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James Benjamin May was born in 1880 in Nottingham and was the son of James a furniture remover and Mary May née Ibell of 20 Connaught Street, Nottingham. His father was born in 1850 in Shastone, Buckingham and his mother Mary Ibelll was born in 1855 in Barton, Hampshire, they were married in 1877 their marriage was recorded in the Basford Registration District, they went on to have the following children all of whom were born in Nottingham, James Benjamin b1880, John Thomas 1882, Harry b1885, Lily b1888, Fred b1890, Jesse b1893, Joyce b1895 and Edith b1898. His mother Mary died in 1909 in Nottingham she was 54 yrs of age. In the 1911 census the family are living at 20 Connaught Street, Nottingham and are shown as James May 53 yrs a widow and a furniture remover, he is living with his children Joyce Mary 16 yrs a lace mender and Edith 13 yrs a laundry worker, also living with them is his married son Harry 26 yrs a labourer and his family his wife Emma 27 yrs and their children, Prudence 5yrs, Harry 4 yrs, John 2 yrs and James 4 months. James Benjamin May lived with Florence Simpson in the 1911 census we find them living at 36 Gladstone Street, Hyson Green, James is 32 years and a carpet and linoleum fitter, he is living with Florence May 36 yrs both are shown as married and they state they have been married for 5 yrs but have had no children, His pension record card shows that his dependant is Florence Simpson (unmarried wife ) of 36 Gladstone Street, Hyson Green.
Carpet and lino fitter.
19 Aug 1918
2750677 - CWGC Website
Air Mechanic 1st Class
Royal Air Force
Air mechanic 1st class B/41388 James Benjamin May served with the 14th anti aircraft acceptance Park with the Royal Air Force, he was killed on 19th August 1918 whilst part of a crew on a test flight in a Handley Page aircraft when the plane crashed killing all seven crew on board. He is buried in Basford Cemetery, Nottingham. Researched and written by Peter Gillings
On 19th August 1918 Handley Page 0/400 D4593 of 14 Aircraft Acceptance Park took off from Castle Bromwich Aerodrome for a test flight with two pilots five crew on board. The plane was over North Warwickshire when it lost fabric from a wing causing a loss of control. The plane crashed into a field at Maxstoke, Warwickshire. There were no survivors in what was then the worst air disaster for the Royal Air Force in the U.K. [1] “AEROPLANE DISASTER IN THE MIDLANDS. “SEVEN OCCUPANTS KILLED. “A NOTTINGHAM VICTIM. “A terrible tragedy of the air took place in the Midlands on Monday afternoon [19th August 1918], resulting in the death of all seven occupants of a large aeroplane which fell in a field. The names of the occupants were: “Lieutenant R. E. Macbeth (Toronto). [2] “Lieutenant F. J. Bravery (Worthing). [3] “First Air Mechanic J. May (Nottingham). [4] “Second Air Mechanic A. J. Winrow (Chorlton-on-Medlock). [5] “Second Air Mechanic H. Simmonds (Petersfield). [6] “Third Air Mechanic C. W. Offord (Chiswick). [7] “Third Air Mechanic Greenland (Mile End). [8] “An inquest was held at a small town in the vicinity of the accident yesterday [20th August 1918]. A sergeant in the Royal Air Force, stationed at a Midlands aerodrome, said the machine went up at 3.15 p.m. on Monday on a test flight, with seven occupants. Lieutenant Macbeth, who was in charge, was an experienced pilot and accustomed to the type of machine he was flying. Evidence was also given of tests which were satisfactorily carried out on this machine before flights were made. “A farmer, in his evidence, said he was carrying corn in the adjoining field when he heard an explosion and saw the aeroplane come nose down out of a cloud at a great height. The machine righted itself and went about a mile, and then turned over while flying at a low altitude and fell straight to earth. “Another farmer said he first noticed something unusual in the throb of the engine. He saw the aeroplane come immediately over the roofs of some houses, and, after rising a little, turn sharp and then drive straight to earth. Witness ran to the spot, but all the men were dead.“Medical evidence was given that death was instantaneous in all cases. “The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death,and that no evidence was submitted which would reveal the cause of the accident.” [9] [1] http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=162107. [2] Lieutenant Robert Edward Andrew Macbeth, Maxstoke (St. Michael) Churchyard. Age 28. Son of William John and Annie Colhoun MacBeth, of Toronto, Canada. Born at Toronto, Canada. B.A.Sc. University of Toronto. [3] Lieutenant Frederick James Bravery, Royal Air Force, Worthing (Broadwater) Cemetery. Age 22. Son of Thomas Bravery of 23 Montague Street, Worthing. [4] A.M.1 James Benjamin May, 14th Aircraft Acceptance Park, Nottingham (New Basford) Cemetery. He was a “passenger up for a rigging test.” Son of Mrs. W. May, 36 Gladstone Street, Nottingham. [5] A.M. 2 Albert J. Winrow, 14th A. A. P., Royal Air Force, Manchester Southern Cemetery. He was a “passenger to make up war load to pilot’s instructions”. [6] A.M.2 H. Simmonds, Royal Air Force. Maxstoke (St. Michael) Churchyard. Aged 31. He was a “passenger to make up war load to pilot’s instructions”. Son of Henry and Emma Simmonds of West Meon, Hampshire. [7] Acting A. M. 3 Charles William Offord, 14th Aircraft Acceptance Park, Royal Air Force. Acton Cemetery. Age 18. His role was to was testing the dynamo and lighting system. Son of Mrs. Annie Offord of 7 Meeting Street, Ramsgate. [8] A.M. 2 George Greenland, Aircraft Accept. Park, Royal Air Force. City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery. He was the passenger in charge of petrol pumps. Aged 22. Son of Mr. and Mrs. George Greenland, of 145 Canal Road, Mile End, London. The roles ascribed to the members of the crew were sourced from: http://www.aviationarchaeology.org.uk/marg/crashes1918.htm [9] ‘Nottingham Evening Post,’ 21st August 1918. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
Remembered on


  • Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918 -
  • The commonwealth wargraves commission headstone marking the grave of James Benjamin May at Basford Cemetery, Nottingham, courtesy of Peter Gillings
    James Benjamin May - The commonwealth wargraves commission headstone marking the grave of James Benjamin May at Basford Cemetery, Nottingham, courtesy of Peter Gillings