Search results for RFC.

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…

12 August 1914 Lt Robin Reginald Skene, Royal Flying Corps


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 Special Edition


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


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 …

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…

27 July 1917 : Lieutenant Ivan Beauclerk Hart-Davies


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


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…

The (other) man who shot down the Red Baron


By far the most famous ‘ace’ of the Great War was Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen, popularly known during the war in Germany as Der Rote Kampfflieger (The Red Battle Flyer). Above: Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.  By late winter of 1917 von Richthofen was already one of the leading German fighter pilots, having shot down no fewer than tw…

7 April 1917 : 2nd Lieut. George Orme Smart


His parents were Arthur Smart (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 Uppingha…

8 June 1919: Lt William ‘Billy’ Nichol Wilson


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

The Battle of the Somme - A Royal Flying Corps perspective


On 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme opened. With 60,000 casualties (including 20,000 dead) on the first day, this battle continues to fascinate and appal in equal measure. One aspect of the Battle of the Somme which is less well covered than others is that of the airmen who flew over the area during the summer and autumn of 1916, and later in…

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…

14 January 1917: 2nd Lieut. George Allan Exley


He was the 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 …

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 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


By Alex Saunt (Major Alex Saunt MBE served with the Light Infantry and with the SAS in Libya, Borneo, Northern Ireland, Germany and Denmark. He was awarded an MBE for his courage). 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. B…

24 March 1917:  2nd Lieut. Richard Patrick Hemphill


His parents were the Rev, Samuel and Flora (née Delap). The family lived at Townparks, Birr Urban, King’s County, Ireland.  'Pat' as he was known was 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 w…

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


His parents were 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 sis…

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…

17 June 1917 : Air Mechanic Frank Waddington


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


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


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 seriou…

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…

Amongst the First To Fall - Early Casualties of the Royal Flying Corps in August 1914


Death was not a stranger to the Royal Flying Corps even before the British Empire commenced hostilities against Germany on 4 August 1914.  Between the founding of the Corps on 13 May 1912 and the outbreak of War twenty-seven months later the Military Wing suffered the loss of twenty airmen in aeroplane accidents. Nevertheless, the RFC carried on wi…

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…

19 January 1918 : Brigadier General Gordon Strachey Shephard


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


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…

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…

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


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


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


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


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


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 24 August 1921


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


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…

ONLINE: 'Hardit Singh Malik. The Flying Sikh' with Stephen Barker


From his arrival in the UK alone in 1912 as a fourteen-year-old, to Balliol College, Oxford and into the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, Hardit Singh Malik lived an extraordinary life, often in the face of great adversity, yet always with charm and good humour. He played cricket for Sussex and was an Oxford blue in golf, playing with…

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…

Members' Afternoon (1)


Our annual Members' Afternoon will be held on Sunday, 9th January 2022 - NB this is one week later than usual so that we avoid the New Year period. Again this year, we have a selection of talks which includes: Conscription in the NZEF A Gallipoli Photograph Album RFC (details TBC) The Battle of the Wilsons 1911 - A Monologue in Three Acts Armo…

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…

22 January 1918 : 2nd Lieut. Robert Cadzow, R.F.C.


Son of Robert Cadzow and Christina (née Fleming)  At the 1901 Census, age 2, Robert was at home with his parents and younger brother Andrew and maternal grandmother Mrs Helen Fleming. There were also four servants, and four farm labourers living on the farm.  Sisters, Helen and Janet were born in 1902 and 1903.  He was educated in the state …

17 March 1917 : 2nd Lieut. David Dennys Fowler, RFC


Dennys was the son of James Fowler and Mary Harriet (née Morgan) both were born in south Australia.  In 1898 David’s six year old brother died. At some point in the next year or so the family moved to England. By the time of the 1901 Census the 3 year old Dennys was at home with his parents at at 44/46 Albert Gate, Knightsbridge with his parent…

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…

'Hardit Singh Malik. The Flying Sikh' by Stephen Barker


For our April 2022 branch meeting we are very pleased to be able to welcome Stephen Barker back to Highworth. On this occasion, Stephen's talk will be entitled 'Hardit Singh Malik, The RFC and the First World War'. From his arrival in the UK alone in 1912 as a fourteen-year-old, to Balliol College, Oxford and into the Royal Flying Corps during the…

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…

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…

'Somme Success: The RFC and the Battle of the Somme, 1916 by Peter Hart'


Somme Success: The RFC and the Battle of the Somme, 1916 by Peter Hart   The talk title is self-explanatory, however yet another Great War area that not many may be familiar with. Most, if not all, Great War enthusiasts will know Peter and his body of work.  He is regarded as a lively, well informed and amusing speaker.  Peter is a regular and p…

'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…

'Somme success: The RFC and the Battle of the Somme, 1916' by Peter Hart


Peter discusses one of the great aerial battles played out during the summer and autumn of 1916 above the Somme battlefields. Photo reconnaissance conducted by both sides to identify the positioning of infantry and artillery, the need for aerial bombing, and fighter aircraft to deny the enemy access to the skies. Mention of Air Aces on both sides a…

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…

‘Missing-Died-Survived’ - the story of three brothers who fought on the Western Front


Our October meeting sees a visit from Guy Senior who has visited a number of WFA branches in recent times.   This month’s talk is entitled ‘Missing-Died-Survived’ and is the story of three brothers who fought on the Western Front: Joseph, Walter and George Senior.   Born in the Yorkshire town of Wakefield, all three were educated at Wakefield G…

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 …

'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…

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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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