Seaplane Accidents

In January 1917, the Germans declared unrestricted submarine warfare, effective from 1st February.  It was important that the Transports were protected from submarine attack, so for two years from May 1917, a Seaplane Station operated from Newhaven.  The Station, initially under the control of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), was situated half a mile along the beach, east of the town.

Launching and landing could be dangerous, and in seaplanes loaded with bombs, accidents could prove fatal. Lt. Ackery had a lucky escape when he flipped his plane, head over heels, or ‘Ack over Tock’ and deposited his observer, Martin Press, into the sea.  Ackery himself was trapped in the cockpit, but managed to escape.  The next day, on 21st June 1918, Lt. J F R Kitchin and 2nd Lt. G. Cole were not so lucky when their seaplane crashed into the harbour wall.  Both men were killed and are buried next to each other in Newhaven cemetery.  On 16th July, 1918, another pilot, Lt. J E Greenwell, was killed when he crashed into the sluices at Tide Mills. This photograph of the accident is from Peter Bailey’s collection.

By Jenny Flood

Photograph: Peter Bailey Collection

 Further Reading
Tales of an Indifferent Naval Pilot by Wing Commander Ackery in ‘Aeroplane Monthly’ November 1981- February 1982
A Short History of a Local Seaplane Station by Peter Fellows

Copies of both of these can be found in Newhaven Museum folder 33.1.1.