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Heroes of the Air: Captain J.A Liddel

Link - Posted by David on June 10, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 30 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPT. J.A LIDDEL WINNING THE V.C. IN BELGIUM, JULY 23rd, 1915

On July 23rd, 1915, Captain J.A. Liddel, V.C., was making a long range reconnaissance patrol over the area around Ostend and Bruges. At that time he was in No.7 Squadron and flying an R.E.5. In order to get plenty of information he had to fly very low, with the result that he came under a great deal of anti-aircraft fire. He managed to escape the shrapnel for a little time, but he was eventually wounded in the thigh. He fainted, but the flow of cool air revived him and he took control of his machine once more, and in spite of the agony he was suffering from his wounds he continued his reconnaissance. He could have landed at once and received medical attendance, but he preferred to remain in the air, although shrapnel was now bursting around him more ferociously than before. At last, his work finished, he turned for home. On landing he was hurried to hospital where, unhappily, he died from his wounds one month later. Notification of the award was made in the London Gazette on August 3rd, 1915, with the following words: “The difficulties overcome by this officer in saving his machine and the life of his passenger cannot be readily expressed, but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the undercarriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished what he did.”

Heroes of the Air: Captain Albert Ball

Link - Posted by David on April 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 23 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPTAIN ALBERT BALL, Y.C., IN COMBAT WITH GERMAN FIGHTERS

CAPTAIN ALBERT BALL was awarded the V.C. for a series of conspicuously brave actions, unlike many others who received this high award for one gallant deed alone. Born in Nottingham, he was not nineteen years old when he arrived in France to join No. 13 Squadron. That was in February, 1915, and for a few months he was flying B.E.2C.’s. His courage and his habit of engaging all enemy machines on sight soon won him a transfer to a Fighter Squadron: No. 11, which was equipped with Nieuport Scouts. Towards the end of June he scored his first victory, a balloon. It was tne first and last he shot down, for he thought balloon straffing “a rotten job.” For a short time he went back to a two-seater squadron, but he soon returned to fly Nieuports. His score of enemy machines rose rapidly until, in 1917, it had passed forty. By this time he was serving in the renowned 56 Squadron, where S.E.5’s were used, and it was in an S.E.5 that Ball met his death. All that is really known of his death is that it occurred on May 7, 1917, over Anoellin. How he died is not known, for, although there were many witnesses, their accounts differ very widely. Thus passed Albert Ball, like the great Guynemer, his death shrouded in mystery.

The Three Wasps!

Link - Posted by David on March 20, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHILE recently looking through Harold Hersey’s short-run aviation titles, I came upon what I thought was a new series we could feature on the site, or maybe in a book if there were enough stories. Thumbing though the first issue of Hersey’s Eagles of the Air there was an ad for the next issue stating, “Another Story of The “WASPS”"

I looked in the next issue and there they were as well as running in three of the other seven issues of the run—five tales in all. I scanned the pages to read later and continued searching through the various titles.

Later, while reading the first one, I was thinking this all sounds so familiar. I was thinking this was a story I had just read—and it was, but then it was a story staring Ralph Oppenheim’s “Three Mosquitoes,” not D. Campbell’s “Three Wasps.” So I pulled up the Mosquitoes version of the story and Campbell’s story was a virtual word-for-word copy of of Oppenheim’s—all he did was change the names of the characters.

So Kirby, the young impetuous leader of the Three Mosquitoes becomes Gary, the young impetuous leader of the Three Wasps. “Shorty” Carn, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito becomes the mild-eyed, corpulent “Shorty” Keen, complete with briar pipe in Campbell’s Wasps. To complete the inseparable trio, Travis, the oldest and wisest of the Mosquitoes, has his name changed to Cooper.


The Text. A portion of the D. Campbell’s “Dangerous Business” (Eagles of the Air, Nov 1929) on the left and the similar passage from Ralph Oppenheim’s “Stacked Cards” (War Birds, Jul 1928) on the right.

I couldn’t believe it. So I checked out the Wasps story in the next issue and it was the same thing. And so on with the other three—sometimes even forgetting to change “Mosquitoes” to “Wasps”. All five stories were plagiarized from Oppenhiem’s stories. Instead of just stealing a random story like Robert A. Carter had done, D. Campbell was plagiarizing a whole series!

It seemed a bold move that nobody seemed to notice. Weirdly, I could find no mention of it in the newspapers of the time. The only hint of something being up was pointed out by a reader whose letter ran in the same issue as the final Wasps story.

So who was this D. Campbell? I thought at first it was just an alias for Oppenheim who was simply trying to repackage his Three Mosquitoes stories as The Three Wasps and get paid for them again—’cause nobody would be so bold, but D. Campbell it turns out, is an actual guy.

Donald Marr Campbell was born on September 2nd, 1904 in Cambellton, Texas and had his first story in the pulps, “King Ranch,” in the February 11th, 1928 issue of West. He’s credited with a couple dozen stories that run the gamut from aviation to detective to spy to westerns with his last appearing in the March 1932 issue of The Shadow

Campbell listed his occupation as Cafe Operator in the 1940 census and signed up for the war effort in 1942. Sadly, in the 1950 census he is listed as being unable to walk. He moved to Houston in 1956 where he lived until he passed away in 1974 at the age of 69 following an extended illness.

Looking at some of his other published stories, it turns out there was an earlier plagiarized Wasp story that appeared in the April 1929 Flying Aces. This would make it the first of the Wasp stories. The issue also include a letter of thanks for publishing from Campbell!

In all Campbell had six stories of the Wasps published. Each was a virtual word for word copy of a preexisting story of the Three Mosquitoes by Ralph Oppenhiem. They were:

  • Flying To Glory (Flying Aces, Apr 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Down from the Clouds (War Stories, Aug 19, 1927)
  • Reckless and Lucky (Eagles of the Air, Oct 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Two Aces~and A Joker (War Birds, Jun 1928)
  • Dangerous Business (Eagles of the Air, Nov 1929) is based on Oppenheim’s Stacked Cards (War Birds, Jul 1928)
  • Luck of the Wasps (Eagles of the Air, Jan 1930) is from Oppenheim’s An Ace In The Hole (War Stories Mar 29, 1928)
  • Three Flying Fools (Eagles of the Air Feb 1930) is from Oppenheim’s Get That Gun (War Stories Nov 8, 1928)
  • The Wasps (Eagles of the Air Mar 1930) is from Oppenheim’s Two Aces—In Dutch (War Stories, Dec 6, 1928)

But what better way than to see for yourself. So we’ll be posting couple of the Wasps’ adventures over the next week. As the Three Mosquitoes and the Three Wasps would both say, “Let’s Go!”

