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Walter Kemeys Francis Goodall Warneford

Person Details
19 Jul 1895
Walter Kemeys Francis Goodhall Warneford was born on 19 July 1895 at Crewe and was the only son of Walter Wyndham Hanbury Warneford and Mary Elizabeth Warneford nee Goodhall. He was baptised on 3rd September 1895 at All Saints church, Salterhebble, Yorkshire; the ceremony was performed by John Henry Warneford, Rev Cannon (his grandfather). His father, Walter Wyndham Hayden Warneford, was born in Halifax in 1867 and his mother Mary Elizabeth was born in Halifax in 1875, they were married in Halifax on 9th September 1894. His father was Works Manager of the London and North Western Railwy (LNWR) works at Crewe from 1910 to 1916 and then Wagon Superintendant at the LMS railway coach and wagon works at Earlestown. Walter’s family home was Lansdowne House, Huyton, Lancashire. In the 1901 census the family are living Deva Villa, Crewe. Walter WH is 34 years old and an engineer. He is living with his wife Mary Elizabeth and their son Walter KFG (5 years), they are employing two servants, a cook and a housemaid. By the 1911 census the family are still living at Deva Villa, Wellington Square, at Crewe. Walter WH is 44 years of age and now an engineering works manager and is living with his wife Mary 36 years; he is still employing two servants. However, his son Walter KFG Warneford has left home; he is 15 years of age and is a boarder at the Magnus Grammar School, Newark. Following in his father’s footsteps, from 1912 to 1914 Walter Warneford was a pupil engineer with the London & North Western Railway in Crewe. He was taken on on 22nd April 1912 at the age of 16 years and nine months as an apprentice. He served a total of 7 years and three months and was only discharged on 25th July 1919 following the notification of him having been presumed killed whilst on active service. His probate was proven on 26th August 1920 in London, it shows him as Walter Kenny Francis Goodall Warneford of Lansdown House, Huyton, Liverpool, died on or since 15th July 1919 at sea, his effects of £635 15 shillings and 5 pence were left to Walter Wyndham Hanbury Warneford - manager (his father).
He was educated at the Magnus Grammar School, Newark and severed an apprenticeship with the London and North Western Railways.
15 Jul 1919
2895259 - CWGC Website
Royal Air Force
Walter Warneford’s records show he joined the Kite Balloon Section of the Royal Naval Air Service and was Acting Flight Lieutenant by October 1914 – presumably following balloon training at the Wormwood Scrubs Naval Air Station, London. His Naval records show he was based at Anglesea for some time and then transferred to Barrow. Here, during August and September 1915, he took training and instructional flights on Submarine Scout airships SS18, SS21, SS26 and SS30 From November 1915 to May 1916 he was back at Anglesea for training and instructional flights on SS22, SS24 and SS25 – possibly as an instructor. Warneford was made up to Flight Commander on 25 June 1915. On 2 October 1915 SS24 hit a tree and broke a propeller. Two days later, during bomb-dropping practice and W/T trials the engine began to miss and failed completely off Llandudno. Sub Lt. P.E. Maitland carried out a balloon landing on the beach at Red Wharf Bay and ripped the envelope below high water mark. Warneford was transferred to Capel airship station, near Folkestone during May 1916. Here he flew patrols and instructional flights on Submarine Scout airships SS4 and the SS12. He was then transferred to Longside in September 1916 where he flew as Coxwain on instructional flights and patrols on Coastal airships C5 and C13. Based for a month at Kingsnorth, during November 1916 he was transferred to East Fortune and took command of Coastal airship C25. At East Fortune he also flew in C24 and C20 on patrols and training flights. Warneford and his crews racked up many hours flying time on C25 between November 1916 and July 1917. On 29 November 1917 his engagement to Pansy Nina Grahame Chambers was announced in Flight magazine. Pansy was daughter of Captain William Graham Chambers, late Gordon Highlanders in Canada and, at the time, Lieutenant-Commander RN. Back on 29 October 1917 Warneford took over command of North Sea Class airship NS4. While based at East Fortune in June 1918 the envelope was found to be in poor condition and, despite extensive repairs, had to be replaced. The ship with its new envelope was inflated on 28 July 1918 and commenced patrol and convoy escort duties. Earlier on in the early summer of 1918 Warneford carried out deck landing trials on the aircraft carrier HMS Furious in SSZ 59. Together with Capt G. S. Greenland and 2nd Lt. Wicks on 27 May 1918 the airship was pulled down to deck by a trail rope and made fast to the aeroplane lift. The lift was then lowered so that only the envelope remained above the flight deck At the beginning for September 1918 Warneford took over command of NS11 and delivered it to, what was to be its home