Bartle, Second Lieutenant Thomas William

No 69 (Australian) Sqn AFC

Thomas Bartle came from Castlemaine, Victoria, and was a High School Teacher. After service in the 55th Infantry Battalion of the AMF, where he was recommended for a commission that was not Gazetted as he left to work in Fiji, he enlisted in the AIF as a Private in the 37th Infantry Battalion at Melbourne on 14 March 1916. He left from Melbourne on HMAT A34 Persic on 3 June. Pte Bartle was promoted to Corporal on 16 April 1916 and to Lance Sergeant on 27 October 1916. He transferred to the AFC on 5 November 1916 and attended the RFC Wireless and Observer’s School at Brooklands, after which he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the AFC on 30 April 1917; he was taken on the strength of No 69 (Australian) Sqn in 11 May 1917. He then embarked on pilot training.

While attached to No 81 Reserve Sqn RFC he was killed in an aircraft accident over Scampton on the evening of 16 June 1917 while flying solo in BE2e A1368 from South Carlton. 2Lt Bartle’s aeroplane collided with Armstrong Whitworth FK 3 A1508, flown by Lt H H Wilson RFC, from nearby Scampton aerodrome. Lt Wilson was flying south west at about 4000 feet, with his wireless aerial extended, when he saw the BE flying straight towards him. Wilson tried to climb, but the BE struck his rudder and tailskid, causing the AW to spin. Wilson recovered from the spin and was able to land, but the AW’s tailskid had torn out the centre section from the upper wing of Lt Bartle’s machine and the aeroplane crumpled in the air and crashed. A Court of Enquiry headed by Capt A Stanley-Clarke MC found that the BE was “in perfect flying order”.

2Lt T W Bartle is buried in Grave F 29 in the family plot at Lumb-in-Rossendale, Lancashire, England. His personal effects were sent back to Australia but were apparently pilfered while being transported to Castlemaine; the Army and the Railways both blamed the other.

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