The first of D. Campbell’s Three Wasps stories appeared in the pages of the April 1929 Flying Aces. The greatest fighting war-birds on the Western Front roar into action. The three Spads flying in a V formation so precise that they seemed as one. On their trim khaki fuselages, were three identical insignias—each a huge, black-painted picture of a grim-looking wasp. In the cockpits sat the reckless, inseparable trio known as the “Three Wasps.” Captain Gary, their impetuous young leader, always flying point. On his right, “Shorty” Keen, the mild-eyed, corpulent little Mosquito, who loved his sleep. And on Kirby’s left, completing the V, the eldest and wisest of the trio—long-faced and taciturn Cooper.

A new C.O. has been assigned to the squadron and he can’t stand pilots who “grand-stand” which is the Mosquitoes stock-in-trade and boy do they catch hell when they get on the C.O.’s wrong side—that is until the C.O. gets in a jam and it’s trick flying that’ll save him when the Boche attack!

The C.O. called them babies and forbade stunt flying. Not content with that he separated the Three Wasps, the greatest flying, fighting trio he had. Hatred was rampant. But all this was forgotten when the great call came!

Compare this to Oppenheim’s original version of the story with The Three Mosquitoes!

Down from the Clouds

The C.O. of the flying field was sore—the Three Mosquitoes, dare-devils supreme were doing their “grand-stand stuff” again. But when the C.O. found himself in difficulties, with Boche planes swarming all around him—things were different. The best flying story of the month.

And check back on Friday when the Wasps will be back with another exciting adventure!

Heroes of the Air: Capt. A. Beauchamp-Proctor

Link - Posted by David on February 12, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 16 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPT. A. BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR. V.C., DESTROYING A GERMAN KITE BALLOON, 1918

CAPTAIN ANDREW BEAUCHAMP-PROCTOR, who was a South African, served in France with the renowned 84 Squadron, where he won many decorations. He flew an S.E.5A. Like Albert Ball, he was awarded the V.C. for continuous bravery over a long period, not for one particular action. Very little is known about this valorous air fighter, so let us quote from the London Gazette of November 30, 1918. “Between August 8, 1918 and October 8, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control. . . . Captain Beauchamp-Proctor’s work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance has been almost unsurpassed in its brilliancy, and as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.” Unhappily this gallant officer lost his life in a crash after the war. On June 21 he was practising for the R.A.F. display, when his machine went into a spin and crashed before he had time to get it under control. In this way ended the career of one who had cheated death so many times in aerial combat.

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929

Link - Posted by David on February 5, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

IF FRIDAY’S story seemed a little familiar to you, there may be a reason for that. The entire story was plagiarized from another. In this case it was Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929). Yes, Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” was a virtual word for word rip off of Conlon’s earlier story.

Everything seemed to be going Robert A. Carter’s way. A former Canadian war time ace, he was Married in 1925, with a girl born the following year, the former Canadian war time ace had found a way to profit off his past experiences by not only editing two of Fiction House’s Aviation pulps—Air Stories and Wings, but he was also getting his own stories in including a 14 part series on “How to Become a Pilot” that ran in both magazines.

Toward the end of 1928, it all started to unravel.

Turns out that loving wife and child was more of a ball and chain to Carter who found he preferred the company of his friends over them. As the Port Chester Daily Item reported on January 12th:

Alimony of $35 a week and counsel fees of $500 must be paid to Mrs. Michelena Carter, of 88 Chatswood Avenue, Larchmont, by her husband, Robert A. Carter, editor of aeronautical fiction magazines, according to award made here by Supreme Court Justice George H. Taylor, Jr., in Special Term. The award was made by default as no opposition was presented by the husband.
      According to the wife’s complaint, she married Carter on August 6, 1925, at Catskill and they have lived since in this county. There is one child, Mary Elizabeth, born November 17, 1926.
      Carter, according to his wife, is thirty years of age and is employed by the Fiction House, Inc., 271 Madison Avenue, New York City. as editor of two aeronautical fiction magazines, “Wings” and “Air Stories.” He receives a salary of $40 weekly, she alleges, and from $25 to $60 for each story he furnishes the magazines.
      Basing her plea for separation on the grounds of cruelty and abandonment, Mrs. Carter alleges that without cause or provocation, Carter absented himself from their Larchmont home for several nights a week from August to December of last year. Even the Christmas holiday was spent away from home, she says, her husband telling her he preferred to spend his time with friends.
      On December 28th, she says, he packed his clothes and left with the statement that he did not intend to return and that he was “through” with her. She alleges that he left no money for her needs, that her baby is ill, and that she is without funds with which to purchase medicines or the services of a physician.
      The alimony awarded is pending the trial of the separation action.

Although the home life may have fallen apart, his writing career seemed to flourish as he started to see print in other titles—Aces, Air Trails, Flying Aces and War Birds. Which is good, since Carter and his estranged wife entered into a stipulation on June 4th whereby he was to pay $40 weekly out of his $100 weekly earnings as a magazine writer and the daring hero of many magazine exploits in the air.

He lived up to the agreement for two weeks before disappearing sight unseen.

Maybe this is why he was so hard to pin down and seemed a little cagey in that Air Trail’s biographical piece from November 1929. Or maybe it was the fact that he had already plagiarized several stories and submitted them to his boss at Fiction House, John B. Kelly as his own! And with the publication of the December 1929 issue of Wings, it all hit the fan!

