Tag Archives: 13 Squadron RFC

18 July 1917 – HEMs


Harvey Ernest Maxwell Porter

Weather prevented most flying on the Western Front today. However, Canadian Lieutenant Harvey Ernest Maxwell Porter was one on the few who got up to carry out artillery spotting. His BE2 was hit by AA fire and he was killed.

Meanwhile, back in England, another HEM, 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Ernest Malcolm Owen, who had only obtained his flying certificate on 16 June 1917, was killed whilst training with 60 Training Squadron at Scampton, Lincolnshire.


Herbert Ernest Malcolm Owen

In what appears to be his first solo flight, his engine stalled shortly after take off, apparently due to an incorrect fuel mixture. The Avro 504 (A5930) immediately crashed and burst into flames on impact. Later reports suggested he was knocked unconscious before being engulfed in flames. His friends were unable to free him from the wreckage and he burned to death.


28 April 1917 – More of the same

Captain Albert Ball from 56 Squadron was out on a lone wolf patrol in his SE5 (A4850). First he claimed to have driven down a hostile machine near Noyelles. He then destroyed an Albatros two-seater west of Cambrai. Finally he waited above the clouds for any hostile machines to appear and saw a two-seater Albatros which he promptly pursued. The enemy put its nose down and fled.

When at about 500 feet from the ground Captain Ball’s machine was hit by anti-aircraft and most of his controls were shot away and the fuselage was very severely damaged. He got into a spin but righted it and returned to the aerodrome where he made a perfect landing. In the event he was only credited with the Albatross west of Cambrai (for his 36th victory) – though German records do not record any losses that day.

Jasta 11 was also at work again. Early in the moring Manfred von Richthofen brought down 2nd Lieutenant Reginald William Follit and 2nd Lieutenant Frederick James Kirkham from 13 Squadron in BE2e 7221. Both were taken prisoner but Follit died shortly afterwards of his wounds.

Later that morning another group from Jasta 11 clashed with 16 Squadron. Leutnant Kurt Wolff shot down 2nd Lieutenant John Victor Wischer and 2nd Lieutenant Arthur A Baerlein in BE2g A2745. Both were taken prisoner.

16 Squadron suffered further casualties when Captain Augustus Wieland Bird and 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Charles Perryman in BE2e A2896 – had their patrol tank hit. They wrecked the aircraft making a forced landing near Vimy. Perryman was injured in the crash.


Eric Ogilvie McMurtry

Finally, Major Eric Ogilvie McMurtry And Lieutenant Harry Denver Mason were killed when their BE2e A2944 was hit by a British shell destroying the aircraft.

Last of all 2nd Lieutenant Clifford M Reece and 2nd Class Air Mechanic A Moult from 43 Squadron were shot down by Edmund Nathanael from Jasta 5  in their Sopwith Strutter A993.

9 April 1917 – A new offensive

The latest British offensive opened today. The attack front runs from Givenchy-en-Gohelle in the north to a point near Croisilles in the south. The capture of Vimy Ridge, the key position in the north, has been entrusted to the right of the First Army (chiefly the Canadian Corps reinforced by the 5th Division and by heavy artillery of the I Corps). The rest of the attack will be carried out by the Third Army.

The total strength of the Royal Flying Corps along the whole front of the First and Third Armies is 25 squadrons, with 365 serviceable aeroplanes of which a third are single-seater fighters (56 Squadron will also be available shortly with its SE5 fighters). The German Sixth Army in opposition has an air strength of eighteen reconnaissance and artillery flights, five fighter flights, and seven protection flights, comprising a total of 195 aeroplanes, with alsomost half being fighters. That said, the German aircraft (and the fighters in particular are superior to the British, and have been in place in numbers since the autumn of 1916 giving the German pilots plenty of time to learn appropriate tactics. The British are bringing on a number of new types on stream but these are untested in combat.

The plan of attack followed a series of short advances, the capture of each successive objective being timed in accordance with a pre-arranged programme. Under this programme contact patrol aeroplanes (A variety of BE types) from 12, 13 and 16 Squadrons flew over the front to detect and report on progress which would be signalled by flares in response to Klaxxon horns sounded by the aircraft.

