Tthe British Trial Crew of R38 (ZR-2) August 1921 taken at Howden. From Darren Howlett’s collection.

From Darren Howlett’s collection. Flight Lieutenant A. H. Wann.
Air Commodore Edward Maitland CWG, DSO, AFC. Photo –
Air Commodore Edward Maitland was the highest-ranking British officer to perish in the tragedy.

The crew of R.38

List of British personnel killed, injured or unhurt in the disaster

LAC George Stanley Anger (31) killed
Sgt Frederick Ernest Burton (24) killed
Charles Ivor Rae Campbell OBE (49) killed (Superintendent, Royal Airship Works)
AC1 Charles Watt Donald (20) killed
AC1 John Cecil Drew (22) killed
Cecil William Duffield (27) killed (National Physical Laboratory)
Flt Sgt William Hunter Greener (29) killed
Flt Sgt Sidney James Heath AFM (38) killed
Flt Lt Ivo Cecil Little AFC (25) killed
Air Cdre Edward Maitland CMG DSO AFC (41) killed
Flt Sgt Alfred Thomas Martin (39) killed
Sgt John William Augustus Mason (24) killed
Fg Off Thomas Frederick Mathewson AFC (33) killed
Flt Lt Rupert Samuel Montagu DSC (26) killed
LAC William Oliver (29) killed
John Robert Pannell (36) killed (National Physical Laboratory)
AC2 Roy Parker (21) killed
AC1 Charles William Penson (23) killed
Flt Lt John Edward Maddock Pritchard OBE AFC (31) killed
Flt Sgt John Rye (34) killed
Flt Sgt Frank Smith (28) killed
AC1 Eric Edward Steere (21) killed
Flt Lt Godfrey Main Thomas DFC (25) killed
Flt Sgt Harold Thompson (25) killed
Frank Warren (44) killed (Royal Airship Works)
Fg Off Victor Houghton Wicks (29) killed
LAC John William Willson (27) killed
AC2 Robert Withington (21) killed


LAC Ernest Wynne Davies injured
Flt Lt Archibald Herbert Wann injured (pilot)
Henry Bateman unhurt (National Physical Laboratory)
Cpl Walter Augustus Potter unhurt
One of the youngest casualties, aged 20, was AC1 Charles Watt Donald from Aberdeen who had joined the RAF in 1918. He is buried in Aberdeen’s Nellfield Cemetery.

Cpl. Walter Potter at the wheel of the R101. Walter Potter survived the R.38 crash and returned to flying airships, only to be killed in the R.101 disaster in October 1930. Photo from Christine Moore’s collection.

Walter Potter joined the RN in April 1914, his first ship was the Ganges. Walter was born in Yoxford. Suffolk in October 1897, eldest child of John Read Potter and wife Louisa.

Walter married my great aunt Ida Evans at Ampthill, Bedfordshire in June 1919.They had 2 daughters, Vera was born in 1920 at Howden. Daughter Molly was born 9th July at Norwich, Ida was just pregnant with Molly when Walter was killed in the R101 Airship crash in 1930. Walter and Ida lived in Shortstown, Bedford after their marriage.

When Walter died Ida was given just a few weeks to get out of their home, she then moved to live with Walters family in Norwich. (Taken from the account of granddaughter Christine Moore)

Prospective ZR2 crewmen leaving the US on SS Princess Matoika.
From the collection of <strong> Darren Howlett </strong>. 1921 – US crew of the R38/RZ-2 Airship at Bedford
From the collection of Darren Howlett. Louis Henry Maxfield USN.
Norman Otto Walker – the only USN survivor.

The US crew

With the exception of Bieg and the publicity Officer Lieutenant Tinker, all the scheduled for the trans-Atlantic flight were qualified airship pilots. The enlisted men had also been chosen for their experience, mostly gained on non-rigid airships.

The first members of the US Naval Rigid Detachment arrived at the Howden airship station on 20th April 1920. It comprised of nine officers, and eighteen enlisted men and included a Medical Officer and a Supply Officer. The officer in charge was also the designated Captain of the ZR-2 was 36-year-old Commander Louis Henry Maxfield, who was a qualified pilot of aeroplanes and airships, and a holder of the Navy Cross. In July a second draft of seven officers and eighteen men “reported aboard” and to be followed at intervals by another ten men, and Meteorological Officer Lieutenant J.B. Anderson. (Taken from Airship Heritage Trust web site.)

List of United States personnel killed, injured or unhurt in the disaster. As we get more detailed information about individual US crew members, we will post it on this page here: ZR2-crew-members

CBM Charles Ivan Aller (31), US Rigid Air Detachment, United States Navy killed
Lt Cdr Valentine Nicolas Bieg (31), USN killed
Lt Cdr Emory W Coil (32), USN killed
CMM Robert M Coons (25), USN killed
CMM Lloyd Erwin Crowl (32), USN killed
Lt Marcus Herbert Esterly (30), USN killed
Flt Sgt William Hunter Greener (29) killed
CMM John T Hancock (31), USN killed
Lt Henry Willets Hoyt (31), USN killed
CMM William A Julius (27), USN killed
CBM Maurice Lay (33), USN killed
Lt Charles Gray Little (26), USN killed
CMM Albert L Loftin (23), USN killed
Cdr Louis Henry Maxfield (37), USN killed
CBM Ad Pettit (31), USN killed
CMM William J Steele (26), USN killed
CMM George Welch (42), USN killed

CMM Norman Otto Walker, USN unhurt

From the collection of Darren Howlett. R38 officers (Flt. Lt. Archibald Herbert Wann & US naval officers).
Members of the USN Detachment pose in their new flying suits.’ (Photos – winged Cobra Collection, Leeds)