The Pulp Plagiarism Scandal of 1929
The Stories in Question. The opening pages of Ben Conlon’s “Flyers of Fortune” (Air Trails, July 1929) and Robert A. Carter’s “Fortune Flyers” (Wings, December 1929)

The Port Chester Daily Item reports (on the front page!):

When the Muse failed and he resorted to plagiarism to keep the candle burning at both ends Robert A. Carter, thirty-two, self styled World War aviator, who is well known in Harrison and Rye, let himself in for plenty of trouble. He was lodged in the Tombs Prison in New York City today, charged with grand larceny as the result of a confession that he copied aviation stories verbatim from one magazine and sold them to another.
      The specific instance on which the charge is based concerns the story “Flyers of Fortune,” by Ben Conlin, published in “Air Trails.” Carter is alleged to have copied it word for word and sold it to the magazine “Wings” under the title “Fortune Flyers.” For it he received $240 from John B. Kelly, head of Fiction House, Inc., of 271 Madison Avenue, New York City.
      Carter, who formerly lived in Harrison, was arrested by a detective from the office of Assistant District Attorney Edward Laughlin at his home, 25 East 30th Street. He was indicted by the grand Jury on a grand larceny charge and a bench warrant issued for his arrest. The Indictment was based mainly on a written confession to Kelly, in which Carter admitted having plagiarized the story as well as two others.
      According to Kelly, Carter came to him about two and a half years ago and asked for a job. He said be had served in the Royal Flying Corps in Italy during the war and thought he could write stories of his experiences. He was given a Job and his stories, when published, were enthusiastically received. He was soon made managing editor of “Wings” and a little later arranged a broadcast from the Hotel Roosevelt in which he introduced several famous wa races. He also did some work for a Brooklyn station and later represented himself as the director, which was the first Intimation that Kelly had of his duplicity.

Kelly estimated Carter managed to extract $1,100 from the company through his plagiaristic efforts.

After his apprehension, it was discovered that fiction filching was the most remunerative, but not the exclusive manner of his making a living. Two Manhattan hotels had $850 worth of bad bills against him.

Convicted of the charges petty larceny, Plagiarist Carter was sentenced to serve not less than six months, nor more than three years in the penitentiary.

The 1930 US Census lists Robert A. Carter as an inmate of Cell Block A at the Hart Island Reformatory Prison in the Bronx.

This story was big news. Although it never received large splashy headlines, Carter’s plagiarism was reported in papers as if it had just happened well into 1932. It even made Time magazine—twice! Once in the 23 December 1929 issue and a more detailed piece two months later in the 24 February 1930 issue.

Heroes of the Air: Capt. F.M. West

Link - Posted by David on January 8, 2024 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 9 July 1938 issue of Flying:

CAPT. F.M. WEST WINNING THE V.C. OVER THE GERMAN LINES, AUGUST 10, 1918

ON THE morning of August 10, 1918, Captain Ferdinand Maurice West took off with his observer to strafe the German back areas. For this purpose he went far over the enemy lines and he was flying low, attacking infantry, when seven German scouts came upon him. In his Armstrong Whitworth the odds against him were enormous. Quite early in the fight an explosive bullet shattered his leg, which fouled the rudder-bar and caused the machine to fall out of control. No sooner had he lifted his leg clear than he was wounded in the other. In spite of his predicament, he managed to manoeuvre his machine so as to enable his gunner to get in sufficient bursts of fire to drive off the hostile scouts. Then, with great courage and determination, he set off for the British lines, where he landed safely. Weak from loss of blood, he fainted, but when he regained consciousness he insisted on writing his report before going to the hospital. Happily this gallant officer recovered sufficiently to remain in the service, where he is now a Wing Commander.

Arch Whitehouse: An Early Bird Looks Back

Link - Posted by David on December 11, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WE’RE celebrating Christmas with The Coffin Crew this year. So why not get to know the author a little better? And what better time than his birthday! Arthur George Joseph “Arch” Whitehouse was born on this day, December 11th, in 1895 in England. To Celebrate the genius behind The Coffin Crew, here’s a great feature on Whitehouse from the Sunday magazine for the Hackensack, New Jersey Record.

Arch Whitehouse: An Early Bird Looks Back

The Record Magazine, Hackensack, New Jersey • 17 April 1965, p38-39

MONTVALE’S MAGNOLIA AVENUE is a rural, winding road, and the modest yellow house at No.63 looks like many other suburban homes.

So it’s not surprising that when Arch Whitehouse, the owner, steps into the brisk air for an afternoon constitutional that his neighbors may look up and say:

“Well, there goes that nice Mr. Whitehouse out for his afternoon walk. Retired gentleman, I guess. It’s nice that he can still get around so well.

When the mailman leaves a 2-foot pile of books on the Whitehouse doorstep, a neighbor may shake his head and silently question, “I wonder if he reads all those books?”

Possibly a few people in Montvale know the answer to the Whitehouse mystery, but the man himself is quite certain that the majority of those who have made note of his presence are content with the thought that he’s no more than a retired businessman.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Though now in his 70th year, Arch Whitehouse is busier than many men half his age. In the past 10 years he has written 25 books. Before that, he authored more than a thousand short stories and articles.

A flier with the British Royal Flying Corps in World War I, Whitehouse ranks today as probably the leading aviation writer in the world. He is regarded as THE expert on World War I flying.

But his writing has run the gamut of the military field.

He went on a North Atlantic cruise aboard the atomic submarine Skipjack while writing “Subs and Submariners”.

He made two trips to the Mediterranean with the Sixth Fleet, and made 11 catapult takeoffs from, and arrester-gear landings on aircraft carriers to write “Squadrons of the Sea”.

He inspected every type of tank that has ever been built, and rode in many of the modern tank tests to write “TANK — History of Armored Warfare”.

He flew on practically every type plane available in the U.S. Air Force, including 2-seater jet fighters, to tell the story of the Tactical Air Command. He also went to McMurdo Sound, Antartica, to cover T.A.C. cargo operations at the South Pole.

He went to Puerto Rico with the Navy and Marines to write his recent “Amphibious Operations”.

Some years Whitehouse averages 60,000 miles of flying to get material for his books.

In addition to his technical books, short stories, and articles, Whitehouse has written juvenile and motion-picture scripts. Two of his stories — “Spitfire Squadron” and “‘H’ For Arry” were sold to the movies. He has illustrated some of his own volumes, also.

