First World War Memorials (1) - 100 years since a crash over Shotgate, March 7th 1918.

Memorials to two airmen

While on a walk from the Wick Country Park a couple of weeks ago we came across a couple of memorials to two airmen who died in the First World War. I remembered seeing one of these from the train between Wickford and Rayleigh many years ago. It took the form of an upright stake with a propeller attached to it, surrounded by a small fence. I had always wondered what it was. Close up, on the walk, I saw that there was a little inscription. It reads “This spot is sacred to the memory of Capt. Henry Clifford Stroud, RFC and RE. Killed in action at midnight 7th March 1918”.


I thought I would see what else I could find out about this memorial. It seems that two British airmen were killed when they had been sent up to find a lone German aircraft heading towards London on the night of March 7th 1918. Capt. Stroud was sent from Rochford and the second man, Capt. Alexander Bruce Kynoch, set off from Stow Maries. They collided with one another over Shotgate, probably because of bad weather conditions, and were killed, their planes coming down in a field on Dollyman’s Farm. Stroud belonged to the 61st Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), formerly the Royal Engineers. Kynoch was a member of the 37th squadron of the RFC, formerly the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.  Stroud was flying SE 5a B679, Kynoch – BE 12 C3208.

Memorials to the two men in the form of large crosses were erected by the landowner, Mr W. W. Wilson, described as a gentleman farmer. The parents of both pilots visited the site and presumably it was they that had the propeller memorial put in place. Kynoch’s memorial is a simple stone, with an inscription similar to Stroud’s, surrounded, now, by a broken down fence. There have have been a couple of restorations over the years. A letter in Flight magazine (10 March 1961) described the Stroud memorial as ‘well kept’ and the propeller as ‘recently painted’. More recently, in 1994, it was renovated again. It is possible it was moved when the new A130 was built. Kynoch’s little fence is now rather broken down.


Capt. Stroud was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, a graduate of Cambridge University and an engineer. He volunteered for foreign service at the start of the war and was badly wounded in 1915. He spent several months in hospital. He joined the RFC in July 1916 and became an expert pilot. Kynoch was born in Essex in 1894 and served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Macedonia before joining the RFC. Stroud was buried in St Andrews Church, Rochford, where there is also a memorial inside the Church. Kynoch was interred in North Finchley, where his family lived.

For more on the memorials see


Photos of Kynoch and Stroud can also be seen here.

More pictures relating to the memorials can be found on Flickr:

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  • Henry Clifford Stroud was in the Royal Engineers (territorials) attached to the Royal Flying Core. He was the son of Dr Henry Stroud, Professor of Physics at Armstrong College, Newcastle. He was killed on 7 March 1918 while night flying. There was no moon on the night of his last flight.

    A memorial service was held at St Thomas, Newcastle in March 1918. In addition to family members there were around 120 cadets and other military personnel in attendance. Representatives from Armstrong College, College of Medicine, and Durham University OTC were also present.

    The memorial tablet at St Andrew’s, Rochford, was unveiled in September 1921 by James Inskip, the second Bishop of Barking and previously a vicar at Jesmond, Newcastle.

    According to The Newcastle Daily Chronicle dated 24 September 1921 the memorial between Wickford and Rayleigh was “marked by his squadron by means of an inscription on a propellor, as sacred to his memory. A sun dial has recently been set-up at the spot”.

    In 1923 his parents established the Henry Clifford Stroud Prize for Physics at Armstrong College. Professor Stroud resigned his position in 1925, leaving the college in 1926.

    By David C Rayment (26/02/2023)
  • We recently visited these memorials on a hike with the 1st Runwell scouts and both were in reasonable condition.  The propeller is now right next to the A130 banking, but if it was moved when the road was built, it was put back in the exact same location. You can tell from looking at the pre-A130 OS map compared with today’s, that it hasn’t moved.

    By Richard Yeldham (09/10/2017)
  • I was looking through an old copy of Essex Countryside (January 1960) recently and came across a letter relating to this story. Some of the information in it has already been included in comments above.

