Tag Archives: 70 Squadron RFC

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.


8 May 1917 – Soft Strutters

Flying was curtailed today due to poor weather.

There were no casualties from enemy aircraft today, although 2nd Lieutenant HR Parry From 40 Squadron RFC was forced to land his Nieuport Scout (B1541) after the petrol tank was holed from the ground. 2nd Lieutenant William Thomas Walder also from 40 Squadron bodged a landing, coming down on one wheel and then putting another Nieuport Scout (A6785) on its nose.

A variety of other mishaps wrecked three Sopwith Strutters. 2nd Lieutenant Charles Henry Harriman and 2nd Lieutenant William Stuart Cattell from 43 Squadron crashed 8232 on landing from gun practice. Sergeant G Skinner and 2nd Class Air Mechanic A Giles from 70 Squadron also crashed 8211 following an engine failure on a reconnaissance mission. Lieutenant John Ross Robertson from 66 Squadron overturned A6154 when he made a forced landing on soft ground following an offensive patrol.

Luckily none of these crewmen were hurt.

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.


24 April 1917 – 66 and 9

The action in the air continued with the offensive on the ground. Seven British aircraft were shot down with eight crew killed, 5 wounded and 2 taken prisoner. The British also claimed 36 enemy aircraft forced down or shot down though in the event the Germans only confirmed 2 wounded and 2 killed.

The big operation of the day was a combined reconnaissance and bombing mission to Le Quesnoy and Landrecies. A distant reconnaissance by nine Sopwith Strutters from 70 Squadron accompanied by six Sopwith Pups from 66 Squadron failed due to low cloud and on the way back the formation was attacked over Solesmesby six Halberstadts. One of the two-seater Sopwiths was shot down in flames and one of the escorting pilots was forced to land and was made prisoner.

2nd Lieutenant Clive Harold Halse and 2nd Air Mechanic William J Bond from 70 Squadron in Sopwith Strutter (A1002) were shot down by Leutnant Fritz Otto Bernert from Jasta 2.


Robert Stanley Capon

2nd Lieutenant Robert Stanley Capon from 66 Squadron got separated from the formation and shot down by Oberleutnant Heinrich Lorenz from Jasta 33 in Sopwith Pup A6175. He crashed near Cambrai and was taken prisoner. Three of his colleagues were also shot but managed to escape back over the lines – 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Myer Marsh in Sopwith Pup A670, Captain Robert Oxspring in Sopwith Pup A7305, and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Charles Morley in Sopwith Pup A6152.

The bombing formations, which followed, fared better. Five Martinsydes from 27 Squadron each dropped one 230-lb. bomb in the neighbourhood of the sheds at Ath Station. The three escorting SPADs had a brief indecisive encounter with two Albatros two-seaters on the outward journey, but there was no other opposition.

Bernert then flew south to engage a 6 strong bombing formation from 9 Squadron returning from a raid on Busigny and shot three of them down. Lieutenant Charles Lee Graves in BE2e A2941, Lieutenant Frank Arthur Matthews in BE2e A2937, and Lieutenant George Edward Hicks in BE2e 7195. Graves and Matthews were killed and Hicks was taken prisoner.

25 March 1917 – 70 Squadron annihilated

Despite the losses yesterday, 70 Squadron was sent out again at dawn to reconnoitre Cambrai to determine the extent of the German withdrawal. Six Sopwith Strutters set off and one returned (A956) with engine trouble to report the rest were engaged over Cambrai by 9 enemy scouts from Jastas 5 and 6. In the end, they were the lucky ones as the other six were shot down and the 12 crew killed.


Eric Joseph Henderson


Those killed were:

  • Lieutenant Charles Stewart Vane-Tempest and 2nd Lieutenant Fred Allinson MC (7763) claimed by Leutnant Karl Deilmann from Jasta 6
  • Capt Eric Joseph Henderson MC and 2nd Lieutenant John Moir Sim (A2986) claimed by Leutnant Heinrich Gontermann from Jasta 5


    John Moir Sim

  • 2nd Lieutenant Harry Butler and Lieutenant Leslie Archibald Norris (A884) claimed by Vitzfeldwebel Häussler from Jasta 5
  • Lieutenant John Stephen Cooper and 2nd Lieutenant Alexander Norman MacQueen (A954) claimed by Edmund Nathanael from, Jasta 5


    Alexander Norman MacQueen

  • Lieutenant Leonard Stanley Ward-Price and Lieutenant Harry Athelstan Chuter (A958) claimed by Paul Hoppe from Jasta 5.

