Beryl Markham, British born Kenyan aviator, racehorse trainer and author, died on this day in 1986.  Born 26th October 1902 in Ashwell, Rutland, the daughter of race horse trainer Charles Clutterbuck, she moved to Kenya (then British East Africa) with her family at the age of 4 where developed her love and knowledge of horses, establishing herself as a trainer at 17. Inspired and coached by Tom Campbell Black, Beryl learned to fly. She worked for some time as a bush pilot, spotting game animals from the air and signalling their locations to safaris on the ground. One of Beryl’s best-known feats was her solo flight across the Atlantic. When she decided to take on the Atlantic crossing, no female pilot had yet flown non-stop from Europe to New York, and no woman had made the westward flight solo, though several had died trying. Beryl hoped to claim both records. On 4th September 1936, she took off from Abingdon, England but after a 20-hour flight, her Vega Gull, The Messenger, suffered fuel starvation due to icing of the fuel tank vents, and she crash-landed at Baleine Cove on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. She became the first person to make it from England to North America non-stop from east to west. She was celebrated as an aviation pioneer. Beryl chronicled her many adventures in her memoir, West with the Night, published in 1942. Despite strong reviews in the press, the book sold modestly, and then quickly went out of print. After living for many years in the United States, Markham moved back to Kenya in 1952, becoming for a time the most successful horse trainer in the country.


English professional cricketer William Eric Bowes died today in 1987 at the age of 79. Born on 25th July 1908 he played for Yorkshire and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). He was a member of the ground staff at MCC for ten seasons and they had priority of selection, which meant he played against Yorkshire for them and he did not play against MCC until 1938. He made fifteen appearances for England in Test cricket and took part in the 1932–33 Bodyline series. He took 68 Test wickets at the creditable average of 22.33 with a best performance of six for 33. He represented Yorkshire in thirteen County Championship seasons, his career being interrupted by the Second World War, and the team won the championship eight times in that period, largely due to their strong attack which was led by Hedley Verity and himself. During the war, he was commissioned in the British Army as a gunnery officer and served in North Africa until he was captured, along with over 30,000 other Allied troops, after the fall of Tobruk in June 1942. He spent three years in Italian and German prisoner-of-war camps and lost over four stone in weight. He played in matches in the POW camps – the story of which is told in a Playing Pasts article due to be published on 9th September).  He continued playing for two seasons after the war but, weakened by his experiences, could only bowl at medium pace. After he retired from playing, he became a coach with Yorkshire and worked for The Yorkshire Post as a cricket writer.


John Thomson, Scottish footballer who as keeper for Celtic and the Scotland national football team died on this day in 1931, aged just 22. John was born on 28th January 1909 in Kirkcaldy and was educated at Denend Primary School and Auchterderran Higher Grade School. By the time he reached High School he was already seen as a talented goalkeeper and was part of the Auchterderran school team that won the Lochgelly Times Cup. At the age of 14, he became an underground worker at Bowhill Colliery, where his father also worked. John made his first international appearance against France on 18th May 1930 in a 2–0 win. This was in the time before caps were awarded for matches other than Home Internationals, so he was awarded his first cap against Wales on 25th October 1930. He made another two international appearances for Scotland, keeping a clean sheet against both Ireland and England . On the fateful day of his death Celtic were playing their Old Firm rivals Rangers at Ibrox Park in front of 80,000. Early in the second half John and a Rangers player, Sam English, went for the same ball, John’s head collided with English’s knee, fracturing his skull and rupturing an artery in his right temple. He was taken off the field in a stretcher; most people assumed that he was just badly concussed, but a few people who had seen his injuries suspected worse. One source said, “There were gasps in the main stand, a single piercing scream being heard from a horrified young woman”; this was believed to be the scream of 19-year-old Margaret Finlay, who was watching with Jim Thomson (brother of John). One Rangers player, also a medical student, said later that as soon as he saw him he gave little chance for his survival. After having treatment from the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association, he was taken to a stretcher. According to The Scotsman he was “seen to rise on the stretcher and look towards the goal and the spot where the accident happened”. The game ended 0–0. Thomson was taken to the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow, where after an emergency operation he was pronounced dead later that evening.


Race-car driver and test pilot, John Stuart Hindmarsh (known as Johnny Hindmarsh) passed away on this day in 1938.  He was born at St Leonards on Sea, Sussex, on 25th November 1907, the son of Donald Stuart Hindmarsh, stockbroker, and his wife, Annie Stuart, née Campbell. Educated at Sherborne School, he attended the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, before gaining a commission in the Royal Army Tank Corps. In 1930 he was seconded to the Royal Air Force and learned to fly, resigning his army commission to join the RAF. Johnny was a noted Talbot and Lagonda driver, during the 1930’s, when his achievements included winning the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in 1935. He was as popular among the motor-racing fraternity, as he was in aviation. He participated in several important car races throughout the period 1929 to 1938 and was always a consistent competitor, racing the Lagonda and Talbot in long-distance events in England, Ireland and France. In June 1935, with Luis Fontes, John won the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in a 4½ litre Lagonda, with a Meadows Engine. Their average speed was 77 mph (124 kph) during the long-distance endurance race. Sadly, after a comparatively short but very promising career in aviation, Johnny whilst a senior test pilot for Hawkers, was killed testing a Hurricane at Brooklands. Just what happened will never be known; however, he had apparently been advised not to fly above 10,000 feet without oxygen in case he ‘blacked out’. It seems that he may have ignored this precaution either intentionally or inadvertently; whatever the reason, the Hurricane which had been wheeling high in the sky above Brooklands one moment, was suddenly seen to be in a headlong dive, the engine note rising to a terrifying howl which was clearly heard by the pilot’s wife, in her cottage, at Cobham. It struck the ground in an explosion, at St. George’s Hill Golf Course, Weybridge. A thin pall of smoke spiralling upwards marked the spot. The contents of the fuel tanks exploded, but the pilot was mercifully killed instantly on impact. It is perhaps ironic that the crash was clearly visible from the Brooklands Track, where Johnny had driven so many of his greatest races.


