Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Captain Samuel Treherne Bassett Saunderson


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Samuel Treherne Bassett Saunderson was born at 10 De Vesci Terrace, Kingstown, County Dublin, on 24 January 1884, the eighth of ten children of independent gentleman Llewellyn Traherne Bassett Saunderson of Drumkeen House, County Cavan, and his wife Lady Rachel Mary Saunderson (nee Scott), daughter of the 3rd Earl of Clonmell. His father had served as an officer in the 11th Hussars and on the staff of Confederate cavalry General Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew of Robert E. Lee, during the American Civil War.

Saunderson was educated at St Andrew's Eastbourne and Cheltenham College, and in the years leading up to the war worked in various engineering businesses in England.

He also saw military service, being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 6 June 1903 and promoted to lieutenant on 23 May the following year. He resigned his commission on 17 March 1906.

On 2 June 1913 he married Florence Greenstone at St James's, Picadilly.

Soon after the war began Saunderson applied for a commission in the North Irish Horse, and on 17 September 1914 he was made a 2nd lieutenant. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 July 1915 and captain on 15 February 1916.

At the beginning of 1915 Saunderson sought a secondment to the Royal Flying Corps. From March to June he attended various courses of instruction in aviation and on 2 July was appointed to the rank of flying officer. He was posted to No.17 Squadron on 28 July 1915 and was made flight commander on 14 October.

In November 1915 Saunderson embarked for Egypt with No.17 Squadron, where it began reconnaissance flights over the Turkish lines in Sinai and flew in support of troops engaged with Turkish army units in the Western Desert.

Saunderson returned to England in January 1916. He served in a number of training squadrons as a flying instructor and on 9 April 1918 joined the newly-formed No.131 Squadron at Shawbury.

On 22 April Saunderson was flying in a DH6 two-seater with Captain Norman Victor Harrison as the trainee pilot. The machine crashed in a nose dive at Shawbury Aerodrome, killing both men.

Saunderson was buried at Shawbury (St Mary the Virgin) Churchyard, Shropshire, his grave located in the south-east of the grounds. The inscription on his gravestone reads:

APRIL 22ND 1918.


In January 1895 Saunderson's older brother Reginald Traherne Bassett Saunderson had been indicted for the brutal murder of a young woman in Holland Park Road, Kensington. He was found unfit to plead, by reason of insanity, and was ordered to be detained "until His majesty's pleasure be known". He had been identified by a letter to the police in his handwriting confessing to the murder and signed "Jack the Ripper". However his age rules out the possibility that he was the original 'Ripper'.


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Images kindly provided by the Reverend David Humphries.