The RAF is as desperate for men as the other armed services and as such the recruits are getting younger.
Today, 19 year old 2nd Lieutenant Bouverie Walter St John Mildmay was killed in a flying accident in France. He had joined the RFC immediately on leaving Winchester School. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in August 1917 and gained his “wings” on 17th October. He trained at South Charlton and then at Castle Bromwich, and was eventually posted to 70 Squadron RFC.
At the time of his death, he was flying a Sopwith Camel D1782. The Camel was a notoriously difficult aircraft to fly and whether this contributed to the accident is unknown. His commanding officer recorded the following:
“He was a remarkably daring pilot, and he was trying a very steep dive over the aerodrome when something appeared to break in his machine. He pulled out of the dive with difficulty, but almost immediately afterwards, while turning to land, his machine went out of control and he dived again into the ground. He was killed instantly. We have so far been unable to discover the cause of the accident because the machine was so badly broken on reaching the ground.”
At the same time he was known as a stunter. Within the first 40 minutes of his first solo flight he had looped the loop! During December 1917 he was appointed as a test pilot with the Service Test Squadron. Whilst subsequently serving at Castle Bromwich that he began to perform a lot of test work. Here he had got into a lot of scrapes.
On one occasion whilst chasing a fox over some down land the animal became momentarily caught up in his skid.
Then during another escapade a shepherd, who had been asleep, fled in terror with his dog when the aeroplane dived straight at them.
As for a later episode, he began flying in and out amongst people digging potatoes in Lincolnshire, but “when they began to pelt me with potatoes I went off’.
He had flown to his nearby Aunt’s house, and flew straight at her bedroom window, before zooming up among the chimneys. He then concluded his visit by flying low between the houses along the village, to the great amusement of the many onlookers.