of a 2 page duplicated, typed document headed "Notes on the RE8" signed by J A Chamier Major. D.S.O. Commanding 3rd Wing, R.F.C. In the Field. Unfortunately it is undated.

The back has in pencil "Lt. Liddle" & may be connected to No.9 Squadron R.F.C.

It opens with the words: "This is a splendid flying machine, but it is not a perambulator and requires at first a little care."

If you would like a copy, PM me.

Could any one suggest a date for this document?

Sorry I have no more information on your relatives.

Regards

Andrew Garbutt

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The prototype RE8 was tested by a number of experienced pilots from operational squadrons. They all liked its flying characteristics. However once in service spinning and diving accidents exactly like the one described in this thread became common - to the extent that some squadrons came close to refusing to fly the thing. Investigation exonerated the aircraft but did identify two factors - poor flying techniques by rookie pilots who had been inadequately trained and the R.A.F 4 engine that had a habit of cutting at exactly the wrong time. Like the Camel the Harry Tate was somewhat unforgiving if mis handled but did well in the hands of an experienced pilot (Billy Cotton even went balloon busting in one). Training was improved and training machines were fitted with a larger fin and rudder; I would have thought that the RE8 in question would have had this but perhaps being a re build this didn't happen (operational machines did not have this as it reduced maneuverability. It seems late in the aircraft's career for this known problem still to be occurring with fatal results. The R.A.F 4 problems were never really overcome; attempts were made to re engine (and with a Hispano Suiza the aircraft became very potent) but there was a general engine shortage. It was planned to replace the Harry Tate with either a version of the Bristol Fighter or a redesigned aircraft (the RE9).

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  • 2 months later...
Guest Heather J Temple

Davena and Hazel,

While researching my Great Uncle, Matthew Charles Morton DCM, I came across your names. I believe we are first cousins.

My name is Heather Temple and I am the married daughter of the late Matthew Charles Morton, son of Albert Edward and Eliza Harriet Morton, born in Ripon in 1922. Albert was brother of Matthew Charles Morton DCM, after whom Dad was named. My much-missed Dad passed away in 2003, aged 80. My dear Mom, Irene, will be 90 at Christmas, and I have two wonderful brothers, Ian and Stuart. All three of us are married with families.

Davena - I know of you as daughter of Mabel who, regrettably, the family lost touch with some years ago.

Hazel - I'm not familiar with your name, but as we share the same Grandfather and Great Uncle we are almost certainly related.

If you would like to, and are able to contact me through this website, I can update you on the family of Albert Edward Morton as it is today. I would love to hear from you.

With kind regards,

Heather Temple

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  • 8 months later...

Hello Heather!

I have just discovered your reply here, after having been told by your daughter (?) on Facebook that you had written on this forum site. I am so very pleased to contact you. I will give your daughter my email so we can get in touch properly.

Thank you for contacting me and I'm only sorry I didn't discover your reply sooner. You're obviously as proud of our illustrious ancestor as I am so it's good to first meet up under his watchful eye!

Davena x

Davena and Hazel,

While researching my Great Uncle, Matthew Charles Morton DCM, I came across your names. I believe we are first cousins.

My name is Heather Temple and I am the married daughter of the late Matthew Charles Morton, son of Albert Edward and Eliza Harriet Morton, born in Ripon in 1922. Albert was brother of Matthew Charles Morton DCM, after whom Dad was named. My much-missed Dad passed away in 2003, aged 80. My dear Mom, Irene, will be 90 at Christmas, and I have two wonderful brothers, Ian and Stuart. All three of us are married with families.

Davena - I know of you as daughter of Mabel who, regrettably, the family lost touch with some years ago.

Hazel - I'm not familiar with your name, but as we share the same Grandfather and Great Uncle we are almost certainly related.

If you would like to, and are able to contact me through this website, I can update you on the family of Albert Edward Morton as it is today. I would love to hear from you.

With kind regards,

Heather Temple

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Hello Hazel,

If you look at the bottom couple of 'letters' on this page you will find you have two new relatives. I do hope we may all get in touch.

Best wishes,

Davena

Hi, Can anyone out there help shed some light on my Great Uncle. Matthew Charles Morton DCM . He died 5th April 1918, I know not where, however the accident report card says he was flying an RE8 D4961 at the School of Artillary and Co operation. He is buried at Ripon Cemetary in North Yorkshire, where is was born and brought up. He was 24 years old. He had been in the RFC, and had served in the Somme before being gassed and sent home. He later trained as a pilot. We assumed that he was based at Worthy down, but following other research, WorthyDown was not commisioned until August 1918, so I am assuming that he did not die there. I would like to find out where the training was undertaken, also the crash site and the colours of the RE8 as my husband is building a large flying model of the plane and we would like to have it bedecked in the correct colours and insignia!! Any information would be much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance. Hazel wink.gif

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hi Mick,

I have just stumbled across this thread, during research I am conducting into the history of Hursley Park, and although I was aware of a connection with the RFC your comments shed new light on the subject.

I was wondering whether you, or anyone else on the list, had any more information you might be able to share with me on the subject or whether you could suggest where I could look, as the Great War is most definitely not my area of expertise!

BTW I wasn't entirely sure what AICS stood for ...am I correct in thinking it is "Artilley and Infantry Co-operation School" ?

Cheers

Dave

RE8 D4961 was a machine re-built from salvage by 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot at Yate and issued for taining on 18 February 1918.

The AICS was, at the time based at Hursley Park, not an aerodrome but a stately home taken over by the RFC. Trainees were posted to the School of Aerial Gunnery at Hythe for a 2 week course that taught them to use the Lewis gun in the air. The Artillery Co-operation Squadron, with flights at Netheravon and Lydd, taught signalling to ground batteries.

Worthy Down was in use by January 1918, well before its official opening date, after which it handled all aerial training with its own fleet of RE8s, BE2es, FK8s and Avros. The HQ and ground training components of the AICS moved in from Hursley Park on 31 May. A sheet of 2 Area/SW Area station markings diagrams would suggest that Worthy Down's hollow white diamond marking was in use by early 1918.

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  • 2 months later...

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