Historical places, airship, Bedfordshire local history, airships, national heritage sites, historic preservation, attractions in the UK, heritage sites in the UK, historical monuments, historical landmarks, tourist attractions in the UK, places in UK to visit, tourist in England, historical tourism, R101 and R100 airships.

Shortstown Heritage

17. Norman Walker (rank not known) ) was the only US survivior.

US Crewman Thomas Dayton Dickerson

Dickerson in uniform

Following the end of WW1 the Airship programme in the UK was immediately cut back due to economic restraints. It must also be remembered that initially the early airships were built for warfare.

However the United States were still keen to build better airships and agreed to purchase the R38 from the government. In preparation of this a team of US officers was sent to the UK to take up training. Thomas Dickerson was one of the men who came to the UK

I have had the great pleasure of receiving an e-mail from Thom Dickerson who is the son of Thomas Dickerson the US R38 crew member shown here on the left. Thom is a professional photographer himself and luckily for us also has a keen interest in airships and has been restoring some of the photographs taken by his father during his career. Thom has some fabulous images and details about his father's life. This is a real privlege for us as details of the R38 crew are very hard to find.

Thomas Dickerson wearing a parachute.

Luckily as it transpired for Thomas a last minute change was made to the R38 crew on a training flight over the River Humber and he was not on board when it crashed. However many of his colleagues were to lose their lives including Lieut Commander Maxfield who appears on the log book above as Captain on the training flights.

After the R38 tragedy Thomas returned to the US where he worked on The Shenandoah, a US airship as an Engineering Chief. Again fortune favoured him as he was not on the last flight of this ship when it crashed in 1924. From this date on he continued his career in aviation and died aged 66 in 1962.Thom has more details and fantastic photos of his father on the link below:

http://web.me.com/tosunsea/www.laughingduckdp.com/LD Gallery/Pages/Airship Show 09/.html

Our thanks must go to Thom for allowing these images to be shown.

US ZR2 Crewmembers

The two photographs below are shown with the kind permission of the US Naval Historical Center. They are images of some of the US crew en route to the UK on board the Princcess Matoika a passenger liner. The crew were to receive airship training at Howden and Cardington and then bring the ship home. Some of these men were killed in the airship crash.


Above standing left to right: W.G. Steele, F.L. Stevens, W.A. Russell and R.N. Coons* Kneeling left to right: S.H. Knight, F.M. Gorey and A.C. Carlson. Chief Machinist's Mates W.J. Steele and R.M. Coons were among those killed in the airship crash. *The original photograph caption names this man as R. N. Coons, the US Naval Center later identifies him as R M Coons.


Standing left to right: N. Julnis,* A.B. Galation, and H. Christensen. Kneeling left to right: J.W. Cullinan, M. Lay, and I.L.Thomas. Chief Boatswain's Mate M. Lay and Chief Machinist's Mate W.A. Julius were among those who were killed in the crash.*The original photograph caption names this man as N. Julnis, the US Naval Center later identifies him as W A Julius.

Full Crew Photographs

Officers lost in the crash

R38 Lt Com V N Bieg
R38 Commander Louis H Maxfield
R38 Lieutenant Com Emory W Coil

Lieut Comdr E W Coil USN
Buried at sea Sept 20 1921

Comdr L A H Maxfield USN
Born Nov 19 1883

Lieut Comdr W N Bieg USN
Born Oct 24 1989

R38 Lt Henry Willets Hoyt

Lieut H W Hoyt USN
Born 26 May 1890. Served in WW1 and awarded the Navy Cross

R38 Lieutenant Marcus H Esterly

Lieut M H Esterly
Born June 30 1891. Enlisted in 1912

Charles Ivan Aller 2
R38 Lloyd Erwin Crowl
R38 Robert M Coons

C.M.M. Robert Coons Born 30 Dec 1895

C.M.M. C J Aller

C.M.M. L E Crowl
Born 17 July 1892

R38 J T Hancock 2

C.M.M. J T Hancock

R38 William Julius
R38 Maurice Lay 2

C.B.N. M Lay Born 1890 Transferred to England in 1920

C.M.M. W A Julius

R38 Albert L Loftin 2

C.M.M. A L Loftin

R38 A Pettitt 2
R38 W J Steele

C.M.M. W J Steele

C.B.N A D Pettit

R38 George Welch

C.M.M. G Welch

Pathey News Norman Walker R38 US

Shown right is Norman Walker, rank unknown who was the sole US survivor of the R38 crash.

Norman Walker

The Reverand George D Whitehead and the R38 - does anyone know anything about this man?

These photos sent in from Peter Raisbeck refer to his grandmother’s brother George Whitehead and his connection to the R38. In Peter’s words:

“I have found a cigarette case amongst stored trophies with the inscription “to George D Whitehead from the crew of the ZR2.” The Rev George D Whitehead was my grandmother’s brother, who emigrated to the USA in the late 1800.s from Swaledale in Yorkshire. He was a Baptist Minister in New England USA, but at the inclusion of the USA into the First World War he was seconded back to Britain as controller of the America YMCA. He was then a Baptist Minister in Luton, and it seems he was also pastor to the American crew of the R38 in Cardington prior to the ship breaking up over the Humber.”

If anyone can tell us anything else about George Whitehead please get in touch as it would be interesting to find out more about his connection to the R38. Thanks. Jane.

And thanks to Peter Raisbeck for sending in such intriguing information.

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