Personnel Index - Detail
A chance discovery at Leeds University Library has uncovered the following details:
William George Hasler began WW1 in 1915 as an underage private in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. During his service in the UK he rose to the rank of Sergeant. In 1916 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Cheshire Regiment. He recorded descriptions of small raids but would never talk about major attacks or the time when a book in his breast pocket stopped a bullet or piece of shrapnel.
In 1917 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.
Details of the crash from the handwritten diary of William George Hasler:
The first really fine day of the month (April 1918) was the 6th but it was the most terrible day of my life for, to see - I am wandering.
I will try and give a detailed account of what happened.
Morris was ordered to lead a formation of F.I.A.T.s (FIAT engined DH4s) for a practice and so at about 9:45am we climbed into our machines and the pilots ran up the engines. All was ok.
Then we all taxied across to the starting point and got into a line.
We were to take off followed immediately by Rough, McEwan and Leekie.
We took off and I, looking over the tail, saw Rough and McEwan take off. I didn't have time to see Leekie off the ground for, at that moment, the engine cut out.
What height we were I do not know. Reports vary from 200' to 2,000'.
Morris turned the machine and I thought he was going to land downwind. But no!
He turned and intended to land into the wind but the machine stalled and spun until it hit the ground.
As soon as the bus stalled I knew we were "for it" and so I got ready to meet the earth. The crash stunned me for a second and then a huge sheet of flame put the finishing touches to it. I gave one shove with my feet and fell out of the wreckage.
As soon as I could I stood up to get at Morris but I couldn't.
The flames and fumes and my partially dazed state did it and I burnt my eye and the last thing I did was to put the fire out that was around my leg.
Then I must have fainted.
The next thing I knew I was being carried to the ambulance. The I was taken to the M.O's.
Someone said to the driver, "who have you got there?"
"Mr Hasler," said the driver.
"Is he dead?" came the next question.
It was not until then that I realised what a narrow squeak I'd had.
When we stalled there was nothing I could do as we were too low.
But the biggest loss of all time was to lose Morris.
There was obviously some concern about the responsibility for the crash and the following two documents were discovered.
Lt Hasler was then returned to the UK by ambulance train. Once he had recovered he trained as an airship pilot but the Armistice was signed before he became operational.
During WW2 he was called up and became a Flying Control Officer (Air Traffic Controller).
W G Hasler on duty in the Belfast control tower during WW2