Among Whitehouse’s recent books — he contracts for several at a time — is “The Fledgling,” an autobiography.

Whitehouse was born in England in 1895. He was brought to the United States when he was 9 years old. He attended grade schools in Newark and Livingston. He was taken out of school, however, and worked in a Newark bookshop, a shoe factory, and in the Edison Laboratory before the outbreak of World War I.

In 1914, he worked his way to England on a cattleboat and enlisted in the British army. After a spell in the infantry, be requested and received a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps, and served as an aerial gunner with No. 22 squadron from March 1917 to Jan. 18, 1918. He then became the pilot of a Sopwith Camel with the home-defense squadron until the Armistice.

During his days as a gunner, he flew more than 1,300 hours over enemy lines. He destroyed 16 enemy planes and six kite balloons, but since he was not the pilot he received no personal credit. His kills were chalked up to his squadron.

During those clays. Whitehouse swapped bullets with many of the German aces, including the best of them all, Baron von Richthofen. The Red Knight, as von Richthofen was to become known, claimed 80 victories. One of these, No.42 to be exact, is disputed by Whitehouse.

In his “Years of the Sky Kings”, Whitehouse writes:

“Let us consider victory No.42, scored on April 13, 1917. In his report, von Richthofen stated that this flight took place at 12:45 P.M. betwen Monchy and Feuchy. The plane, a Vickers 2-seater, was downed behind British lines. In this report, we have at least one example of a Richthofen victory that was no victory at all.

“I was the gunner aboard that 2-seater. It was a F.E.2b, not a Vickers, but the Germans often made this mistake since both planes were almost identical. We were not shot down by Baron von Richthofen.”

Whitehouse went on to explain that his plane, piloted by Captain Bush, was returning from a photography patrol, when attacked by German planes over German lines. The propeller of the British plane was eventually shot away by antiaircraft fire. As the plane dove for a crash landing behind British lines, Whitehouse noted that they were pursued by two German planes, one of them red, and piloted, as he was learn later, by the Baron.

After returning to the United States in October, 1919, Whitehouse found the competition for work rather stiff. He tried his hand at selling rat poison, magazine advertising space, and automobiles. He spent some time in an insurance office.

In 1920 he married Ruth Terhune of Rutherford. Today they have a son and two grandchildren.

In 1922, he applied for a job as sports cartoonist on a Passaic newspaper. He was hired, though he had no prior experience. A year later, he moved to the Elizabeth Daily Journal as sports editor.

When Charles Lindbergh made his solo flight to Paris in 1927, Whitehouse wrote a column about it. A friend who read it suggested he try writing for one of the aviation pulp magazines. He submitted a story, and received a check for $100. The editor was impressed by the authenticity of the story, and hired Whitehouse to check the facts in other stories being submitted.

At the same time, he found a waiting market for his own fiction, and eventually quit the newspaper job to devote his full time to this work.

The start of World War II signaled a new phase in Whitehouse’s career. He became an accredited war correspondent, and served in the North Atlantic and Great Britain. He was also in on the Normandy invasion.

He returned to the States in 1945, and spent 2 years as a film writer before tearing up a 7-year contract, and returning East.

His first book, a juvenile, “The Real Book of Airplanes”, appeared in 1955. He has written juveniles also on General Pershing, Billy Mitchell, and wartime courier pigeons, and has agreed to do a long series of books fictionalizing the exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille.

Five volumes of his aviation short stories have appeared so far. Other recent or forthcoming books are “Adventures in Military Intelligence”, “The Early Birds—Wonders and History of Early Flight”, “Frank Luke—The Arizona Balloon Buster”, and a novel, “Squadron 44”.

Commenting on the continued popularity of World War I books, Arch credits much of it to nostalgia. “You’ll find a similar nostalgia catching up with the veterans of World War II,” he said. “For a few years they just want to forget it all. Then one day there seems to be that urge to recapture the past.”

And when they do, you can be sure Arch Whitehouse will be around to help them.

Be sure to drop by Friday for another mad cap romp through hell skies with Whitehouse’s Coffin Crew!

“Squadrons of Death: The Story of the Independent Air Force”

Link - Posted by David on December 5, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

TODAY we bring you an article about the Independent Air Force for a little background on the squadron The Coffin Crew were a part of!

SQUADRONS OF DEATH

The Epic Story of the Independent Air Force, the Most Amazing and Mysterious Organization of the World War in the Air
by A.H. Pritchard (Air Stories, December 1935)

A FEW months ago a story appeared in this magazine with the title of “Suicide Squadron.” Doubtless there were some readers who scoffed at this apparent exaggeration, refusing to believe that any form of aerial combat, even in time of war, could be so fraught with peril as to justify such a title. Yet truth is ever stranger than fiction, for here is the true story of the real “Suicide Squadrons” of the war. It is the story of a force that was composed entirely of such squadrons—the Independent Air Force.

Never before has the story of its epic deeds been presented in a magazine; its greatest deeds of heroism and daring are virtually unknown and, hitherto, unrecorded. Stories of the R.F.C., R.N.A.S., L’Aviation Militaire, and the Imperial German Air Force have appeared in their thousands, but seldom a line about the Independent Air Force. Nor do any of its pilots or observers appear on any list of British “aces,” yet dozens of German ’planes went down before the fury of their guns. Brief notices in the official despatches about a certain raid that “was successfully carried out” were all that the public ever learnt about the greatest fighting force in the Flanders skies.

Every man of them was a hero—they had to be, for a coward or a cautious man would not have lasted a day in their ranks. Their offensive policy always kept them flying over the enemy side of the lines. They fought their way to a target and then fought their way home, always against great odds. Many went down behind the German lines and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp, for a disabled ’plane meant certain capture. Yet, no matter how high the casualties, eager young men were always clamoring to join the Force. Men from every outpost of the Empire, from every walk of life, could be found in its roster, the most daring and reckless of their respective breeds.

The Birth of the I.A.F.

