military training


William Sidney Gallie signature

William Sidney Gallie, a grain merchant, died in Camp Mohawk near Deseronto on this day in 1917. He was born in the United States in 1896, the son of William and Mary Gallie. By 1916 the family were living at 225 Bell Avenue, Winnipeg. Gallie joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on June 18th, 1917 with the regimental number 70447. He was five feet six and a half inches tall.

Belleville’s Intelligencer reported the accident:

Intelligencer report of W. S. Gallie's death

BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO, FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 1917
CADET KILLED AT MOHAWK
Lost Control From Collision With Another Plane and Crashed to Ground

A sad accident occurred at Mohawk Aviation Camp yesterday, which cost the life of Cadet Gallie, of Winnipeg
Two airplanes were landing close together and collided. Cadet Gallie’s plane was struck from behind when about one hundred feet in the air, and he lost control. The machine crashed to the ground, and Cadet Gallie was almost instantly killed.

The official casualty card confirms the details, and names the pilot of the other plane. Gallie was a member of 87 Canadian Training Squadron.

William Sidney Gallie RFC Casualty Card

Casualty card for William Sidney Gallie, courtesy of the Royal Air Force Museum

…Date of Casualty: 16.8.17
Where occurred: Camp Mohawk Deseronto Canada
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4a. C617
Nature and Cause of Accident: Collison with machine piloted by Cadet Burrowes T.N Can 74101
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: None…

This record gives us the identification number of the aircraft: C617. In our collection of digital photographs we have a series of images taken of the remains of this aircraft after the crash.

William Sidney Gallie's crashed plane

From Sergeant Devos’s photographic collection, 2009.09(22), courtesy of Denzil Devos

William Sidney Gallie was interred in the mausoleum at Glen Eden Memorial Garden/Riverside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

George Anderson Morton signature

On this day in 1917, George Anderson Morton, a grain merchant, died at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto as the result of a flying accident. George was born in Winnipeg on September 20th, 1895, the son of Thomas Morton and Mary (née Anderson). Mary died in 1904. Morton joined the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on June 26th, 1917 with the regimental number 74036. He gave his home address as Grande Pointe, Manitoba. He was five feet five and a half inches tall.

The accident in which he was killed was reported in Belleville’s Intelligencer newspaper in the following way:

Intelligencer report of G. A. Morton's death

BELLEVILLE, ONTARIO, MONDAY AUGUST 13, 1917
Aviator Killed at Deseronto
On Saturday at the local Aviation Camp another fatal accident occurred, resulting in the death of Flight Cadet Morton, of Winnipeg. The young aviator was up at a height estimated at about 2,000 feet, when from some unknown cause the plane plunged to the ground and was totally wrecked. It is surmised that Morton fainted while in the air and in this manner lost control of the machine. The unfortunate victim was dead when taken from his seat and his body was badly mangled. Many bones of the body were broken. The body was prepared for burial and shipped to Winnipeg.

This is the official casualty record from the Royal Flying Corps, which notes that Morton was in 84 Canadian Training Squadron.:

George Anderson Morton RFC casualty card

Casualty Card for George Anderson Morton, courtesy of the Royal Air Force Museum

…Date of Casualty: 11.8.17
Where occurred: Camp Mohawk aero. Canada
Type of Machine: Curtiss J.N.4a.
Nature and Cause of Accident: Machine nosedived vertically & continued in this position until it hit the ground completely wrecking the machine
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: Nil
Remarks: Cadet Morton had shut of[f] his engine preparatory to making a landing at a height of 2000 ft. A Court of Inquiry found no constructional fault in the machine

This photograph shows what remained of the aircraft after the accident:

George Anderson Morton's crash

From Sergeant Devos’s photographic collection, 2009.09(45), courtesy of Denzil Devos

George Anderson Morton was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg.

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.

Allan Walton Fraser photograph from University of Manitoba Roll of Honour

Allan Walton Fraser photograph from University of Manitoba Roll of Honour

Allan Walton Fraser signature

Allan Walton Fraser died at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto on this day in 1917. He was born in Emerson, Manitoba on January 30th, 1898, the son of William Fraser and Annie Matilda (née Baskerville) of 215 Spence Street, Winnipeg. He joined the 196th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 1st, 1916 when he was a student at the University of Manitoba, with the regimental number 910044. He was five feet seven inches tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. On April 26th, 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps with a new regimental number of 70175. He was a cadet in 84 Canadian Training Squadron, learning how to fly at the recently-opened pilot training camp to the west of Deseronto, when he died. This was the first fatality at Camp Mohawk.

