Accident Maurice Farman MF.20 ,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218547
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Date:Thursday 4 February 1915
Type:Maurice Farman MF.20
Owner/operator:3 (Reserve) Sqn RFC
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Sussex Pad Hotel, A27 Old Shoreham Road, Lancing, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RFC Shoreham, Lancing, West Sussex
Destination airport:RFC Shoreham, Lancing, West Sussex
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
4.2.15: Maurice Farman MF.20, of 3 (Reserve Aeroplane) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, RFC Shoreham, West Sussex. Written off (damaged beyond repair) when Nose dived into the ground, near the Sussex Pad Hotel, Old Shoreham Road (A27), Lancing, West Sussex. Pilot - Lieutenant William Frederick Nelson Sharpe (Canadian, aged 22 attached to the RFC from 1st Battalion, Canadian Infantry) - was killed. An inquest heard that he probably panicked when the aeroplane suffered mechanical problems

According to some sources, Lieutenant W.F. Sharpe was the first Canadian military aviator to give his life in the Great War (1914-1918). He was killed in a training accident in England, which, according to the same sources, was Lt. Shape's first ever solo flight.

According to a contemporary newspaper report (“Canadian Aviator Killed at Shoreham; Lieut. Sharpe Loses Life While Descending In a Farman Biplane,” The Globe (1844-1936), Toronto, Ontario, Friday, February 5, 1915, pg. 1, col. 2 - see link #6)

"London, Feb. 4.
Lieutenant William F. Sharpe of the Canadian contingent, attached to the Royal Army Flying Corps, was killed this afternoon while making his first flight unaccompanied. The accident happened at Shoreham, where he had been under instruction for about a fortnight. Piloting a Maurice Farman biplane, he made a flight up the Adur Valley. He was descending, and when he had about reached the ground his machine was seen to tip nose downwards abruptly and then fell in a heap. When assistance arrived Sharpe was still breathing, but he died almost immediately. His machine was smashed to pieces."

First on the scene of the crash was PC Pateman. At the inquest into Lt. Sharpe's death he said the the wreckage of the biplane had to be lifted physically to allow access to the pilot. When undertaken, it was found that he was dead. His body was saturated with fuel, as a result of the aeroplane's tank being fractured. Despite this, apparently there was no fire. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

Lieutenant Sharpe’s remains were repatriated and on March 22, 1915, he was given a funeral in Prescott with full military honours. The funeral cortege, let by a caisson bearing the flag draped coffin, was the largest ever seen in Prescott. Large crowds of mourners, including his parents and his young widow, Alma Keating (née Tompkins) Sharpe, all gathered to pay their respects to this pioneer aviator who died in service to his country.

Lieutenant Sharpe was laid to rest in Prescott’s Sandy Hill Cemetery. Sharpe’s courage and sacrifice were recognized with a Memorial Cross, granted since 1919 to grieving mothers and widows as a memento of personal loss. In 1996, Lieutenant Sharpe’s grave received a new monument from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In attendance was the 661 Squadron of Prescott’s Air Cadets, which in 1997 was renamed in honour of Lieutenant William F. N. Sharpe.

The Sussex Pad Hotel, on the A27 Old Shoreham Road, near the crash site, was the one that was rebuilt in 1906 after a fire in 1905, and was still trading until June 12, 2012 when it was sold to Lancing College. The building still exists as at November 2018.



Revision history:

25-Nov-2018 20:01 Dr.John Smith Added
27-Nov-2018 21:41 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
09-Dec-2018 21:43 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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