THE formation of the Independent Air Force was chiefly brought about by the intensive Gotha raids on England during the first six months of 1917. The public morale was slowly but surely being affected, and a demand went up for reprisals. “Give the Hun a taste of his own medicine,” was the cry. “Bomb his towns and his women and children!” So strong was this feeling that the War Office decided that something must be done, and they prepared to carry the war into Germany. However, all the squadrons at the front were far too busy to carry out the proposed raids, and it was decided to organise a separate force—a force that was to fight and raid under the direction of its own officers, not at the beck and call of the Army, as were the R.F.C. squadrons.

Accordingly, on October 11th, 1917, three squadrons were banded together as the Forty-First Wing, and were destined to form the nucleus of the Independent Air Force. These squadrons were No.55, No.100 and No.16 (Naval) Squadrons, and their ’drome was at Ochey. The total number of their machines was fifty-one. Beyond a few feeble raids, nothing much was heard of them until Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard, Now Marshal of the Royal Air Force the Lord Trenchard Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, affectionately known to his men as “Boom,” arrived at Nancy on May 20th, 1918, to take command of what had then become officially known as the Independent Air Force. He found No.55 Squadron equipped with D.H.4 day-bombers (Rolls-Royce 375 h.p. “Eagle” VII’s) and No.100 with F.E.2b night-bombers (160 h.p. Beardmores), and he immediately applied for additions to his small force. He received No.33 Squadron, flying D.H.9’s (230 h.p. B.H.P’s) and No.216 Squadron, equipped with Handley-Page 0/400’s (two 250 h.p. Rolls-Royces), both stationed at Azelot.

Even then the Force did not really get into action, for delay was caused by the limited range of some of its machines. Only the Handley-Pages had a sufficient range to enable them to bomb the German frontier towns, and make the return journey. The normal duration of the F.E.’s and D.H.’s was only three and a half hours, so that extra petrol tanks had to be fitted to give them a duration of six hours, equivalent to a range of about 450 miles. Fuming at the delay in going into action, the men made the changes in record time, and in June, 1918, the I.A.F. set about its work of destruction, a work that was never to falter until Armistice was signed.

The Greatest Raid of the War

IN ITS first month of action the Independent Air Force carried out one of the greatest raids of the whole war. On the morning of June 28th a scout pilot spotted unusual enemy activity around Fere-en-Tardenois; dumps of ammunition were being made, and heavy transport lorries cluttered up the roads. Back he went to report the concentration, and the Independent Air Force was quickly informed. The ’dromes at Ochey and Azelot became seething ant-heaps of activity. All through the night great bombs were loaded into the gaping bellies of the Handley-Pages and the racks of the D.H.’s and F.E.’s were festooned with the steely beads of death. Working by the light of flares made from petrol-soaked cotton waste, the mechanics and armoury officers toiled on, whilst the pilots and observers tried to snatch a few hours’ sleep—for some the last that they were to take. Two hours before dawn machine-guns crackled harshly as they were tested at the butts.

Then, in the chilly air that comes in the pre-dawn, the four squadrons took-off, with a squadron of S.E.5’s following close behind, and with a roar rattled away towards their objective. The S.E.5’s had been lent by the R.F.C. to keep off enemy scouts until the bombers had laid their eggs.

Coming in over Fere-en-Tardenois at just under one thousand feet, they laid their bombs squarely on the first dump. A great sheet of flame leaped skywards, and debris rained around the bombers. Huge lorries hurtled up as the first great concussion set off the remaining dumps, and things that once had been men flew about the heads of the deafened Britishers. When the smoke had drifted away, all that remained of the woods that had concealed the dumps were a few fire-blasted stumps and smoking ruin.

The raiders, however, were not to escape unscathed. Fokkers, Pfalz, Albatri and “Tripes” gathered round them like flies round a jam-pot. Machine-guns rattled madly, tracer bullets weaved fantastic patterns across the sky, and an F.E.2b was the first to go. Caught in the converging fire of three Fokkers, its wings dropped off like pieces of paper, and the fuselage fell like a stone, burning fiercely. A second later two Pfalz collided and fell burning, leaving a trail of smoke and blazing fragments. Thirteen British bombers went down in the battle that followed, and five S.E.5’s, but the rest fought their way out, leaving behind them the shattered wrecks of twenty-six German machines.

Apart from the damage done, the raid had served another good purpose, for the War Office, at first inclined to be parsimonious, now gave Trenchard all the men and material he required. Workshops sprang up on the ’dromes of the I.A.F., and even their own intelligence service was formed. Spies would cross the lines into Germany and send back information as to new dumps, troop concentrations, schedules of munition trains and new factories, and the lads of the I.A.F. would go over and do the rest.

“Jock” Mackay Leads the Attack

ON the morning of July 31st, word came from one of their agents of the massing of supplies in the big station at Saarbrucken. Nine D.H.9’s of No.99 Squadron were quickly loaded with bombs and set off post-haste for Germany. Ten miles from their objective they were attacked by forty-six enemy scouts. Four D.H.’s went down, but the remaining five fought their way through and dropped their bombs dead on the station yards. A running fight all the way home awaited the survivors, and three more went down before they could reach the safety of No.55 Squadron’s field at Ochey. No sooner had the two battered machines landed than nine more D.H.4’s, this time of No.55 Squadron, took off for Saarbrucken. Under the leadership of Captain D.R. (“Jock”) Mackay, one of the best bomber pilots of the war, they found the stations and factories unprepared for this second raid, and exacted a terrible toll as revenge for the fourteen gallant men who had died in the first raid. After taking part in over a hundred raids, the gallant Mackay met his death through a direct hit from “Archie” on the day before the Armistice was signed.

The German towns that were coming in for the heaviest bombing raised a furious protest at the tactics of the I.A.F. pilots, and the Imperial High Command allotted twelve new squadrons to protect the towns along the Rhine. Thus did the I.A.F. make its might felt, after only one short month of action. The German bombers, too, tried to get even with them. The F.E.2b’s of No.100 Squadron had specialized in raiding Saarburg, Metz and Conflans, and had played havoc with the factories there. The first German raid on their field wounded a mechanic and wrecked an empty hangar. Five nights later they tried again, and had the satisfaction of seeing a number of fires light up, machines burst into flames, and a hangar collapse. Early the next morning two high-flying Rumplers came over and photographed the damage. The prints, which can still be seen at the German War Museum, showed burnt-out hangars and wrecked machines, whilst the sleeping quarters were a shambles.

