Corsellis, Timothy John Manley


Timothy John Manley Corsellis was born on 14th January 1923, the eldest son of Douglas Corsellis, a barrister who lost an arm at Gallipoli in the First World War.  In spite of this injury he won the British Ski Championship in Davos and flew his own aeroplane between the family home in Essex and his work in London.  He died in a flying accident when taking off in fog from Hendon.

Timothy came to Winchester from St Clare’s School in Walmer, Kent, with a reputation for being difficult and with little respect for authority. Eventually, however, he became Captain of School Fencing, was  a remarkable conjuror and a keen reader and writer of modern poetry and an admirer of French painting.

On leaving he went to work in the Wandsworth Council Office, where he was articled to the Town Clerk, but his chief interest was in the Crown Club, Hoxton, where he lived. This boys club had been set up in 1926 by two OW brothers, Arthur and Harold Llewellyn Smith, to help the young men and boys in east London to develop their community skills.

Corsellis joined the RAFVR and wished to become a fighter pilot, but was finally posted to bombers. This post he refused, as his conscience would not allow him to bomb civilians.   He then found a job in the Air Transport Auxiliary delivering new aeroplanes from the factories. In September 1939 the Air Transport Auxiliary consisted of twenty-two men and women pilots, but eventually built up to a peak strength of 1,152 men and 600 women. By the end of the war they had delivered 309,011 aircraft of more than two hundred types. The ATA lost 174 men and women in the war, among them the famous air pioneer Amy Johnson CBE, who died on January 6th 1941 when the Airspeed Oxford which she was ferrying crashed in the Thames Estuary.

Corsellis died in a similar way: he crashed and was killed at Annan, Dumfriesshire, on October 10th 1941, aged twenty.

Corsellis was ferrying a Miles Magister I trainer (serial L8268) from Luton to Carlisle, and was making an approach to the airfield at Annan when he stalled in a turn and hit trees a mile to the north. The aircraft was completely written off, and Corsellis killed. He is commemorated on the left-hand column of the memorial at Oxford Crematorium. In addition, a small sandstone block was erected to mark the site of his crash, beside the river at Warmanbie House (national grid reference NY195689). The stone was vandalized and thrown into the river in 1976, but retrieved and re-erected at the corner of the lawn of the house. The stone had originally been a sundial, and its reverse bears the inscription:   hora traditur hora / Lat 55n Long 3w / 3rd July 1828.

On the front, it reads:   To the memory of Timothy John Manley Corsellis/2nd Officer ATA/Killed on this spot 10th October 1941/while serving his country during the Second German War/aged twenty.

Destined to know not winter, only spring, / A being took the flowery April blithely for a while, / Took his fill of music, joy, of thought and seeing, / Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile, / Linked still by love no parting can destroy.

A biography of Timothy Corsellis was published in 2012 entitled “The Unassuming Sky: The Life and Poetry of Timothy Corsellis” by Helen Goethals (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).  Winchester College Archives has a copy of this book and it can be consulted on application to the Archivist, Suzanne Foster (sf@wincoll.ac.uk).

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Corsellis
  • Forenames or initials: Timothy John Manley
  • House: C
  • Years in School: 1934-1938
  • Rank: Second Officer
  • Regiment: Air Transport Auxiliary
  • Date of Birth: 21st January 1921
  • Date of Death: 10th October 1941
  • How Died: Killed in an Accident
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner A2
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Commemorated on memorial at Warmanbie House, Annan, Dumfries