Tag Archives: 32 Squadron RFC

11 November 1917 – 32 Ground Attack

Bing Tyrrell

Weather on the Western Front was again poor for flying, but various missions were performed including a lot of ground attack.

A flight from 32 Squadron RFC (2nd Lieutenant Charles James Howson, Lieutenant Walter Alexander (Bing) Tyrrell and Lieutenant Arthur Claydon) were on patrol when they came across a group of enemy scouts. The combat is recorded as follows:

“Three 32 Sqn DH5s flown by 2nd Lts Howson, W A Tyrrell and Claydon, were engaged on an OP. At 1000 over Westroosbeke, Claydon & Tyrrell first intercepted an Albatros with a yellow and green fuselage and yellow nose. Clayton was forced to pull out of the fight with a gun jam, but Tyrrell carried on the attack. The German began a staggering flutter in a downward direction. As the pilot attempted to pull the stricken Albatros out of the dive, Tyrrell fired again, his bullets striking the pilot’s head and the instrument panel in front of him. The Albatros reared upwards before spinning down again. Tyrrell lost sight of his quarry at 300 feet as it fell through and below other circling German aircraft – it was too dangerous to follow. There no German pilot fatalities on this day. Nevertheless, Tyrrell added this out of control’ to his score.”

After this Claydon found his engine had been shot through and he made a forced landing north-east of Ypres, overturning his DH5 (A9439) in the process. Claydon escaped with minor injuries.


4 August 1917 – Opportunities

Whilst the British offensive launched on 31 July has continued, the poor weather has also continued, limiting most flying for the last two days. Today some aircraft got up but spent most of the time attacking whatever targets of opportunity they could find.

For example, Lieutenant James Bass Finch and Lieutenant Arthur Sleep and Lieutenant Frank Warren Curtis and 2nd Class Air Mechanic F N Bell from 9 Squadron RFC attacked enemy transport in Langemarck from 900 feet in their RE8s.

Captain Robert Benedict Bourdillon from 27 Squadron RFC dropped one 230-lb and four 20-lb bombs from 5,700 feet on Cortemarck Station.

32 Squadron RFC attacked enemy trenches in their DH5s. 2nd Lieutenant William Raymond Fish reported hits on enemy troops. However, 2nd Lieutenant Lockhart Frederick Charles St Clair was hit by anti aircraft fire. His DH5 (A9404) crashed and he was wounded.

The only casualty today was 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Frank Preston Thwaites Dennett from 52 Squadron RFC who was wounded in the stomach whilst carrying out some experimental work with kite balloons in his RE8. No details are available about the pilot or the aircraft. Dennett died of his wounds the following day.

Whilst the British offensive launched on 31 July has continued, the poor weather has also continued, limiting most flying for the last two days. Today some aircraft got up but spent most of the time attacking whatever targets of opportunity they could find.

17 July 1917 – 70 Squadron mauled

The weather was poor for much of the day on the Western Front, but in the evening some patrols were able to get up. German aircraft were also out in Force.

The biggest fight of the day came about when a patrol of five Sopwith Camels from 70 Squadron encountered an enemy scout which they drove down. They then engaged a formation of six 2-seaters with Captain Noel William Ward Webb, Lieutenant Joseph Cecil Smith and Lieutenant Edward Gribbin each claiming to have sent one down.

They were then attacked by Albatros scouts from above and  a 5 strong patrol from B flight 56 Squadron led by Captain Ian Henry David Henderson came to their aid. They were then joined  by 8 FE’s from 20 Squadron (led by Captain Frank Douglas Stevens) along with DH5’s from 32 Squadron. Further German scouts joined in until there were around 30 enemy aircraft (from Jastas 6, 8, 11 and 36).

Despite the number of aircraft involved the fighting was relatively indecisive. A large number of claims by the British side actually resulted in only three German pilots being wounded.

70 Squadron lost two of their new Camels. Lieutenant William Edington Grossett was shot down and taken prisoner in Camel N6332. Lieutenant Charles Service Workman MC was shot down and severely wounded in Camel B3779. He later died of his wounds.


12 July 1917 – Big day out

The air offensive in support of the British Offensive (scheduled for the last week of July) in the Ypres area was due to begin on 8 July, but poor weather restricted activity until yesterday when there was some bombing activity in the evening. Today however, saw the most intensive fighting of the war to date.

There was fighting all day along the whole front, but it was most concentrated in the area opposite the Fifth Army. What was also noticeable was that the scale of these battles. The German formations were often very large, and very quickly a range of smaller British and French formations would join in the fight resulting in large scale engagements.

For example, in the evening there was a general engagement, lasting an hour, between a mixed formation of thirty German single-seaters, (from Jastas 4, 6, 36 and MFJ I and a force of British (1 29 and 66 Squadrons abd C flight of 56 Squadron) and some French SPADs of similar strength. The Allied aircraft claimed 12 enemy aircraft shot down but the records show that in reality only 1 German pilot was injured and even he got back. The British lost on pilot taken prisoner – 2nd Lieutenant Harold Morgan Lewis from 29 Squadron whose Nieuport 23 (B1625) was hit by AA fire.

