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Service to remember tragic Shropshire pilot

Oswestry | News | Published:

The centenary next week of a tragedy which killed the first ever Shropshire aviator to die is being marked with a major commemoration in the Oxfordshire village where the aircraft plunged to the ground in 1912.

And organisers are trying to trace descendants of Second Lieutenant Edward Hotchkiss so they can be involved in the event held in his honour and also that of the second victim, Lieutenant Claude Bettington.

Civic dignitaries and representatives from many organisations will be involved in the commemoration which will culminate in wreath-layings at a memorial plaque near the spot.

Thousands turned out to watch the funeral cortege in Oxfordshire in 1912

There may also be a flypast by aircraft from RAF Brize Norton.

Hotchkiss, aged 28, of the Royal Flying Corps, was piloting a Bristol monoplane when, on September 10, 1912, it crashed close to a bridge in Godstow Road, Wolvercote. He was found in the wreckage and the body of Bettington was in a nearby stream.

Hotchkiss was a native of Craven Arms, but later lived in Oswestry where he was a brewer at Messrs Dorsett, Owen & Co.

The pair received full military honours, with the coffins borne on Royal Artillery gun carriages. Thousands lined the streets to watch the procession from Wolvercote church to Oxford railway station. Monday's commemorations have been organised by Mrs Ann Spokes Symonds, president of Wolvercote Local History Society.

She said: "After funerals at Wolvercote, the coffins went by rail to the pilots' home villages where they were buried."

Edward Hotchkiss was buried on the Saturday after the crash according to the Oxford Illustrated Journal 'in the secluded and picturesquely-situated churchyard of Stokesay, South Shropshire, within a mile of his father's home'. The burial was witnessed by large crowds.

Anyone with information about Hotchkiss' descendants can contact her on (01865) 515661 or at annsymonds@btinternet.com

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