Spalding aviator in accident in 1916

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The name ‘Gleed’ is known to people in the Spalding area primarily because of the school that until recently bore that name.

However, in 1916 it was news about Flight-Lieut John Victor Ariel Gleed, son of Mr and Mrs J W Gleed, of West Elloe, Spalding, that was making the news.

John, who was said to be making “rapid progress in aviation” had “met with an accident” while flying.

He was an officer of the Flying Corps and in 1916 had recently passed his final flying tests and was qualified for aviation service and was expecting to proceed to the front in the near future.

However, flying a Sopwith machine “of the latest and fastest type”, the young aviator lost all bearings in thick fog and, unable to continue his journey, descended.

The report said: “In alighting, owing again to the fog, he struck a hedge with his machine, causing it to be badly smashed.

“The lieutenant did not lose consciousness, and was able to crawl out of the debris. Help was quickly at hand, and he was quickly removed to a large Midland hospital nearby.”

He sustained a broken nose, numerous bruises and a damaged leg, though a speedy recovery was expected.

Travel by boat was no guarantee of safety either during the war.

Mr Hughes, clerk to Mr William Elsom, the well-known Spalding bulb-grower, had been to Gravesend to meet his wife and four-year-old daughter who were coming over from Holland.

Unfortunately, the two were passengers on the Koningin Regentes, which had been seized by a German naval flotilla shortly after leaving Rotterdam.

Families were told by the American consul that, as far as could be determined, the passengers and crew had been taken to a German prison in Bruges.