27 May 1916 – Unfortunate accidents

Whilst the pilots and observers of the flying services continue to bear the brunt of the casualties, fatal accidents remain common amongst the aircrew due to the unpredictable nature of the new machines.

Today the funeral of Second Air Mechanic Richard Allen (Nuttall), aged 27, of 56 Squadron Royal Flying Corps took place. He was killed in an accident on 18 May at Gosport aerodrome, while assisting the take-off of an aeroplane with Lieutenant Arthur Goulburn Brooke. At the time of his death he was standing by the side of the aeroplane waiting to remove the chocks from the wheels.

Brooke noticed a piece of rag the air mechanic had been using, instructed Allen to pocket the rag before he started the engine, apparently Allen threw it to the ground, blown by the prop-wash when the officer started the engine, the rag became trapped in the machine’s cross bracing wires.

At this point, his inexperience around aeroplanes cost him. Instead of walking around the tip of the wing, he walked underneath the aeroplane and was struck on the head by the spinning propeller blade, killing him.

At the following inquest, it was stated that this was his first introduction to an aircraft, and he had been warned of the dangers of being near rotating propellers. Sadly he forgot the warning. The inquest recorded a verdict of “accidental death”.

He had only enlisted in February 1916. Before that he was employed as a carpet weaver by Messrs John Bright and Bros. Ltd., Fieldhouse Mills.

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