The accident was reported in The Hartford Herald newspaper in Kentucky in the following way:

Report of Allan Walton Fraser's death at Camp Mohawk in the Hartford Herald

Report of Allan Walton Fraser’s death at Camp Mohawk in the Hartford Herald newspaper, courtesy of Chronicling America

 

BRITISH AVIATOR BURNED TO DEATH

Deseronto, Ont.—While flying with Vernon Castle at Camp Mohawk, Cadet W. E. Fraser, of Winnipeg, Man., was burned to death. Castle escaped with slight injuries. The two were ascending for instructional purposes when Fraser was seized with nervousness and lost control. The machine swept backward into the hangar and the gasoline tank exploded, setting fire to the hangar. Castle was thrown out when the aeroplane hit the shell.

This photograph shows the burning hangar after the crash.

Allan Walton Fraser crash

From Sergeant Devos’s photographic collection, 2009.09(38), courtesy of Denzil Devos

The official report from the Royal Flying Corps gives a slightly different version of events:

Allan Walton Fraser RFC casualty card

Casualty Card on Allan Walton Fraser’s death, courtesy Royal Air Force Museum

…Date of Casualty: 30.5.17
Where occurred: Camp Mohawk Deseronto
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4a.
Nature and Cause of Accident: Machine whilst making a turn at the height of 200 ft suddenly put her nose down, frightened pupil who gripped control wheel & pilot unable to right machine which struck roof of hangar and burst into flames.
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: 2/Lt W.B.T. [V.W.B.] Castle (Injured)…

Vernon Castle was a well-known Broadway dancer who had travelled to England to join the Royal Flying Corps in 1916. He was one of the flight instructors at Camp Mohawk. After experiencing this accident, Castle insisted on taking the more dangerous front seat in the cockpit of the Curtiss JN-4 training aircraft used by the Royal Flying Corps in North America.

A Court of Inquiry was held on June 1st, at which Vernon Castle described the accident and gave his views on the wheel versus stick controls for training aircraft:

Allan Walton Fraser Court of Inquiry - Vernon Castle's evidence

Detail from Attorney General’s 1917 file RG4-32/1145 at Archives of Ontario

1st. Witness. (Contd.) Question from the President:-

“Please give us your reason why you think the “Curtiss” with wheel control is an unsuitable machine for school work”

Witness

“I consider the wheel control unsuitable because you have not the control and quick action with the wheel that you have with the stick control”.

Question from a member:-

“Do you think you could have averted this accident if you had had the stick control?”

Witness.

“I really think I could”.

(Signed) Vernon Castle.

It was also noted by the Court of Inquiry that this aircraft had no instruments. Castle did not believe that instruments would have prevented this accident, but the Court expressed the opinion that stick controls offered more safety than wheel controls and that “all school machines of this type should be fitted with instruments”.

Allan Walton Fraser was interred in the mausoleum at Glen Eden Memorial Garden/Riverside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

If you missed the history talk on the nineteenth century development of Deseronto this weekend, there’s a chance to catch it again on YouTube:

Due to a technical hitch on the day, the visuals weren’t available, but this version includes the slides!

Armies of Europe at a glance

Armies of Europe at a glance from the The Sun, New York, August 2nd, 1914: Russia, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, England, Serbia

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the declaration of war by Great Britain on Germany in response to the German invasion of Belgium on that day. At 11pm Greenwich Mean Time that evening (6pm Eastern Standard Time), Britain and its Dominions (including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa) were officially at war. You can hear about people’s memories of their reactions to the declaration in this podcast from the Imperial War Museum.

During the next four years we will be marking the 100th anniversaries of local events in relation to the war on this blog. We plan to commemorate the enlistment and conscription of individual Deseronto and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory men, women, and boys, their deaths in action and from disease, as well as events associated with the local Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force pilot training establishments at Camps Rathbun and Mohawk, which operated between 1917 and 1918.

Our aim is to use archival materials from Deseronto and from around the world to demonstrate the local effects of a global war.

If you have photographs, or letters, or family stories about the First World War in Deseronto and the surrounding area, we’d love to share them here as part of this project: you can email us at deseronto.archives@gmail.com.

A month ago, we received a new accession of photographs  from Dave Stapley, whose family once owned a farm on the Boundary Road, at the eastern side of Deseronto. The farm was close to the World War One pilot training site, Camp Rathbun, and many of the 33 photos depict men, buildings, and aircraft of the camp.

As usual, there are pictures of crashes on the ground (look closely at the trees on this one in relation to the aircraft):

Crashed aircraft

Crashes into hangar buildings at the camp:

Aircraft crashed into hangar door

And into water (you can see the Foresters’ Island Orphanage in the background of this shot):

There are also several photographs of (mainly) unidentified individuals, including this lovely shot of a man crossing the finishing line of a race:

Man crossing finishing line

The skull-and-crossbones motif seen on the aircraft and on the tops of the runners here is a symbol used by the men of 90 C.T.S. (Canadian Training Squadron), which was based at Camp Rathbun. We know nothing about the creator of these photographs, but we can  surmise that he was a member of 90 C.T.S. who left his photographs behind him after he left the area.

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