Robert Charles Teasdall signature

On this day in 1917 Robert Charles Teasdall died at Camp Rathbun in Deseronto. He was born in Toronto on December 14th, 1897, the son of Robert Charles Teasdall and Marie (née Laughton). He joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on May 30th, 1917, with the regimental number 70331. His home address was 600 Yonge Street and he had been working as a bookkeeper before he enlisted.

Belleville’s newspaper, The Intelligencer reported the accident that killed Teasdall in the following way:

Intelligencer 1917 Jul 13 Cadet Teasdall's death

Report in the Intelligencer of July 13th, 1917 on Cadet Teasdall’s death

FLIGHT CADET TEASDALL INSTANTLY KILLED

Fatal Accident at Camp Mohawk in Which Young Aviator From Toronto Lost His Life – Machine Crashed to Ground From Considerable Height

A fatal accident occurred yesterday afternoon at the Deseronto section of Camp Mohawk, resulting in the death of Cadet Teasdall of Toronto, a young man who has been at the camp under instruction in aviation since July 3.

The young cadet had taken one of the aeroplanes up for a flight, and when at a considerable height something went wrong, and he lost control of the flying machine, which crashed to earth. The unfortunate young aviator was almost instantly killed and the machine was practically destroyed.

The accident was witnessed by a number of spectators, principally motor car parties, who had arrived at the borders of the camp to watch the interesting incidents of aviation training, and the rapid descent of the machine with the practical certainty of death or serious injury for the young aviator was a terrible spectacle which will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Cadet Teasdall came to the camp from Toronto, and his body will be forwarded to that city for interment.

The Royal Flying Corps own records confirm the newspaper’s report, except that the accident occurred at Camp Rathbun, rather than Camp Mohawk:

Robert Charles Teasdall's RFC casualty card

Royal Flying Corps casualty card for Robert Charles Teasdall, courtesy of the Royal Air Force Museum

…Date of Casualty: 12.7.17
Where occurred: Canada, Camp Rathbun, Deseronto
Type of Machine: Curtiss J.N.4
Nature and Cause of Accident: Fl[yin]g acc[ident] – Machine Collapsed at height of 4000ft
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: None
Remarks: Machine Completely Wrecked

The Royal Flying Corps’ Court of Inquiry received the following evidence from Captain Aird:

Detail from Attorney General's 1917 file RG 4-32/2006 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail from Attorney General’s 1917 file RG 4-32/2006 at the Archives of Ontario

1st witness:Captain J. Aird. R.F.C. (S.R.)

Cadet Teasdale flying at about 5,000 feet nosed his machine C.591 down (intending to loop as I assume because from what I gathered from the Cadets he intended to try a loop.)

He left the engine on and dived about 500 feet gaining an enormous speed, and just as he tried to pull the machine up, the left wing broke away. The machine then began to spin, then the right wing collapsed, then the tail and fell to earth.

I got into a horse and rig and drove half way to the accident, then ran. When I arrived Teasdale’s body had been removed and taken away in a tender.

I examined the machine and found all controls intact and I think the accident was due to the stress in diving the machine.

(Signed) J. M. Aird, Captain.

Robert was buried in St. James’s Cemetery, Toronto.

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