This article is the third in a series about Beverley Aerodrome and the 17 men who died in air accidents in World War I that are commemorated on a plaque in Bishop Burton Church. This article focusses on two airmen whose lives show remarkable parallels. The summary version of the article (below) was first published in the Bishop Burton newsletter of March 2010.

The full details on Harry Estcourt Robinson and John Hillier Blount are in attachments to this article.

Several of the airmen who died at Beverley came from families with a long tradition of military service. The Blount family is reputed to have been soldiers for the 1000 years since their ancestors came over to England from Denmark. John Hillier Blount was one member of that family and the service tradition carried on well after his death in an air accident at Beverley. The well-known popular singer James Blunt is his great-great-great-nephew and served as an officer in Kosovo before turning to professional singing.

The newspaper report of the inquest in Beverley in July 1918 stated that John “crashed in the vicinity of an aerodrome while flying at a height of 150 feet and died as a result of his injuries. A fellow officer said that the accident was due to the deceased attempting to turn when near the ground and having insufficient speed… A verdict of accidental death was returned.” John was an instructor at the aerodrome having qualified the year before.


John’s widowed mother was born in Pocklington and lived in Felixstowe and her son is commemorated on the war memorial in the town. John’s parents had married in Scarborough in 1892. John’s father was also a soldier and died of dysentery in South Africa, in 1900 shortly before the conclusion of the Boer War and a year after John’s birth. John was educated at Harrow and then went to Sandhurst for his officer training. John had an older brother, Charles Hubert Boulby Blount, who also served in the RAF and rose to become Air Vice-Marshall commanding the British air force in France at the start of World War II. Ironically he also died in an air accident on a scheduled flight from Hendon to Belfast in October 1940; only one person survived the crash. Johns older step-brother, Greville, was killed in France in 1914.


Another of our airmen with a celebrity connection is Harry Estcourt Robinson. Like John Hillier Blount, Henry came from a military family and his mother had been widowed while their family was still young. His grandfather William Robinson was a famous railway engineer and while a captain in the Corps of Royal Engineers laid the route of the inter-colonial railway in Canada. He features in the Nova Scotia Railway hall of fame.


Shortly before the start of the war, Harry’s mother, Venetia, re-married. Her second husband could hardly have had a background less like that of her first. Arthur Jefferson was a theatrical impresario, famous among other things, for re-building the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. Arthur’s marriage to Venetia in 1912 was also his second; by his first wife he had a son, Arthur Stanley, better remembered as Stan Laurel, one half of the Laurel and Hardy comedy duo – the thin half! Stan spent most of the war in the USA, in Fred Karno’s army.


Harry had a twin brother, William Stanley Robinson, who also served in the army. He survived World War I but died in a guerrilla camp in Malaya in 1943 in World War II.


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