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Shortstown Heritage

The R38 Airship

It is a very sad fact that very little is remembered about this airship in Bedford today but news of the crash and subsequent loss of lives must have been a devastating blow to the people who had worked on the ship in the years between 1919-1921.
These workers would have included draughtsmen, engineers, carpenters, riggers and many others some of whom would have lived in the newly constructed houses in Shortstown.

There would also have been teams of women who spent hundreds of hours cleaning and gluing together the moleskins which made up the outer skin of the ship.

There are scant records of early residents of the village but in a letter written by a Mr Gordine who lived in Shortstown as a child from 1918 to the mid 1920's he recalls the R38 crash:

Walter Potter R38

Survivor Flight Sergeant Walter Potter. It is known that Walter had been in the village in 1921.

Potter Meadows
Browdie & Frank Noble Oct 1930
Final R38 pic Brian Gouldesbrough

Men who lost their lives.

Sent in by Mr Brian Gouldesbrough this photograph shows some of the British crew attached to the R38. Can anyone put a name to some of these men? It is of special interest to Shortstown as it is most likely that a few of them lived in the houses here or in the huts on the camp originally built in 1917 to house the naval officers attached to the R31 and R32 airships also built by the Short Brothers. Please get in touch if you can help with this research as information about the R38 crew members is very sparse and proving extremely difficult to gather. Thanks must go to Brian for sending in this photograph.

If you have any information about anyone who worked on this airship please make contact - the R38 was very important to the economy of Bedford at the time and provided work for hundreds of people who would otherwise have been unemployed. The fate of the R38 effectively brought to an end the first phase of Shortstowns history.

Flt Lieutenant G M Thomas First Officer on board the R38 when it crashed.

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