November 1938 -Tragedy at Stradishall

Whilst researching a forthcoming trail, I discovered the story of two airmen who were both killed in an accident, and are both buried in the local village cemetery.

Their gravestones are sadly much less ‘grand’ than many of the other airmen in the cemetery, but their departure was none the less, nothing short of a tragedy, and in no way less of a sacrifice than any other loss.

It was during a night training flight, on November 14th 1938, that Wing Commander Harry A. Smith MC, along with his navigator Pilot Officer Aubrey W. Jackson, both of No. 9  Squadron (RAF),  would be killed in a Handley Page Heyford III reg: K5194, when the aircraft undershot the airfield striking trees outside the airfield boundary. The crash was so forceful that the aircraft burst into flames killing both airmen.

Wing Commander Smith MC qualified as a pilot whilst in the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, and was the first of his rank to be killed since the inception of Bomber Command in July 1936. He had been awarded the Military Cross ‘for gallantry and distinguished service in the field‘ in 1918.

Pilot Officer Jackson was appointed for a Short Service Commission in January 1937, and later a Permanent Commission. He was only 20 years old at the time of his death.

Both crewmen are buried in Stradishall’s local cemetery.

St. Margaret of Antioch, Stradishall

A very ordinary grave stone marks the plot of P.O. Aubrey W. Jackson, killed on November 14th 1938 on a night training flight.

St. Margaret of Antioch, Stradishall

Wing Commander Smith, killed alongside P.O. Jackson on a night training flight. He was the first of his rank to die since the formation of Bomber Command.

7 thoughts on “November 1938 -Tragedy at Stradishall

  1. One of those tragic military accidents but you’re so right about it being sad that the gravestones are becoming so worn. Especially given the attention given to those that died in conflict.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks very much for keeping those two men’s sacrifices alive for a little longer. The researches I am doing at the moment reveal a very similar steady “drip, drip” of death, just among our school’s old boys. Russell Cruddas Lansberry killed between April 17-19th 1951 in HMS Affray. George Norman Hancock killed on March 31st 1954 in a Gloster Meteor. And the extravagantly named Lieutenant Cyril Amyatt Wyse Amyatt-Burney, murdered in northern Nigeria on an unknown date just before December 15th 1903. All long forgotten sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That certainly is a name to behold. There are sadly many like this, who have all but been forgotten, it is sad, and they deserve more. What surprised me in particular was the rather ‘tame’ stone that is all but worn away.


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