It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of our newest and perhaps, ablest pilot in months, 2nd Lt. David Crutchfield.
Crutchfield had trained extensively in England and, after much of the bloodletting in April of this year, was one of the first of a new crop of pilots who had been spared Bloody April's carnage. He was an able airmen, a crack shot, and spent hours working on his SE5, which he nicknamed "Maria." His first few missions were spectacular, and he showed great leadership potential within this esteemed and established outfit. A few days before his death, Crutchfield led B-Flight well behind enemy lines in pursuit of a flight of Albatros scouts. He attacked the Boche with gusto and even knocked one of the German airmen out of the sky right over his own airfield - giving 2nd Lt. Crutchfield his only confirmed victory.
He completed just six sorties in his time with us. Bishop is particularly rattled by Crutchfield's death, which he called "a bloody waste." The details of Crutchfield's death are unclear. He flew as part of a larger patrol that morning, and attacked a flight of German two-seaters where, it can only be assumed that his SE5 was hit, as he disengaged and immediately headed for home, something uncharacteristic for him.
Our home field reports that Crutchfield appeared high over the aerodrome with his engine off. He turned and began to lose speed and altitude, however, his angle of attack was entirely too high. Presumably he was struggling with the controls and the particularly strong headwinds that afternoon.
As he came in to the field, it was apparent that his airspeed was far too great - likely near 90mph as his wheels touched down. The SE raced by at an alarmingly high rate of speed as Crutchfield desperately attempted to yaw the machine back and forth to bleed off speed. He soon ran out of runway and hurtled headlong at a nearby fence on the edge of the adjacent farmland. The SE slammed into the obstacle at a high rate of speed and flipped over. The machine then burst into flames.
By the time ground crew reached him, Crutchfield was found crushed in the cockpit and burned beyond recognition. It was a horrific and desperately tragic end to a promising career in 60 Squadron. We send our deepest condolences to his family at this time...