Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Brook -
- Short Solent air disaster 1957 -


At the site of the crash on Chessel Down, and at St Mary's Church, Brook, Isle of Wight

Tree and Plaque marking the crash of Aquila Airways Short Solent flying boat G-AKNU at Chessell Down, near Brook in November 1957.

The plaque was unveiled on 12 October 2008 in commemoration of the 45 people who died in the crash. Thirteen people survived.

There is also a plaque in St Mary's Church, Brook. The plaque, in a magnesium alloy similar to that used in the construction of the flying boat, was designed by Dick Davis, and was manufactured by Oldland PLC of Bristol.

Brook : Short Solent air disaster
Photo © Isle of Wight County Press
Mount Joy : Jephson gravestone : Short Solent air disaster
The grave stone of Richard and Helen Jephson
Carisbrooke (Mount Joy) Cemetery
Photo © Geoff Allan

The grave stone of Brian and Thelma Irving at Birks Fold Jewish Cemetery
(click to enlarge)
Photo © Nigel Grizzard

Mrs Irving

Mrs Thelma Irving
[from the Sunday Review (Dublin)
Sunday 17th November 1957]

Harold and Marcelle Bevan, photographed as part of a Ministry of Information series taken by Jack Smith entitled "War bride : Everyday life in wartime London, March 1943". The photo is captioned "A head and shoulders portrait of newly-engaged couple Miss Marcelle Lestrange and Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan on a street in London."

The couple had actually married in Marylebone 5 years previously. Image courtesy of the IWM collections, used under creative commons licence. © IWM D 12845.

F/O Bevan was later awarded the D.F.C. for gallantry while serving as a bomb aimer / observer with 150 Sqn, flying Vickers Wellington aircraft.

CRASH OF 15.11.1957

In lasting memory
of the forty-five passengers and crew
who lost their lives in the crash of flying boat
G-AKNU 'Sydney' at Shalcombe near Brook on
15th November 1957. In gratitude for the selfless
courage and dedication of all who rescued and
helped care for the thirteen survivors

Further Information

See Aviation Safety Network report on the crash.

Those who died - Crew
Captain Captain Frederick William Eltis 34
First Officer Mr John Michael Scarr 27 Paddington, London
Flight Engineer Mr David Richard Mitchener 33 Netley Abbey, Hampshire
Radio Operator Mr Stephanus (Steve) Jansen Combruick 30
Chief Steward Mr Gordon Painter 31 Salisbury
Stewardess Miss Muriel Margaret Patricia Hanning-Lee 33 Highgate, London
Stewardess Miss Angela Edith Margaret Kitcher 21 Southampton

