Flying Officer Horace Edgar Fenwick
On 4th November, 1920, Flying Officer Harold Oliver Prout AFC and his passenger, Flying Officer Horace Edgar Fenwick, were on the return leg of a trip to Winchester when they arrived back at Kenley, just after 4.30pm, to find the airfield shrouded in thick fog.
Sergeant Frank Ashdown of the Metropolitan Police, Kenley, saw their Bristol Fighter (F4852) pass low over his house in Godstone Road heading towards Kenley at 4.30pm. It returned and passed overhead a second time. This time it appeared to Ashdown that the occupants of the aeroplane were standing up in the cockpit. They headed back towards the airfield – he lost sight of them in the fog and almost immediately heard a crash. Sgt. Ashdown discovered the two pilots dead near Hawkhirst Rd. They had hit a tree and come down in a spot known as Fox’s Hold Field. He discovered Fenwick’s body lying between the two near side wings and Prout’s securely strapped in the pilot’s seat amongst the wreckage, so Ashdown realised that he couldn’t have been standing up.
Dr. Walter Eaton Smith was called – he saw the bodies and said that Fenwick had suffered a fractured skull and a broken leg, while Prout’s chest had been crushed by being wedged in the cockpit – he had also suffered a fractured skull.
At the inquest into their deaths, held at the Rose and Crown Hotel, Whyteleafe, Flight Lieutenant Trevor Salt stated that the Prout had come to him that morning for a machine, having obtained his Commanding Officer’s permission to take Fenwick to Winchester on business concerning wireless telegraphy. They had left Kenley in the morning, bound for Winchester, and the weather was fine when they began their return journey in the afternoon. However, a heavy fog had closed in on Kenley at 3.45pm and Salt had phoned Winchester to warn them about the weather conditions, but he was too late to prevent them from leaving. He explained to the Coroner that Kenley “was difficult to land in, the trees rendering it particularly dangerous during foggy weather.”
The Coroner commented that he had held inquests on men killed while trying to land at Kenley in the past, but “experts had decided on the position of the aerodrome and of course he was not sufficiently expert to say it was not a proper position.”
Flying Officer Horace Edgar Fenwick of Blandford Rd, St. Albans, was born in Clapham, London, on 23rd March, 1896. He was the son of Howard Bertie Fenwick, who was born in Calcutta, and Adelaide Alice Mary Fenwick (nee Hancock) of Tunbridge Wells. In 1901, the family were living at 91 Church Walk, Hendon, but by 1911 they had moved to ‘Hazelmere,’ Beaconsfield Rd, St. Albans, and had two servants. Horace had an older brother, Benjamin, (a Divinity student in 1911) and three younger sisters, Bertha, Enid and Evelyn. His Father died in 1914.
Horace worked as a commercial traveller prior to joining up during the Great War. It appears that he served with the Northumberland Fusiliers before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps and then the RAF. His residence at the time of his death was ‘Ivanhoe,’ 4 Blandford Rd, St. Albans.
Horace was buried in St. Albans (Hatfield Rd) Cemetery. He was 24 years old when he died.
Rest in Peace Sir and thank you for your service.