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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 193588
Last updated: 30 November 2019
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Date:08-DEC-1915
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic A504 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro 504
Owner/operator:5 Sqn RFC
Registration:
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RFC Castle Bromwich, Staffordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RFC Castle Bromwich, Birmingham
Destination airport:RFC Castle Bromwich, Birmingham
Narrative:
On 08.12.1915 Avro 504, serial unknown, of 5 (Reserve Aeroplane) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, spun into the ground at Castle Bromwich. Lt Ian Macdonald (pilot) was injured and 2nd Lt Cyril Talbot Burley Croft was killed. According to a contemporary report in Flight magazine (August 17, 1916 page 698 - see link #4) the incident was debated in the House of Commons in Parliament. According to "Hansard" the official record of Parliamentary debates:

"Side-slip and dive.
Supplemental statement.óDate, December 10th, 1915.
Passenger, Lieutenant Croft. Engine failure. Side-slip with nose-dive. Type of machine not known. Sounds awfully like a B.E. 2 C. That is the peculiarity of the B.E. 2 C.óengine failure, side-slip, failure to recover.

Facts
The pilot was Lieutenant Macdonnell. The place, Castle Bromwich. The machine was an Avro 504 and not a B.E.2C. The pilot was banking his machine at a normal angle to make a turn at a comparatively low altitude (estimated at about 250 feet) when a gust of wind caught the machine causing it to bank very suddenly at an abnormal angle. The pilot endeavoured to right the machine and in so doing put its nose down. This caused a nose dive with a slight spin, and the machine fell heavily. The weather was *' bumpy," but Lieutenant Macdonnell had been up three times before that morning and said it was not too bad to fly.

Conclusion.ó
The only negligence suggested was that the machine was probably a B.E. 2C. This is a mistake; the machine was an Avro 504, a machine which Mr. Pemberton Billing several times cited as being safer than a B.E. 2C. Had he known that the machine was an Avro he would probably not have thought it worth while to refer to this incident".

Cyril Croft was born in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada on 28th January 1891, where his father (Rev. Otho Talbot Bourdois Croft (1853-1929)) was Rector of Holy Trinity, Streetsville 1889-1893, having previously been a Missionary at Stayner and Sunningdale, Toronto 1887-1889. After a further five years as Rector of Markham, Ontario 1893-1898, Rev. Otho Croft and his family then returned to England where he became Rector of South Cadbury, near Wincanton, Somerset from 1899 until his retirement in 1922.

Cyril attended a private boarding school in St Leonardís on Sea before also being educated for the ministry, studying at St Boniface Missionary College, Warminster, Wiltshire. Being too young for ordination, he returned to Canada and was working as a Secretary when war broke out. He enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 23rd September 1914, aged 23 years and 7 months. It was noted that he was 6ft 0.75in tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair, and he had served in the Officer Training Corps for three years at Oxford. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant with the Somerset Light Infantry on 1st March 1915, subsequently volunteering for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). He trained at Castle Bromwich, gaining his aviatorís certificate there in a Maurice Farman biplane on 27th October 1915.

On 8th December 1915, he was a passenger in a plane piloted by Lieutenant Macdonald which got into difficulties over Curdworth whilst at 1,500 feet. The pilot noticed that the engine was missing fire so turned off the petrol (but not the ignition) and attempted to land. However, the machine failed to respond and the aeroplane was caught by a gust of wind and plummeted to the ground, nose downwards. The pilot was seriously injured and Lieutenant Croft was killed. The Birmingham Daily Post 13th December 1915 reported that death would have been instantaneous and was due to a fracture of the spine in the region of the neck.

Cyril Croft is buried in the graveyard at St Thomas a Becket church, South Cadbury, Somerset (where his father was Rector) and his name is also commemorated on the war memorial shrine at East Clevedon, Somerset.

Sources:

1. http://www.aviationarchaeology.org.uk/marg/crashes1915-16.htm
2. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/394652/croft,-cyril-talbot-burney/
4. Flight magazine (August 17 1916 page 698): https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1916/1916%20-%200700.html
5. https://www.nnwfhs.org.uk/catch-all/first-world-war-centenary-2/men-of-ww1-members-detailed-pages/1563-2ndlt-ctb-croft
6. https://solihulllife.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/8th-dec-1915/#more-1244


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
14-Feb-2017 17:30 Dr.John Smith Added
13-Nov-2018 01:16 Dr.John Smith Updated [Total fatalities, Source]
14-Nov-2018 14:53 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]
27-Nov-2018 23:54 Dr.John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
01-Dec-2018 23:18 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
01-Dec-2018 23:18 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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