Tuesday, 27 December 2016

15901 Sergeant Thomas Arthur CONDRON (1898 - 1918)

Sergeant Thomas Arthur CONDRON (service no. 15901) was killed when he crashed his plane near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, on 5 February 1918.

The Hull Daily Mail for Friday 8 Feburary 1918 reported:

A fatal accident occurred to a young airman in Lincolnshire on Tuesday. He had just passed over one of the villages at a high altitude, and appeared to be making a good flight under ideal conditions. He then commenced to come down, and when within 100 ft. or less of the ground the biplane appeared to suddenly tilt sideways and crash to earth. A farm foreman, followed by another farm hand, found the unfortunate man with the engine on top of him. His injuries were serious, and he passed away in a few minutes without regaining consciousness. At the inquest it transpired that the deceased was a second-class mechanic, named T. Condron, of South Farnborough, Hants, and 19 years of age. The jury returned a verdict of Accidental death, and complimented the man Hird upon his praiseworthy conduct.

The Aldershot Military Gazette for Friday 15 February 1918 reported:

The funeral of Sergeant Thomas Arthur Condron, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Condron, of Queen's Road, Farnborough, took place at the Military Cemetery on Saturday with full military honours, the bands of the R.F.C. and A.S.C. attending. Intimate companions of the deceased from Brooklands, Weybridge, acted as pall-bearers.

The young man met his death at Blyton, near Gainsborough, on Tuesday, 5th inst., whilst on his qualifying flight for his pilot's certificate. He was well known and respected in Farnborough, being a server at St. Mark's Church and a member of the Club, joining up in November, 1916. He was a very keen pupil, untiring in his work, promising and fearless and never failing to obtain an excellent report from his flight commanders. 

The following is one of the many letters received by [the] deceased's parents, and shows the high appreciation and esteem in which he was held:-

61 Gordon Mansions 
Francis Street, W.C.1
7th Feb. 1918.

Dear Mrs. Condron- It was with very great regret that I learnt to-day of your son's fatal accident, and wish to express to you and your family my sincerest sympathy in your trouble. 

Your son was in my Flight. He was a very keen pupil and took a delight in doing whatever duty he was detailed for - he was always asking to go up, and his one aim was to get his wings as soon as possible. He was always a cheery youngster - it did one a lot of good to see his bright face, when feeling blue. I only wish I could have men like him around me always. I was very interested in him, and I am sure he would have turned out an excellent pilot. 

Had I been able, I should have liked to attend his funeral to-morrow, but unfortunately it is not possible; but I will be with you [in] spirit. 

Again assuring you of my sincerest sympathy. - I remain, sincerely yours,


The RAF Museum Storyvault has images of two handwritten Casualty Cards which give further details. They record his flight commander's remarks as follows: "On Feb. 5th 1918, at 11.45am I sent 2/am [2nd class air mechanic] T. Condron up on F.E.2.B A5612 [the type of aircraft]. The engine gave 1175 Revs. on the ground. He was up 1 Hr. and crashed 4 miles from Gainsboro'. He appears to have stalled the mach[ine] while attempting a forced landing, for reasons unknown." They also record the verdict of the Court of Inquiry, which seems to have occurred on Aug. 20th 1918: "The court having carefully considered the evidence are of the opinion that the acc[ident] was caused by 2/am Condron stalling his mach[ine] to avoid a tree when attempting to land in a field for some unknown cause."

Thomas Arthur CONDRON was born in 1898 and his birth was registered in the Hartley Wintney Registration District of Hampshire, England.  He was the fifth child born to Andrew and Jane Emily CONDRON. The 1911 census of England shows him, a schoolboy aged 12, living at Marlborough Lines, Aldershot, with his mother and three sisters. At the time of his death in 1918,  he was a 2nd-class air mechanic in the 199th (Night Training) Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, though various records also indicate that he was a sergeant. Could he have had both ranks? Thomas Arthur CONDRON is buried in the Aldershot Military Cemetery (grave ref. AF 2089).

His parents were married at St. Catherine's Church, Dublin (Church of Ireland) on Dec 7th 1888. His mother's name when she married was Jane Emily CONDRON (born c.1871) , the daughter of Michael CONDRON who was a Colour Sergeant in the 5th Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Jane Emily was born in Meerut, India, according to the 1911 census. There is some confusion about Thomas's father's name. The marriage record indicates that his name was Andrew CONDRON or MOLLOY (born c.1870 in Dublin, died 1940 in Surrey, England), the son of Andrew MOLLOY. At the time, Andrew junior was a Drummer in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The marriage certificates of two of his daughters give his full name variously as Andrew Patrick Michal CONDRON and Andrew Arthur CONDRON.

Andrew and Jane Emily CONDRON had nine children: Florence Emily (born 1888), Michael Andrew (1890), Alice Violet (1895), Emily Christina (1896), Thomas Arthur (1898), Gladys Melita (1905), Mercia Alexandra (1907), Gertrude Jane (1910) and Constance Vera (1912). Their first four children were born in Dublin. As already noted, Thomas Arthur was born in England, as were Gertrude Jane and Constance Vera. Gladys Melita was born in Malta, and Mercia Alexandra was born in Alexandria, Egypt, presumably while Andrew was serving abroad with the military.

In addition to my usual sources, I am grateful for information about Thomas Arthur CONDRON found at the Royal Air Force Commands, RAF Museum Storyvault and Sussex History Forum web sites.

For other blog posts about CONDR*Ns in the First World War, click on "First World War" in the Labels list on the right of the blog web page. Comments and corrections welcome, either by leaving a comment below or by email to me: CONDRAN[AT]ONE-NAME.ORG .

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