15 April 1917 – Pioneer killed

Captain Charles Leigh Pickering and his observer 2nd Lieutenant Hedley William Craig from 30 Squadron RFC were on a reconnaissance mission over Basra in BE2c 4500 when they were attacked and shot down near Samara by Hauptmann Hans Schüz from FA2w in his Halberstadt.

Typically for the time, Schüz personally conducted the funeral service and ensured the grave was properly marked.

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Pickering and Craig’s grave. They were later reburied in Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetary

Hedley William Craig was from Bray, County Wicklow and represented one of the types likened by the RFC – a public school athlete who had represented Trinity College Dublin and Ireland. He had previously served with the Signals Corps and Royal Engineers. He then joined the RFC qualifying as a pilot only a week earlier on 8 April 1917.

Charles Leigh Pickering was from Knutsford and had formerly served with the 6th Battalion Cheshire Regiment. He was the other type of RFC recruit, having shown an early interest in aviation and as a sixteen year old in 1911 had built his own glider with his friend Norman Dean Willoughby.

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Pickering and Willoughby’s glider

 

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