Algernon Sydney Smith


Accidentally killed whilst flying 20 March 1919 aged 20. On Mail flight, on return from Cologne, tried to make a forced landing due to snowstorm, aircraft stalled and crashed, killing the pilot. The observer, Lieut R M Dixon was ok

Further information see The Aerodrome Guestbook

Transcript of newspaper cutting.



Flight Through a Great Snowstorm

News has been received of the death of Lieutenant A. Sydney Smith, Royal Air Force, who resided with his mother at 5, Tapton Bank Sheffield. Lieutenant Smith joined the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet in August, 1917, and was commissioned in November the same year. He went through a pilot’s training and was sent out to France to the 57th Squadron. He was 20 years of age, and was formerly a clerk at Messrs. Jessop and Sons’ Steel Works, Sheffield.

Mrs Smith, to whom will be extended the deepest sympathy in her sad loss, has received a letter from Lieutenant R M Dixon, an observer, who was flying with Lieutenant Smith at the time of the accident. The letter, dated March the 20th, and apparently written on the day of the accident, states:- “We started off from Cologne at 10.15 a.m. in brilliant sunshine to return to our aerodrome at Morville after having delivered mails to Cologne the previous day. The machine was a De Havilland 4, and we flew at about 5,000ft. All went well as far as Verviers, when we encountered a snowstorm at 11.00 am. , but had no difficulty in following our course. I had previously flown with Lieutenant Smith to Cologne, and had found him a most capable and efficient pilot in bad weather. As we went on the snowstorm became worse, and we had to descend to 2,000ft. , but could not see ahead or the ground below. At any moment we might have run into the high cliffs on either side of the Meuse. We decided to land, and came down to 200ft. to look for a suitable landing ground. In trying to avoid colliding with the cliffs, he had to turn sharply, and the machine ‘stalled’ and nose-dived into the ground from about l50ft. at a great speed. The machine broke in two, and I was thrown clear, but Sydney was badly injured. I carried him to a shed nearby. A local doctor, who had witnessed the crash, arrived about ten minutes later, and after examination said he was dying, his neck being broken. He died fifteen minutes after the crash, and never regained consciousness. He was buried at the hospital cemetery at Houyet in the Forest of Ardennes Belgium, with full military honours.”


Sydney as a cadet in 1917

Commisioned in 1917

Sydney 1st left


57 Squadron Armistice 1918

Morville Airfield, Belgium.


Names reading from left to right are :-

Front Row :-
Sgt Major White; Lt Tyler; Lt Fulton; Capt Drudge; Capt J/T?anqueray; Capt McGregor (C.O.); Capt Mc Afee; Lt Craig; Lt Woodhouse; Lt Mc Lellan; Lt A. Sydney Smith.

Second Row :-
Lt Hart; Lt Bray; Lt Graff; Lt Parker; Lt Watts; Lt White; Lt Pendle; Lt Nixon; Lt Anderson.

Back Row :-
Lt Cawston; Lt Brown; Lt R.M. Dixon; Lt Thomas; Lt Large; Lt Mc Cullagh; Lt Blanchfield; Lt Maloney; Lt Savoie?; Lt Allen.

Casualty Card

Houyet Churchyard

Thank you to Patricia Smith of Scunthorpe for the images on this page. Algernon was her uncle.



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