Curtiss JN3

Curtiss JN-3 (A5496) Crash at RFC East Boldre, March 1917

I was recently emailed these photos of brass pulley rings by the New Forest Heritage Centre, asking if I could shed any light on them.

pulleys from Curtiss jn3

The rings were found in their archives, along with a note as follows:

“Brass pulleys found by Gilbert Crouch in 1917 at Beaulieu Airfield, after a Curtiss crashed. Pulleys for wires that operated the air vanes.” 

Given the date of 1917, this means they were found on East Boldre airfield, rather than RAF Beaulieu. In 1917, RFC East Boldre was a flight training school, where pilots prepared for battle on the Western Front.

After some research, I found that there had been one accident at East Boldre involving a Curtiss aircraft in 1917. It happened on March 12, 1917, when a Curtiss JN-3 (A5496) of 16 (Reserve) Squadron was written off and destroyed after crashing at RFC Beaulieu. The aircraft failed to recover from a steep bank and spinning nose dive from a height of 800 feet.

Of the two crew, 2nd Lt Ernest Hinchcliffe Wadsworth, aged 23, on attachment from the 4th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) was killed. The pilot, 2nd Lt John Ralph Taylor was injured.


So, who was Ernest Hinchcliffe Wadsworth?

Ernest Hinchcliffe Wadsworth was born in January 1894 and was a pupil at the Carlton Street Commercial School in Bradford, Yorkshire. After leaving school he worked for Bradford Dyers for a year, and then in March 1912 he was working for Bradford District Bank at its head office. In October 1912 he moved to another bank, Beckett & Co of Leeds. Once war broke out, Wadsworth joined the army and was commissioned in December 1915. 

On documents held by the RAF Museum, his family’s home address was recorded as being 19 Blayton Road, Pitsmoor, Sheffield. 

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any photos of Ernest Hinchcliffe Wadsworth. If you can help, please do contact me. You can also see a longer list of Hampshire aircraft incidents.

Please note: the Curtiss JN-3 in the header of this article is for illustrative purposes only, and is not the aircraft A5496 involved in the East Boldre accident.

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