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"The Aeroplane" Extracts 1915-1918

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I was a member of the project team which aimed to unravel the mystery of Norton and Coal Aston’s lost airfield (see https://www.ukeconet.org/nortonflyinglegacy.html) for the report on the project which was managed by the Landscape Heritage Research Foundation with Heritage Lottery Fund support.  As part of the project I reviewed several volumes of "The Aeroplane" magazine, and present here extracts from the period 1915-1918, which relate to Sheffield.  Included at the end is “The Sir Joseph Jonas Case” – which I find fascinating.

Extracts from The Aeroplane Vol 8 (Vol VIII) 1915 to Volume 15 (XV) 1918


Aircraft constructors will do well to note that the Sheffield-Simplex Motor Works, Ltd., of Tinsley, Sheffield, are prepared to assist in the acceleration of the output of aeroplanes in their sheet metal working and autogenous welding department. The high quality of Sheffield-Simplex productions need not be extolled here. It is sufficient to state that the firm are qualified to undertake the most exacting work. Undoubtedly a number of contractors who have undertaken to construct complete aeroplanes have "bitten off more than they can chew," and, if some of their intricate metal work were put out to competent firms, deliveries would be materially expedited.

The Sheffield-Simplex Company are anxious to receive early inquiries, because, if encouragement is received, they are prepared to launch out on this specialised work on a large scale.

The Aeroplane, Vol IX, p524, 27 October 1915

GERMANY – Communique issued on February 1st  :—

On the night of January 31st one of our naval airship squadrons dropped large quantities of explosives and incendiary bombs on the docks, harbour, and factories in and near Liverpool, on Birkenhead iron foundries and smelting furnaces, on Manchester factories, on smelting furnaces at Nottingham and Sheffield, and the great industrial works on the Humber and near Great Yarmouth.

Everywhere marked effects were observed in gigantic explosions, and serious conflagrations. On the Humber a battery was also silenced. Our airships were heavily fired on from all directions, were not hit, and safely returned.


The "Hamburger Nachrichten" of February 7th said :—


"In England the people were living happily and free from care in the midst of war, while labourers were earning good money. Then the Zeppelins came out of the night and taught the haughty people that the war can overtake them anywhere and that it is bloody, terrible, and serious. England's industry to a considerable extent lies in ruins. England's own soil has been ploughed up by the mighty explosive shells of German air squadrons.


"Over England herself during the night there was a fierce and hard-fought battle, a devastating air-battle fought on a front of many miles, and it was won by German airships. They returned proud and safe from the fierce battle. England can now contemplate the ruined centres of her industry and trade, to which she has been brought by the wicked policy of her statesmen."


Aeroplane Editor commented: 

Probably quite as accurate as most of the stuff that appears in the English papers.—Ed.

The Aeroplane, Vol X, p242, 9 February 1916

Recruits for R.F.C.


Prospective recruits for the Royal Flying Corps in the Sheffield district should note that a R.F.C Special Recruiting Officer  will be at the Recruiting Office, Corn Exchange, Sheffield, until the

15th inst. The recruiting and examining party will later visit Stockton-on-Tees, Carlisle, and Glasgow. There are other recruiting parties at present stationed at Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and London, the addresses of which can be obtained from the general recruiting offices in those towns.

The Aeroplane, Vol XI, p56 12July 1916



An important official exhibition was opened on Wednesday Sept. 26th, at the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, where samples of women's work, in connection with munition making, together with photographs of the different processes, are on view. 


The exhibition is under the aegis of the Labour Supply Department of the Ministry of Munitions, and, as three sections are devoted to aircraft work, those interested in the manufacture of aeroplanes, engines and their parts, in the Sheffield district, are strongly recommended to pay a visit.


In the engine section are photographs and specimens illustrating the various operations entailed in the manufacture of parts of Clerget, R.A.F., Beardmore, Gnome, and le Rhone engines details being given of the nature of the tool or tools employed, the limits of tolerance allowed, the time taken to perform the operations, and the manner of setting up the tools.


In a similar way, sections of the exhibition are devoted to aircraft fittings (metal), and to aircraft woodwork, and samples are shown both of tinclips and wood members, many of which are made completely by women, and under female supervision. The exhibition will be open until October 9th, and it is hoped that it will be well attended, not only by woman munition workers and prospective workers, but by the employers of labour who are still sceptical as to delegating important and accurate work to woman workers.

