Sumbitted by John Young.
My great uncle David Stevens Gibson Turnbull, the elder brother of my grandmother, was born in Edinburgh on 7th September 1890. Educated at The Edinburgh Academy and Uppingham School he went on to Edinburgh University. There he learned to fly, although he did not qualify as a pilot at that stage.
He married early in 1914 and emigrated to Australia where he planned to start life in Harvey, West Australia, as a fruit farmer. However, following the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914, he returned to Scotland to fight for his country.
Initially he joined the Black Watch as the family had strong connections with my home town of Auchterarder in Perthshire. He was posted to 3/6th Battalion one of the sister battalions to that in which his brother-in-law (Major TE Young) was already serving. However, he had the flying bug and on 25th March 1916 he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He initially trained as an Observer but after a short period with No3 squadron RFC in France he returned to train as a pilot. He gained his pilot’s licence at Shoreham on 5th June 1916.
He joined No 10 Squadron RFC, equipped with BE 2c aircraft, on 8th July 1916 and a few days later made his first operational sortie. He flew on operations for the next 7 months; engaged in artillery spotting, light bombing and aerial photography. Having survived this operational tour he was posted back to England for duty as a ferry pilot with the Air Ministry Directorate of Aircraft Equipment.
On 11th April 1917 he was detailed to deliver a brand new BE 12a from the factory at Coventry to a training unit at Ripon racecourse. Unfortunately he was blown off course and ended up near Preston where he had to make a forced landing after a stay wire broke. After 3 days he took off for Ripon but for some reason landed at Knaresborough. After checking his bearings he took off from the short field on Crag Tops but failed to clear the hedge at the end of the field. The aircraft struck trees and plunged in to the River Nidd, killing Lieutenant Turnbull instantly. His widow found his body in the river ten days later and he was buried in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. A plaque in his memory is near the door in the parish church at Knaresborough.
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Midshipman Herbert Lawson Riley Ann Luxmoore came to one of our drop-in sessions at The Station to tell us about her Uncle, Herbert Lawson Riley. At the age of 15 years and 7 months, Herbert is not only probably the youngest serviceman from Richmond to die during the First World War, but he was also the first. Herbert was the grandson of Sir John Lawson of Brough Hall. He initially attended the Royal Naval College at Osborne on the Isle of Wight before becoming a Cadet at Dartmouth Naval College. On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Herbert was appointed to the patrol cruiser HMS Aboukir, becoming a Midshipman shortly afterwards. HMS Aboukir, along with sister-ships HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy were sent to the Hook of Holland to patrol the North Sea coast. At 6.25am on 22nd September 1914 the Aboukir was hit by a German torpedo – while the cruiser was listing badly Herbert jumped into the sea and managed to make it to one of the lifeboats. Finding apparent safety on board the Cressy, Herbert and his surviving shipmates began to recover in the ship’s sickroom. Disaster struck a second time. HMS Cressy was hit twice by the same German submarine that had sunk the Aboukir. Herbert Lawson Riley was last seen clinging on to wooden wreckage along side one of his closest friends. All three patrolling cruisers were sunk with the loss of more than 1400 lives.
Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.
Researched by Will Young. Second Lieutenant Oakley Alsop Browning is burried in the cemetery in Catterick Village. He enlisted on 6th October 1915 as 9587 Private Browning, as a member of 12th Field Ambulance, Australian Imperial Force (Browning came from North Carlton, Victoria, Australia and was the son of Major Demby de Courcey Browning, Commanding Officer of Base Command, Keswick Barracks, Adelaide). He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Flying Corps on 17th March 1917. On 11th August 1917, while flying an Avro 504 at Catterick aerodrome he was in a collision with a BE12 flown by Lieutenant Errington Edward Castle. Browning died on the same day while Castle (who is also burried in Catterick) died of his injuries on 12th August.