Accident Short S.38 3148,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218827
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Date:Monday 10 January 1916
Type:Short S.38
Owner/operator:RNAS Eastbourne
Registration: 3148
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Hampden Park, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RNAS Eastbourne, Sussex
Destination airport:RNAS Eastbourne, Sussex
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
10.1.1916: Short S.38 Type No. 3148, RNAS Eastbourne. Written off (damaged beyond repair) when crashed while low flying, at Hampden Park near Eastbourne, East Sussex (at approximate coordinates 50.796861°N 0.278083°E). Both crew members - Flt Sub-Lt Gordon Ezra Duke (pupil pilot under training, Canadian, from Toronto, aged 19) and Warrant Officer Percival Victor Fraser (Flying Instructor, Australian, from Rockhampton, Queensland, aged 29) - were killed

According to one contemporary newspaper report (Portsmouth Evening News, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England – 11th January, 1916):

Nose Dive in East Sussex
When flying a biplane over Hampden Park, near Eastbourne, yesterday afternoon, Lieutenant Gordon Duke, aged
about twenty-five, a Canadian, and Warrant Officer Fraser, aged about 36, and said to be an Australian, were killed
when the machine dived nose-downward into a field.

A cyclist who was riding along the road says that the aeroplane was moving very unsteadily and was very low. The
weather was bright and sunny, but, according to the cyclist, the wind blew in gusts. Suddenly the biplane seemed to
turn over and fall. It landed in a field and within a few feet of a brickyard pond which is about 18ft. or 20ft. deep.

The force of the fall was so great that the machine was shattered and the two airmen were pinned beneath the
debris. The first to reach the spot was a woman, who lifted up part of the broken machinery to enable a man to get
underneath to help the airmen. They were, however, both dead.

Fraser was an experienced flier, and was instructing Lieut. Duke."

The inquest into the deaths of the two crew members was reported as follows

"The Secretary of the Admiralty announced the following casualties on January 12th:-

Killed. (Under date January 10th.) Prob. Flight Sub-Lieut. Gordon E. Duke, R.N. Mr. Percival V. Fraser, Warrant
Officer, 2nd Grade, R..N.A.S.

An inquest was held at Eastbourne on January 12th on the bodies of Prob. Flight Sub Leut. Gordon Eyra Duke, twenty-nine, of Toronto, and Warrant Officer Percival Victor Fraser, thirty, of Rockhampton, Queensland, who were killed by the fall of a biplane on January 10th. The evidence showed that the two men took the machine out of the aerodrome of the R.N.A.S. at Eastbourne, Fraser being the pilot and Duke the passenger. The biplane flew towards Hampden Park, but the engine seemed to be switched on and off. The machine was a dual control one, and either of the men could have taken control. The third time the engine was switched off the machine turned to the left, righted itself, and then made a nose-dive from a height of from 150 to 200 feet. When the wreck was reached the two men were found lying dead beneath the engine.

Death had been instantaneous in each case, Squadron-Commander Philip Shepherd, R.N., stated that he had no reason to suppose anything went wrong with the engine. Even if such a thing occurred there was no reason there should be a dive. He had examined the remains of the machine. One wire had slipped off a pulley, and this would prevent the elevator being used. Witness was of opinion that if the wire did slip it was when the machine was in the air.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and expressed sympathy with the relatives."


9. "Two Airmen Killed Near Eastbourne". News in Brief. The Times (41060). London. 11 January 1916. p. 9.
10. Ray Sturtivant and Gordon Page Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Units 1911-1919 page 87 Air-Britain, 1992. ISBN 0-85130-191-6

Revision history:

30-Nov-2018 20:59 Dr.John Smith Added
18-Jul-2023 17:14 Nepa Updated

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