    It came from Jean Woodburn Wilson, of St Clere’s Hall, Stanford le Hope. She was the sister of the Mr Wilson who had the memorials erected. She and her brother had heard the crash and ran to the site which was about a mile from their home, Great Fanton Hall in North Benfleet. The pilots were beyond help. Bruce Kynoch was still grasping his aircraft’s controls. Her brother ran to the Cricketers Arms to get help. Capt Stroud was not found until the next morning, his body embedded in the earth some distance away from the remains of his ‘plane. When the land was sold Mr Wilson had the title deeds state that the two small memorial plots would not be included in the sale but would remain his property and be forever held sacred.

    By Maurice Wakeham (14/02/2016)
  • I’m pretty confident that this collision is the one referred to by Cecil Lewis in his classic memoir, Sagittarius Rising. Kynoch (“a canny Scotsman”) was Lewis’s deputy at Rochford. Lewis describes the funeral – how the riggers had made crosses out of four-bladed propellers and bossed the names of the dead on copper plates, covering the hubs where the bolts went through – and recalls the Last Post “calling up into that vault of blue”, and how he remembered the cynical war-time prayer: “O God – if there is a God, save my soul – if I have a soul.”

    By Geoffrey Negus (16/09/2015)
  • Peter Watts writes: I well remember this crash site when I was a boy aged 7 (1937); I can clearly remember it as my brother (aged 15) and I used to help Farmer Fearby each Saturday and I received the grand total of 6d. The gravesite looked totally different from what I now see in the photo and the HUGE propeller looked to be quite different to that which appears on the photo. There is a lot of information on the Great War Forum site about the subject and I have cut and pasted a relevant piece for you below.    

    As an additional matter of interest Mr Wilson, the “Gentleman Farmer” mentioned, was our landlord when we lived in Pound Lane, North Benfleet. 

    Mick and Jim were corresponding on the Great War Forum about the memorials.

    “Hello Jim,
    These two memorials you mention were originally placed on site with two nine foot crosses by the then landowner, Mr.W.W. Wilson, gentleman farmer. An Officer from 37 (HD) Squadron flew down soon afterwards and landed at the farm, bringing with him a small memorial to be placed at the foot of Kynoch’s memorial. We think that over the passage of time this memorial was later placed at the base of Stroud’s memorial. Both parents of both airmen visited the respective crash sites, and wrote very moving letters to Mr. Wilson, thanking him for his kindness and consideration towards the earthly remains of their respective sons. Later Mr.Wilson had a clause written into the title deeds of the farm, that if sold the two pieces of land where those memorials stand, should forevermore remain his property. Later as time progressed two more fashionable memorials appeared, we think paid for by the parents. In 1994 together with a group of friends we restored Captain Henry Clifford Stroud’s memorial: four new oak posts were manufactured and donated by a local woodyard, the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford was instrumental in providing us with a new propeller (former Avro Anson). A local businessman from Rayleigh, Essex, was instrumental in the manufacture of a security cradle that would secure the propeller to the existing concrete post in an attempt to make it vandal proof. We repainted the poles that surround the memorial, cut the grass and stood back, job done. It was then decided to replace the concrete posts around Captain Kynochs memorial, but we were late into the year and the weather was closing in. Sadly we never went back. However a recent visit to the site left me with a very heavy heart, the memorial to Captain Stroud is now at the very bottom of the new road/earthworks and is again in a very poor state. The propeller is still in good condition, but the post which has been got at by the frost is now leaning. To the best of my knowledge Captain Kynoch’s is still as it was. I was approached recently by a group of chaps from Rayleigh, and asked if I would assist them in yet another restoration attempt. Plans are now being made for just that, however my research led me to Captain Kynoch’s grave, which is in the Victorian part of North Finchley cemetery, called Islington Cemetery. I also found the road where he lived in Finchley, and the site where his house used to stand. The road is still called Welbeck Avenue. Further research led me to an elderly lady who was the niece of Captain Kynoch. She thanked me for our first restoration attempt and told me that she was still in possession of Captain Kynoch’s airmans chest, and did I want it? It now resides with me and is a marvellous item. These two gentleman were our first Battle of Britain heroes, up trying to get to the Gothas before they got to London. A photograph of Captain Kynoch came from an ageing nephew living in Australia who still has Captain Kynoch’s personal photograph album. With the way the world is changing today, we must never let the memorials to these young lads fall into disrepair, they are a very important link to our continued survival as nation.
    Hope this helps

    By Peter Watts (08/03/2015)

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