Search results for RAF.

20 August 1897 : Cpl / Flt. Cdt John Arthur Wilson MM


As a boy, after Sunday lunch, I recall sitting on my grandfather's knee and he would start off with the line ‘have I told you about the time ...' and he'd then add, ‘.... we were gassed' or '.... we took a German prisoner' or '..... I was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps'. Perhaps this started my interest in history. In his 96th year Jack r…

The RAF Centenary Anthology 1918-2018


This massive commemorative RAF Centenary Anthology 1918-2018 has been an enormous undertaking.

It comprises 650 pages of documents, orders, diaries, letters and ephemera to mark 100 years of of service by the Royal Air Force. It weighs 7kg.

You can see its size from the photograph it is a whopping 39cm x 27cm (15.35 inches x 10.63 inches).


The most successful British Bomber Aircraft of The First World War


An introduction to British Aircraft of the First World War If one were asked to choose a paradigm to represent the effect of a major war on the speed of technological change, the evolution of heavier-than-air aircraft in the First World War would be a good choice. But of particular note would be the dramatic development of the immediate pre-war ba…

Captain Horace Coomber


Captain Horace Coomber By Gareth Morgan    This article first appeared in the Australian Society of WWI Aero Historians and is published with the kind permission of the author.   The Manchester Regiment and 45 Squadron R.F.C. By Gareth Morgan “The most popular officer we ever had” Many airmen who lost their lives during the Great War were…

Relearning the Lessons. John Terraine’s 1984 WFA Address


Relearning the Lessons. John Terraine’s 1984 WFA Address (This article, a transcript of John Terraine's 1984 Address first appeared in Stand To! 1985 No.13  pp4-7) "Mr. Chairman, fellow-members of The Western Front Association: I hope you will forgive me if today - contrary to my usual practice - I strike a personal note in my address to you. B…

April Fools? The Formation Of The RAF with Andy Robertshaw


The renowned historian, author and TV presenter Andy Robertshaw makes a welcome return to the branch to present what has become his annual New Year talk to the branch. This year Andy presents a brand new talk all about the Royal Air Force which was formed 100 years ago on the 1st April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Ai…

Understanding the Ledger Indexing


This article aims to set out some of the technical aspects of the indexing of - and subcategories that make up - the 'ledgers' in The Western Front Association's collection of Pension Record Cards. These ledgers have been scanned and digitised by our partner, and are available on their fold3 website. These are now available for WFA…

'Rikki' Little: Australia's Greatest Ace


As the ‘Camel’ pilot approached dark shape in the gloom of the late May evening, he recognised it as a Gotha bomber – one of those that had been reported in the area that evening. Captain Robert Little - ‘Rikki’ to his comrades at 203 Squadron - could make out enough of the enemy machine in the moonlight to be confident that he would be able to bri…

An Eye in the Sky: The Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force Career of Air Commodore Henry George Crowe MC, CBE, CBD (SC)


By Bob Cossey Pen & Sword Aviation, £25.00, 392pp, 200 ills, appendix, index. ISBN: 978–152–672–596–7 Henry George Crowe, ‘Hal’ to his family, was born in Dublin on 11 June 1897. The son of a successful stockbroker, he was studying engineering at Trinity College, Dublin when war was declared. Too young to enlist, he joined the army via Sandh…

8 June 1919: Lt William ‘Billy’ Nichol Wilson


His father was Twentyman Wilson and mother Sarah; they were both from Dalston Cumberland and had agrarian backgrounds: the Wilsons were blacksmiths and wheelwrights, while the Nixons and Nichols on Sarah's side worked a small holdings.  Twentyman got work in the then booming industrial town of Consett. Starting out as the head groom he went on t…

The Great War and March Casualities from Lewes, East Sussex


During the early years of the war, March on the Western Front was a time of preparation for the spring offensives both sides knew would come as soon as the ground had dried out sufficiently to make a successful advance a real possibility. As a result there was only one Lewes casualty in March 1915 and two in 1916. March 1917 brought seven fatalitie…

