Gerald Vyvian Williamson (1903-1940)

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Biography

Gerald Vyvian Williamson was born on 13 August 1903 in Leeds, the son of Richard Thompson Williamson.

By the early 1930s he was a member of the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club.

In May 1932 he married Eileen Heap, daughter of Edgar Heap of Glen Rosa, Ilkley. He flew them both from Yeadon to London after the reception, after which they travelled on their honeymoon to Madeira by boat.[1]

During the Second World War, he served with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and took part in a flight ferrying planes from the north of England on 25 January 1940 but did not arrive at the destination. A month later, the crash site was located near Hayden Head, close to the border between Yorkshire and Cheshire.

He was buried in Greenhill Methodist Chapelyard, Leeds.

Articles

Yorkshire Post (27/Feb/1940):

FOUND DEAD IN ‘PLANE

Yorkshire Pilot on Moor

Sub-Lieut. Gerald Vyvian Williamson, a well-known Yorkshire pilot and business man, who joined the Fleet Air Arm last September, has been killed on service.

About a month after his wife heard he was missing, his ‘plane was found on the Hayden Moss, the highest point in Cheshire. It was badly damaged. Mr. Williamson, who was still strapped in the cockpit, was dead.

Mr Williamson, who was 36, lived at Fairhaven, Clarence Drive, Menston. He was managing director of R. T. Williamson and Co., Ltd., clothing manufacturers, Tong Road Mills, Leeds.

Clearing snow on the Holme Moss Road above Woodhead, John Davies, a Cheshire County Council road man, of Crowden, saw an unfamiliar object two miles away on the skyline of the Hayden Moss. He trudged over the moors to it, and found it was the wreckage of an aeroplane, with the pilot in full flying kit, strapped in his cockpit, dead.

Davies tramped five miles down into Woodhead to telephone to the police.

At the inquest at Mottram yesterday the pilot was identified as Sub.-Lieut. Williamson, of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. It was stated that Williamson had had ten years’ flying experience, joined the Civil Air Guard when it was formed, and the Fleet Air Arm in September.

A lieutenant of the Royal Navy said Williamson was a member of a flight which was flying from North to South on January 25 and did not reach his destination.

The County Pathologist, Dr. Grace, who conducted the post-mortem, said ice had formed in the man’s heart and other organs. Death was due to a fracture of the base of the skull, and he told the Coroner that it would be practically instantaneous.

The Coroner recorded a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, and paid a high compliment to the police and Davies for their work.

Huddersfield Examiner (02/Mar/1940):

WRECKED PLANE ON HOLME MOSS

Pilot Found Dead in Cockpit

The pilot of an aeroplane which had been missing for a month, which was found last week wrecked on the Cheshire side of Holme Moss, was identified at the inquest on Monday as Sub-Lieutenant Gerald Vyvian Williamson, a well-known Yorkshire pilot and business man, who joined the Fleet Air Arm last September.

The discovery of the plane was made by a Cheshire County Council roadman, John Davies, of Crowden. He was clearing the snow on the Holme Moss Road, which runs over the top of the Moss from Woodhead to Holme, when he observed an unfamiliar object about two miles away on the skyline.

The man trudged over the moors to it, and found it was the wreckage of an aeroplane, with the pilot in full flying kit, strapped in his cockpit, dead. The wreckage was near the top of Heyden Brook, on the Cheshire side of Soldier’s Lump, which, at an altitude of 1,908 feet, is the highest point of Holme Moss.

Davies tramped down the moors to Woodhead, five miles away, and telephoned to the police.

REPORTED MISSING IN JANUARY

It was stated at the inquest at Mottram that Sub-Lieut Williamson was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He had ten years’ flying experience and joined the Civil Air Guard when it was formed.

Mr. Williamson, who was thirty-six, lived at Fairhaven, Clarence Drive, Menston. He was managing director of Messrs. R. T. Williamson and Co., Ltd., clothing manufacturers, Tong Road Mills, Leeds.

It was about a month ago that his wife heard he was missing. At the inquest, evidence was given by a lieutenant of the Royal Navy that Sub-Lieutenant Williamson was a member of a flight which was flying from North to South on January 25. He did not reach his destination.

Dr. Grace, County Pathologist, who made a post-mortem examination, said that ice had formed in the man’s heart and other organs. Death was due to a fracture of the base of the skull and would be practically instantaneous.

The Coroner recorded a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence. He warmly complimented Davies and the police for their action in the matter.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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Notes and References

  1. "Yorkshire Weddings: Honeymoon Begins in Aeroplane" in Leeds Mercury (26/May/1932).