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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 221060
Last updated: 27 November 2019
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Date:15-MAR-1917
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic A504 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro 504A
Owner/operator:51 (Reserve) Sqn RFC
Registration: A417
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RFC Wye, Boughton Corner Farm, Bramble Lane, Ashford, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RFC Wye, Ashford, Kent
Destination airport:RFC Wye, Ashford, Kent
Narrative:
15.3.17: Avro 504A A417, 51 (Reserve) Squadron, RFC Wye, Ashford, Kent. Written off (destroyed) when stalled and side slipped attempting forced landing after engine failure, RFC Wye, Boughton Corner Farm, Bramble Lane, Ashford, Kent. Aircraft caught fire on impact.

According to the aircraft accident record card for Avro 504A A417 (see link #3):

"Court of Inquiry 87/7954
30/3/17
Flying accident. Breakage of piston in No.3 cylinder. Forced landing, stalled side slipped and nose dived. The conclusions of the Court of Inquiry were as follows:
1) The breakage of the piston in the No.3 cylinder, which apparently caused the ignition of petrol in indication apparatus.
2) A excusable error of judgment on the part of the pilot (2nd Lt O.C. Bryson), resulting in a stall, side slip and nose dive whilst endeavouring to make a forced landing as a result of the engine failure.
3) By the petrol tank bursting while the aeroplane struck the ground and its content coming into contact with the already ignited petrol in the engine"

According to a contemporary report in "Flight" magazine (March 29, 1917, page 292 - see link #4):

"Fatal Accidents
A VERDICT of "Accidental Death" was returned at an inquest in Kent on March 22nd on 2nd Lieut. F. E. Hillebrandt, R.F.C., who died earlier in the day as the result of injuries caused by a flying accident"

Second Lieutenant Frederick Edmund Hillebrandt was gravely injured on 15 March 1917, when the plane in which he was a passenger crashed at Wye Aerodrome in Kent. The pilot showed considerable bravery in rescuing him from the burning aircraft, but Second Lieutenant Hillebrandt died a week later, on 22 March 1917 (hence the above report in "Flight" of having "died earlier in the day").

As the death was considered "not war related", there is no record on the CWGC website. The other crew member - pilot, 2nd Lt Oliver Campbell Bryson - was injured, sustaining burns injuries related to his attempts to rescue 2nd Lt Hillebrandt. Bryson was able to disentangle himself from the burning wreckage, but at once went back into the flames and dragged Hillebrandt from the machine. Despite his own injuries, he tried to extinguish the fire on Lieutenant Hillebrandt’s clothing. For his gallantry in attempting to rescue 2nd Lt Hillebrandt, 2nd Lt Bryson was awarded the Albert Medal. The citation reads as follows:

"London Gazette: 11 January 1918
Citation –

"The KING was pleased, at Buckingham Palace, on Wednesday, the 9th instant, to present to Captain Oliver Campbell Bryson, Flight Commander, Royal Flying Corps, the Albert Medal, which was awarded by His Majesty in recognition of his gallantry in endeavouring to save life in March last. The circumstances are as follows: —

On the 15th March, 1917, Captain (then Lieutenant, Bryson, with Second Lieutenant Hillebrandt as passenger, was piloting an aeroplane at Wye Aerodrome when, owing to a sideslip, the machine crashed to the ground and burst into flames. On disentangling himself from the burning wreckage Captain Bryson at once went back into the flames, dragged Lieutenant Hillebrandt from the machine, and notwithstanding his own injuries, which were undoubtedly aggravated by his gallant efforts to rescue his brother officer from the fire, endeavoured to extinguish the fire on Lieutenant Hillebrandt's clothing. Lieutenant Hillebrandt succumbed to his injuries a few days later."

2nd Lt Oliver Campbell Bryson died of natural causes on 22 March 1977, aged 81

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1917.htm
2. http://www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.uk/archive/hillebrandt-f.e.-frederick-edmund
3. https://www.rbsremembers.com/remembers/our-fallen/h/frederick-hillebrandt.html
4. Flight magazine (March 29, 1917 page 292): https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1917/1917%20-%200292.html?search=fitzsimmons
5. https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/1882067
6. https://redbridgefirstworldwar.org.uk/the-war-dead/frederick-edmund-hillebrandt
7. https://airwar19141918.wordpress.com/tag/frederick-edmund-hillebrandt/
8. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/105311-2lt-fe-hillebrandt-rfc-buried-ilford-essex/
8. https://wyesforgottenairmen.wordpress.com/the-airmen/


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
24-Jan-2019 02:33 Dr. John Smith Added
24-Jan-2019 02:34 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
24-Jan-2019 02:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Narrative]
24-Jan-2019 02:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
24-Jan-2019 13:01 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]
27-Jan-2019 13:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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