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Edward Busk, and others

Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: General Discussion
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Printed Date: 22 Jan 2021 at 13:55
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Topic: Edward Busk, and others
Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Subject: Edward Busk, and others
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 01:59
I managed to get hold an original 1917 copy of a fascinating memoir of Edward Teshmaker Busk, from a contact on the Great War Forum.
The memoir was put together by his mother after his death, so it is inevitably a personal document rather than a technical one. But even without his mother's understandable bias, it emphasises the huge loss to aviation design and technology of his untimely death. He was the precursor of the modern test pilot, for whom it is not enough simply to be a great pilot, but necessary to also have a very sound understanding of science and engineering.
Coincidentally, in the latest issue of C&C we have Paul Hare's article on the RE1, the aircraft most closely associatied with Busk. One of the photos in the book is also in the article as are several quotes - I don't know if Paul obtained these from other sources or if he also has a copy of the book!
Anyway, there are several people mentioned who were clearly famous in aviation circles at the time but lost to history since. Can any of you throw any light on these?:
"Professor Bryan": Busk was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. At the same investiture, a Professor Bryan was awarded a Gold Medal, for "successfully applying Routh's [1860] work on Rigid Dynamics to aeroplanes". Does anyone know more about Bryan? He doesn't seem to have made it into Wikipedia!
Walter Wilson. Busk was introduced to his first job after leaving Cambridge by Walter Wilson, who apparently was "with Mr Pilcher, one of the pioneers of aviation". Admittedly this was the opinion of Mrs Busk, who although it seems was an admirable lady, I imagine was hardly the greatest expert on aviation. Any more info on Walter Wilson?
Messrs Hall of Dartford. This was firm with whom Wilson found Busk his first job; since this was about 1909 it was unlikely that they were involved with aviation, but does anyone happen to know what they did?
B M Jones was a friend of Busk's who used to climb in the Lake District with him, but in the letter of condolence that he wrote to his mother, it is clear that by late 1914 he was also at the RAF - it seems as a test pilot as he mentions nearly being killed himself. The name does ring a bell with me - did he make a name for himself in aviation history later?
Mrs Busk mentions a project by her daughter to put together a more technical account of her son's achievements. Did this ever come to fruition?
The issue of to what extent the extreme stability of the BE2c and its successors contributed to its loss rate in combat, is a whole other debate. Suffice it to say that I don't think it is as clear-cut as some histories suggest. And to the extent that it was a problem, I suspect that if Ted Busk had lived he would have been open-minded enough to advocate a change in direction.

Posted By: MikeMeech
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 12:49
A good source of information is Harald Penrose's 'British Aviation - The Pioneer Years' (Revised edition 1980).  In Chapter 10, page192, this states:  "Ranging the field of stability problems, propellers, and strength of construction were two stalwarts, E.T. Relf, A.R.C.Sc., and A. Fage, A.R.C.Sc., together with a dark-haired, pale and dreamy, Cambridge graduate, B. Melvill Jones, B.A.  In mid-summer the Farnborough group were joined by Edward Teschmaker Busk, B.A., a round-faced, smiling 26-year-old of so friendly a nature that even the mechanics affectionately referred to him as 'Ted'.  Contemporaries of the poet Rupert Brooke at Kings, he and Melvill Jones, known as 'Bones', had been members of a select mountaineering coterie at Cambridge, and prehaps it was this experience of heights which inclined Ted Busk so strongly towards flying.  After graduating he had taken a two-year trainee-ship at Halls Engineering Works of Dartford, on the advice of his friend Walter Wilson, one-time associate of Percy Pilcher, the gliding pioneer."
I think that Halls was involved in the ship building industry.  Also page 230 it mentions that B.M. Jones was co-author with L. Bairstow and A.W.H. Thompson on a 36 page paper on 'Investigation into the Stability of an Aeroplane' (R & M No. 77).  In 'Aviation - An historical survey', page 193, Gibbs-Smith mentions that Professor B. Melvill Jones was the author of 'The Streamline Aeroplane' (1929), which "profoundly influenced subsequent aircraft design".
I hope this is of use.