Graham William Walker, motorcycle racer, broadcaster and journalist, died on this day in 1962.  Born on 4th August 1896 in Wallington, Surrey, Graham was married Elsie Norah Fyfield née Spratt and they had one son, Graeme Murray Walker (born 10 October 1923) who went on to have a long career as a motorsport commentator. Graham was a motorcycle despatch rider in the First World War for the Royal Engineers Signal Service, where he received a leg injury requiring him to ride a motorcycle with a modified brake pedal. Despite this he had a successful racing career with Rudge, Sunbeam and Norton. Riding a 493cc Sunbeam he was a member of the victorious British International Trophy Team at the ISDT held in Buxton 1926 and Ambleside 1927 then saw success on the Silver Vase team in 1928 at Harrogate and 1932 Merano in Italy. Road successes included winning the Ulster Grand Prix on a Rudge Ulster in 1928, the first road race win with an average of 80 mph. He also won the 350cc class at the 1931 North West 200, again on a Rudge. He rode many times in the Isle of Man TT, winning the lightweight (250cc) class in 1931, and became president of the TT Riders Association. During World War II, he took part in a campaign to recruit new dispatch riders. In 1935, after his motorcycle racing career had finished, Graham was employed by the BBC as a commentator for motorcycle racing events on television and radio. In 1949, he was partnered on the BBC’s motorcycle commentaries with his son, Murray. Graham has also contributed greatly to the motorcycle section of the National Motor Museum. He was editor of Motor Cycling magazine from 1938 to 1954 and he then took up a directorship at the Montagu Motor Museum, of which his enthusiasm for preserving historic motorcycles partly led to the museum having opened a motorcycle section in 1956.


Irish tennis player Vere Thomas “St. Leger” Goold died by taking his own life on this day in 1909.  Vere was born into a wealthy family on 2nd October 1853, during his early life he apparently had boxing skills as well as tennis skills. In June 1879, he became the first Irish tennis champion after defeating CD Barry, 8–6, 8–6 in the final. Later that summer, Vere tried his luck at the third Wimbledon Championships and made it to the All-Comers final in which he was defeated by John Hartley. A few months later, he competed in the first open tournament held at Cheltenham. He again reached the final, losing to William Renshaw. After an illness he failed to defend his Irish title losing in the Challenge Round to Renshaw after which he seemed to fade from the tennis scene.  Arriving in Monte Carlo in 1907 with his wife, Marie, broke and down on their luck, they hatched what they considered was a fool-proof plan to beat the bank at roulette. Adopting the titles “Sir” Vere and “Lady” Goold, their system worked for a short while  but very soon they were out of funds again.  At the casino, they met a wealthy Swedish woman, Emma Levin, the widow of a Stockholm broker, who they borrowed off and it was when Marie opened the door to Mrs Levin when she can to reclaim the debt that events took a tragic turn. The Goold’s were staying in Marseille on their way to London, having left their trunk in the railway station. A porter at Marseille train station noticed blood seeping out of the trunk and raised the alarm. Police found Levin’s torso inside, while her head and lower legs turned up in a different bag. Despite initially protesting their innocence, Vere confessed to murder, however during the court case  Marie was sentenced to death, and Vere to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Later Marie’s sentence was reduced to life imprisonment and Vere committed suicide in 1909, within a year of arriving at Devil’s Island. Marie died of typhoid fever in a Montpellier jail in 1914.


Matthew John Gadsby, English footballer who played for Walsall, Mansfield Town, Kidderminster Harriers, Forest Green and Hinckley United as a defender and midfielder died today in 2006. Born on 6th September 1979 in Sutton Coldfield, Matt began his career at Walsall, where he graduated from the youth team and made his professional debut on 2nd May 1998 in 0–1 to loss to Wycombe Wanderers at the Bescot Stadium.  On 15th November, he scored the first goal of his professional career, the only one in a victory over Rochdale at Spotland. Matt collapsed on the pitch playing for Hinckley United in a Conference North game against Harrogate Town. Despite efforts by paramedics to revive him, he died soon afterwards in Harrogate District Hospital, three days after his 27th birthday. Medical tests revealed that he died from a heart condition known as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, an inherited condition that affects the muscle of the right ventricle of the heart. Hinckley United’s next game away at Moor Green was postponed after his death. The club, after consultation with the Football Conference, also decided to withdraw the number five shirt worn by Matt for the remainder of the season. It was replaced by the number 18 shirt in the starting line-up. A remembrance area was set up at the Marston’s Stadium by the turnstiles, and a memorial game was played on 29 October 2006, at the Newton Regis recreational ground, between Tamworth Sunday league team Newton Thistle and a Leicester City old stars side.