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.

The R32 Airship


This picture shows the R32, another wooden airship built by Shorts at Cardington. This ship was commissioned in 1919 and had a far more successful career than her sister the R31. From the memoirs of George Meager the First Officer on the R100 airship we learn that once the R32 was completed it was flown to Pulham which at the time was home to skilled airship men and trainees. The ship was flown from Cardington on September 16th 1919 with Major Elmsley * in charge. George Meager reports that a week later he was on board as navigator when the R32 flew across to Amsterdam - he recalls another crew member named Scroggs** on this flight. George Meager also recalls two more flights on this airship a month later naming Major I C Little*** as the captain and Scroggs as First Officer.

* Major Elmsley - does anyone have anymore information about this man who would have been known to the Cardington team. ** I believe this man to be Henry Sidney Scroggs - can anybody comment? *** Major I C Little - again can anyone supply any details about this man?


These details have been gleaned from local and national newspapers and various publications and as can be seen are by no means full listings. If anyone can supply any details whatsoever of any of the people who worked on the R32 or who later flew in her - please make contact. Many thanks.


Rigger George Martin Rampton had lived in Shortstown in 1929 and 1930 and was a highly experienced member of the crew having joined the Royal Flying Corp in 1915 and served in the First World War. He worked on both the R31 and R32.

R34 Robert Burgess 10 The Crescent 1931-2

Corporal Robert J Burgess

R34 Gent

Flight Sgt William Rose Gent

In newspaper reports of the crew of the R34 Corporal R J Burgess is listed as having served on both the R31 and R32 airships. He is registered as a resident of Shortstown in 1930 and 1931.

Again according to newspaper reports Flight Sgt W. R. Gent is listed as a crew member of the R32. He was also an engineer on the R34. He joined the airship service back in 1915 and by 1919 had extensive experience of working on airships and was the holder of an Air Force Medal. In 1925 he was part of the R33 crew when it broke away from its moorings. William Gent lived in Shortstown from at least 1925 until 1930 when he lost his life in the R101 crash.

Dickerson in uniform

US crewman Thomas Dickerson who was also attached to the ill fated R38 but not on board the fatal flight. Below is an extract from his log book listing his flights on the R32 and R80.

Granville first

Shown above is Granville Watts who is also listed as serving on the R32. For more information about this highly experienced airship man go to the R100 Photo Gallery in the Airship section of this website. Granville Watts lived in Shortstown from 1927-1930.

George Meager1

In his book "My Airship Flights 1915 - 1930" Captain George Meager AFC includes his recollections of flights on the R32 ship and others which are a real treat for airship fans.

Wann R38 Commander

Archibald Herbert Wann commander of the R32

Commander Maxfield

Louis Maxfield - US airship Captain of the R32

Archibald Wann had a wide experience of airships having served on the R29, R32, R36 and was a survivor of the R38 crash. He subsequently flew on the R100 flight to Montreal and was also part of the enquiry team of the R101 crash. He went on to become an Air Commodore and died in 1948.

Listed on Thomas Dickerson's log book (above) against the R32 is US Captain Maxfield who was later to become the US Commander of the R38 and lost his life in the R38 crash in 1921.

Other known crew and officers of the R32 are listed below.

Mann - later served on the R100 as Chargehand Engineer.

George Ryder Scott - again later to serve on the R100 and based in Shortstown in 1930

Short Bros Bedford  R32 advert 20.08.1919 The Aero

This advert (left for Short Brothers Rochester & Bedford Ltd appeared in The Aeroplane dated Aug 20 1919. It is very rare to see any documented references to the R32 so this was a a pleasant find.

If you have any information about the R31 or R32 please get in touch.

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