base, Longside in Aberdeenshire. It was with NS11 that Warneford began to rack up flights of many hours endurance; first 28 hours, 15 minutes on 12-13 November; then 61 hours, 21 minutes on 17-19 November. NS11 was temporarily out of commission from 16 December 1918 and Warneford and the crew went on Christmas leave. NS11 was then very nearly deflated for good but the order was rescinded and the airship was serviceable again by 31 January. Warneford and NS11 set out again on a mine-hunting patrol from Longside on 9 February to return on 13 February to set another world endurance record – flying 2,300 miles in 100 hours, 50 minutes. Apart from difficult weather conditions, especially great variations in temperature; the usual magneto problems; and difficulties picking up fresh drinking water (after several attempts) the flight was fairly uneventful. Warneford did nearly lose Sergeant Mechanic J. Wrenn over the side when he collapsed exhausted after starting an engine single-handed. He fell off the rail but was caught by a piece of 5 cwt wire. Cold, cramped and tired, the conditions would have been challenging for the crew. As they had taken off with 400 lbs of food they may not have been hungry, but thirsty they certainly were as they had no ballast or drinking water left by their return. But for the shortage of radiator water (10 gallons of drinking water went into the radiators) the flight could have been considerably extended. Due to skill and judicious consumption of fuel, NS11 finished the patrol with 300 gallons of petrol in reserve – enough for another 40 hours flying time. Warneford and his engineers had tuned the 250 HP Fiat engines to such a high degree of efficiency petrol consumption averaged 7 gallons an hour. In his report following the flight Warneford put forward many technical and operational recommendations for extended airship flights. As his Commanding Officer, Lieut. Colonel R.S. Robinson wrote of Warneford, “…it is not too much to say that only a very experienced pilot who has carefully observed and studied every detail of general flying conditions and of his own ship in particular could have succeeded in in accomplishing not only a feat of personnel endurance, but also a significant and noteworthy contribution to the possibilities of airships in the future.” Warneford and NS11 were now really making a name for themselves in the airship world. Perhaps encouraged by his success so far and sensing time was running short, as the airship service was being wound down after the end of the war, Warneford took NS11 on a circuit of the North Sea in March 1919, covering 1,285 miles in 40 hours and 30 minutes. Accompanied by NS12, this was the first airship flight across the North Sea, cruising off the coast of Norway for several hours. As Ces Mowthorpe in his book Battlebags wrote, “Warneford and NS11 were fast becoming invincible”. In April and May, NS11 took an educational break at the LTA Training Wing at Cranwell. Warneford was awarded the Air Force Cross on 5 June 1919 and, in the same month, flew NS11 to Pulham with the intention of patrolling the southern North Sea. Then, on 6 July 1919, the British rigid airship R34 landed at Mineola, New York to complete a 108 hour, 12 minute cross-Atlantic journey from East Fortune. Amid a frenzy of publicity and media attention R34 had beaten Warneford’s endurance record – but only just. R34 landed with only 104 gallons of fuel remaining – enough for just two more hours of flying time at reduced power. This triumph for Britain and the airship service will have no doubt been a bitter blow for Warneford. Spending only three days in New York, R34 set off to return to East Fortune and a heroes’ welcome. Ironically, on the evening of 12 July, due to weather conditions and a change in orders, R34 was diverted to land at Pulham in the early hours of 13 July to a quieter reception and the home base of NS11. Warneford must have been been pleased by the achievement of Major G.H. Scott and the crew of R34 – but, we can speculate, would not have been happy that his record had been broken. On the evening of 14th July 1919, Warneford and a crew of 8, with ample supplies of petrol, set out in the NS11. It has been suggested that Warneford was out to regain his record. At 8 mins past midnight, radio contact with the NS11 was lost. Some time later, the NS11 was spotted over the villages of Holt and Letheringsett in Norfolk, and over the Glavon Valley heading towards Cley Next The Sea. People reported the airship as being almost stationary for a while and the engines were making a loud noise before moving off towards the North Sea. At 1.45 am, a massive explosion was heard out at sea and a maroon went up calling out the Cley Lifesaving Rocket Brigade. Wreckage began to come ashore, but no bodies were found until 16 days later when the body of Coxwain C. H. Lewry [age 26] was washed up at Sheringham. This was the only body ever recovered from the NS11. At an Official Court of Enquiry that was held the findings were inconclusive.