And the men of No.100 Squadron laughed loud and long.

For the fires had been caused by petrol-soaked rags ignited by a timing device, the hangar was an old one, and the wrecked machines were old, crashed ’planes and tree trunks. After that first raid, Major Tempest, the C.O., had had the Squadron moved to the opposite side of Ochey Woods, and all hands turned out to sit in the trees and watch the display of fireworks provided nightly by the German Air Force. The Germans never could make out how it was that the Squadron continued to carry out its two raids a night.

Fighting Against Odds

MEANWHILE, the enemy air resistance was becoming stronger. Reinforced by the twelve new squadrons, they attacked every group of British machines that ventured near the Rhine towns. Undeterred, the bombers carried on, but their casualties became terribly heavy. Take the case of one raid by six D.H.4’s of No.55 Squadron.

On the morning of August 27th, they set out to bomb the docks at Offenburg, and when over the town were attacked by a formation of eight Pfalz scouts. Such odds were familiar to them, and, unperturbed, they carried on with the raid and turned for home. Then came disaster. Another formation of thirty Pfalz, Albatri and Fokkers came down on them, and after a running fight lasting over an hour, only one D.H. managed to limp home. True, three German ‘planes had gone down in flames, but the score was on the wrong side of the ledger. Still, no squadron could fight against the odds they were meeting and get away scot-free every time.

On the 10th of the month the same squadron had been attacked by thirty enemy scouts whilst returning from a raid on Frankfort. Flying a tight formation, they held the attackers off, and even when the enemy was reinforced by another forty machines they never broke formation. Against seventy enemy scouts not a British machine went down, and only one observer was killed. Four German ’planes were sent flaming to earth.

Two days later twelve machines took-off for another raid on Frankfort, as usual, without any escort of single-seaters. They carried out the raid unhindered, but on the return journey the inevitable enemy scouts appeared. Thirty-five Huns opposed them, and after a running fight that lasted an hour and twenty minutes, ten German machines had been destroyed, while the twelve bombers escaped with nothing worse than bullet-riddled machines.

The Handley-Pages of No.216 Squadron had also been giving a good account of themselves. On August 21st, in a raid that lasted over six hours, two H.P.’s had dropped over a ton of bombs on Cologne station, and had destroyed three enemy ’planes on the way home.

Besides the enemy aircraft, the British fliers had another great enemy to face, and one that the German pilots were never troubled with. Every English ’plane that crossed the German lines had the wind to contend with on its return journey. Always blowing out of Germany, many pilots owed their forced landings and subsequent capture to them. Even the I.A.F. had losses due to this wind.

One case, in example, was the fate of seven Handley-Pages of No. 216 Squadron. On the night of September 16th they set off to raid Mannheim. They bombed the chemical works and aircraft factories, fought off a dozen enemy scouts, and then started for home. When still many miles from the British lines one of their number went down, due to a shortage of petrol, and one after another the rest of the raiders followed suit. An extra strong wind had upset all their calculations, and seven 0/400’s were presented to the enemy by a trick of the wind.

The objectives chosen by the I.A.F. bombers were in some cases over one hundred and seventy miles away, and some idea of what the men had to put up with can be obtained when one remembers that even if the outward journey was fairly safe, the raiders had still to run the gauntlet of every available enemy squadron over that one hundred and seventy miles of the journey back. In the wind and blinding rainstorms of September and October they carried on, and their proud boast was that no raid was ever cancelled on account of inclement weather.

The Coming of the Giants

BY NOW the Independent Air Force was no longer an experiment. It was a tried fighting force, and the War Office knew it. All the men and machines that Trenchard required were now given to him freely, and many American officers, who had been chafing at the inaction while waiting for their own country to obtain ’planes, were transferred to the I.A.F.

New machines were needed to carry the raids still further into Germany, and great pressure was brought to bear on the aircraft works at home. The De Havilland people were trying out a new type of ’plane with the factory number of D.H.17. The machine was totally enclosed, and well streamlined, but except for the first experimental model, it never went into production. The same firm also had the twin-engined D.H.10 and D.H.10a., but neither machine fully satisfied Trenchard. The Handley-Page and Vickers factories, however, were building real dreadnoughts of the sky. The Vickers machine was the famous Vickers Vimy, and was powered with two 350-h.p. Rolls-Royce engines, and had a wing span of sixty-eight feet. But it was the machine being made by the Handley-Page works that really appealed to Trenchard. This was the V/1500 and in general appearance it was similar to the O/400. It was powered, however, with four 360-h.p. Rolls-Royce “ Eagle ” engines that could send the monster along at 103 miles an hour, with its full bomb load of 2,700 pounds. It had a non-stop range of one thousand three hundred and fifty miles, and could soar up to ten thousand feet in twenty minutes. Small wonder that “Boom” expected great things from it.

Meanwhile, the men at the front were carrying on in air that bristled with enemy fighters, whose instructions were to stop them at all costs.

On September 25th, No.110 Squadron went out to bomb Frankfort. They had been with the I.A.F. only a short time, and it was to be their first long-distance raid. Over Frankfort they were met by a terrific “Archie” fire and shells by the dozen burst all round them. Luckily, none was hit, and after dropping a ton and a half of bombs on the railway and goods yard, they turned for home. Summoned by the black bursts of the anti-aircraft shells, the enemy scouts came down, thirsting for blood. Four bombers went down, two Observers were killed, two pilots and one observer wounded. Only two German machines had been observed to fall, one in flames and one “out of control.”

The German scout pilots were now fighting with redoubled fury. The I.A.F. bombers were doing great execution among the troops quartered at Metz and Luxembourg, and had effectively shattered their morale. Twice, towards the middle of October, the troops in these towns had threatened to mutiny. A whisper went round that an armistice was coming and that the enemy pilots had determined to give a good account of themselves before the end came.

Blind Bombing

Sometimes, though, the I.A.F. outguessed the Germans and eluded the enemy scouts.

