Amongst the 9 training fatalities at RAF Shotwick during the last year of WW1 there were 2 young Canadian men. This is their story.
Lieutenant Harry Nelson Hastie
RAF 9th Squadron – died 12th June 1918 aged 24
Lieutenant Harry Hastie was a pilot under instruction meaning he could fly solo. He was born on June 1st 1894, the son of David and Jennie Hastie of Lang, Peterborough County, Ontario, Canada.
He joined the RAF on 1st April 1918 so hadn’t been flying long. He was killed at 1.50pm on Wednesday 12th June 1918 flying a Sopwith Pup ( C278 ). He appears to have misjudged his height and simply crashed into the ground. He was wounded in the accident and later died of his injuries.
He had a younger sister who lived to the great age of 90. She died in 1989 and is buried in Upper Keene Cemetary, Ontario. She would have been only 17 at the time of Harry’s death.
Lieutenant Harry Nelson Hastie. Thank you to the Veterans Affairs Canada for the photographs.
Second Lieutenant Horace Edgar Kingsmill Bray
RAF 67th Training Squadron – died 9 July 1918 – aged 22
H.E Bray is better known as one of the First World War poets but sadly, as with most of them, wasn’t recognised as such until after his death.
He was born in Ontario, Canada on 27th March 1896. His father was the Rev Horace E Bray, rector of Thamesford, Ontario. His mother, Alice Muade Bray, died in 1899 when Horace was just 3 years old.
He enlisted with the 2nd Canadian Divisional Cavalry on 20th January 1915, regimental number 112018. He served with the Canadian Light Horse until being wounded in the battle of the Somme in 1916.
As with a lot of cavalry soldiers he volunteered to re-train as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and in December 1917 received his commission.
On the 9th July 1918 at 6pm he was involved in a mid air collision while on an instructional solo flight. The other plane involved is not know however it is highly likely it was an instructor. Radio had not yet been introduced so it was common for instructors and trainee pilots to fly in close formation and for instructions to be shouted across. He was flying a Sopwith Pup, serial number B5399 and close to completing his training.