This article is the fourth 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 who came from Scotland. The summary version of the article (below) was first published in the Bishop Burton newsletter of May 2010.

The full details on Robert Grossart and Herbert Anderson are in attachments to this article.

It's arguable that the airmen killed in World War 1 were among the best minds of their generation. The Royal Flying Corps certainly attracted very clever people. The two Scotsman, Herbert Anderson and Robert Grossart, who died over Beverley are certainly a testimony to the quality of men who were lost to us.

Herbert Norman Scott Anderson was killed in an accident over the golf course at Beverley. Herbert Anderson died in an accident while practising stunts over the Westwood itself. The inquest provides quite an insight into the kind of preparation for aerial battle that was undertaken.

Herbert Anderson's father was the Provost or Mayor of Kinross, a town half-way between Edinburgh and Perth that lies on the edge of Loch Leven. Shortly after his son's death, Provost Anderson visited Beverley and the Beverley Guardian published his letter of thanks to the Mayor of Beverley, Harry Wray. The letter reads: "My visit to your good town was short and made under conditions which were unspeakably painful, but the kindliness and consideration which I received from all whom I met and have since heard from will remain with me as an imperishable memory."

Herbert Anderson crashed his plane onto the golf course on Christmas Eve 1917. An inquest took place the following Wednesday. Captain DDG Hall MC reported to the inquest that he sent 2nd Lieutenant Anderson up in a service machine such as was used in France in order to get used to it. Anderson had been up in the same plane on previous occasions and was very competent. He flew for 50 minutes and did several stunts; he eventually spun down from 1500 to 400 feet in a manoeuvre that he had performed several times in the morning. He re-gained control but seemed unable to get his engine working; the machine was then out of control and was coming rapidly to the ground. In his (Hall's) opinion he had dived to get speed and get his engine working, but there was not room and the machine struck the ground.

It's likely that Anderson was en route with 80th Squadron from Montrose, Scotland to France; he had been appointed as an officer in September 1917. They arrived in Beverley on 1st November 1917 and left Beverley on 27th January 1918. A service for the squadron was held in St. Mary's Church on 20th January 1918, a week before their departure for France. This service appears to be the only one of its kind held at the church which perhaps reflects the feeling engendered by the contact between the Mayor of Beverley and the Provost of Kinross. The theme of the sermon was "Be of good cheer".

Herbert's death and burial was fully reported in the local newspaper in Kinross. He attended Merchiston Castle School, an independent boarding school in Edinburgh that still exists today. He won the prestigious Rogerson Scholarship and earlier in 1917 he won an exhibition to Cambridge University. An exhibition is a financial grant based on merit; it stands below a scholarship. However, rather than take up his place at Cambridge, Herbert joined the Royal Flying Corps.

Robert Grossart was killed in February 1917 in an air accident near Beverley Aerodrome where he was based, probably for further training after he learnt to fly in December 1916.

A University of Glasgow biography reveals Robert Dykes Grossart was a student at the University of Glasgow when the First World War began. He cut short his studies and enlisted initially in the army. His matriculation records show that he was born in Corrie, Dumfriesshire, to Wilhelmina and Robert Grossart. His father was a farmer at Milton Farm, Beattock; the farm still exists and is now farmed by W & J Armour.

Before he went to Glasgow, Robert had an intense interest in air flight and he built an aeroplane while only 18 years old as his local newspaper, the Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser of June 1910 reports.

In his first year at University, Robert took classes in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. In his second year, the academic session 1913-1914, he enrolled for classes in Chemistry, Engineering and Physical Laboratory. War intervened, and sadly he would not be amongst those who were able to return to their studies after the war.

The Beverley Guardian of 10th Feb 1917 reported as follows: "2nd Lieut Grossart who belonged to Dumfries in Scotland was killed while flying in Yorkshire yesterday. His plane nose-dived into a field and he was dead when extracted from the wreckage."

January and February 1917 had seen fairly rough weather and snow lay on the ground throughout. Children were pictured tobogganing on the Westwood in the local newspaper but were not allowed out on the playground at their school in Bishop Burton. The week of Grossart's death also saw the murder of 13 year old schoolgirl, Lily Tindale, at Constitution Hill Farm north of Molescroft, Beverley for which Jack Thompson was hung.


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