4 May 1917 – Murdered

70 Squadron conducted a reconnaissance of the new German aerodromes around Tournai some 35km behind the lines. They were attacked over Tournai and had to fight their way back to British lines. During the fighting, Sergeant Skinner and Lieutenant Kenneth Arthur Seth-Smith claimed to have shot down an Albatross, though no German losses were recorded.

Lieutenant Dudley George Antoine Allen and Lieutenant Benjamin Lester Franklin (in Sopwith Strutter A2431 were shot down by Leutnant Wiessner also from Jasta 18. Allen was able to get back over the lines but force landed at Ballieu. Franklin was already dead.

2nd Lieutenant Valentine Howard Adams and 2nd Lieutenant Ivan Lapwith Pinson in Sopwith Strutter A1001 were shot down by Walter Göttsch from Jasta 18. They apparently suffered engine trouble and were forced to land near Lincelles, under control according to their wingmen. What happened next remained a mystery for some months.

Over the next 19 months various letters were sent to and from the Red Cross in Geneva, the War Office London, the Air Ministry, Central Prisoners of War Committee and the family in Australia and London.


Valentine Howard Adams 

Eventually a number of eye-witness accounts turned up, taken by local French policemen with a local housekeeper, a labourer, a young woman, a farmer and a coachman who were all near the scene as the plane glided down.

They reported that as the plane landed, some German soldiers encamped at a nearby farm made towards the plane. Adams was seen to drag the body of his comrade from the aeroplane and then set fire to the machine. The German soldiers arrived at the scene and shot Adams dead as he tried to surrender. German officers arrived at the site and made the men cease firing and took Pinson) to hospital where he died the next day.



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