First Lieutenant George Squires was a US Army Air Service Officer Pilot. He was born in 1896 and was from St. Paul Minnesota.He trained in Canada and at Ft. Worth as a pilot. He was killed in a flight training accident flying out of the Turnberry Airfield Royal Flying Corps (RFC) Flight Gunnery school (Turnberry School of Aerial Gunnery and Fighting). He was conducting a solo flight when his plane crashed near the Kirkoswald Village.
Squires was buried in the Doune Cemetery in Girvan where many of flight training accident victims were buried. Squires’ mother had a grave stone erected for her son and he is buried near another American who was killed in a training accident, Private First Class George Brader.
Squires and Braded are also remembered on the British Turnberry War Memorial (Turnberry School of Aerial Gunnery and Fighting Memorial). LT Howard R. Smith, also listed on the Turnberry Memorial was a pallbearer at Squires funeral.
Letter from the Commandant regarding Squires:
No.2 Auxiliary School of Aerial Gunnery No. 2/97/9
ROYAL FLYING CORPS. No,1 School of Fighting & Gunnery, Royal Air Force, TURNBERRY, Ayrshire, 27th May 1918
Mrs. George C. Squires, 21 South St. Albans Street, St, Paul, Minn., U.S.A.
It is with the very deepest regret and sympathy that I have to confirm the news, which you have no doubt received by telegraph, of the death of your son, 1st Liet. George Squires, who was at the time attached to this School for a Course of Instruction in Aerial Fighting and Gunnery. I beg to give you the following brief particulars of the fatal accident and of the funeral arrangements.
On Saturday May 18th, at 10:30 in the morning the machine of 1/Lt.G.Squires, who was carrying out practice in certain fighting evolutions, was seen to circle slowly and begin descending, the descent taking place apparently normally until the machine dived at a steep angle and crashed to the ground. Your son was in sole control of the machine, no passenger being carried on the type he was flying.
A Court of Inquiry investigated the circumstances on the following day, and it was not established from all the available evidence what was the definite cause of the accident. There was no structural defect suspected in the machine, as the latter had been reported in perfect condition and "OK." for flying on its descent from a flight undertaken by one of the instructors immediately before the fatal one.
In view of the evidence given by a farm hand who witnessed the accident, it is considered almost certain that your son was endeavoring to make a forced landing owing to engine failure, and that he lost flying speed, (i.e., the speed sufficient to maintain a machine in the air) at a height which did not permit him to recover from the ensuing dive. The fall took place about 1000 yards south of Kirkoswald Village, Ayrshire, at a point almost exactly two miles eastward of and inland from this aerodrome.
Immediately upon the report of the accident happening, the motor ambulance with Medical Officer proceeded to the scene, and found 1/Lt. Squires dead, having been extricated from the wreckage by a local resident who was first on the spot.
The cause of death was fracture of the base of the skull, both thighs had been fractured and there were other injuries, and it is considered that death was practically instantaneous upon the machine striking the ground.
Units of the Royal Air Force are not permitted to telegraph or cable direct to the next-of-kin in cases of fatalities occurring where the nearest relatives reside out of the country, but you no doubt heard as soon as possible, after our reporting the accident to the proper British and American authorities.
In regard to funeral arrangements, the interment took place at Doune Cemetery, Girvan, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, My 21st. Girvan is the nearest town of any size, and is about 5 to 6 miles distant from this Station.
The burial service was conducted by the Rev. GB.Allen, the Church of England Chaplain to the Forces Stationed here, and the following American brother officers of the Aviation Service acted as pall-bearers:- 1/Lt J A Roth, 1/Lt. E. Hollander,1/Lt. A.M,Roberts,1/Lt. R,L. Paskill,2/Lt, H.R.Smith,2/Lt. L.T,Wyly
A large number of other American Officers and British Officers of the School attended, the latter including the Commandant, Liet Col. 1,.W.B.Rees, V,C., M.O.
A firing party accompanied the cortege, firing three volleys over the grave at the conclusion of the service, after which the "Last Post" was sounded by the bugler, The coffin was covered with the American Flag and three floral tributes from the American Brother Officers of your son, the Officers of the Staff of the School and the Camp Y.M.C.A. Authorities.
The position of the grave is No. 6, Section M. Fast Division, Doune Cemetery, Girvan, Ayrshire, and the arrangements for title deed etc, also for disposal, according to U.S. Regulations, of your late son's effects, are in the hands of Liet. G.J.Dwyer, United States Aviation. Headquarters, 35 Eaton Place, London S.W., to whom all his property at this school has been handed. As a temporary measure a plain white wooden cross of the pattern prescribed for a British Officer or man, is being placed above the grave, pending later arrangements for memorial.
