The 7 District Conference (forerunner of District 1070) was underway in Buxton on Sunday 5th October 1930; Harry Manning, Past President of our Club, Club Historian, Secretary from 1938 to 1945 and recently installed District Chairmen, was presiding when news came through of the R101 Disaster in Beauvais, France, en route from Cardington to India. The whole Conference was later assembled in the Ballroom of the Spa Hotel, Harry Manning rose to pay the following tribute
Ready for take off at Cardington
“Just twelve months and one week today we were assembled in this building when the news came to us during dinner that the Airship R 101 had been successfully launched. We were filled with high elation. We sent telegrams of congratulation to Colonel Richmond and Major Scott and you conferred on me the honour of responding for these gay and gallant men.
The crash scene at Beauvais
Today alas, the scene has changed and I am sadly privileged again. The R 101 has flown upon her last voyage. The Indian adventure has closed upon the fields of France. The world has rendered its homage. France has saluted our gallant dead. Britain has received them to her bosom.
Bedford, her heart filled with grief, through blinding tears and saw them gently laid to rest at Cardington, and with invisible faith and hope in the language of St Chrystostom, ‘Weeping over the grave we make our song. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia’
But we have a more intimate and personal interest in two of these voyagers, for they were of us. Lt Col V C Richmond and Major G H Scott honoured the Rotary Club of Bedford by their membership and thereby the great world of Rotary International. Three weeks ago I was with Richmond at the weekly lunch, and he was just his same natural self. He radiated charm. To those who were favoured by friendship he revealed a cultured mind and noble spirit. We of Bedford were his friends.
Scott we did not see so frequently. He was an honorary Rotarian. Twice he had flown the Atlantic. On occasion he recounted his experiences. Equally modest, one could say he was sometimes shy and reserved. We bow our heads in sympathy and pride for their loved ones. So poignant when we think of the mystery which will always surround the manner in which death dealt with them.
And yet we lift up our hearts with pride. In England still, men of our blood are not wanting, who are prepared to put their lives in jeopardy while carrying out an unaccustomed and hazardous duty.
I listened a few Sundays ago to the reading of that wonderful lyrical lament of David over the death of Saul and Jonathan. Its intensity of emotion, its passionate anger, its triumphant expression of love. And we can substitute the names of Saul and Jonathan for those of our departed friends, and say ‘Scott and Richmond were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death they were not divided. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions, and they were slain upon the high places of the field.
And so we make this expression of our love, and for a few moments we will rise and salute the gallant dead in silence.”