15 September 1916 -The busiest day yet

The British launched a new offensive today between Morville and Le Sars.  The work for the RFC began late last night as aircraft were asked to patrol the front to disguise the deployment of the latest attempt to break the deadlock – tanks. This was the most intensive day of air fighting since the war began.

Once the battle commenced at 0620, the Corps Squadrons were used to track the progress of the tanks and infantry. In one notable example, Captain CHN Blount and his observer Lieutenant TS Pearson of 34 Squadron spooked the failed tank attack near HIgh Wood and a large German force. The planned assault was called off.

As well as this, the fighting in the air intensified as the new German Squadrons emboldened by their new machines met British forces still committed to the strategic offensive. The RFC lost eight killed and a further four taken prisoner , whilst claiming 14 enemy aircraft shot down.

11 Squadron RFC were covering a raid on the railway at Baupame  – 2nd Lieutenants Frank Edwin Hollingsworth and Henry Maurice Watkins Wells were shot down and killed in their FE2b (6047)  and Sergeant D B Walker died of his wounds in another . The squadron claimed two enemy aircraft shot down


Cedric John Kennedy

21 Squadron lost two more of their ineffective BE12s with Lieutenant Gilbert Klingenstein (6164) and 2nd Lieutenant Colin Elphinston (6583) both forced down and taken prisoner.

2nd Lieutenant Cedric John Kennedy of 27 Squadron was also taken prisoner when his Martinsyde (7484) was also forced down near Bourlon Wood.

Captain Alfred Spencer Mason Summers of 60 Squadron was shot down and killed in his Nieuport 16 (A136) by Leunant W Frankl of Jasta 4.


Alfred Mason Spencer Summers

70 Squadron and their Sopwith Strutters suffered the worst however.  Despite being in one of the better aircraft, they got into a fight with Oswald Boelcke’s Jasta 2, Jasta 4, and their new Fokker DIs and DIIs, and despite claiming 3 enemy forced down, and a further two collided in the melee, they themselves had four aircraft shot down with five killed and one taken prisoner. Captain Guy Lindsay Cruikshank DSO MC and 2nd Lieutenant Rudolph Arthur Preston were shot down and killed in A895 by Boelcke. Half an hour later Boelcke also shot down 2nd Lieutenant Neville Kemsley in A1903. He escaped with minor injuries but managed his observer Carl John Beatty was killed.


Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday

A similar fate befell A1913 as pilot Captain W J C Kennedy Cochran Patrick who survived a crash but his observer Captain Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday was killed. Finally Boelcke himself claimed victory 26 by shooting down A1910. 2nd Lieutenant Fritz Bowyer was wounded but survived while his observer 2nd Lieutenant William Bell Saint was killed by unknown pilots from Jasta 2 and Frankl from Jasta 4.

14 September 1916 – A Boelcke brace

Since returning to action Oswald Boelcke has shown no signs of slowing down. This morning  he shot down two British aircraft.

The first was a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter (A897) from 70 Squadron with 2nd Lieutentant John Hugh Gale and Sapper JM Strathy. They were on reconnaissance near Baupame when Boelcke and his squadron attacked.

“Number 23 was a hard one. I had headed off the squadron he was with and picked the second one. He started to get away. The third attacked Lieutenant R., and was soon engaged by Lieutenants B. and R., but, nevertheless, escaped within his own lines. My opponent pretended to fall after the first shots. I knew this trick, and followed him closely. He really was trying to escape to his own lines. He did not succeed. At M. he fell. His wings broke off and the machine broke into pieces. As he lies so far behind our front I did not get a chance to inspect the wreck. Once, however, I flew over it at a very low altitude.”

Both Gale and Strathy were killed in the crash.

A little later he came across 2nd Lieutentant John Victor Bowring from 24 Squadron in his DH2 (7873).

“After a short while I saw several Englishmen circling over P. When I got nearer, they wanted to attack me. As I was lower, I paid no attention to them, but turned away. As they saw I would not fight, one of them attacked another German machine. I could not allow this to go on. I attacked him and he soon had to suffer for it. I shot up his gasoline and oil tanks and wounded him in the right thigh. He landed and was captured. That was number 24. “