British Airship People

A celebration of some remarkable people. Find out about airship designers, crews and workers here.

August 24th 1921. Lest We Forget.

The R38 airship (ZR2 when purchased by the US).

August 24th 2021 marks the centenary of the R38 airship crash on the River Humber claiming the lives of 28 British crew and officials and 16 US crew.

August 2021. New Page added “R38 Crash Aftermath.

The R38 crash had a devastating effect in many parts of the country. Hundreds of workers at the Royal Airship Works (RAW) in Cardington near Bedford where the airship was built were left mourning the loss of colleagues and crew. Any hopes of future employment were dashed as airship construction was terminated. Across the road at Shortstown which housed key workers, residents were about to lose their jobs and many left the area. Similarly, at Howden Airship Station East Yorkshire, the home of the US crew, the crash sealed the fate of the base which was closed shortly afterwards. In Hull residents were left reeling when the airship crashed in the River Humber and attempts were made by locals to rescue survivors. It would take another three years before both the RAW and Howden once again became the homes of airship construction when plans for the R101 and the R100 airships began. For more details go to the newly created “R38 Crash Aftermath” page.

The headstone of R38 victim Sgt Frank Smith.
R38 crash victim Sgt Frank Smith.

August 2021. Also added to the R38 UK Crew Graves page this month and sent in by Stuart Wilkinson is a photograph of the grave of Sgt Frank Smith (shown far left). A photograph (shown left) and article about Sgt Smith sent in by Halifax historian David Glover has been added to the R38 UK Crew page. - With grateful thanks to both Stuart Wilkinson and David Glover. - Jane.

August 2021. This month I would also like to say a huge thank you to Vicki Chesterman of the Berkshire Family History Society who has kindly put me in touch with the relatives of two of the R38 victims.- Thank you Vicki.

July 2021. New Page added “R38 UK Crew Graves.”

In all 28 British and 16 US men were killed when the R38 crashed on August 24th 1921. All are listed on the R38 memorial at the Western Cemetery in Hull. Only one of the US crew was buried in this country (in London.) The graves of the 28 British men are identified here. Of those killed 9 are buried beneath the memorial at Hull and 13 are buried in individual graves around the country and sadly 6 men were lost at sea but are amongst those recorded on the memorial plaques. Of the 13 individual graves 6 have Commonwealth War Grave Commission RAF headstones and five are buried in family plots. The remaining 2 graves have been located but at present no photographs are available to show here.

The R38/ZR2 memorial at the Western Cemetery, Hull. Nine of the British crew are buried here. More details found on the R38 UK Crew Graves page.
This extract, taken from the Grave Registers gives details of the six men lost at sea in the crash.More details found on the R38 UK Crew Graves page.
The grave of LAC George Stanley Anger.
The grave of Flying Officer Victor Houghton Wicks.

Other July 2021 additions.


Thanks to Christine Dalton two new photographs of Royal Airship Works staff have been added to the RAW page. One of these shown far left, is a great image of a RAW staff football team. Thank you so much Christine!


Two new additions to the Roll of Honour page. Grateful thanks to Lisa Evans who has sent in a photograph of AM Harold Frank Moore a victim of the C11a accident in July 1917. Lisa's grandmother had been engaged to Harold. Thank you Lisa this is such a welcome addition to the Roll of Honour.


Also added to the Roll of Honour is “Brainy” Dobbs who lost his life whilst partaking in the new sport of “Balloon Jumping”. LAC Ernest Arthur Dobbs was an exceptionally talented young man who was known for his involvement in early parachute testing and had trained many of the airship crews at Howden.

Added to the Royal Airship Works page, a very rare photograph of a RAW staff football team dated 2nd Oct 1920.
New photograph added to the Roll of Honour. Air Mechanic 1. Harold Frank Moore lost his life when the C11a came down in the River Humber on 21st July 1917.
LAC "Brainy" Dobbs has been added to the Roll of Honour page.

URGENT APPEAL! This year is the 100th anniversary of the R38 airship crash on 24th August 1921 in which 28 UK and 16 US men were killed. If you have any information about the R38 or are a relative of anyone connected to the ship please make contact.

I have photos of all the US men but am missing 13 of the UK crew listed below. Please take a look and see if you can help. More information about these men can be found on the R38 UK and US crew pages. Also needed photographs of two graves to complete the R38 UK Crew Grave page. Thank you. - Jane Harvey.

The R38/ZR2 airship. I am still missing photographs of some of the UK men killed in the crash. Can you help?

Here are the names of the R38 UK crew members without photographs.


George Stanley Anger

Frederick Ernest Burton

Charles Watt Donald

John Rye

John Cecil Drew

C W Duffield

Harold Thompson

William Hunter Greener

Frank Warren

S J Heath

John William Wilson

Alfred Thomas Martin

John W A Mason

Here are the locations of the two graves of the crew we don't have photographs of. Do you live nearby? Can you help?


Flt Sgt John Mason. Buried at St Mary's Churchyard, Tenby, Pembrokeshire. Plot D 12.


Flight Sgt Harold Thompson. Buried at St Marys Churchyard, Astbury, Cheshire. Plot New B11.

FEBRUARY 2021.


A NEW PROJECT UNDERWAY!


British Airship Crew Roll of Honour. Please visit this new page commemorating those men who have lost their lives whilst serving on airships. 148 men have been identified so far - if you have any information or photographs of those listed or information of any person not included please make contact so they can be honoured here. This page can be found in the Biogs and References section.


Also new - details and photos of Cpl John Henry Gray an engineer on the R34 trans-atlantic flight to New York in 1919. Thanks to Kenneth Gray, his grandson who has sent in this information. Find out more in the R33, R34 section.


Panel at Hollybrook Memorial listing the four crew of the C25 who lost their lives at sea believed to have been shot down.
Press report of an explosion at Wormwood Scrubs with the loss of two lives.
Ft Lt Edward Bourchier Devereux. Pilot. Lost at sea. Commemorated Chatham Naval Memorial. Aged 22. (Photo IWM Life Stories).
Air Commodore Edward Maitland. Fervent believer in parachutes.
Charles Ivor Rae Campbell. Superintendent of the Royal Airship Works.
Officers of the R34 on arrival at Mineola, New York, 7 July 1919
Flight Lieutenant Archibald Wann. R38 survivor.
Engineer Granville Watts making repairs mid flight.
Ralph Sleigh Booth. R100 Commander.
Major George Herbert Scott. Highly experienced airship officer.
R101 Cox George William Hunt.
All six survivors of the R101 crash.
RAW worker Daisy Exley.
Harold Butler Wyn Evans Chief Admiralty Overseer. Find more details in the Notable People section.
Chatham Naval Memorial - see the Roll of Honour page listing those men killed whilst serving on airships.