He was awarded an Air Force Cross in June 1919 Walter was a cousin of Reginald A. J. Warneford of the Royal Naval Air Service who received the Victoria Cross at the age of 23 for his action in attacking and destroying the German airship LZ37. He dropped bombs on the airship from his Morane-Saulnier Type L, the last of which set it on fire. This is an extract from the Magnus School, Newark diary of the 'Great War' :- 15 July 1919: Royal Air Force Captain Walter Kemeys Francis died. Born in 1895, he attended the Magnus prior to 1911, joined the Royal Naval Air Service in October 1914 and served in France from May 1915 before returning to Britain as a trainer of new pilots. The cousin of the famous Lieutenant Warneford, who brought down the first Zeppelin to be grounded over Britain and was awarded the Victoria Cross, Walter was also highly regarded, and his name was included in a King’s Birthday Honours list with the award of the Air Force Cross. He was killed with seven others on a training flight in East Anglia – a reminder that, even in peacetime, the Armed Forces face danger. He is commemorated on war memorial for 'Capt Walter Warnford and Crew' , consisting of an obelisk situated at Viaduct Sports and Social Club, Earle St, Newton Le Willows, St Helens, It contains the following inscription :- Presented to the viaduct institute by Walter and Mary Warneford in memory of their son Capt W.K.F Warneford. afc. RAF and the gallant crew of H.M. Airship.NS11. which was lost off Sheringham on the night of July 14 1919. He is further commemorated on a brass and alabaster plaque at All Saints Church , Dudwell La, Halifax, the inscription on which reads : - Inscription TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF/ WALTER KEMEYS FRANCIS GOODALL/ WARNEFORD A.F.C./ CAPTAIN IN THE ROYAL AIR FORCE/ WHO JOINED THE AIR SERVICE IN 1914/ SERVED WITH THE FORCES IN FRANCE/ AND LATER WAS IN COMMAND OF H.M. AIRSHIP N.S.II./ THIS GALLANT PILOT SERVED IN THE EUROPEAN WAR/ 1914 TO 1918, WAS MENTIONED TWICE IN DESPATCHES/ RECEIVED THE THANKS OF THE AIR COUNCIL/ FOR ZEAL AND DEVOTION TO DUTY/ AND WAS AWARDED THE AIR FORCE CROSS./ WHILST ON MINE CLEARANCE OPERATIONS OFF /SHERINGHAM JULY 15TH 1919, N.S.11 EXPLODED/ DURING A THUNDERSTORM WITH THE / TOTAL LOSS OF HER CREW./ HE WAS THE ONLY CHILD OF/ WALTER WYNDHAM HANBURY WARNEFORD O.B.E./ AND MARY ELIZABETH HIS WIFE/ OF HUYTON, LIVERPOOL/ AND WAS BAPTIZED IN THIS CHURCH./ HE WAS THE GRANDSON OF CANON J.H. WARNFORD/ OF WARNEFORD PLACE, HIGHWORTH, WILTS./ WHO WAS FIRST VICAR OF THIS PARISH/ THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY HIS PARENTS/ TO THEIR BRAVE AND FEARLESS SON/ AGED 24/ THE LORD IS THY KEEPER/ PSALM CXXI
Remembered on


  • Walter Kemeys Francis Goodall Warneford -
  • Airship NS11 in which he died on 15th July 1919
    Walter Kemeys Francis Goodhall Warneford - Airship NS11 in which he died on 15th July 1919