John Avery Heritage
Member Southampton Heritage Federation
 Sharing local history with the community
In 1967 the Queen Mary set off on her final voyage to Longbeach, California. This watercolour by Eric Crompton records the farewell.A stone carving on the RSH Hospital Chapel.An afternoon stroll on Plymouth Breakwater
John Avery is a Fellow of the Huguenot Society of Britain and Ireland, a member of Southampton
Heritage Federation, City of Southampton Society [Honorary Life Member], Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery [Honorary Life Member],  Friends of  Town Quay Park, National Federation of Cemetery Friends, The Southampton Fryatt Plaque, Devon Family History Society, West Country Historic Omnibus & Transport Trust , Landmark Trust, National Trust
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   Home      Southampton Air Accidents

September 29th 1927 Air - Force heroism Pilot Rescues

Mechanic Astounding Courage Shown.

With astonishing resource and courage, Flight- Lt. Staton, of the Royal Air Force, saved an airman who crashed at Southampton in a Fairey sea plane to-day. The machine, with two men aboard, got out of control, and fell into the water. The pilot got clear of the wreckage, but Gain, the mechanic, could not be seen.

Staton, who was aboard a flying-boat, moored nearby, promptly dived in fully dressed, and swimming under the overturned machine, found Gain, who had fallen from the cockpit, entangled in the submerged rigging. With immense effort he got Gain clear, and though the latter was unconscious, he was supported until a pinace came up. It was then found that Gain had two legs broken and a fractured skull. He was taken to a hospital in a critical condition. 

June 1936. Re -building a service career

On the 1st September 1936 we find Lieut. Guy Kennedy Horsey, R.N., Flying Officer R.A.F relinquishes his temporary commission on return to Naval duty following his court martial re a flying accident.

Horsey was born in the Medway area of Kent in 1911 and entered service in the Royal Navy. In 1942 he married 22 year old Mary O’Brien Ram [1920-2009]. In September 1932 he joined as a sub lieutenant becoming a full lieutenant in 1935. From late 1941 until 12th June 1942 he commanded the infantry Landing Ship HMS St. Helier. In June 1943 Horsey was promoted to Lieut. Commander thus successfully rebuilding his career after having been court-martialed in September 1936.

The collision in 1936 of an RAF Aircraft with S.S. Normandie [French Line] 

The London Gazette records the brief career in the RAF of Guy Kennedy Horsey.  He was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer in 1936 on May 15th.

Pilots based at RAF Gosport [later to become HMS Sultan] were using a squadron of Blackburn Baffin bi-wing aircraft to drop unarmed torpedoes in the Solent and a launch was stationed with a target platform in tow. We learn from the court-martial that Flight Lieut. A. David described Lieut. Horsey as "an average pilot but inexperienced”. Lieut. David did not know the Normandie would be there when he gave orders for the torpedo practice. She came in afterwards. It was however a regular practice for the Normandie and the Ile de France to lay off in the Solent to offload mail, passengers and their baggage before continuing to Cherbourg or Le Havre. Tug tenders such as the Calshot were regularly used on such duties but on 22nd June the old faithful paddle tender Her Majesty was alongside. The derricks of the Normandie were actually engaged with off loading the car of Arthur Evans MP for Cardiff South onto the tender when the incident with the aircraft occurred.

Horsey had been expected to dive toward the target and drop the dummy torpedo.  It was then Horsey’s duty to see that the torpedo surface which did not prevent him from climbing, as he could see better at l000ft. than100ft. Instead, it was alleged that he flew low along the port side of the Normandie below the height of the funnels, and after reaching the stern flew down the starboard side, still below the funnels. Eventually the plane crashed on the Normandie's deck. "When you hear," added Squadron Leader Walmsley, [prosecutor] ''that people; were engaged in unloading on the decks and there were people on tankers  alongside,  you will probably come to the conclusion that it was a miracle indeed that nobody was injured as a result of the crash."

