The fragility of aircraft and the dangers of flying in close formation with others are a constant threat to even the most experienced pilots. For the rookie pilot, life expectancy remains low.
This was encapsulated today when Captain John Gerald Manuel DSC DFC from 210 Squadron RAF was killed in a collision with 2nd Lieutenant Francis Coupe Dodd.
Manuel was an experienced flyer who had originally served with the Canadian Field Artillery before switching to the RNAS in March 1917. He was posted to the front in August 1917 serving briefly with 12 Squadron RNAS before joining 10 Squadron RNAS. At this point he had claimed 13 victories, including two yesterday.
Dodd in contrast had joined the RFC in August 1917 and was trained at Crystal Palace, Chingford, and Cranwell, where he graduated. He eventually joined 210 Squadron on 15 May 1918.
In what was likely one of Dodd’s very first missions over the front, flying the tricky Sopwith Camel, he was on an offensive patrol when his Camel (D9590) collided with Manuel’s (D7249). Both aircraft were seen to fall to pieces and crash and both pilots were killed.