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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218027
Last updated: 15 November 2019
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Date:27-MAY-1913
Time:19:30 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic be2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
Owner/operator:2 Sqn RFC
Registration: 205
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Lunan Bay, Montrose, Angus -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RFC Upper Dysart Farm, Montrose, Angus
Destination airport:RFC Lunan Bay, Montrose, Angus
Narrative:
On 18 June 1912 Desmond Arthur gained his Royal Aero Club certificate No.233 after completing his trials flying a Bristol Prier monoplane at Brooklands. He joined No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 17 April 1913, based at Montrose. In 1913, Montrose Airfield was built as an operational base for the training of pilots for the Royal Flying Corps, the first of its kind in Britain.

The flying training school, like many others, experienced frequent crashes as it built up a force of skilled pilots through the First and Second World Wars. At around 7:30 am on Tuesday 27 May 1913 Arthur's B.E.2 biplane No.205 collapsed without warning while flying over Montrose during a routine training flight from Upper Dysart to Lunan Bay.

Arthur had begun to descend when, at 2,500 feet, the right wing of the aircraft snapped off and it plunged to the ground. Arthur was thrown from the aircraft and died instantly. He was found 160 yards away from his machine.

Arthur's death in an accident was one of the first to occur in the Royal Flying Corps, and the first at Montrose. He was buried in Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose.

Contemporaries were surprised by the crash of an experienced pilot. A report issued by the Accidents and Investigation Committee of the Royal Aero Club on 21 June 1913 (see link #3) found that the accident had occurred because of the incompetent repair of a broken spar by an unknown mechanic. It was believed that the damage to the aircraft had been accidental, and shoddily repaired to prevent detection prior to the aircraft being transferred from Farnborough to Montrose.

A government inquiry opened on 11 July 1913. In 1914 M.P. William Joynson-Hicks complained of a "whitewash" and that the Secretary of State for War Colonel Seely would not admit to the faulty repair. In the Spring of 1916 Noel Pemberton Billing called for a judicial enquiry into the military and naval air service, as "certain officers had been murdered rather than killed by the carelessness, incompetence or ignorance of their senior officers or of the technical side of those two services".

An official investigation by a government committee set up on 3 August 1916 concluded that the pilot was at fault, and the crash a result of dangerous flying"

As an unusual post-script, since 1914, there have been repeated reports of a ghost haunting the site of Montrose Air Station, and it has been repeatedly claimed that it is the ghost of Lt. Desmond Arthur. There was another sighting as recently as May 2018 - 105 years after the death of Lt. Desmond Arthur

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Arthur#Flying_career
3. Flight magazine 21 June 1913 page 676 at https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1913/1913%20-%200650.html
4. https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/ghost-of-montrose-air-base-to-be-honoured-1-2940025
5. https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/angus-mearns/659976/first-ghost-in-aviation-history-still-haunting-montrose/
6. http://rafmontrose.org.uk/ghost-2/
7. https://www.facebook.com/historyhaunted/photos/the-ghost-of-montrose-angus-scotlandlieutenant-desmond-arthur-18841913-was-an-ir/1014620365230710/
8. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C1134482
9. http://www.suttonelms.org.uk/review-the-montrose-ghost.html
10. http://angusfolklore.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-first-operational-military-air-base.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-Nov-2018 22:12 Dr.John Smith Added
17-Nov-2018 22:14 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
17-Nov-2018 22:15 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
19-Nov-2018 19:17 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]

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