Charles Darrell (Bill) MERRETT

MERRETT, Charles Darrell

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Born: Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 20 December 1894
Home Town: Brighton, Bayside, Victoria
Schooling: Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Flying accident, Near Dover Aerodrome, England, 16 May 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Dover (St. James's) Cemetery, Kent England
Memorial (Australia) inscription "He Sleeps In The Land If His Forefathers."
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World War 1 Service

Date unknown: Involvement Lieutenant, Officer, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

The summary below was completed by Cathy Sedgwick – Facebook “WW1 Australian War Graves in England/UK/Scotland/Ireland

Died on this date – 16th May.... Charles Darrell Merrett was born on 20th December, 1894 in Hawthorn, Melbourne, Victoria. He attended Melbourne Grammar School.

Charles Darrell Merrett (nicknamed Bill) was a Lieutenant in the 51st (Albert Park) Infantry. A.M.F. (Australian Military Forces) prior to the War. He had been made a Provisional 2nd Lieutenant of the 51st Infantry Regiment on 26th August, 1913.

As Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett was under the age of 21 he was not eligible for a commission in the A.I.F. (Australian Imperial Force) so he undertook a flying course.

Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett gained his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate on 20th October, 1915 at Central Flying School, Werribee, Victoria, Australia on a Bristol Biplane.

After gaining his Aviator’s Certificate, Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett was granted leave by the Defence Department to proceed to London, England to gain experience in seaplane work. He departed Melbourne on 23rd November, 1915 and received a commission in the R.N.A.S. (Royal Naval Air Service) on arriving in London. He was appointed a Temporary Flight Sub-Lieutenant. However, his leave was cancelled by the Defence Department & he was appointed as Flight Lieutenant in the A.F.C. (Australian Flying Corps) with instructions to take up duty in England. He was posted to Farnborough, England with the Royal Flying Corps.

Charles Darrell Merrett was appointed Lieutenant on 5th January, 1916, No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.

Owing to an increase in enemy air raids, Flight Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett was attached to Dover Air Station, Kent, England with the Australian Flying Squadron.

On 16th May, 1916 Flight Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett & Captain Lord Lucas, of No. 20 R.S. (Reserve Squadron) R.F.C., were flying an Avro 504A 4068. No. 20 Reserve Squadron was located at Dover, Kent from 1st February, 1916.
Captain Lord Lucas was instructing Lieutenant Merrett in the dual control machine at about 8 am from Dover Aerodrome. It was their second flight for that morning & Lieutenant Merrett was positioned in the front seat of the plane. When preparing to descend, on approach to the aerodrome, Captain Lord Lucas shut off the petrol, which stopped the engine but he realised that they were too short & turned the petrol back on but the engine did not start immediately. The machine then side-slipped and nose-dived straight to the ground. Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett died in the crash while Captain Lord Lucas sustained minor injuries.

Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett died on 16th May, 1916 at Dover, England as a result of an aeroplane accident.

A Court of Enquiry was held at Dover on 16th May, 1916. The Court having carefully considered the forementioned evidence are of opinion that Lieut. C. D. Merrett, Australian Flying Corps, met his death by accident, and through no fault in the construction of the Aeroplane.

Lieutenant Charles Darrell Merrett was buried on 18th May, 1916 in St. James Churchyard Cemetery, Dover, Kent, England where 7 other WW1 Australian War Graves are located.

(The above is a summary of my research. The full research can be found by following the link below)