M.794  First Officer  Henry Edward Spain
   b. 18 Feb 1923, Sandwich, Kent  2 Sep 1942 to 28 Oct 1945 (dec'd)

 ata george spain

 ata george spain 2 ATA    

 

 

Father: George, a leather merchant; mother Ethel May [Johnson]

Ed. Manwoods, Sandwich

prev. road transport driver; LAC 125667 in RAF 1940-41 (discharged on medical grounds)

Address in 1942: 23 Tredworth Rd, Gloucester


Postings: 9FPP, 6FPP, 1FPP, 14FPP, 4FPP

Reprimanded 26 Jul 1944 for Loss of Ferry Pilots Notes;

Demoted to Third Officer for 3 months from 21 Oct 1944 for "a flagrant breach of flying discipline". A witness said "At about 14:50, I heard an aircraft diving low over the airport buildings, and on looking out of my office saw a Mosquito do a roll at low altitude over Ringway Airfield. The starboard engine was feathered."

His C.O. at 14FPP, Bobby Wardle, said "There is no room at Ringway for irresponsible pilots of this type and I consider the ATA is better without them. I therefore request that F/O Spain is removed from this Pool forthwith."

4 accidents, none his fault:

- 14 Apr 1943, when he landed his Hurricane IIc and then discovered that the tailplane and rudder had been damaged by loose stones thrown up by his port wheel;

- 29 Dec 1943, a brake defect caused him to taxy his Albacore into the nose of a parked Whitley;

- 1 Aug 1944, another brake defect, this time in a Hudson, led to a broken-off tailwheel, and

- 9 Dec 1944, Commended for a forced landing in a field after engine failure in a Proctor.

 "As a pilot he has worked hard and well but he is apt to let his boisterous youth take the upper hand."

He died 28 October 1945 (aged 22) as the result of an accident during the 'winding up' dinner and dance in the Officers' Mess at Ratcliffe Aerodrome. 

Johnny Jordan (q.v.) said he attended the party with a woman friend, and got there at 9:45 pm. He met Spain during the evening. They were close friends at Ratcliffe. They had a few glasses of beer together; beer was the only drink. At about midnight some of the officers dared the girl who had accompanied him to throw her glass through the bar window, and she did so. The Adjutant (Capt. Rome) then appeared, and Jordan and Spain (who were 'merry') tried to get him to get a cigar from his office. He resisted, and raised his arm, and the glass struck Spain in the eye and broke. From what he could see there was nothing deliberate about it.

Henry was taken to Leicester Infirmary but failed to recover from the anesthetic after an operation.

Returning a verdict of Accidental Death, the coroner remarked that "of all people the Air Force [sic] were entitled to enjoy themselves. It was however a great pity that this farewell party was marred by what was really nothing more than a bit of horseplay, and that only by a few." 

 

 


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