This article is the sixth 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.  The summary version of the article (below) was first published in the Bishop Burton newsletter of September 2010.

The week beginning 21st April 1918 was a particularly grim week for Beverley Aerodrome. On Sunday 21st April three airmen were killed in a single accident when two planes collided near Cherry Burton, on Tuesday 23rd a memorial service for the three men took place at St. Mary's Church, attended among many others by Sgt Pilot Linden Richardson, who was himself killed the following day in another air accident. Sgt Richardson was covered in an earlier article in this series. This article focuses on Lieutenants Howell and Clayton who were two of the victims of the air accident; the third victim was "Courty" Robinson also covered in an earlier article.

The triple air tragedy was sufficiently noteworthy to receive a fairly full report in the newspaper:

"Inquests were held on Tuesday on three members of the Royal Air Force who were killed in a flying accident in East Yorkshire on Sunday. Their names were: Lieut Harry Estcourt ROBINSON, 19, whose home address is 49 Colebrook Avenue West Healing, London W., Sec Lieut John Alfred CLAYTON, 26, Prospect House, HORSEHAY, Shropshire, and Lieut Evan Idris HOWELL, 27, 17 Ebenezer Terrace, RHYDYFELIN, Pontypridd, Glamorgan. The evidence showed that ROBINSON (instructor) and CLAYTON (pupil) were in one machine, and HOWELL, who was on the verge of graduating, in another. The officer commanding said that he saw the machines falling and at once flew across to them. He found the machines on the ground absolutely wrecked, and the three men were dead in the wreckage. Another officer said that he saw the machines collide in the air at a height rather under 2000 feet, but he did not see what they were doing immediately before the collision.

A farm servant who saw what happened, said the collision was due to one machine turning while near to the other, striking the latter's wings. One machine fell into a field and the other on the roadside. Medical evidence showed the men's injuries to be extensive. Verdict: Accidental death. "

Evan Idres Howell was born in 1883 in Pontypridd. Like a number of the other airmen he was a bright "grammar school" boy, born to parents of a quite modest background. Evan went to school at Pontypridd Grammar School and he is commemorated on their war memorial. Evan's father had been a hammerman at the local tinplate works (probably Treforest) but by 1901 had retired and was recorded as being blind. Evan's father had been born in Narberth, Pembrokeshire and his story shadows the movement of many men in South Wales from the land to the mines and factories of the "valleys". The family must have been one which fostered the children's education as both Evan and his sister were employed as school teachers by the local district council. Welsh was probably the main language of the family at home and they were probably quite religious as in 1911, a James Bennett of London, described as a "missionary to the navies (navvies ?)" boarded with them. At the onset of war, Evan joined the army and trained as an officer cadet with the Northamptonshire Regiment. He saw service in France, probably with the Dorsetshire Regiment before training as a pilot.

John Clayton was the pilot of the other plane involved in the accident. He was though under instruction and his instructor, "Courty" Robinson was in the other seat. John came from Horsehay in what is now Telford, Shropshire. In 1911 he was recorded as working as a jeweller's clerk. Three of John's sisters were school teachers. His father worked in the brewing trade, variously selling supplies and running inns. Like Evan, John joined the army at the start of the war and rose to become a Staff Sergeant in the Army Service Corps but by August 1917 he had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the December of that year. John's great niece still lives at Prospect House, Horsehay, the house that appears on the CWGC record of his death. The family's recollections of him are that he was a popular and very sporty person.

Download this file (E I Howell.pdf)E I Howell.pdf[ ]243 kB
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