The Crash, Inquest and Burial

     The fatal crash occurred on Sunday August 19, 1917.  As reported in the accident certificate the court of enquiry "declared" that the plane was wrecked by falling in a spin - and that the pilot was instantaneously killed.

At the inquest the coroner, in opening the proceedings, said;
     This was one of those distressing disasters in which a life full of promise was cut short.  The deceased had already achieved distinction, having won the Military Cross for bravery.  On Sunday evening last he went up with a comrade for what was known in the service as fighting practice, by consent of his commanding officer.  Certain manoeuvres were carried out, and after spinning his machine on one occasion he seemed to have lost control of it, and it nose-dived to the ground, and he was instantly killed.  The injuries were of such a character that he (the coroner) thought it advisable to spare his parents the harrowing necessity of identifying the remains, and he therefore asked an able and responsible officer who witnessed the catastrophe to identify the body and give evidence of identification at the inquest.
     Captain James Ivan Mackay, of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and the Royal Flying Corps, said he had known the deceased for some time past and regarded him as an able and skilled flyer.  On Sunday, the 19th inst., about 6:30 pm, he was present when he went up on his machine for practice, deceased having previously obtained permission from his commanding officer to do so.  About 40 minutes previously he had taken part in formation practice with the same machine, and on his descent he made no complaint about his machine, which appeared to be in perfect condition.  New controls had been fitted to it on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of this month, and the deceased was perfectly familiar with them.  Before the machine went up on the last occasion witness examined it and saw it was correct in every particular, and he was cognizant of the fact that it was at the deceased's own request that the flight took place.  He rose all right, and bowed to the immense number of people who were present to witness the flying.  His machine and another engaged in flight practice, and from time to time during the practice they ascended and descended various distances from a thousand to two thousand feet with safety.  Deceased had spun his machine twice successfully during the manoeuvres, and recovered himself each time, but immediately after the last occasion the machine spun in the opposite direction from a great height and crashed to the ground.  Witness immediately went to the spot where the machine had fallen and saw that deceased was quite dead.

The Ilford Recorder August 24, 1917

     The jury without retiring returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence which the coroner said meant that death was due to misadventure whilst deceased was in discharge of his duties.  He added that the deceased died just as pluckily and bravely as if he had died fighting the enemy face to face at the front.


Photo of the remains of George's aircraft gathered at the crash site [JMB / GSL Collection]


Headstone (before restoration)


The recently restored headstone and grave.
He was buried in a cemetery which is overlooked by the house where he lived.  His mother was later buried beside him.

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