CANCELLED 'Albert Ball and His Aircraft' with Brett Goodyear


Brett Goodyear will present the Bill Fulton Memorial Talk on a subject that Bill used to present himself 'Albert Ball' at the Royal British Legion in Hornchuch the 2020      NOTE: The map on the 'Events Details' is not correct for this venue

'Missing-Died-Survived. The Senior Brothers and The Great War' by Guy Senior


‘Missing-Died-Survived’ is a rich, complex, family story told by the the grandson of the brother that survived. In this book, Guy Senior, weaves together a story through a collection of letters home from the Western Front, qualifies what is said with original records and illustrates it all with privately held photographs from family, and family fri…

The Sky Their Battlefield by Trevor Henshaw (reviewed by Peter Hart)


Fetubi Books, ISBN: 9–780–992–977–115 (softback) £40.00 ISBN: 9–780–992–977–108 (hardback) £50.00  This is the most important book published on the Great War this year. The first edition produced back in 1995 seemed unbeatable, but this is even better. Revised from top to bottom it covers the carefully indexed contributions to the air war of som…

A Tragedy at Glamis Castle 1915


In 1915 an R.F.C. aeroplane, crewed by two newly-qualified pilots, crashed in the grounds of Glamis Castle in Scotland, witnessed by a teenage girl who went on to become a Queen and, later, Queen Mother.  Here we look at the story behind that fatal accident. The Castle and the Bowes-Lyon Family Glamis Castle (below), sometimes described as Scotla…

Biggles, the Battle of the Flowers and the RAF in the First World War


In the rarely visited Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Charmes (some 25 miles due south of the city of Nancy) are several graves of men from the RAF. The reason for this is this was the area from which the Independent Force (sometimes called the Independent Air Force) operated against Germany in the later stages of the First World War…

Francis McLaren, Liberal MP for Spalding : Gallipoli and RFC


On 30 August 1917, Francis McLaren, who was a Liberal MP for Spalding, was killed in an Avro 504 A which fell into the sea off Montrose. He was on a training flight at the time. Second Lieutenant McLaren was undergoing pilot training with Number 18 Training Squadron (RNVR).  Although rescued by a fishing boat, Francis did not regain consciousnes…

An Original First World War RAF Hangar and the story of 'RFC Bramham Moor'


Anyone driving along the A64 dual carriageway between York and Leeds may have noticed at a significant barn-like structure set back in the fields from the road on the York side of Bramham junction. The building that is just visible from the road was an original World War One aircraft hangar and 33 Squadron was the first squadron to be based at the …

The Original Long Distance Bombers of the First World War


Most of us are familiar with the RAF bombing campaigns of the Second World War, but few are aware that such cities as Cologne, Frankfurt, Mannheim and Stuttgart had already been targeted two decades earlier during the First World War. The reward for building an organisation like The Western Front Association on a foundation of reputable research i…

Major Mick Mannock KIA 10 July 1918 and the ongoing mystery of his grave


On 10 July 1918, Major Edward Mannock, who had recently been appointed to command 85 Squadron of the newly created RAF, heard that his friend James McCudden had been killed in a flying accident. This news seriously depressed ‘Mick’ as he was known, but also motivated him into a killing spree. On top of his already impressive haul, he shot down six …

Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis


Published by Published by Peter Davies Ltd. First Edition June 1936 Sagittarius Rising covers Cecil Lewis’s life as a flyer from 1915 to 1921. Published in 1936 it is not an autobiography. He kept no diaries during this period but records the incidents and memories which had stayed with him, 18 years after the war had ended. During this period, h…

‘Forgotten Air VCs of the Great War’ – Jim Nicholson


During the Great War, some 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded, of which only nineteen were to aviators. In his talk Jim Nicolson will detail the stories of just four of the lesser- known VC recipients with some jaw-dropping accounts of the actions for which they were awarded their decoration. Jim is no stranger to aerial VCs, being the nephew of J…

Max Immelmann – the ‘Eagle of Lille’


The first German air ace of the war was Max Immelmann – known as ‘Der Adler von Lille’ – ‘the eagle of Lille’. Over a period of just over a year, he would claim 17 victories until his death on 18 June 1916. Above: a commemorative coin Born in Dresden on 21 September 1890, Max enrolled in Dresden Cadet School in 1905. By 1912, he had left the ar…

The strangest dog fight of the war?