The interment took place in brilliantly fine weather, which, indeed, prevailed upon the day of the accident,
If there is any further information which I can furnish, will you please let me know, and be assured that any assistance which it is, in my power to afford will be most willingly given.
With the deepest sympathy of all ranks at this School with yourself, and other relatives of the late Lt. Squires in the bereavement you have suffered.
Believe me to remain Yours very faithfully, Rees Lieut, Colonel Commandant, No. 1 School of Aerial Fighting & Gunnery Royal Air Force.
Letter from Lieut. Ralph Gracie.
France, May 26th.
My dear Mrs. Squires: I take the liberty of writing to you because I had the privilege of being with George at his last station in Scotland and because I know somewhat of the 'void' that is in your heart after receiving the more or less cold-blooded official communications of his 'going up.'
You may perhaps remember me as a flying officer introduced to you on the station platform at Chillicothe and I also talked to you from Garden City Camp.
I happened to be in the air myself at the time of George's accident and when I came down and learned the horrible news, it was almost as hard to believe as that the sun would not shine again.
George had done about thirty hours flying in 'Camels', the type of machine he was up in. He really liked to fly them and could fly them better than any of our other fliers that have watched. I am flying 'Camels' myself and know to what extent he surpassed me in handling what is really one of the most difficult machines to fly. He was feeling his best that morning I know, as I had sat beside him at the table.
He had asked a number of times for a machine that morning and had made several flights besides the necessary ones for the course in fighting, which we were engaged in.
You have probably been informed of the details of the matter but I can perhaps add a few.
He came down some distance from, the Drome and the only actual witness was a laborer, who was questioned at the 'inquiry'. He had heard the sound of an aeroplane overhead and told of a sound which the flying officers present interpreted as a stall on a turn and a spin into the ground, from what height we have no very definite idea.
George had been working particularly at rolls, half rolls and the 'falling leaf stunt' and the machine, as I said before, being a most tricky and treacherous one, it does not take long to come to grief. He was a splendid pilot and apparently physically fit, and what happened is what is liable to happen to any one, no matter how long his experience at this game. There is, of course, the possibility of something wrong with the machine, but at that station they are much better and better maintained, and any that I had up were a pleasure to fly compared to the average.
The funeral took place on a warm pleasant afternoon and the procession which formed in front of the Officers Mess was made up of Royal Air Force tenders and touring cars. The first car carried the body in an oaken coffin of Mission style, bearing a brass plate, with the inscription.
"Lieut. G. Squires, A.S.S.C., USA. Age 22 years, Died May 18, 1918."
It was covered with Old Glory and two beautiful wreaths, largely made up of sweet peas, from the Royal Air Force and the American Flying Officers of the station. There was also a great bouquet of many colored tulips tied with a knot of red, white and blue.
The pall bearers were all American Flying Officers: Lieutenants Roberts, Roth, Hollander, Smith, and Shoemaker and myself of the old 17th.
The procession moved along the edge of the Firth of Clyde to the cemetery in a nearby town, where the last rites were said in the impressive and inspiring ceremony of the Church of England, by an Army Chaplain. And so we stood with said hearts and came to the salute at the sound of the volleys of the firing squad. And I shall never forget the marvelously beautiful silver-toned bugle notes that rang out as we paid our last tribute to the remains of 'gorgeous George' as we liked to call him for his princely qualities. And surely, Mrs. Squires, no mother ever had a son more loved and respected by his fellows than was George. His was a heart of gold and I am sure that America has not contributed to this maelstrom, for the 'democratization of the world', a finer gentleman.
I am getting up close to the big show now and I shall have a supreme incentive to do not my bit - but my best -against the despicable Hun, with this fresh memory of the young manhood he has sacrificed. We have now lost four of the fliers who came over with our squadron to train in England.
I consider myself the representative of Minnesota in particular in this scrap, as my home is Bemidji, although I have spent the last four years in. St. Paul and Minneapolis, and I shall fight hard to justify her expectations of her sons. My mother passed away a few years ago but I shall try to have my father meet you if he is ever in the Cities.
My heart goes out to you for the supreme sacrifice you have paid, but no mother has more cause for pride. Sincerely,
Lt. Ralph D. Gracie. Coxe Co. U.S.Army Branch 15 Charm Cross, London.
Note: 1LT Gracie was KIA on August 12, 1918 while flying with the 17th Aero Squadron over German lines in WW1. Reference: www.maypole,org