Rallye Aérien International des Grand Vins de Touraine, 24-25 July 1937
In July 1937, Richard Randolph William Rawson Trafford won the international air rally of the Grand Vins de Touraine at Tours.
The competition was a treasure hunt. Numbers were laid out in various vineyards in the Loire Valley. The competitors, who were given a list and the position of the vineyards, had to find the numbers and write them on a piece of paper. They then had to drop their answers at a particular spot at the airfield at Tours. The winner was the person with the correct answers and whose piece of paper landed closest to the spot marked at the airfield.
Randolph won, out of 38 competitors as he recorded, ‘Got first prize at Tours Air Rallye last week’. He won une magnifique coupe en argent offerte par M Dreyfus, constructeur des parachutes Aviorex . All the competitors spent the rest of the weekend visiting vineyards and attending various dinners.
So, who was this daring chap, Richard Randolph William Rawson Trafford? He was Lord of the Manor of a part of Ewyas Lacy by virtue of his ownership of the Michaelchurch Court Estate in Herefordshire, England from 1910 until his death in 1943.
Educated at Harrow Public School, he was extremely wealthy with an inheritance, in 1928, of £100,000 (equivalent to over £4 million today).
Randolph was bitten by the desire to fly at an early age. Following his father’s death, in the summer of 1911, his mother took him and his elder sister, Margaret, to Trouville in France. There, aged four, he apparently saw his first plane.
He learned to fly in the 1920s and went on to become an internationally famous pilot. He had his own airfield – apparently the first one in Herefordshire.
On 18 January 1943, Randolph was flying a Fairey Fulmar II and returning from RNAS St Merryn to RNAS Yeovilton – the Naval Air Fighter School. In the plane with him was Air Artificer John Tyrrell. In low visibility, the plane crashed into high ground on Dartmoor and burnt out a quarter of a mile west of Okehampton. Both Randolph and Tyrrell were killed.
Source of information and image: The History of Ewyas Lacy, www.ewyaslacy.org.uk