However elsewhere in the fighting the British lost nine aircraft, 13 crew killed and 3 more taken prisoner. 29 Squadron suffered a bad day as earlier in the day they had lost 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Holtom Whytehead in Nieuport 23 A6782 and 2nd Lieutenant James Wellington Fleming in Nieuport 23 B1658.

The others killed were:

Lieutenant Basil Ward Binkley, 53 Squadron RFC
2nd Lieutenant Frank Ernest Bishop, 57 Squadron RFC
Sergeant John Frazier Carr, 11 Squadron RFC
2nd Lieutenant Kenneth George Cruickshank, 32 Squadron RFC
2nd Lieutenant Guy Stuart Ellis, 57 Squadron RFC
Flight-Sub Lieutenant Sidney Emerson Ellis, 4 Naval Squadron
Flight-Sub Lieutenant Edward Hext Kendall, 6 Naval Squadron
Flight-Sub Lieutenant Charles Richard Pegler, 10 Naval Squadron
Captain Chas Eric Robertson, 11 Squadron RFC

For a full description of the days fighting see the discussion on The Aerodrome forum.

21 March 1917 – The Prince


Prince Friedrich Karl

Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia was the commander of Fliegerabteilung (Artillerie) 258, an artillery spotting unit, but was allowed to fly patrols in a single-seat fighter with the nearby Jasta Boelcke whenever possible. He was on patrol today with four other aircraft in Albatross DI 410/16 when they attacked 4 aircraft from 32 Squadron RFC. In the fight, Lieutenant Charles Edward Murray Pickthorn in his DH2, who had just been promoted to Flight Commander, put a bullet in the Prince’s engine and shot him in the foot. For once, there was a strong easterly wind blowing and Prince Friedrich was forced down in no-mans land some 200m in front of the forward posts of Australian 26 Battalion near Vaulx Wood. He tried to make a run for the German lines but was shot in the back by fire from Corporal BG James and EJ Powell. Private CH Hall ran out and captured the Prince, joined shortly by some Light Horsemen. Soon they were joined by Captain’s RG Legge and SW Neale, who eased the Prince’s concerns about being taken prisoner by Australians. Unfortunately for the Prince, his wounds were severe and he died on 6 April 1917.

This was the only good news for the RFC today as no other enemy aircraft were claimed and the RFC lost four other aircraft.


Hubert Wilson Godfrey Jones

Lieutenant Harold William Ludlow Poole 2nd Class Air Mechanic Arthur J Ball from 43 Squadron in Sopwith Strutter A2390 got int a fight with Leutnant Karl Allmenroder from Jasta 11. He shot through their petrol tank and they made a forced landing near Mazingarbe. Their aircraft burst into flames. Poole escaped but Ball was wounded and later died.

Lieutenant Edwin Louis Benbow MC from 40 Squadron was hit by AA fire and wounded in the back. He was forced to land his Nieuport 17 A6734 – near Ablain St Nazaire. Earlier that day, Benbow had emerged unscathed from Nieuport 23 A6782 when a wheel buckled and the machine overturned on landing.


Sidney Herbert Quicke

Captain Hubert Wilson Godfrey Jones from 24 Squadron in DH2 A305 was badly shot up in a fight and was last seen in spinning nose-dive at 1,000 feet over Roupy. He crash landed and somehow survived despite extensive injuries. He did not serve at the front again.


William John Lindsey

Finally,  Flight Sergeant Sidney Herbert Quicke and 2nd Lieutenant William John Lidsey From 16 Squadron were shot down by Manfred Von Richthofen in their BE2e. Quicke was killed in the crash, and although Lindsey survived he died later of his injuries. Quicke was one of the original RFC men who went to France in August 1914 when he was serving as a mechanic with 4 Squadron RFC.

17 March 1916 – Mass brawls

There was intense activity in the air today.


Arthur Elsdale Boultbee

This morning the biggest scrap involved 18 aircraft – 43 Squadron RFCwere on a photo reconnaissance mission over Beaumont covered by 25 Squadron RFC- and 17 enemy aircraft including 9 from Jasta 11. The British claimed six aircraft downed, but the German’s did not report any losses. The RFC lost three aircraft. Manfred von Richthofen claimed his 27th victory in Lieutenant Arthur Elsdale Boultebee and 1st Class Air Mechanic Frederick King from 25 Squadron, though accounts at the time suggested their FE2b (A5439) was actually crippled by AA fire before von Richthofen finished it off. Both men were killed. 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Constable and 2nd Lieutenant Charles Duncan Knox from 43 Squadron were shot down in their Sopwith Strutter (A1097) by Leutnant Kurt Wolff from Jasta 11. Their colleagues, 2nd Lieutenant James Cook Rimer and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Herbert Lownds in Sopwith Strutter A1111 were shot down by Leutnant Karl Allmenroder. All four were killed.


George Macdonald Watt

Late in the day around 1600, Manfred von Richthofen claimed a second victory when he claimed to have shot down 2nd Lieutenant George Macdonald Watt and Sergeant Ernest Adam Howlett from 16 Squadron RFC in BE2c 2814. Both men were killed.

