No. 624: Old Brompton Road, SW5
Brompton Cemetery, Old Brompton Road, London, SW5. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
The photograph above shows the grave of Reginald Alexander John Warneford a Royal Naval Air Service officer who received the Victoria Cross. The grave stone depicts his actions on 7th June 1915 at Ghent, Belgium, when, flying a Morane-Saulnier Type L, he attacked a German airship. Having chased the airship from the coast near Ostend whilst under fire from its defensive machine-gun, he eventually managed to drop his bombs on it, the last of which set the airship on fire causing it to crash.The subsequent explosion overturned Warneford’s aircraft and stopped its engine. Warneford was forced to land behind enemy lines, where he spent half an hour undertaking repairs after which he managed to restart the engine and return to base.
Ten days later while he was delivering a plane the righthand wings collapsed causing the aircraft to break up. Warneford and his passenger, the American journalist Henry Beach Newman, were both flung from the plane, Newman dying instantly and Warneford on his way to hospital. R.D.