Flying Officer Victor Oliver Reynolds
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.
VICTOR OLIVER REYNOLDS was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 1892. His Father Acton Reynolds was a journeyman butcher. By 1901, the Reynolds family were living at 22 Castle St, Reading. Victor had two sisters, Cordelia and Dora, and one brother Charles.
He first enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment in 1907. In March 1914 he was promoted to Staff Sergeant serving on the Army Gymnastics staff. He went to France on the 23rd August 1914 and was seriously wounded in the head at Plugesteert on the 12th April 1915. After three months at Netley Hospital, he rejoined the Hampshire Regiment, 3rd Battalion, at Gosport on the 15th November 1915, and was promoted Company Sergeant Major. By August 1916, Victor had been appointed to a regular commission as 2nd Lieutenant, but was then seconded for service with the Machine Gun Corps in October. It seems likely that during 1917, while serving as adjutant at the Officer’s School in Grantham, Reynolds joined the Freemasons, Maguncor lodge, (which took it’s name from the telegraphic name of the Machine Gun Corps).
On 22nd February 1918, Reynolds transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He was 28 years old at the time of his death in July 1920.
F/O Victor Oliver Reynolds is buried in Bandon Hill Cemetery, Wallington. The inscription on his grave reads,
“ONE OF THE OLD CONTEMPTIBLES”
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.