The German Albatros aeroplane shown here is preserved at the AWM in Australia. It was shot down during what is perhaps one of the strangest combats in flying history on 17 December 1917.   Above: Albatros D.Va, Serial D.5390/17, at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra This German Albatros D.Va (numbered 5390/17) was being flown by Leutnant Ru…

Robert ‘Bobbie’ Loraine M.C. : Actor-Airman


The once-renowned Robert ‘Bobbie’ Lorraine is now an obscure figure. Born on 14 January 1876 in New Brighton, Merseyside, he was known in his heyday as the ‘Actor-Airman’. He became a matinee idol before gaining his Royal Aero Club pilot’s certification in 1910 at the age of thirty five. The first man to land an aircraft on the Isle of Wight in …

10 January 1916 : Percival ‘Percy’ Victor Fraser


His parents were William and Annie (née Grieve). Percy, as he was known, had three younger brothers, two of whom died ages 3 and 17. He came to England before the war and worked as a marine engineer before the war. During the war he was based at the Eastbourne Naval Air Station, Hampden.  He gained his Aviator's Certificate on 14 May, 1915…

ONLINE: The Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front


The presentation will be live and online.  The talk by Graham Kemp examines the experiences of the men who served in Royal Flying Corps over the Western Front. From its early days, when your greatest danger was the plane, to the later years of trying to drive the German air force from the skies. Drawing from personal experiences and anecdotes…

Winged Victory by Victor M. Yeates


I’d heard there was a book written about flying in the First World War that was in great demand by flyers in the Second; this was ‘Winged Victory’ by Victor Yeates who had died of TB in 1934. Out of print, rare copies were going for £5 each in 1941 (over £200 today). Its rarity is part of the story: published in 1931 the interest in novelisations o…

'The Western Front, through the Eyes of the RFC and RAF' (Pt 1) with Christopher Finn


Please note - this lecture is on a Tuesday Part 1 - 1914 - 1916 In this evening's talk, Chris will look at and describe the early experiences of the Royal Flying Corps during the years 1914 to 1916, which was a period of steep learning curves for everyone concerned.  What is air power for? How do we use it? What aircraft do we require? This is p…

Hang on a Minute! Near escapes by RFC/RAF Pilots during the First World War


During the Great War pilots and observers of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and Royal Air Force(RAF) were not provided with parachutes, unless they were crewing observation balloons where the bulky parachutes of the day could be attached to the outside of the basket. Consequently, many lives were lost as crewmembers of…

5 September 1918 : Lieut: Eugenio Da Silva Possolo Air Force (RAF/RFC)


Brazilian, Eugenio Da Silva Possolo, was attached to 50 Training Depot Station RAF from the Brazilian Navy. He was was killed when the Sopwith Camel (C3294) he was flying collided with another Sopwith Camel (F3207) flown by Second Lieutenant Reginald Horace Sanders, who also died in the accident. At the time of the accident Lieutenant Possolo was…

Lanoe Hawker, VC: Pilot, Innovator and Inventor


Lanoe Hawker was born on 31 December 1890 in Longparish, Hampshire, and soon showed himself to be an intelligent boy.  At the age of ten he went to Geneva with his younger brother for schooling; with Lanoe returning to England two years later.  In 1905 he decided to join the Royal Navy and successfully entered the Britannia Naval College at Dartmou…

'From Flying Dreadnought to Dogfighter - The Troubled Birth of the British Fighter' - Greg Baughan


On Wednesday 11th of October we welcome Greg Baughan to our Hornchurch venue, to present his first talk to the Essex Branch. This talk destroys many myths about WW1 fighter development. Part talk, part detective story, it explains how the importance of air superiority was understood long before the Great War began, explores how naval influence dela…

‘The First World War Experiences of Some World War Two RAF Commanders’ with Colin Buxton


Colin will be speaking about his further work exploring the First World War experiences of a number of men who would become important in the RAF in the Second World War. We suggest a voluntary donation of £3 per person. Come and join us – we welcome guests and first-time attendees as well as WFA Members For further information, please contact Da…

'William Leefe Robonson, VC, and the first blitz' by David Marks


William Leefe Robinson was a modest young man became an overnight sensation for shooting down the first airship over London on the night of 2/3 September 1916. His feat paved the way for the eventual defeat of the Zeppelin as a strategic bombing weapon. The talk tells the story of the 'First Blitz' and the life and times of a gallant pilot who is s…

Ep.295 – The birth of the RAF – Prof. Richard Overy


Professor Richard Overy, Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter, talks about his recent book on the formation of the RAF in April 1918.


He describes how the Royal Flying Corp transf…

The Flying Sikh The Story of a WW1 Fighter Pilot – Flying Officer Hardit Singh Malik by Stephen Barker


Pen & Sword, 2022 £25.00hb, 224pp, including b&w images ISBN: 9781399083294.  Flying Ace, first–class cricketer, golfer, civil servant, diplomat. Hardit Singh Malik was a man of many talents who lived an extraordinarily eventful and interesting life filled with adventure and camaraderie, nicely captured by Stephen Barker. Not unusually …

A talk by Greg Baughen on ‘An Independent RAF – inspiration or aberration?'


Greg gave us a talk in 2022 and is coming back due to popular demand!  No doubt he will receive a warm welcome. Greg has been researching the history of British and French air forces for over forty years, with a focus on how air power evolved in both countries.  He has published several books and may well bring some to the meeting for sale.

'First Things First", The Early Days: RFC Suttons Farm' - Richard Smith


This talk, at the Hornchurch venue, is a truly local story.  This talk will cover the origins and history of RFC Suttons Farm in Hornchurch.  It was from here that William Leefe Robinson shot down a Zeppelin in September 1916, the first downed by air combat over the UK. Suttons farm was a key part of home defence in the First World War and continu…

'No.16 Squadron RFC - The Great War History of an Army Cooperation Squadron' with Colin Buxton


Colin Buxton's presentation covers the history of the Army Cooperation role seen through the experiences of one unit: No.16 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.  From early in the war, until its conclusion, the squadron flew many dangerous and demanding missions over the Western Front - including Artillery Spotting, Reconnaissance, Photography and Contac…

‘Observation Balloons on the Western Front – an "over view" ' by Vernon Creek


About this talk: Many groups of combatants could claim to be the unsung heroes of the Great War. But the men flying observation balloons must have a particularly strong claim. Operating at 1200-1800 meters above the front lines, the crew had nothing between their feet and the ground but a centimetre or two of wicker basket. The crews (or 'balloonat…

A raid on Stuttgart by 55 Squadron: As told by W.E. Johns


'Flying has been, for so long, almost a commonplace event that it is difficult for many to realise that in 1914 aeroplanes were still something of a novelty. More than this, there is all the difference in the world between a modern bomber and the somewhat crazy machines in which the early war-time pilots essayed flights over the German lines. In th…

The Fear of the ‘Zepp’ and the King Stephen Case


When archivist for the RAF Museum, 2019 – 2024, I was naturally drawn to the documents relating to the First World War. In many aspects the early years of the Royal Flying Corps and their actions in the First World War are overshadowed by the glamourous aircraft and men and women of the Second. Certainly more visitors would visit and stare (rightly…

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The Western Front Association (The WFA) was formed with the purpose of furthering interest in First World War of 1914-1918. We also aim to perpetuate the memory, courage and comradeship of all those who served their countries on all sides, across all theatres and fronts, on land, at sea and in the air and at home, during the Great War.

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