Posted By: WrightBrother
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 13:07
Reading Adrian's message, it brought back an episode which I had some years back.  We went on holiday to Almeria in Spain, in a flat rented from a friend and some wretched 'back-stud' broke into the apartment while we were down in the pool and pinched numerous items, including my grip to carry away the loot.
Inside the grip was my original 1917 copy of Busk's book, so lesson No 1, never take a treasured book away on hols. The thief probably eventually threw the book away as rubbish he could not read.
Peter Wright Cry   

Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 19:15
I am a bit puzzled here; I have a biography of Busk, written by his mother, Mary Busk, but it clearly states "first published 1925"
Could she have written two?
Paul Hare.

Posted By: Colin
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 19:17
It may possibly be of some interest that there is a later edited edition of  Mary Busk's book called E.T. & H.A. Busk published by John Murray in 1925, with fewer illustrations than the original, but which has a 12 page chapter by Maj R.H. Mayo, Ted's chief assistant, and in which she has added two chapters on her younger son, Hans Ackworth Busk, Flt Cdr RNAS, who went missing on 6 January 1916 on a raid over Gallipoli.

Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 24 Jan 2010 at 20:48
 that's the one I have

Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 25 Jan 2010 at 00:50
Thanks everyone for these replies.
In her 1917 memoir, Mary Busk expresses the hope that she would be able to put together a more technical account of Ted's achievements. Presumably, the 1925 book is that account, with the chapter by Mayo providing the technical expertise. Sadly, she had another son to commemorate by then.
Mayo wrote a letter of condolence published in the 1917 edition. Presumably, he was later responsible for the  Short-Mayo "piggy-back" seaplane combination?
I had another look in Wikipedia  and found Walter Wilson - he is down as "Walter Gordon Wilson". (I know what everyone thinks about Wikipedia; I wouldn't quote it in serious research, but I don't have the time for much serious research and Wiki is useful as a quick first resort). It seems that Wilson was a Naval Officer who was indeed an associate of Pilcher's; after the latters death he went into car design, perhaps wisely. He served in the RNAS Armoured Car unit at the beginning of the war, and then played a major part in the development of the tank. In the 1930's he developed the Wilson pre-selector gearbox, predecessor of the automatic gearbox, which I had heard of but knew nothing of the inventor until now.
Now that Mike Meech has identified BM Jones as B Melvill Jones, later Professor, it was possible to find him in Wikipedia as well. But unsurprisingly, the dates given of his early career do not add up in terms of him working with Busk at Farnborough round about the start of the war.

Posted By: Dogzbody
Date Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 15:11
It must have been the 1925 John Murray edition I read as it contained letters from younger brother, Flt Cdr Hans Busk.
In one letter (from memory) he wrote Our machines (RNAS Farman?) have an M/G for the observer firing forward to chase the enemy. While the enemy have a rear facing gun to defend as they run away!
The 21 year old was no doubt trying to reassure his Mother he was in little danger.....
Do we what type of machine he flew on his last mission, he was flying solo I believe.          Dogzbody

Posted By: Colin
Date Posted: 29 Jan 2010 at 15:47
According to Hans' friend Ft Lt T.C. Vernon:  "Hans went out on Jan 6th in a Henry Farman biplane with a 130hp engine.....he started off at about 3pm carrying a 550lb bomb .... on account of the great weight he naturally went alone. As Hans carried no observer he therefore carried no gun, and was last seen about 5 miles by air from the Gelata Aerodrome (German)."                                   Colin

Posted By: Dogzbody
Date Posted: 30 Jan 2010 at 12:26
Thanks Colin,
                         I hope the sea claimed Hans, the natives were very hostile to downed aviators, capture by the regular Turkish Army was by far the lesser of the two evils.
I have not been so enthralled reading about "the sideshows"  for years, as I have setting sail with Ben-My-Chree, what a remarkable bunch of characters, Sampson, Erskine Childers and Dacre to name a few in a tale well told, just the book for this chilly weather,  
Well done Ian Burns and all those who sailed with him.              Dogzbody.

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