On the night of October 21st-22nd, a great raid was planned on the barracks and railway yards at Kaiserslautern, and Nos.97 and 100 Squadrons were given the job. It was a night of wind, rain and fog, with visibility almost nil, but the squadrons refused to cancel the attack. Taking-off down a lane of flares, they climbed above the fog blanket and set a course for Kaiserslautern. The journey became a nightmare as the weather got steadily worse. Blinded by the rain, and unable to catch a glimpse of the ground below, the fliers fought against the elements until their instruments showed them to be in the vicinity of their objective. Going down through the fog they could just faintly discern the lights of the town. Down screamed the bombs, and several large fires were observed to spring up, but, due to the mist obscuring the target, no definite report of the damage could be made.

Groping their way homeward, nearly every machine made a forced landing. One machine cracked up against a tree when attempting to land in a “pocket handkerchief” field, but, apart from the observer breaking his little finger, both occupants escaped scot-free. This was the only casualty, for every machine got back safely. Not an enemy scout had been seen during the whole time that they had been out, for the enemy protection squadrons had not dared to take-off in the fog. Some idea of the accuracy of the navigation may be obtained from the German official report of this raid, which stated that two hits had been made on the barracks, and the railway track had been badly damaged by a direct hit from a 650-pound bomb.

Berlin to be Bombed

BACK in England the work of forming still more I.A.F. squadrons was going forward apace, and on November 2nd these squadrons embarked for France—complete with the new and deadly giant bombers. Then came the news that set every flying man agog with excitement, and caused the blood to course the quicker through their veins—Berlin was to be bombed on November 18th by three full squadrons of Handley-Page V/i500’s and the total force was to consist of nearly one hundred machines!

For a week skilled mechanics toiled with loving care over the engines of the giants, and by the 10th the great machines were ready to go. That night came the greatest blow the Independent Air Force had ever suffered; orders were given for all preparations to be cancelled. On November 11th the wings of the Black Eagle folded in the dust, and the long story of bloodshed was over. Who knows—but perhaps advance news of the proposed raid had done much to persuade the Germans to beg for an armistice. To a country already bled white by four years of bitter strife, a raid on its capital might well have been feared as a means of setting ablaze the smouldering fires of revolt.

The morning of the 11th was the first to which the Independent Air Force did not awaken to the thunder of guns. No more for them the rattle of machine-guns, the tight feeling inside as the enemy hove into view, the hoarse “woof-woof” of “Archie,” the banshee wail of falling bombs, or the shrill scream of wires. All that was over, the world was at peace, and who can blame them if they felt thwarted of their last, and, what would have been, their most glorious fight. The day of the Independent Air Force was over.

In the few months of its existence the force had carried out over seven hundred raids, had dropped 160 tons of bombs by day and 390 tons by night, and had done damage to the extent of millions of pounds. Two hundred of these raids had been on enemy aerodromes, and much of the Imperial Air Force’s effectiveness had been quenched. In their battles with the enemy scouts they had lost one hundred and eleven machines, but one hundred and fifty-seven German machines had been destroyed by their guns, and over two hundred driven down out of control. That alone put them on the right side of the final account. Their men had fought the best that the enemy could send against them and beaten them in fair fight over their own ground. Their continual raids on the great gas-plants at Mannheim had been instrumental in saving the lives of countless infantrymen, and their systematic bombing of the enemy supply areas, dumps, and munition works did much to bring about the final downfall of German arms.

Never more than eleven squadrons strong, they had done the job expected of them, and they leave behind a glorious tradition. Born in the War, and fated to die in the War, we should salute—and remember—them.

Heroes of the Air: Sergt. Thomas Mottershead

Link - Posted by David on November 13, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 2 July 1938 issue of Flying:

SERGT. THOMAS MOTTERSHEAD WINNING THE V.C. ON JANUARY 7, 1917

SERGEANT THOMAS MOTTERSHEAD had the distinction of being the only noncommissioned officer in the Royal Air Force to win the Victoria Cross. On January 7, 1917, he was on patrol with Lieutenant W.E. Gower, his observer, when they were engaged by several enemy scouts. Mottershead, flying an F.E.2D, at once manoeuvred his machine so as to enable Lieutenant Gower to use his gun to the best advantage. After a short but courageous fight an incendiary bullet penetrated their petrol tank, which burst into flames. Although almost overcome by the heat Sergeant Mottershead brought his machine slowly to earth, and choosing an open space where he would not injure anyone on the ground, managed to make a successful landing. Unhappily Sergeant Mottershead succumbed to his injuries the following day. Notification of the award was made in the London Gazette of February 12, 1917, with the following words: “For conspicuous bravery, endurance and skill. . . . Though suffering extreme torture from burns, Sergeant Mottershead showed the most conspicuous presence of mind in the selection of a landing place, and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of his observer.”

Heroes of the Air: Major W.G. Barker

Link - Posted by David on October 16, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 25 June 1938 issue of Flying:

MAJOR W.G. BARKER WINNING THE V.C. OVER THE GERMAN LINES, OCT. 27, 1918

Major W.G. Barker, V.C., D.S.O., M.C., a Canadian officer, was awarded the V.C. for what must have been one of the most courageous air battles of the war. He should have gone home on leave on October 26, 1918, but he stayed for one more day’s flying and took off for England on the 27th. High above the German lines he spotted an enemy two-seater, the pilot apparently thinking himself quite safe. Barker, however, was flying a Sopwith Snipe, one of the most efficient machines in France. Within a few moments he had climbed up to his adversary and had sent him spinning down to earth. A Fokker Triplane, having seen this, came to avenge his countrymen, and close behind him came over fifty more German machines. With bullets converging on him from all sides, Barker fought in a fury. Several times he was hit, but still he fought on. In all, he sent four of his attackers to the ground before he himself was brought down, unconscious, just behind the British lines. He had 52 victories to his credit at the time. In hospital he mended slowly and at last he was able to fly again, only to lose his life in 1930, when a new machine he was testing crashed, killing him instantly.

