Name: Thomas Mashiter Tyson
DoB: June 10 1898
Regt: Second Lieutenant RAF 121 Squadron
DoD: June 12 1918
Academic Career: CGS 1911- 1916
Other: Address while at school: 6 Thirlwell Terrace. At time of death address given as 219 Greystone Road, Carlisle.
Thomas Mashiter Tyson was born in Liverpool the only child of his parents Thomas Tyson and Minnie Barber. His father was an engineer surveyor from Ulverston, the son of a grocer, and his mother was the daughter of shopkeepers from High Leigh, Cheshire. The name Mashiter was the maiden name of his paternal grandmother. Thomas’ father was a church warden at St Aidan’s, Carlisle.
While at school. Thomas was reputed to be a good swimmer and was on the rugby team: “useful in the scrum”* and in 1913 he won a prize for drawing.
During the Great War, Thomas was a cadet in the R.A.F. and had taken his certificate on a Graham-White Biplane at Hendon on May 4 1918. According to the memorial register, he was accidentally killed whilst flying in Derbyshire, on June 12, 1918. In fact he was killed at Narborough Airfield in Norfolk. At 6.30am Thomas had taken up an aircraft assigned to the Americans based there, it was a rebuilt Armstrong Whitworth FK3 (B8827). According to the subsequent court of enquiry Thomas was neither experienced or qualified enough to fly this aeroplane solo. He had no orders to do so. He stalled the machine shortly after take-off and as he turned the aeroplane it nosedived into the ground from a height of 50 feet and caught fire. Pinned by his feet, Lieut EB Humphries and A/Cpl OC Meckel, rushed into the flames in a brave attempt to save him. The fire engine arrived and Thomas was pulled from the burning plane. His commanding officer later commended the two men for their “great presence of mind and courage”. A telegram was immediately sent to his parents to “come at once” as their son had been seriously injured. This was followed up by a second telegram an hour later to report that Thomas had died without regaining consciousness. He left a mess bill of £2 5s 9d. The Inventory of his belongings (over 100 items) contains everything from the most mundane (one pair slippers; eight pairs. socks etc) to some items that give us some clues about his interests (13 pieces of music; six novels; one vest pocket Auto camera; three pipes and a tin of tobacco) He was buried at Narborough All Saints Churchyard. A sad postscript was a document from the O/C of 121 Squadron to the Air Ministry in London concerning a complaint from Thomas’ father about the cost of his travel from Carlisle (£6 5s) which he had paid as the then O/C had omitted to explain he could apply to the nearest Police Station in case of difficulty for fear of offending him.
In his book on the Airfield, David Turner described Thomas so: “a typical young flier, perhaps, for whom the thrill of flying solo proved impossible to resist. A moment’s impulsiveness cost him his life”. In the local Carlisle paper, he was described as “a fine young fellow“. He was just 20 years and two days old.
No 121 Squadron was formed at Narborough on January 1 1918 as a light bomber unit but did not become operational before it was disbanded on August 17 1918. In 1998 the Narborough Local History Society unveiled a memorial plaque to those who served at Narborough. In September 2011 a new Memorial was unveiled to mark the airfield and commemorate the 41 men who were killed there. A tornado made a fly past and RAF Marham supplied a guard of honour.
Before joining up Thomas had been articled with the County Surveyor of Cumberland . He was a member of the Surveyors’ Institution and the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers and the Royal Aero Club.
a) Carlisle School Memorial Register 1264-1924
b) Census: 1911 RG 14 PN 313; 1901 RG 13 3438; 1891 Rg 12 2950; 1881 RG 11 4278; 1871 RG 10 4241; 1861 RG 9 3167
c) The Carliol Magazine 1915*
d) Great Britain Royal Club Aviators’ Certificates 1910-50
e) Narborough Airfield Research Group: “The Great Government Aerodrome” 2000
f) Proceedings of the Court of the Enquiry**
g) Telegrams from Narborough to Mr & Mrs Tyson**
h) Mess Bill**
j) Eastern Daily Press 10th September 2011
h) “The Squadrons of the RAF and Commonwealth 1918-1988” James Halley
i) www.ancestry.co.uk and www.findmypast.co.uk
j) The Cumberland News 15 and 22 June 1918
**Supplied by David Turner