Aircraft were up from 0600 to follow the advance which took place in snowy conditions. The aircraft nevertheless were able to report progress and points of enemy resistance and most of the objectives were taken by the end of the day. Despite this intensive activity only one aircraft went missing, that of 2nd Lieutenant Ernest Buxton Smyth and 2nd Lieutenant S Cooper from 16 Squadron who were hit by a shell in BE2g 6818 and crashed in no-mans land (in the end they were found wounded in an abandoned German dugout a few days later when the advance continued).

Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenants Vernon Forster Stewart and George Ronald Yorston Stout were shot up and crashed, writing off their BE2f (2550) – both men were unharmed though.

12 Squadron wrote off two of its BE2e’s. Lieutenant Norman Thirmbeck Croft and Lieutenant John McDougall Musson crashed BE2e A3159 after being shot through by machine -gun fire. More prosaically, Lieutenant George Hall Gordon and Lieutenant Lionel Baker-Jones crashed their BE2e (7078) when they were caught by a gust of wind on landing.

Finally 13 Squadron had 6 of its aircraft destroyed. Lieutenant Kenneth Capel (Ok) & Lieutenant Jack Brooker crashed and wrote off BE2c 4493 after a forced landing. Lieutenant Douglas Herbert Bell and Captain W W Boyd did the same to their BE2d (5875). Lieutenant Frederick Albert Victor Cook and Lieutenant John Edward Albert Robertson Daly crashed their BE2c 5437 in no-mans land after being hit by machine gun fire. Lieutenant John Hamilton Norton and Captain Theodore Laird Tibbs, also crashed in no-mans land after bing hit by artillery fire. Both aircraft were destroyed. In the end though, all four crews survived unhurt.

The other two were lost when they overturned on the aerodrome on take off. Lieutenant Eric Redgrave Gunner and Lieutenant Cecil Curtis in BE2e (A2867) and Lieutenant Leslie Robin Neville and Lieutenant William Ewart Wittrick Cushing in BE2e (6262) were the guilty parties.

teaserbox_12539183In the end there were only two fatalities during the day when observer Lieutenant Harold George Collins from 48 Squadron was killed on patrol. His pilot Lieutenant John Herbert Towne Letts got their Bristol F2B (A3315) back. They also claimed to have shot down two Albatrosses. Also Lieutenant Johannes Hieronymus Brink from 4 Squadron was wounded and later died when he and his observer Lieutenant Robert Ellis Heath (who was wounded) were shot down and crashed in their BE2d 5742 This has traditionally been allocated to Leutnant Karl Schaeffer from Jasta 11 but this seems unlikely as he was serving on a different part of the front at the time.

2 April 1917 – 57 Varieties

This morning, 4 aircraft from 57 Squadron RFC were on patrol east of Arras when they were attacked by 8 aircraft from Jastas 2 and 11. After a short tussle lasting no more than 15 minutes, the scores were even at 2-2.

Lieutenant Edward Ernest Pope and Lt William Ramsey Nasmyth claimed shot down two enemy scouts – Leutnants Erich König and Hans Wortmann – both from Jasta 2. Both were killed.

In the confusion, two aircraft broke for the lines and fought their way back. The other two were harried by Jasta 11 and eventually shot down. First, Vitzfeldwebel Sebestian Festner shot down Lieutenant Hubert Pelham Sworder and 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Henry Margoliouth in FE2d A1944. Both men were killed.

Then, Captain Hugh Tomlinson MC and Captain Norman Carlton Denison In FE2d A5151 were shot down by Leutnant Constantin Kref. Tomlinson was badly wounded in the crash and died later. Denison was luckier and escaped with minor injuries at the cost of bring taken prisoner.

Also killed today were:

2nd Lieutenant Patrick Alfred Russell from 22 Squadron in FE2b 6953 who was shot down by Edmund Nathanael from jasta 5. His observer Lieutenant Henry Loveland was taken prisoner.

