Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Person ID - Challenge Dragon I G-ACHX 25 April 1938 2nd Crewman..

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanked 393 Times in 357 Posts

    Default Person ID - Challenge Dragon I G-ACHX 25 April 1938 2nd Crewman..

    Colin Calder BYAR F/O 25.03.37 Class A
    Jan 1913 Balclutha, Otago, New Zealand

    Colin Calder Byar
    Deathv28 Apr 1938

    28 Apr 1938


    Severely injured whilst flying De Havilland Dragon, G-ACHX on returning from an Anti-Aircraft Co-operation flight to Croydon at around 21:30 on 25 Apr 1938 when his starboard engine failed and crashed in Purley. His wireless operator was also injured but Byar died of his injuries at Purley and District War Memorial Hospital three days later.

    This was a crash of a Dragon whilst employed on behalf of the RAF on an army co-operation flight to provide practice for ground crews operating searchlights and anti-aircraft guns. Owned and operated by Wrightways, at about 21:00 on 25 April 1938 G-ACHX took off from Croydon Aerodrome at the start of this exercise. One report - that which appears on the BAAA website - has it stalling and crashing shortly after take off. But an apparently more reliable report attributes the cause of the crash to engine failure on its approach to Croydon at the end of the exercise. That report, which is to be found on the RAF Commands website but without any indication as to its provenance, says that:

    This is from

    For your tomorrow : a record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air services since 1915 / Errol W. Martyn.

    Mon, Anzac Day 1938
    Army co-operation searchlight exercise
    Wrightways Ltd (Croydon, Surrey)
    De Havilland DH84 Dragon I G-ACHX - took off at about 1900 but on returning to Croydon 2 hours later the starboard engine failed during approach from the southwest. ACHX crashed into a row of trees near the Rose Walk and Promenade de Verdun intersection, Purley, a mile to the SW. The New Zealand wireless operator, Ernest Ratcliffe, received a broken right thigh, but his fellow countryman was more severely injured. It took a dozen firemen to lift the wreckage and finally extricate them, but the pilot died at Purley and District War Memorial Hospital three days later and was buried south of Croydon, at Wallington on 2 May.
    Pilot: Colin Calder BYAR - Age 25.
    Byar served with the RAF 1933-37 as a short service commission officer and was on the Reserve at the time of the accident. Army co-operation searchlight flights by civil aircraft were a regular event in 1938 as war appeared increasingly inevitable.

    The assertion that the accident occurred at the end of the exercise, on the Dragon's approach to Croydon, is supported by the report in Flight magazine of 5 May 1938, which related the following:

    FOLLOWING an accident at Croydon on the evening of
    April 25 to a D.H. Dragon which had been out on Army
    co-operation work, Mr. C. C. Byar, one of Wrightways' pilots,
    died in hospital on Thursday of last week.
    The cause of the accident still remains a mystery. The
    machine was apparently circling the airport preparatory to
    making a final approach and landing, and it suddenly glided
    from view beyond the south-western boundary. An examination of the wreckage disclosed the fact that both petrol taps
    had been turned off, but that there had been ample fuel aboard
    at the time of the accident. The taps on the Dragon cannot
    be turned off by accident, nor can they be reached quickly, and
    the machine had been flying for two and a half hours.

    25.4.38 DH.84 Dragon G-ACHX, Wrightways, Croydon
    Crashed into trees after engine failure on approach, Woodcote, near Croydon
    Fg Off Colin Calder Byar (33) died 28.4.38 (RAFO, New Zealander)
    Ernest K Ratcliffe injured (wireless operator, New Zealander)

    News reports say

    Ernest K Ratcliffe, aged 33. of Garden Close. Wallington

    Can't find his full name...of Ernest K Ratcliffe, can anyone given the details ?? I wonder if he was actually born in New Zealand.. Can't find anyone on 1939 register for this

    I think he may be Ernest Kenneth Ratcliffe but would like confirmation

    "The pilot, Colin Byers aged 33.. of Sheen Way, Wallington, suffered a broken leg, while the wireless operator, Ernest K. Ratcliffe aged 33. of Garden Close, Wallington. had two legs broken. Both are in Purley Hospital. They are New Zealanders."

    I think the NZ bit is wrong and he is

    Ernest Kenneth Ratcliffe
    BIRTH 31 JAN 1912 (UK)

    DEATH 22 NOV 1987 (UK)

    Spouse Sarah Jane Hurst
    Father Ernest Ratcliffe
    Mother Amy Sybilla Thompson
    Birth 31 Jan 1912
    Death 22 Nov 1987
    Residence 1939 Kent, England

    1939 Register living in Kent "Experimental Wireless Assistant" in Reserve of Royal Signals

    thanks Paul
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 11th August 2022 at 07:08.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Val. Mezirici, Czech Republic
    Thanked 93 Times in 91 Posts

    Default Re: Person ID - Challenge Dragon I G-ACHX 25 April 1938 2nd Crewman..

    Hi Paul,

    Is anything new here?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanked 393 Times in 357 Posts

    Default Re: Person ID - Challenge Dragon I G-ACHX 25 April 1938 2nd Crewman..


    Just trying to fully ID all crew of Dragon I G-ACHX 25 April 1938 in which BYAR was involved in and which he subsequebtly died

    BYAR will be in Volume 4 of the new Chorley series and just wanted all info for his Bio


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts