Search results for RFC.

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

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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…


12 August 1914 Lt Robin Reginald Skene, Royal Flying Corps

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Robert Skene, the son of Felix Skene, the Chief Clerk of the Judicial Office of the House of Lords,  was born in Surrey on 6 August 1891. Known as 'Robin', at the time of the April 1911 Census, the 19 year old was a clerk at the Royal Exchange Insurance Office and living with his parents and 3 siblings and their housemaid, at 47 Addison Gardens, K…


010: Spring 1984

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030: Winter 1990

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083: August/September 2008

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100: June 2014 Centenary Edition

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Fallen Eagles: Airmen Who Survived the Great War Only to Die in Peacetime

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In his introduction, Norman Franks states that he came across a list of RAF officers who died between the end of the First World War and the end of 1928 while surfing the internet. Rationalising the lists, he identified ninety-three who had distinguished themselves in the war only to die in the peace ‘they had so valiantly fought for.’ The result …


Captain Horace Coomber

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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 …


27 July 1917 : Lieutenant Ivan Beauclerk Hart-Davies

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Ivan was the 4th son of Rev. John Hart-Davies and Emily (née Beauclerk, daughter of Lord Charles Beauclerk) of Southam Rectory, Warwickshire.  He was educated at Clifton College, Britstol (Haig's school) and King’s College, Canterbury. He started his career as a school teacher at New Beacon, Sevenoaks but turned to running a life and moto…


April Fools? The Formation Of The RAF with Andy Robertshaw

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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

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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, Ancestry.co.uk and are available on their fold3 website. These are now available for WFA…


'Rikki' Little: Australia's Greatest Ace

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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…


7 April 1917 : 2nd Lieut. George Orme Smart

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Parents Arthur (a cotton waste manufacturer) and Edith (née Orm (a bunting and flag manufacturer).  At the 1891 Census, age 4 he was at home with his parents, four siblings, a nursery maid and cook. At the 1901 Census, age 14, George was a Yarlet, a private boarding school north of Stafford - a feeder prep. School for Uppingham.  At the 1911 …


8 June 1919: Lt William ‘Billy’ Nichol Wilson

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Father Twentyman Wilson and mother Sarah were both from Dalston outside Carlisle, Cumberland and had agrarian backgrounds: the Wilsons as blacksmiths and wheelwrights, the Nixons and Nichols on Sarah's side working a small holding.  Twentyman got work in the then booming industrial town of Consett. Starint out as the head groom he went on to becom…


The Great War March Casualities

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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…


Jonathan Vernon BA, MA (Oxon) MA ODE (OU) , MA (WLV).

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  Jonathan has degrees in Geography (Oxford), Open and Distance Education (Open University) and British History and the First World War (Birmingham & Wolverhampton) and is a graduate of the School of Communication Arts (London).  He had a career in TV and Video production in the UK and France first and then moved to online education in 2000…


14 January 1917: 2nd Lieut. George Allan Exley

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Only son of John Exley of Farr Road a pharmaceutical chemist and his wife Mary Elizabeth. George was living on Cemetery Road, Holbeck (1901 Census) and then at the 1911 Census, on Farr Royd, Burley-in-Wharfedale. George went to Ilkley Grammar School, and was a student at the London College of Pharmacy, Clapham at the outbreak of the war. He had…


CANCELLED 'Albert Ball and His Aircraft' with Brett Goodyear

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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


'The experience of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front' with Graham Kemp

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Graham Kemp will be giving a talk on the experience of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front during the First World War.    IMAGE: Observers and pilots of No. 22 Squadron at Vert Galand aerodrome, 1 April 1918. Each of them had brought down at least three German aircraft.  © IWM (Q 11993) 


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

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‘Missing-Died-Survived’ is a rich, complex, family story told by the the grandson of the brother that survived. In his new book, Guy Senior, weaves together a collection of letters home from the Western Front, qualified with original records and privately held photographs from family, and family friends.  Joseph Senior served alongside Norman Ma…


The Contemptible Little Army, 1914 -1918

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By Alex Saunt   The story of the expansion and development of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) 1914-1918 and how the Contemptible Little Army became a huge, effective machine.   BEF AND THE START The possible conception: In 1904 King Edward, having decided our pretty frosty relationship with France should be improved, went to Paris with the…


24 March 1917:  2nd Lieut. Richard Patrick Hemphill

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To parents Rev, Samuel and Flora (née Delap). The family lived at Townparks, Birr Urban, King’s County, Ireland.  Educated at Chesterfeild School and St Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, Dublin and Campbell College, Belfast. ‘Pat’ was a member of the OTC and a medical student a Trinity College, Dublin. He was an active member of the Student Vol…


29 March 1915: 2nd Lieut. John Ollis Mullins RFC

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Parents E. Roscoe Mullins (sculptor) and Alice (née Felton) of West Heath Avenue, Hampstead.  9 January 1907, after ten years of ill-health, John’s father died. He is known by his most famous sculpture of Cain. At the 1901 England Census, John, age 9, with his parents, three other siblings (older brothers Geoffrey and Claude, and sister Ida), a…


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

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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…


17 June 1917 : Air Mechanic Frank Waddington

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Parents Isabella Waddington and step-father Barker Greenwood. At the 1901 Census Frank, age 8, lived in Burnley with his grandmother and his five adult cousins, who were all employed as weavers.  At the 1911 Census, after his mother had remarried, Frank was back with his family, the three children (Frank, Victor and Doris) family and their step…


16 June 1918 : Capt. William Ernest Dawson, RFC

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Son of William Frederick Dawson (Timber Importer) and Margaret (née Simkin) of Llantarnam Hall (now Rougemont School) nr Newport. At the 1901 Census when William was 6 years old, he was at home with his parents, his 4 siblings, a niece and aunt, 2 visitors (timber merchants) and 4 servants. They were living in the large Victorian mansion of Llan…


11 July 1917 Capt and Flight Commander Henry van Goethem

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Son of the artist Edward Victor Van Goethem and Lucy Beatrice (née Lafone) of Tregarthen, Parkstone, Dorset.  Henry was educated at Lindley Lodge, Nuneaton and Sherborne College (1908-1911), followed by City and Guilds’ College, South Kensington. Henry obtained a commission in the Special Reserve of Officers 28 April 1915. Henry was seriousl…


A Tragedy at Glamis Castle

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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…


Francis McLaren, Liberal MP for Spalding : Gallipoli and RFC

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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…


19 January 1918 : Brigadier General Gordon Strachey Shephard

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Whilst researching Dorset War Memorials, the author came across the following paragraph: ‘In the grounds of the camp (1) at Osmington is a small wooden sentry box. Inside is a truncated propeller, cut to form a cross. On the boss is a small plaque which reads: ‘In memory of Brigadier G S Sheppard DSO, MC and RFC Jan 1918’.’ (2) Living near the …


ONLINE: 'Wings Over the Somme' with Clive Harris

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The presentation will be live and online. The Battle Of the Somme, seen through the eyes of those British Airman flying above it, offers a fascinating glimpse of the potential, and relevance, of air power over the Western Front. Whilst many accounts focus on the fighter squadrons, described by Lloyd George as ‘the cavalry of the clouds’, it was th…


The original long distance bombers

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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…


"Recruitment and training in the Royal Flying Corps" by David Spruce

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In this lecture David Spruce will be looking at the recruitment and training methods used when the newest arm of the British military, the Royal Flying Corps, was operational over the Western Front. David is a former CEO/CFO but now an aspiring historian with an MA from Wolverhampton University. His MA thesis was judged a Masters Prize Winner by th…


'Roasting a sausage': Balloons, their crews, and those who shot them down

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Although observation balloons had been used as early as 1794 the static nature of the conflict in the First World War provided the backdrop for the balloons to come into their own and play an important part in the war. The idiom ‘the balloon’s going up’ derives from the raising of a balloon signalling the beginning of an artillery barrage, guided b…


Ep. 216 - Equipment and clothes of the RFC – Mark Hillier

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From an album of 230 photographs collected by Colonel W Leith-Ross, Army Staff, 1916-1917. NAM. 1983-12-70-210 Out of copyright.

Author and pilot Mark Hillier about talks his latest book on the equipment and clothes of the RFC in the First World War. This book is published by Pen and Sword.


The first RFC pilot to land in France 13 August 1914

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At 6.25am on 13 August 1914, No.2 Squadron Royal Flying Corp mobilised for France. They were to follow their commanding officer Major C J Burke, a pioneer of military aviation who was noted for his courage and who had not only insisted that his squadron be the first to leave – but that his aircraft be the first to land. Above: Major Charles Burk…


Ep.220 – Recruiting and training the RFC – David Spruce

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Doctoral candidate David Spruce talks to me about his research into Recruiting and Training the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War. Your browser does not support the audio element. David Spruce looks at the recruitment and training me…


Using the RFC to unlock the workings of widow’s pensions

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It was only in early 1915, 6 months in to the war, that the War Office began paying pensions to the widows of those soldiers who had been killed. This wasn’t down to any lack of a pension system, it was down to an inherent 6-month delay between death and a pension being paid to allow time for the man to turn up alive, and any necessary paperwork to…


The R38 disaster

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At the start of the war, in contrast to Germany, the British had limited experience of airships. Under the Royal Naval Air Service there were only a handful of airships in service but with increasing U-Boat activity and the resultant impact on shipping, the Navy began to further develop its use of airships to counter the U-Boat threat. The R.38 c…


Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis

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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…