18 October 1916 – “Teddy Grant”

Such is the demand for pilots that both services continue to recruit heavily.

Jack McCleery

Jack McCleery

Today, 18 year old Jack McCleery from Belfast was interviewed at the Admiralty in London for a position as a Probationary Flight Lieutenant. He had previuosly been rejected by the RFC. He then set off for home but by the time he reached Liverpool, he received a telegram that he had been selected and he immediately set off again for London.

In contrast the RFC secured the services of Tryggve Gran, a Norwegian explorer who had served as the skiing instructor on Scott’s fateful mission to the South Pole in 1912.

Tryggve Gran

Tryggve Gran

On his return voyage, Gran met the Irish aviator Robert Loraine, and immediately took an interest in aviation. Gran became a skilled pilot at Louis Blériot’s aviation school in Paris, and on 30 July 1914, Gran became the first pilot to cross the North Sea. Taking off in his Blériot XI-2 monoplane from Cruden Bay, Scotland, Gran landed 4 hours 10 minutes later at Jæren, near Stavanger, Norway, after a flight of 320 miles.

On the outbreak of war he attempted to join the RFC but was rejected on account of Norway’s neutrality. He finally got his way today as he persuaded the Norwegian Ministry of Defence to let him join the RFC. To preserve the illusion of neutrality, he was commissioned as “Teddy Grant” – and marked as a Canadian.

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