Accident Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn N5055, Sunday 15 April 1917
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Date:Sunday 15 April 1917
Time:12:05 LT
Type:Maurice Farman S.11 Shorthorn
Owner/operator:RNAS Redcar
Registration: N5055
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Dowson Garth, Castle Hill, Egton Bridge, North Yorkshire, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RNAS Redcar, North Yorkshire
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
15.4.17: Maurice Farman S.11 Longhorn N5055, RNAS Redcar. Written off (destroyed) when crashed on a cross-country flight, at Castle Hill, en route between Egton Bridge and Goathland, North Yorkshire. Pilot - Probationary Flight Officer Francis Holt Yates Titcomb (pilot) - was killed.

According to a contemporary report in "Flight" magazine (April 26, 1917 page 400 - see link #4):

"Fatal Accidents
At an inquest on Prob. Flight Officer F. H. Y. Titcomb, R.N.A.S., who was fatally injured in the North of England in a flying accident on April 15th, a verdict of "Accidentally Killed" was returned."

According to a published source (see link #5)

"On 15th April 1917 the pilot of this Maurice Farman Longhorn took off from Redcar for what was to be the pilot's first solo cross country flight. The pilot became disorientated in some snow clouds whilst flying over the Moors and the aircraft crashed upside down at 12.05hrs between Egton Bridge and Goathland, it crashed on what is known locally as Dowson Garth, Castle Hill. Local people found the pilot in the wreckage and carried him on a farm gate to nearby High Burrows Farm where he died soon after. The pilot was buried in London two days after his death with full military honours.

The aircraft was probably badly damaged by today's standards but it was, in the main, recovered and rebuilt. It was then returned to Redcar's flying school where it served until July 1917 when it was again involved in another mishap at Redcar. Although not with fatal results, the aircraft was written off after inspection on 18th September 1917 probably as the type was becoming obsolete.

Pilot - Probationary F/O Francis Holt Yates Titcomb RNAS, aged 19. Buried Brompton Road Cemetery, London (U/174213).

Francis Holt Yates Titcomb was born on 19th February 1898 at St.Ives, Cornwall and was the only son of Mr and Mrs W H Y Titcomb, of Clifton, Bristol. His parents were both artists and the family had moved to Dusseldorf, Germany in 1905 but returned to England in 1909 where the young Francis Holt Yates Titcomb attended college until 1916. He was a talented violinist but his main interest was in aeronautics. He won a Science Scholarship at Caius College, Cambridge but joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Probationary Flying Officer. After five weeks of instruction at Crystal Palace he was posted to the Royal Naval Air Service Flying Training airfield at Redcar for flying instruction where he did very well. It was during his first solo flight that he lost his life. A painting of him, done by his father before his death, hangs in Clifton College Chapel, Bristol, named "Conservet Corpus Tuum Et Animan Tuam" or "The Soldiers Communion". His grandfather was the late Bishop Titcomb, the first Bishop of Rangoon, Burmah.

In 1929 Mr John Kenneth Foster J.P. of Egton Manor arranged for a cross to be erected close to the crash site. According to the Historic England website (see link #6), the Memorial Cross was erected "circa 750 metres south-west of Dowson Garth, Castle Hill, Egton Bridge, North Yorkshire, YO22 5AS". It is inscribed "KF 1929". It was built from local Egton stone by Mr R Harrison of Ashley House, Glaisdale and the cross itself was sculpted by Mr J W Hill of Whitby. "Swinsty Cross", as it is known, stands close to the spot where the Longhorn crashed but was apparently not erected on this site intentionally. It is a copy of a cross found near Vittel, Vosges, France originally designed by Sir E L Lutyens A.R.A.

The memorial cross for Probationary Flight Officer Francis Titcomb, which stands on Castle Hill, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Historic interest:
- As an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the sacrifice made by members of the air services in the First World War; for the historic association with the nearby aircraft crash site that the cross commemorates.
Architectural interest:
- A simple yet poignant memorial cross built in a local stone, standing on high ground, in the manner of a wayside cross.

The crash site was excavated in 1980 by a Mr G. Terry, who recovered a spar which was stamped "BEE Co.". The present location of this spar is unknown. Other parts are rumoured to be in a museum in the Middlesbrough area.


4. Flight magazine (April 26 1917 page 400):
8. Flight magazine (May 24 1917 page 510):

Revision history:

29-Jan-2019 18:51 Dr. John Smith Added
19-May-2024 09:19 Nepa Updated [Location, Narrative, Operator]

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