It wasn’t all scout victories as Wilhelm Hippert and Heinrich Klose from FFA227 shot down Lieutenant W Anderson and Lieutenant Duncan B Woolley from 20 Squadron in their FE2d (A27). They were taken prisoner.

11 Squadron RFC and Jasta 2 clashed with Jasta 2 getting the better of the fight. Lieutenant Archibald Campbell Woodman and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Charles Cox claimed to have shot down one enemy aircraft but were in turn shot down in their FE2b (4979). They crashed near Grevillers and totalled the aircraft, Cox was wounded but Woodman was unhurt. Lieutenant Norman Hatfield Read and 2nd Lieutenant Larry William Nevile-Smith in FE2b 7694 were also brought down but escaped unhurt. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Russell Wilfred Cross and Lieutenant Christopher Fryers Lodge were less lucky as they were shot down and taken prisoner in their FE2b (7695). Werner Voss and Heinrich Gontermann both made claims but there is some confusion as to who did what though Cross and Lodge is traditionally attributed to Voss.

Voss also made a later claim to have shot down Lieutenant Theodore Algernon Cooch from 32 Squadron RFC in his DH2 (A2583). The aircraft was completely wrecked near Bapaume and Cooch was wounded in the back.

4 Squadron RFC were up on an artillery patrol when 2nd Lieutenant John Thwaytes and 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Hugh Temple Bourne in BE2c 2755 were brought down, most likely be anti-aircraft fire. Their plane was totally wrecked and both were killed. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Norman Hay Colson and 2nd Lieutenant Harold Bagshaw Mann in BE2d 6740 were attacked by 6 enemy aircraft and shot down. Colson was injured but Mann escaped unhurt.


Aaron Appleton

Jasta 18 made 2 claims. At around 1020, 2nd Lieutenant Alex Ivan Gilson from 1 Squadron RFC was shot down in spinning nosedive near during a combat with 8 enemy aircraft. Leutnant Paul Strähle claimed the victory. Two hours later, 2nd Lieutenant Aaron Appleton and Corporal Albert Cooper from 6 Squadron RFC were shot down in flames  in their BE2d (6241) following an attack by 5 enemy aircraft. Oberleutnant Heino Grieffenhagen claimed the victory. All four were killed.

11 March 1917 – Losses mount

After the poor weather of the last few days, the fighting int he air intensified again on the Western Front. In the event four major engagements took place.

Just after 10am 6 aircraft from 32 Squadron RFC and 12 from Jasta 12 clashed to the east of Bapaume. In the ensuing fight, 32 Squadron claimed to have downed one German aircraft and Jasta 12 claimed.

The Jasta 12 pilot was Leutnant Erkenbrecht who was shot at by Lieutentants Charles Edward Murray Pickthorn in DH2 7898, Gilbert Howe and Arthur Clunie Randall in DH2 A2548. Pickthorn and Howe both subsequently crash landed after being shot up. 2nd Lieutenant John Hassall Cross was also brought down in DH2 A5025.

Jasta 1 and Jasta 5 seem to have joined the fight and three more DH2s were shot up,  forced down and crashed. 2nd Lieutenant William Arnold Gemmell Young in DH2 7903, Captain James Milne Robb in DH2 A2535 and Lieutenant Randall. Remarkably none of the 32 Squadron pilots were killed though they all suffered injuries.


Horace Bowden


Eric Lubbock

While this was going on 45 Squadron and Jasta 18 clashed over Ypres. Jasta 18 came off best downing two of the patrol – 2nd Lieutenant Horace George Cecil Bowden and 2nd Lieutenant Douglas Baptist Stevenson in Sopwith Strutter A1071, and Captain The Hon Eric Fox Pitt Lubbock MC and Lieutenant John Thompson in Sopwith Strutter A1082. Leutnant Josef Flink claimed A1071 and Leutnant Paul Strähle A1082. All four men were killed.

The third big fight of the day took place between Jasta 1 and 5 and a flight of FE2bs from 18 and 23 Squadron RFC who were providing cover for photography.Two 23 Squadron aircraft were forced down with the crews taken prisoner. These were 2nd Lieutenant Charles Arthur Robert Shum and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Cecil Coops in FE2b 7713 and 2nd Lieutenant A Holden and 2nd Class Air Mechanic A G Walker in FE2b A5443. 2nd Lieutenant John Eric Lewis and Lieutenant Richard Mayberry from 18 Squadron were both wounded when they were forced down in their FE2b (A785). Their colleagues Sergeant Henry Philip Burgess 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Marshall Headley were less lucky and both were killed after their FE2b (A5475) was shot up and crashed.

Finally Jasta 11 got the better of the BE2s of 2 Squadron. 2nd Lieutenant George Chandos Hoskins and 2nd Lieutenant George William Betts Hampton in BE2c 4541 were sent down in flames in a spinning nosedive in the Loos Salient by Leutnant Karl Schaeffer. Manfred von Richthofen claimed to have brought down 2nd Lieutenant James Smyth and 2nd Lieutenant Edward Gordon Byrne in their BE2d (6232). Al four were killed.