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Thread: 17.5.30 Wapiti, 11 Sqn, Risalpur Serial J9401 Crash (2 Killed)

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    Default 17.5.30 Wapiti, 11 Sqn, Risalpur Serial J9401 Crash (2 Killed)

    Found this today

    17.5.30 Wapiti, 11 Sqn, Risalpur Serial J9401

    Pilot killed on bombing raid; crashed landing at base, Risalpur, India
    Fg Off Richard William Alexander Stroud (23) killed
    AC1 Charles Samuel Wiltshire (22) killed #364367

    Civil & Military Gazette (Lahore) - Saturday 24 May 1930

    Takes over Control of Machine when Pilot Shot Dead.


    In the graphic story published below is revealed how a Royal Air Force aircraftsman, blinded by the blood of his dead pilot and flying over enemy country 45 miles from his base, took control of his machine and brought it back, only to receive fatal injuries in a crash when landing. The narrative, which has been received from entirely unofficial sources on the Frontier, adds yet another glorious page to the annals of the R.A.F. The terse, unemotional announcement that Flying-Officer R. W. A. Stroud (Richard William Alexander Stroud) and Leading-Aircraftsman Wiltshire (AC1 Charles Samuel Wiltshire #364367) lost their lives when their machine crashed on the emergency landing ground near Risalpur on Saturday, May 18, (sic Saturday was May 17th) hides a brief but epic episode in the history of the R.A.F. in India

    Pilot Shot by Tribesman.

    During the operations in the Mohmand country on that day, R.A.F. machines had been continually leaving Risalpur in order to bomb hostile tribes. Flying-Officer Stroud, with Aircraftsman Wiltshire as his gunner, took off from Risalpur in a Westland-Wapiti machine at 5-30 p.m. on Saturday. Having reached their objective, they dropped their bombs and then swooped down to 600 feet in order to disperse the enemy with machine-gun fire. While flying at this altitude Flying-Officer Stroud was hit in the neck by a bullet from a tribesman's rifle, and he must have died almost immediately. Before he collapsed, however, he signalled to gunner that he was unable to continue to pilot the machine. Aircraftsman Wiltshire, thinking that his pilot was badly wounded, immediately adjusted the spare "joy-stick" in his cockpit and regained control of the machine, in spite of the fact that he had little knowledge piloting except that gained in watching the pilots.

    A Terrible Dilemma

    Forty-five miles from home, with a helpless pilot in the cockpit and flying over hostile country, Wiltshire was faced with a terrible problem. He might have escaped death by jumping with his parachute, and leaving the machine to wreck itself in the nearby hills. But, believing his pilot to be still alive, he decided to attempt to fly home and headed the machine for Risalpur. His googles were bespattered with his pilot's blood, but he eventually found himself over the emergency landing ground. Unskilled in the art of landing, he descended too fast and buried the nose of the machine in the ground. He was thrown out and sustained injuries from which he died the same evening.

    The following day, with his pilot, he was buried in the cemetery at Risalpur with full military honours.

  2. #2
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    Christchurch, New Zealand
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    Default Re: 17.5.30 Wapiti, 11 Sqn, Risalpur Serial J9401 Crash (2 Killed)

    A great story, of a lone individual, caught out by circumstances for which he had pathetically little useful knowledge of to save himself and his (presumed) seriously injured pilot and no way of confirming this presumption, although I imagine that he would want to put as much distance between himself and the "hostile tribesman" as possible. Although not mentioned in the story, these were the days when nobody seems to have given any thought to armouring these aircraft in any way, with the aircrew simply having to accept that they were placing themselves in harm's way, and flying deep into hostile territory where it was known that numerous "hostile tribesman" had rifles, and knew how to use them. After all, in the Great War, so far as I know, the fitment of armour to aircraft was pretty well unknown, although I have an idea that some preliminary ideas (and even solutions?) on this subject may have been taking place in British (and German?) flying units engaged in trench strafing, etc, in dying days of the War. Any comments welcome.

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