Those who died - Passengers
Miss Margaret (Peggy) Abrahams 39 London
Harold Lackland Bevan 49 Willaston, Cheshire
Died in Salisbury from injuries received in the crash
Mrs Marcelle (Tessa) Bevan (née Kemp, formerly L'estrange) 48 Willaston, Cheshire
Dr Black London
Mr Cecil Bruce Christie 46 Ashford, Middlesex
Mrs Norah Christie 49 Ashford Middlesex
Mary Kathleen (Molly) Colan 45 Ireland [the wife of Major Colan, who survived]
Buried at Carisbrooke (Mount Joy) Cemetery (FoNCC website)
Miss Eva Margery Cox 58 St Annes
Mrs Leah Denman 56 London
Mrs Green Richmond, Surrey
Mr Arthur Harry Carver Harrison 51 Yorkshire
Mr Oscar James Thomas Humphreys 63
Mrs Sarah Humphreys 54
Wing Commander Edward Huntley 52 Sunbury on Thames
Dr Brian Gordon Irving 34 Leeds
Buried at Birks Fold Jewish Cemetery, Bradford
Mrs Thelma Irving 25 Leeds
Buried at Birks Fold Jewish Cemetery, Bradford
Mr Richard Jeremy Jephson 31 London
Buried at Carisbrooke (Mount Joy) Cemetery (FoNCC website)
Helen Mary Jephson 31 London
Buried at Carisbrooke (Mount Joy) Cemetery (FoNCC website)
Mr Maurice David Linton 59 Hampstead, London
Mr Peter (Pat) McLaren 41 St Andrew's, Fifeshire
Mr Cosmo Andrew McPherson Meldrum 25 Sligo, Ireland
Mr James Meldrum 50 St Andrew's, Fifeshire
Mrs Annie Blackwood Meldrum 46 St Andrew's, Fifeshire
Mr Henry Clarence Miller 36 Leeds
Mrs Eve Miller 23 Leeds
Mr Joseph Austin Motler 44 Bolton
Mrs Mavis Motler 27 Bolton
Miss Ann Motler 8 Bolton
Mr Louis Perloff 45 London
Mr Charles Brighton Rawlins 49 Southsea
Mrs Margaret Rawlins 35 Southsea
Mrs Irene Richards 49 Bolton
Mr Stephen James Rossington 56 Lincoln
Mrs Florence Ada Rossington 54 Lincoln
Mr Finbarr Smyth
[death registered locally as Mr Joseph Desmond Finbar Smyth]
28 Monaghan, worked in Sligo, Ireland
[reported at the time as being from London]
Buried in Monaghan - see Irish Graveyard Surveyors record
Miss Sylvia Sarah Weinberg 41 London

Those who survived - Passengers
Mr Ralph Peter Carey
(Aquila Airways official)
Wembley, London
Major P W Colan Cloyne, Co Cork, Ireland
Mr Frank Howatt Blackpool
Mrs Howatt Blackpool
Mrs Dorothy Huntley Sunbury on Thames
Mr Lennox Stirling
Mrs Lennox Stirling
Mr Arthur Mangham Blackpool
Mrs Mangham Blackpool
Mr Wilson Sutton Coldfield
Mrs Wilson Sutton Coldfield
Mrs Magson Bournemouth
Miss Magson Bournemouth

These images (click on them to enlarge) are taken from the The Madeira Story Centre in Funchal, which has a display about the flying boat service and Aquila Airways:


"As the (20th) Century progressed, new means of transport to Madeira were introduced. Aquila Airways began operating flying boats between Southampton and Funchal Bay. Hythe and Solent-type flying boats offered a much faster journey time than cruise liners. A regular scheduled timetable was instigated between Southampton, Madeira, Las Palmas and Lisbon. With two shuttle services operating per week, tourists and Madeirans alike used the Airways. The flying boats offered a touch of glamour and luxury to the Atlantic journey. During the 10 years of service, Aquila Airways carried dignitaries and stars including Winston Churchill and the cast of Moby Dick. Flying boats continued to fly to Madeira until 1958. However, a crash on the Isle of Wight in 1957 and problems replenishing aircraft stock contributed to the end of the Aquila era."

Acknowledgments :

Nigel Grizzard for the photo of the Irvings' headstone.

Michael Fisher (nephew of Finbarr Smyth) for the Funchal display photos (© Michael Fisher) and the Irish newspaper photos.

Martin Saul for further information and pointers to the Bevan family information.

Page status :

Page last updated : 15 Mar 2022 (added photo of Harold and Marcelle Bevan)

Short Solent G-AKNU
Short Solent G-AKNU taking off from Funchal
Original Photo © J Arthur Dixon, via Wikipedia
Jack Hawkins and Muriel Hanning-Lee
Muriel Hanning-Lee with Jack Hawkins
Photo © Muriel Hanning-Lee / Hodder & Stoughton

Major Colan, Finbarr Smyth, Cosmo Meldrum

Major P W Colan, Mr Finbarr Smyth, Mr Cosmo Meldrum
[from the Sunday Review (Dublin)
Sunday 17th November 1957]

Mr. Finbarr Smyth
[from the Sunday Review (Dublin)
Sunday 17th November 1957]


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