A CAMPAIGN has been launched in the Oxford area to establish a memorial to a World War One aerodrome and the 14 young airman — one of them from Helensburgh — who died there during the conflict.
Team member and researcher Peter Smith chaired the inaugural meeting of the Port Meadow & Wolvercote Common WW1 Aerodrome Memorial Project on January 21 2015.
Flying took place on Port Meadow from 1911, but the Royal Flying Corps aerodrome was formally established on the Meadow, near Wolvercote, in late 1916. It had a flying training role to help meet the huge demand for new pilots.
Sadly, between March 1917 and November 1918, five aeroplanes fatally crashed in Wolvercote or on the Meadow itself, three more within sight of the Meadow at Wytham and Cumnor, and two collided over Elsfield and Marston.
Altogether ten machines crashed with the loss of 14 lives, and eight of the airmen are buried in Wolvercote Cemetery. One of those eight was 20 year-old Captain George Edwin Thomson, DSO, MC, of Glenfuccan, Helensburgh.
Peter said: “The project objectives are to raise local awareness of the aerodrome, appropriately during this national WW1 centenary commemoration period, and most importantly, to recognise by way of a new and permanent local memorial the ultimate sacrifice made by the 14 young airmen — trainees and experienced pilots alike.
“The project is aiming to deliver a suitable memorial by November 2018.
“The committee members will consider some design options, where the memorial could be sited, and seek the views of relevant bodies on what would be permitted.
“Consideration will be given to whether a separate information panel is desirable to provide information on the airfield and its history. A budget cost will be determined and fundraising pursued.”
- The full story of Captain Thomson's career and accident can be read here.