An Essay by Sidney Clark
WILLIAM SMITH ELY:
US Air Service
Buried: Wolvercote Cemetery Oxford, England
William Smith Ely was born in Rochester, NY, November 18, 1895, born into a medical family; his father and grandfather were both well known physicians, he was expected to enter Harvard Medical School on his graduation from college. On the outbreak of war he abandoned his plans for the study of medicine and joined the Aviation Section of the USA Signal Corps in Boston in May 1917 being assigned to the Ground School of Military Aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to receive his preliminary training. He was permitted to continue his studies at Harvard and graduated in the class of 1917, in uniform.
On July 19th he set sail for England arriving at Liverpool July 30th 1917, he was eventually sent to France to attend the Aviation H.Q. in Paris where he received his commission as 1st Lieutenant. He was then detailed to return to England to train as a Squadron Leader, station at Northolt and at Port Meadow, Oxford.
On the 2nd January at Port Meadow, Oxford he was invited to be a passenger in an aircraft flown by an instructor who was considered to be an expert flier. What happened is not known, however, the inquest report states by an error of judgment the pilot stalled the engine when turning, the machine crashed to the ground from a height of approximate 300 feet. Both pilot and passenger were killed instantly.
Wm, Smith Ely is buried in Wolvercote Cemetery Oxford, England. A cenotaph headstone was also erected for him in the family plot in Mt Hope Cemetery, Rochester, N.Y.
Minnesota Historical Society USA
Commonwealth War Graves Commission UK
Rochester Public Library, History and Genealogy Div USA
WFA, Chairman Scotland (South) Branch UK
Worcester Cemetery Office UK
Wolvercote Cemetery Office Oxford UK
Frederick W. Hough,
The magnificent memorial above is in the Ayr Cemetery, Ayrshire, Scotland. It is a tribute to these four American servicemen who were killed nearby as a result of flying accidents. One of these airmen was Thomas Cushman Nathan, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. At the time of his death he had an address in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. There is a road that commemorates his name in Newton Centre. He enlisted on March 19, 1917 and earned the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Aviation Section, Signal Corps. On March 20, 1918 he was called to active duty and was attached to the Royal Air Force. He was killed in Scotland whilst testing a Spad aircraft.
Peter Milne, Jr. 3589931 a soldier of the AEF who was killed at Goblens, Germany on the 23rd April 1919, Age 42. He is buried in a family grave in Aberdeen (Nellfields) cemetery Aberdeenshire UK. The census shows that at 14 years of age he was employed as an office boy in Scotland UK, becoming a trained Lithographer at the age of 23. The exact cause of his death is not available from the military sources due to records being lost or destroyed in a fire that was responsible for many records being lost. As can be seen on the headstone, other family members lived in Rhodesia, the name of the country at that time.
104th Engineers, 29th Division
Buried: Saint Johns Church Cemetery, Worcester UK
Frank H. Randle, 1270993 B Coy 104 Engineers US Army. Died 27th February 1919. The army records show that he was awarded the World War 1 Victory Medal and the World War 1 Victory Button (Bronze). This soldier is buried in Saint Johns Church Cemetery, Worcester UK; the town from where he originated. Registration papers show that he was living in New Jersey, aged 23. His particular grave [image below, top] was privately purchased by his family as recorded in the cemetery records.
On the opposite side of the grave are the details [image below, bottom] of another family member who was serving in the British army. L/Cpl E. Randle 1st/8th Worcestershire Regiment KIA at Ypres Aug 27th 1917 age 22, this soldier is listed on the walls to missing in Tyne Cot cemetery Panel 75-77. Details of both soldiers can be clearly seen in the photographs.
Girvan (Doune) Cemetery in Ayrshire Scotland UK
US Air Service
Lieutenant George Squires, from St Paul's, Minnesota joined the first officers training camp at Fort Myer, outside Washington DC, where he received intensive training. In July, volunteers for the flying service were being called for and George Squires was amongst fourteen volunteers who then preceded to Camp Borden, Canada to be trained. On August 17th he was involved in a mid-air collision which resulted in the death of the pilot of the other aircraft, Squires was entirely exonerated. After the completion of his training in Canada, George Squires went to Fort Worth, where there was some delay in the pilots receiving their commissions as 1st Lieutenants. They had been promised if they would take the British Training, they would eventually receive their commissions. On January 19th 1918 the 17th Squadron sailed for England and were ordered to various camps. One such camp was Turnberry Ayrshire, Scotland to study gunnery.
In addition to the memorial in Girvan (Doune) cemetery there is another memorial at Turnberry to all the other servicemen who were killed whilst learning or improving their flying skills. Including one from Kansas serving in the RFC.
It was covered with Old Glory and two beautiful wreaths, largely made up of sweet peas from the Royal Air Force and the American Flying Officers of the station.
Note: Lieutenant Ralph Gracie of Bemidji, Minnesota, was reported missing from Aug 12th 1918 and was feared he was driven into the sea in a fight with the Huns and drowned. The full version of the letters from the Commanding Officer, Lt R. Gracie, and the Labourer Mr L.S. Baikie who witnessed the crash are available on request.
Extract from letter by L.S. Baikie to his mother:
Kirkoswald, Maybole 23rd May 1918:
I happened to be about half a mile away when your son came down. He was circling slowly down from a fair height, when as it appeared to me, he lost flying speed. I heard the crash and ran for the place where it appeared to me had fallen. Poor fellow! When we got there he was past help. A farm worker Robert Lawrie was there a couple of minutes before me and had your son removed from his seat; he cut the fastenings. He was flying a single seated Sopwith Camel machine, I think of about 130 H.p.
He died for us; he is your son and no doubt hard to lose and he is dead before his time; but he has died a hero's death, as much so as if he had fallen in the stricken field.
With deepest sympathy,
Yours truly, sincerely
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