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Thread: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

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    Default Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    Capt. Gilbert Steele, a company commander of the 2/3 Gaur Brahmans Regiment, was killed in an airplane crash at Quetta in present day Pakistan on 5 September 1919, together with "two Brahmins", according British newspapers of that time.
    Articles reporting this crash indicate that all three men were passengers of an airplane piloted by an unnamed RAF officer, who got away "severely shaken".
    Plane had crashed while making a landing attempt at the Residency of Quetta.
    CWGC has records for Capt Steele indeed, but no immediate match for the other two victims.

    In an online article in The Straits Times (Singapore) of 25 Sept 1919, there's no mentioning of the "two Brahmins" however. Capt. Steele, seated behind the pilot, was trapped under the wreckage. It appears that the airplane engine had failed and that the pilot was scalded by water of the radiator. He then tried to make an emergency landing on the grounds of the Residency, but crashed. Capt. Steele was buried the same day with military honours.

    I wonder if any other info is available what airplane was involved in this accident? In Sept 1919 the resident RAF-squadron at Quetta was No. 114 Squadron flying B.E.2's (No. 114 Squadron became No. 28 Squadron in April 1920).

    Thanks for assistance and best wishes for 2022,

    Leendert
    Last edited by Leendert; 2nd January 2022 at 11:38.

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    CAPTAIN
    GILBERT BERNARD EDWARDS STEELE

    https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/fi...dwards-steele/

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to paulmcmillan For This Useful Post:

    Leendert (4th January 2022)

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    So, if your narrative is correct, we have an a/c with 4 SOB (Pilot + 3 x Pax). Not many RAF a/c capable of that at Quetta in 1919?
    Interesting tale! Just done some fltsim contraining/circuit-bashing in the area. The local countryside appears extremely unforgiving!!
    Would like to know more of the details!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    Whatever details I have written come from newspaper articles. As for myself, I also have questions about the 4-person version as reported in (the) British newspapers. However, only could read a few lines as I don't have a British Newspaper Archives subscription.
    If there were also "two Brahmin" casualties, then these men as ground victims? But no reference to that in newspapers and Indian Army deaths for 5 Sept 1919 provide no direct correspondence with accident.
    CWGC grave registration card for Capt. Steele specifically says "airplane crash".


    Regards,
    Leendert

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    Question on date ?

    AEROPLANE CRASH IN INDIA. Simla, Saturday (received today). News has been received that an aeroplane, while trying to land in the Residency at Quetta, crashed to the ground and burst into flames. A passenger, Captain Steele, and two Brahmins were killed. The pilot, an officer of the Air Force, s severely shaken.—Reuter

    Published: Wednesday 17 September 1919
    Newspaper: Westminster Gazette
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 2nd January 2022 at 16:54.

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    Paul,
    I have no doubt about the date. Most if not all (British) newspapers reported the accident only almost two weeks later. CWGC seems pretty clear about Capt. Steele.

    The online article in The Straits Times of 25 September 1919 (accessible thru https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/) says: "A distressing accident occurred in Quetta about 8 a.m. on the 5th inst. (= Sept), an aeroplane crashing to the ground in the Residency grounds and bursting into flames. Etc."

    Apart from what type of airplane involved, still am somewhat puzzled by the "two Brahmins" who according reports in (British) newspapers were passengers as well...

    Regards,
    Leendert

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    THREE AIRMEN KILLED. SIMLA, Sept. 13. News has been received that an aeroplane, while trying to land in the residency at Quetta, crashed to the ground and burst into flames. The passenger, Captain Steele and two Brahmins were killed. The pilot ...
    Published: Thursday 18 September 1919
    Newspaper: Newcastle Daily Chronicle
    County: Northumberland, England

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    I wonder if there hasn't been an element of crossed wires somewhere in the report, i.e. "...the passenger, Captain Steele of 2Bn. Brahmans, was killed."

    Possibly more on Steele and his fate here and here, although both would require trips to London, unfortunately.

    From this page Steele was commissioned on 03 Apr 15
    Last edited by RecklessRat; 2nd January 2022 at 18:23.

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    Reckless Rat,
    That may be the most logical explanation indeed. Capt. Steele was the only victim and "2 Brahmins" points to his regiment (or rather, 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Gaur Brahmans) and not Indian Army soldiers. Newspapers must have interpreted "2 Brahmins" as other casualties, so it appears.

    Still curious what airplane could have been in the accident.

    Regards,
    Leendert

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    Default Re: Quetta - air crash 5 Sept 1919 - RAF airplane?

    I would look at this one

    Date is right - 48 Sqn was based in India at time -

    "It moved by sea to India during May/June 1919, being based at Quetta."

    Aircraft Bristol F.2b Fighter (Mark Unknown)
    Aircraft serial F4625


    Full name Purdin, W.E. (William Edward)
    ID OC0239745
    Object CC2_19661

    Collection Archives
    Classification Casualty Record Series
    Series Casualty Card Type - Incident

    Initials W.E.
    First names William Edward
    Surname Purdin
    Service no

    Rank 2Lt
    Organisation Royal Air Force
    Unit 48 Squadron (RAF)
    Trade Pilot

    Prisoner of war No
    Casualty date September 5th 1919
    Accident Batle casualty during reconnaissance.
    Result of accident Injured
    Remarks Suffering from nervous shock.
    Terms of enlistment
    Awards
    Attached from
    Place ME
    Death details
    Aircraft Bristol F.2b Fighter (Mark Unknown)
    Aircraft serial F4625
    Engine type Not recorded
    Manufacturer
    War Department

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