 The prosecutor contended that there was no need to fly low near the Normandie.

Evidence would be given that the aircraft was in perfect condition when it left the aerodrome, but even if the engine had failed the prosecution held that the accident was due to Lieut. Horsey's negligence in flying low.

A witness, Percy Jones, mate of Her Majesty, the tender alongside the Normandie, gave evidence that he heard the engine of the plane misfiring when it was 50 to 100 yards from the tender.

Lieut. Horsey, giving his own account of what happened, declared that after dropping his dummy torpedo he felt himself being moved bodily side ways towards the Normandie. "I could-see the Normandie getting closer and closer," he continued "I was hoping that I might clear the deck and go into the sea, but I evidently hit some wire, and it tore the wing off and pulled the machine right round in the opposite direction. I do not remember anything about the crash after that. I jumped out of-the plane on the deck. The French sailors, when they saw it was not going to take fire, ran towards me and shook me by the hand. All that they could find to say was   Bravo!" Lieut. Horsey denied that he flew round the ship because he wanted to have a good look at her. Lieut. Horsey stated that he crashed two minutes after dropping his torpedo. Horsey had in mind a warning from, his Flight Commander three weeks before, when a Baffin plane that he was flying got in the way of an experimental torpedo dropping machine. "I was warned personally that if I went anywhere near the measured mile again I should be run in,'' he continued , "I started my dive about level with the middle funnel of the Normandie. I should think I was 200 yards from the Normandie. I made my dive-from about 1000 feet and dropped my torpedo. "I had no particular reason for keeping low. I was gradually climbing”.

The Normandie now having been delayed by the incident headed off to le Havre with the crashed aircraft twisted into the stern deck. A special RAF team were despatched to go over to France to recover the wreck. The machine, it was stated, cost £7000. Damages to its airframe totalled £5000 and to the engine £1000 and also the car belonging to Mr Evans MP was wrecked in the crash.

At the court, the Deputy Judge Advocate read two letters from the agent and the owners of the Normandie. That which had been handed in by the prosecution was addressed to the Secretary of the Admiralty and ran: "I learn that Lieut. Horsey is to be court-martialled in connection with his unfortunate crash. I do not wish to appear to be interfering with the due process of justice, but I would like to state on behalf of the company [French Line CGT] that we think the accident was due to his being unable to extricate himself from a dangerous position. We therefore make a very strong appeal, for the clemency of the Court to be exercised in Lieut. Horsey.”

 The incident was but seven days after being appointed as Flying Officer RAF. The Court found Horsey guilty on two of the charges and his flying career ended.

June 29th 1937 Small Plane Crashes - Sir Alan Cobham's Escape.

When flying to Portsmouth after having attended an Imperial Airways luncheon at Southampton today, Sir Alan Cobham, the well-known airman, crashed in a two-seater plane near Southampton airport. He escaped with slight cuts and abrasions and his co-pilot suffered from shock. The machine was wrecked. The crash was due to the engine having cut out.

January 28th 1938 Death of Airman Allegations by Mother says Training was Insufficient

At an inquest to-day into the death of her son, David Middleton, aged 21 years, a sergeant in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Corps, Mrs. Middleton made serious allegations about the system of training followed in the corps. Her son was killed in a crash at Southampton on Monday. She said that he was flying solo before he had been in the corps a fortnight. "The Royal Air Force may consider that sufficient time," she added, "but I don't." The Air Ministry is inquiring into the crash and also into another crash that occurred at Locks Heath on Tuesday. In each case a Miles Magister machine was used.   

snowfall Southampton Old Cemetery courtesy FoSOCSeamen's strike at Southampton 1966Royal Blues at Bournemouth c 1949 photo by Derek Amey local historians Jim Brown and John Avery deep in thought. Image Ann MacGillivray Veronica Tippetts addressing Court Leet Oct 2nd 2012. Image Will TempleJohn Melody Southampton Town Crier at Court Leet 2012. Image Will Temple