The Shotwick 9 – The American pilots

Three of the airmen buried in Shotwick were from the USA, New York, Hyde Park & Arlington Heights to be specific. These are their stories.

Lieutenant Leornard Sowersby Morange

RAF 55th Training Dept Station – died 11 August 1918 – age 22

Son of Edward A and Julia Sowersby Morange of Bronxville, New York, USA. Born in 1896. He was the first Bronxville resident to be killed in WW1.

Morange was remembered by his family as a young man curious about airplanes and a talented musician. He was an expert piano player who could hear a song once and replay it. He was inspired by legendary composer Jerome Kern, a fellow Bronxville resident and a longtime friend of his father, Edward A. Morange, who was a well-known set designer. It is said that Kern wrote “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in the Morange home and had hoped Leonard Morange would return from the war and possibly join him in musical ventures.

After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Morange went on to Yale University to study English literature. In 1917, he enlisted in the American Expeditionary Forces.

Impatient to learn to fly and to see action, Morange transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in Canada and quickly rose to lieutenant in the Royal Air Force within the 55th Training Squadron. His brother Irving, two years his elder, who also enlisted, was sent to France to fly reconnaissance missions behind the German lines. Morange was such a capable pilot that he was named a flight instructor. He never saw battle, but taught many pilots to fly. While flying a training mission at 11.50am on the morning of Sunday 11th August 1918, Flight Cadet Robert Oughtibridge from Leeds, crashed his Avro plane into his, killing them both. Oughtibridge is buried in Leeds.

Although it has been over 100 years since Leonard Morange’s death, his extended family still participates in the village’s Memorial Day ceremonies.

In 1938 a small park near the train station at Parkway Road was named Leonard Morange Square. It commemorates all the fallen, with monuments added over the years for those who died in World War II, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.

Lieutenant Leonard Morange

Thanks to the web site Iohud for the background story and portrait.

Second Lieutenant Frank Albert Samuelson

RAF 51st Training Depot Station – died 29 Oct 1918 – age 22

Born in 1896 in Arlington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA. Son of Frank August Samuelson and Elise Samuelson of 36 Tanager St, Arlington Heights.

Not much ios known about Frank and even his death is a mystery. The crash record cites “no apparent reason why he crashed”. It is assumed he simply made an error of judgement while flying the notoriously difficult Sopwith Camel ( E9982) on Tuedsay 29th October 1918.

Second Lieutenant John Jewett Miller

RAF 95th Squadron – died 25th April 1918 – age 25

Born on 24th October 1892 in Claremont, Sullivan County, New Hampshire to Fred J and Carrie M Miller. His father died in 1903 when John was 10 or 11.

Not much is know about John Miller other than his accident at 12.12pm on April 25th 1918. He was killed flying an Avro 504 when the engine stalled and the aircraft spun into the ground. The official accident reports states that he “spun into the ground while turning without sufficient flying speed”. He was a pilot under instruction at the time undertaking his first 25 hours of training.

4 thoughts on “The Shotwick 9 – The American pilots

    1. Thanks Brandi. It does make you wonder doesn’t it. Sadly over half the pilots killed in WW1 died in training. Because flight was just over 10 years old thy didn’t have enough instructors so a lot of these young lads were literally told to “have a go” in aircraft that are difficult to fly by todays highly skilled aviators. Nice to remember them.

      Liked by 1 person

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