Heroes of the Air: Major E. Mannock

Link - Posted by David on September 18, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 18 June 1938 issue of Flying:

THE END OF MAJOR E. MANNOCK, V.C.,OVER THE GERMAN LINES, JULY 26, 1918

“THIS highly distinguished officer, during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed.” Such were the words employed in the notification of the award of the V.C. to Major E. Mannock, which was made in the London Gazette on July 18, 1919. In view of this officer’s outstanding career it is hard to understand how it was that the award should have come very nearly a year after he was killed in action. His death, depicted here, occurred on July 26, 1918, over the German lines.

Early that morning he set out with Lieut. Inglis on a patrol over enemy territory. They soon found a two-seater, which they shot down and then, flying low, they turned for home. No one knows quite what happened next. What is fairly certain is that Mannock’s machine was struck by a bullet from the ground. Lieut. Inglis, who was flying behind, saw a flame appear in the side of Mannock’s machine. Following this, the machine went into a slow turn and crashed in flames. Such was the end of this gallant officer who, with 73 victories to his credit, was the last member of the R.A.F. to be awarded the V.C.

Heroes of the Air: Lieut. R.A.J. Warneford

Link - Posted by David on August 14, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 11 June 1938 issue of Flying:

LIEUT. R.A.J. WARNEFORD DESTROYING THE L.Z.37 OVER THE ENEMY LINES, JUNE 7, 1915

TO SUB-LIEUTENANT Reginald Alexander John Warneford, V.C., belongs the honour of being the first British officer to bring down a Zeppelin. Towards the end of 1915 Britain decided to take decisive action against the activities of the Zeppelins, which were becoming a serious menace. Flying a Morane “Parasol,” Warneford set out from Furnes at one o’clock in the morning, on June 7th, 1915. His instructions were to bomb enemy airship hangars. Within five minutes he sighted the L.Z.37 and set off after it. He carried six bombs, but in order to use them he had to get above his quarry. At first he was too close and five bombs passed right through the airship before exploding. After dimbing a little he dropped his last bomb. It exploded in the nose of the Zeppelin with such force that the “Parasol” was thrown upside down, several hundred feet into the air. Having regained control Warneford found that his engine had stopped. He was forced to land, and repairing a broken petrol pipe as quickly as possible (he was 30 miles inside enemy territory) he took off again for his base. Like many others he did not long survive his triumph; he was killed in a crash near Paris only ten days later.

Heroes of the Air: Lieut. W. B. Rhodes-Moorhouse

Link - Posted by David on July 17, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 4 June 1938 issue of Flying:

LIEUT. W.B. RHODES-MOORHOUSE WINNING THE V.C. AT COURTRAI, APRIL 26, 1915

ON APRIL 26, 1915, No. 2 Squadron received a message that the railway junction at Courtrai was to be bombed to prevent enemy reinforcements from reaching the front. Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse left the aerodrome at Merville in company with three other machines. Each machine carried a one-hundred-pound bomb, the largest in use at that time. When Rhodes-Moorhouse arrived at the railway junction he descended to a height of only three hundred feet. This enabied him to score a direct hit, but it also exposed him to concentrated fire from all the troops who were waiting at the station and from the anti-aircraft batteries defending it. At such close range the odds were all against him. One bullet broke his thigh, another shattered his hand, and a third reached his stomach. Despite the fact that he was dying and in terrible agony he realised the importance of returning to headquarters to make his report. Unhappily he died of his wounds within twenty-four hours. He was awarded the V.C. on May 22, 1915.

Heroes of the Air: Major L.G. Hawker

Link - Posted by David on June 19, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 28 May 1938 issue of Flying:

MAJOR L. G. HAWKER WINNING THE VICTORIA CROSS OVER THE GERMAN LINES, JULY 25, 1915

IT WAS on July 25, 1915, that Major Lanoe George Hawker was on reconnaissance over enemy territory. He was flying a Bristol Scout when he saw a German two-seater. He at once engaged it with such fury that it turned tail and fled. Continuing on his way, he encountered another two-seater. This time he was more lucky, for he sent his opponent down out of control. His third victory that day over yet another two-seater, was gained on the way home. It was almost dark at the time and the German machine must have presented a grim picture as it spun down in flames. These three successes were all the more surprising because Major Hawker, at that time a Captain, was armed only with a French cavalry carbine, while his opponents were armed with machine-guns. For his gallantry on that day he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Notification was made on the 24th of August in the London Gazette, for “ most conspicuous bravery and very great ability on the 25th July, 1915.” This fearless airman finally fell to the guns of Richthofen, but only after a long and bitter engagement which in the end was decided by the German’s superior equipment—as Richthofen himself admitted.

Heroes of the Air: Major J.B. McCudden

Link - Posted by David on April 10, 2023 @ 6:00 am in

WHEN Flying, the new weekly paper of all things aviation, started up in England in 1938, amongst the articles and stories and photo features was an illustrative feature called “Heroes of the Air.” It was a full page illustration by S. Drigin of the events surrounding how the pictured Ace got their Victoria Cross along with a brief explanatory note.

Russian born Serge Drigin became a successful illustrator in the UK in the 1920s with his work regularly appearing in such British magazines as The Detective Magazine, Modern Boy and Chums. He is probably best known for his startling covers for Scoops, Air Stories, War Stories, Fantasy and others in the 30s.

From the 21 May 1938 issue of Flying:

MAJOR J. B. McCUDDEN ATTACKING A HANNOVERANA, FEBRUARY, 1918

THE NOTIFICATIONS of Major J. B. McCudden’s award was made in the following words: “For conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, and a very high devotion to duty. Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for fifty-four enemy aeroplanes.” McCudden, like several others, was awarded the Victoria Cross not for one particularly brave action, but for consistent gallantry. The incident shown below occurred in February, 1918. It shows his fifty-seventh, and last, victory. McCudden attacked a Hannoverana at close range and poured a stream of bullets into its tail. So furious was this attack that the German observer fell through the shattered fuselage of his machine, to come to earth behind the British lines, while his pilot went on and crashed in German territory. Major McCudden was awarded several other decorations and had the distinction of being the only man to witness the death of Wernher Voss, who was shot down by the guns of Lieutenant Rhys Davids, a member of McCudden’s flight. In July, 1918, he crashed on leaving a French aerodromes for his squadron, and was killed instantaneously. Thus ended the career of one of our most efficient air fighters.

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