The Aeroplane, Vol XIII, p996 3 October 1917


A catalogue issued by Messrs. Edgar Allen and Co., of Sheffield, gives particulars of nickel, nickel-chrome, chrome-vanadium, and other steels of their manufacture suitable for motorcar and aircraft purposes.

In the case of motor-cars there is a table showing which variety is adapted for use in the different parts of the engine, transmission, axles, and chassis and steering gear, and for some parts alternative recommendations are given, the use of one variety being advised when it is desired to have the best,

as for racing or high-class touring cars, while another, or sometimes two, is suggested when cost is important.

For many of the steels details are given of their behaviour under tensile, torsion, and hardness tests, and also of the heat treatment to which they should be subjected. Another table summarises the physical characteristics of steels prepared in accordance with the specifications of the Engineering

Standards Committee, the Air Board, etc., and shows the equivalence between these steels, which the company also make, and their own special products.

The Aeroplane, Vol XIII, p1344 7 November 1917



Apropos the statement made by the Minister of Labour at Sheffield on June 3rd, in regard to a Woman's Air Force, Maj. Baird, Parliamentary Secretary to the Air Ministry, stated in the lobby on June 4th that such a force was really in existence already, holding a position corresponding with that of the W.A.A.C.s. in relation to the Army. There was no reason whatever, he added, why women should not fly quite as well as men.

Indeed, they performed the work assigned to them admirably, but there was, "of course, no idea of sending them to fight at the front.  The intention rather was to release men for duties of a more arduous nature. The thing was not being done under any definite scheme, for which at present there was no necessity.


Aeroplane Editor commented: 

 [There is perhaps no reason why any W.R.A.F. should not do anything as well as Maj. Baird does it, but that is no reason for risking valuable aeroplanes in the care of women pilots when there are plenty of men to fly them.—Ed.]

The Aeroplane, Vol XIV, p2148 12 June 1918



It is officially announced that the King has been pleased, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom, to degrade Sir Joseph Jonas from the degree of Knight Bachelor. One assumes that his Majesty acted on the initiative of his political advisers, and not of his own knowledge of the facts.

Sir Joseph Jonas was 'recently convicted at the Central Criminal Court, London, under the Official Secrets Act, 1911, of misdemeanour, in that he aided and abetted Charles Alfred Vernon unlawfully to obtain information respecting Vickers' rifle works at Crayford, Kent, which was calculated to be useful to an enemy. He was fined £2,000.


A former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, he was 'chairman of the firm of Sir Joseph Jonas, Colver, and Co. (Limited), steel manufacturers, and has for many years occupied a leading position in Sheffield. Born at Bingen-on-the-Rhine in 1845, he came to this country when he was 21, and was naturalised in 1875. He was first German Consul in Sheffield, and during his Lord Mayoralty received from the Kaiser the Order of the Prussian Crown. He was knighted by King Edward in 1905.

The last case of degradation from knighthood, and the first for very many years, was that of Roger Casement, who was hanged for high treason, and one cannot bring oneself to regard this as in any way an analogous case. Sir Joseph has been for many years admired and respected in Sheffield, where his personal generosity and his public spirit won for him a high place in the esteem of all classes.


His business acumen and industry created a great business, which to-day gives employment to a great number of people, and provides this country with valuable war material. His offence was one which is committed constantly in time of peace by firms in fierce competition with one another, and it does not seem possible that it had any evil results. It was committed long before the war, and during that same period a British armament firm of the highest standing was actually supplying to the German Government quantities of their latest type machine-guns, which the War Office refused to buy for the British Army.


These British guns have been used against British troops in this war, yet nobody is punished for  letting them go abroad. Sir Joseph Jonas, despite all his good work, is heavily punished for an offence of far less magnitude. It is not surprising therefore to hear that the opinion in Sheffield is that the whole of Sir Joseph's case was brought up because he offended certain Government officials or their friends.

The Aeroplane, Vol XV, p880 4 September 1918

The site: http://www.chrishobbs.com/sheffield/josephjonas.htm has further details of Sir Joseph Jonas.


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Fascinating stuff....I had come across Jonas as well as a number of other notable German residents who were "persecuted" during WW1 and  business is business...As an example, until David Lloyd George became Minister of Munitions we were actually paying the Germans for using their patented shell fuse design ..

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