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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 25285
Last updated: 2 May 2020
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Date:22-JAN-1937
Time:day
Type:Airspeed AS.6J Envoy III
Owner/operator:Air Dispatch
Registration: G-ADBZ
C/n / msn: 35
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Titsey Hill, Titsey Park Plantations, near Oxted, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:Croydon Airport, Croydon, Surrey (EGCR)
Destination airport:Le Bourget Airport, Paris (LFPB)
Narrative:
First Registered as G-ADBZ [C of R 5575] 1.2.35 to Airspeed [1934] Ltd. Registered [C of R 5773] 6.4.35 to North Eastern Airways Ltd., Hounslow, Middlesex; named "Swaledale" and based at Heston Aerodrome, Heston, Middlesex. C of A 4778 issued 13.4.35.

Badly damaged in forced landing in snowstorm near Ripon, North Yorkshire 17.5.35; pilot V.J. Wheeler injured and aircraft salvaged by Slingsby Aircraft, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire. After repairs, hired out, with effect from July 1935 to Air Dispatch Ltd, Croydon.

Sale via L.M.J Balfour November 1936 to "Compagnie Air Taxis, Vienna" [probably a cover name for Spanish Republicans] was blocked, as was subsequent similar attempted purchase by Eric M Hoffman. Latter sought export licence 16.11.36 via Airwork Ltd but North Eastern Airways apparently rejected purchase offer.

Crashed and destroyed 22.1.1937: Crew was performing a mail flight from London to Paris when the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons in Titsey Hill, Titsey Park Plantations, near Oxted, Surrey. Both occupants killed: Captain Gordon Shepherd Jones-Evans (pilot, aged 40) and John Walker (wireless operator, aged 29). According to a contemporary newspaper report on the inquest into the two persons on board that were killed ("Kent & Sussex Courier" - Friday 29 January 1937)

"TEN FEET FROM SAFETY
YESTERDAY'S INQUEST ON TITSEY HILL AIR CRASH VICTIMS
HIT TOPMOST TREE AT HIGHEST POINT ON JOURNEY
It was revealed at the Oxted inquest yesterday (Thursday) upon the victims of Friday's air crash on Titsey Hill that the machine hit the top of the highest tree at the highest point of its journey to France. Suggestions that the engine was not functioning properly were not sustained by the evidence and the Coroner's jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death, due to the weather conditions."

The victims of the crash were the pilot, Flight.-Lieut. Gordon Jones-Evans, of Purley, and the wireless operator, Mr. J. Walker, of Wallington, and the enquiry was conducted by the East Surrey Coroner (Mr. W. J. Lord).

Following evidence of identification, Insp. Tassell said the machine was found In Titsey Wood, Limpsfield. Both wings were torn off and the fuselage was lying on the ground, with one engine lying on its right and to the rear of the other about level with the front of the pilot's cabin. The pilot was still in the wreckage and the wireless operator was about 14ft. in front. Debris was scattered over about 100 yards, and the machine had cut its way through the trees and pulled one, 12in. in diameter, from the ground.

Dr. Eric Gardener gave evidence of the extensive injuries to the two men.

Miss Ivy Wood, of Woldingham, said she saw the machine, brilliantly lit, and later heard a crash. It was raining and very windy - "blowing great guns."

THOUGHT IT WAS A LORRY.
Mrs. Constance Steer, a housekeeper, of Station-road West, Oxted, said she was in her bedroom - which faced Titsey Wood - and heard an aeroplane go over the house in the direction of Croydon. She then heard another, which she thought close behind, and which turned back. It was coming over quite all right but as it turned back it made a noise like looping the loop. Then she heard a dreadful thud. "I at once got out of bed," said witness, "because I thought a lorry had crashed into the Hoskins Arms, but I saw no lights and took no more notice. The time was just before the 6.18 am. train came in."

Lionel Wm. Wagstaff of Church Cottage, Titsey, said he left home at 6.30 a.m. to work on the farm just below Titsey Wood and at about six heard a noise which he thought was tree blown down. Looking round he saw another 'plane. The wind was blowing very much. It was raining and very dark.

Frederick Lemon, of Botley Hill Cottage, Titsey, said he heard a noise like thunder in the distance. He heard a second roar soon after and another which ended suddenly.

Edgar Trades said he heard the machine fighting against the wind. He had never heard an aeroplane make a noise like the machine, which he described as rattling and clicking and later making a noise like a car back-firing. Witness was closely questioned as to the noise of the machine, and in reply to the Air Ministry Inspector finally said that the machine as it disappeared from view was just roaring - it was otherwise normal.

John Warbold, traffic clerk to Air Despatch, said the take-off was quite normal.

The Air Ministry wireless operator at Croydon said that no message was received from the machine after the preliminary call had been given and acknowledged.

Mr. Edward Worrings, a director of Air Despatch, said the machine was equipped with a powerful headlight, for landing use when 100 feet or less from the ground. The instruments were sometimes set to show height above sea-level and sometimes above Croydon. The machine hit the top tree at the highest point of the hill, and if it had been ten feet higher would just have cleared the tree. That was the highest point of the whole flight and the light might have been turned on to see the trees.

EXPERT'S EVIDENCE.
Captain Percy Harold Davey, accident inspector to the Air Ministry, said the machine after first striking the tops of the two highest trees on the south side of Woldingham-road had crashed through a number of trees in a straight line for about 90 yards. It was evident from the disposition of the wreckage and the nature of the damage to the trees, that the aircraft was flying straight and laterally level and was heading south-east. "I found no evidence to suggest that there was any engine failure. on the contrary, the evidence indicates that the engines were running normally," said the Inspector. The hills were 870 feet high, and the trees were about 50 feet high, bringing the total height to 920 feet, or about 300 metres. Weather conditions, in witness's opinion, must have had something to do with the accident. It was possible that the southerly wind had drifted the machine farther over the high ground. There was no question of the engine stalling. He did not consider that a fully-loaded machine had anything to do with the accident.

Mr. Norrings said all machines left Croydon normally that day.

Arthur Vere Harvey said Mr. Jones-Evans was formerly employed by him as a test and demonstration pilot in China. Mr. Jones-Evans formerly ran his own flying school in Canada and operated air lines in that country. He was a holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross and was known as a very careful and steady pilot.

The jury returned a verdict as stated".

Registration G-ADBZ cancelled by the Air Ministry as "destroyed" 22.1.1937

Sources:

1. Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 29 January 1937
2. The Oxford, Consul & Envoy File (John F Hamlin, Air britain, 2001 p 13)
3. https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.windows.net/g-info/HistoricalLedger/G-ADBZ.pdf
4. http://afleetingpeace.org/index.php/aeroplanes/15-aeroplanes/78-register-gb-g-ad
5. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=14064.0
6. https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-airspeed-as6-envoy-titsey-hill-2-killed
7. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/gy/reg_G-A6.html
8. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1937.htm
9. https://www.ab-ix.co.uk/pdfs/airspeed_prewar.pdf


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
27-May-2009 00:22 harro Updated
14-Jun-2013 10:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
29-Oct-2017 23:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
02-Jan-2018 21:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative]
02-Jan-2018 21:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]
24-Feb-2020 20:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Source, Narrative]

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