2nd Lieutenant Vaughan Floyer Williams from 60 Squadron in Nieuport 23 A6763 – claimed by Leutnant Fritz Otto Bernert from Jasta 2.

Lieutenant P J G Powell and 1st Class Air Mechanic P Bonner from 13 Sqn. Their BE2 was found crashed into a barn with both crew killed. Manfred von Richthofen from Jasta 11 claimed this victory but ut seems very unlikely that this is the case.

Finally 2nd Lieutenant Albert Porter Warren was taken prisoner and Sergeant R Dunn was killed when their 43 Squadron Sopwith Strutter was brought down also by Manfred von Richthofen.


25 November 1916 – New Formation

A number of the potted histories of 13 Squadron suggest that 13 Squadon RFC carried out a pioneering formation bombing mission today, when nine of the squadrons aircraft bombed German anti-aircraft positions near Achiet-Le-Grand.

However, I have not yet located an account of this mission or those involved in it. The RFC Communiqué for the period does not mention it nor does the official history. Mysterious!

9 November 1916 – It’s big

The poor weather finally lifted and both sides made the most of it to get their aircraft in the sky. The result, the biggest aerial battle of the war so far. The British sent two squadrons (16 aircraft from 12 and 13 Squadrons) of BE2c’s to bomb a German ammunition dump at Vraucourt at around 9am this morning. Fighter cover was provided by 11, 29 and 60 Squadrons.

Unfortunately fighters from Jastas 1, 2 and 4 were waiting for them as soon as they crossed the lines. German doctrine at this time is still to stay primarily east of the lines. Superior German tactics split the formation into small groups and the British lost seven aircraft, including three bombers and  four fighters.

Ian Gilmore Cameron

Ian Gilmore Cameron

12 Squadron lost three of its bombers. They were flying without observers to increase their bomb load, rendering them essentially defenceless. 2502 with Lieutenant Gerald Featherstone Knight and 2506 with 2nd Lieutenant Ian Gilmour Cameron were both shot down and taken prisoner. Knight was claimed by both Leutnant Hans Imelmann and Oberleutnant S Kirmaier from Jasta 2, and Cameron by Manfred von Richthofen. Cameron died later of his wounds. He was 19. 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Hayes was shot up from behind and was wounded in BE2c 4589 but was able to evade his attacker and limp back over the lines.

One of the escorts from 11 Squadron, with 2nd Lieutenant James Douglas Cowie and Lance Corporal Charles George Sedgwick Ward on board were also shot down. They crashed their FE2b (7701) between the lines and Ward was killed in the crash. Cowie escaped wounded back behind the lines.

29 Squadron lost 2 DH2s. Captain Alastair Cheney Bolton was shot down and taken prisoner by Oberleutnant FO Bernert of Jasta 1. His colleague Leutnant Hans von Keudall claimed 2nd Lieutenant Ivan Curlewis in DH2 A2543 who was also wounded and taken prisoner.

Finally a Nieuport 17 (A272) from 60 Squadron was forced down by Leutnant Westmann from Jasta 2. Its pilot Captain James Douglas Latta made it back to his aerodrome but crashed on landing. He was lucky and received only minor wounds.

Later in the day, the RFC got its first taste of the new Albtross DII fighter when another 29 Squadron patrol was attacked by Jasta 1. Leutnant G Leffers shot down Henry Arthur Hallam in his DH2 (7925) and he was taken prisoner. 2nd Lieutenant Norman Brearley was shot down by Leutnant Hans von Keudall. He crashed in no mans land and his aircraft was shelled. He waited until nightfall and then was able to escape back over the lines

11 October 1916

Low cloud restricted flying for most of the day. Overnight however, 13 Squadron carried out bombing missions.

Captain Grenville Oxley Brunwin-Hales dropped a dozen 20-lb bombs upon Vitry Station – hitting a train and killing about 100 troops. Captain Sheridan bombed the aerodrome at Douai. A third aircraft (BE2c 2513) piloted by Lieutenant George Wadden failed to return from the mission and he was later reported taken prisoner.