Le Sauvage, Ernest and Woodland, John and West, Enos and Burlinson, William

Le Sauvage, Ernest, and Woodland, John      1916 June 2nd         Upavon

West, (Enos), and Burlinson, William         1916 June 2nd               Netheravon

Four Flying Men Killed

Double Fatalities at Upavon and Netheravon

The toll of the air has been very heavy in Wiltshire of late, and to the fatalities which have recently been reported in our county there must be added four other victims, who met with their deaths on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mr Coroner F A P Sylvester held inquests at the Central Flying School, Upavon, on Wednesday afternoon on four victims,

Lieutenant Ernest Davies le Sauvage, 1st Dorset Regiment.

Air Mechanic John Woodland, RFC.

Flight-Sergeant West, RFC

Air Mechanic Burlinson, RFC.

The two first named were killed at Upavon on Tuesday by falling with a Henri-Farman bi-plane, and the others at Netheravon on Wednesday morning with a Maurice-Farman bi-plane. The lieutenant was 19 years of age, and his home was at Beaumont, Jersey. Woodland was 28 years of age and married, his home being at Islington. The others were aged 22 and 26.

The evidence in the case of the two first-named was given by Captain Eustace Osborne Grenfell, inspector at the School, and Air-Mechanic Elijah Page. The officer deposed that the officer left the aerodrome about 5.10 the previous morning with Woodland, in a Henri-Farman biplane. It was a good flying morning, but rather hazy. A smash was heard, and a mechanic was sent to see if he could find out what had happened. He found the machine about half-a-mile from the starting-place. Lieut le Sauvage was an experienced pilot.

Mechanic Page said he saw the machine before it started. It was examined and passed as in proper order over-night. He could not say if the men were strapped in ; they were as a rule. He found the machine in a dip on the other side of the wood. It was all in the heap, he could only see a pair of khaki trousers sticking out. He called, but got no response. The machine was quite smashed and it was impossible for anyone to tell if anything had gone wrong.

Captain Grenfell explained, in reply to a remark by the foreman, that when machines were tested over-night they were guarded all night by sentries.

Captain James Keenan, medical officer, said death in each case was due to fracture of the skull.

Mechanic Page, on being re-called, said the engine went beautifully when it started, and Captain Grenfell said Mr le Sauvage was a very good flyer, being exceptionally good with the type of machine in question.

The Coroner, in summing up, said no light had been thrown on the cause of the accident. It might have been side-slip or some other unexpected development in the air, which was found, he imagined, in passing over uneven land. It might have been that owing to the hazy morning the aviators might have come upon something rather unexpectedly and had to make some rather violent movement in the elevation or depression of the machine and so come to grief. He suggested that they should find a verdict of accidental death, which was agreed to.

West, (Enos), and Burlinson, William 1916 June 2nd Netheravon

The second inquest, on the bodies of Sergeant West and Mechanic Burlinson, followed on the arrival of the witnesses from Netheravon.

The evidence of Lieutenant Marshall Thorn, instructor RFC, was to the effect that the two men went up in a Maurice-Farman biplane, with dual control. West was instructing Burlinson, who was sitting in the front seat. Witness noticed this particular machine make a nose dive, and on going to the spot where it fell he saw the two men lying a little way from the machine, both dead. He could give no theory as to the cause of the occurrence, except that in a nose-dive of 75ft there was not sufficient room to recover. The machine was absolutely nose on to the ground. One man’s belt had burst, but this might have been caused by the impact. It is possible that one of them might have fallen forward on to the controls, but the machine was so smashed that it was impossible to arrive at any conclusion as to this. The machine had been properly tested, as usual.

The medical evidence showed that both men suffered from fracture of the skull.

The Coroner briefly summed up, and a similar verdict to that in the other case was returned.

The Coroner expressed sympathy with the relatives of the unfortunate men, and the jury concurred.


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