Aircraftman Second Class Percy Braithwaite
On 12th July 1920, Flying Officer Victor Oliver Reynolds and Aircraftman Second Class Percy Braithwaite, of 24th Squadron, took off from Kenley in De Havilland 9a F1646, for a test flight.
At about 100 feet the pilot started to turn, but he applied too much rudder control and the machine swung to the right. At 150 feet the pilot throttled the engine back, and the aircraft went into a flat spin and fell between two sheds, “encountering in it’s plunge a live electric cable which set fire to the machine.” (Croydon Times, 14/7/1920). The two men were pulled from the wreckage and taken to the aerodrome hospital. The local fire brigades from Croydon, Purley and Caterham were called in because of the risk of the fire spreading to the hangars. The Croydon Times also reported that the aircraft which was destroyed had a value of £1,500.
Aeroplane magazine 21st July, 1920, reported the accident thus:
Apparently, Flying Officer Reynolds was turning at about 100 feet and the machine got into some kind of flat spin. There was not sufficient room for the pilot to get it under control again. On hitting the ground it caught fire and those present dragged the two men away from the flames, but they had unfortunately already been killed in the fall.
An inquest held on the 14th July 1920 returned a verdict of accidental death.
PERCY BRAITHWAITE was born in Scalthwaiterigg, Westmoreland, in 1901. He was the son of George William Braithwaite his wife Ethel Braithwaite (nee Tanner), and had a younger brother named Roger.
Percy was 19 years old when he lost his life at Kenley. He lies at rest in St. Paul’s Cemetery, Coventry. The inscription on his grave marker reads,
“THY WILL BE DONE”
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.