Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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Listed below are details of RFC/RNAS/RAF/AFC personnel who were awarded the Victoria Cross, either whilst serving in these units or having been awarded the honour prior to service in the Air Service.
Albert BALL DSO, MC
"Lt. (temp. Capt.) Albert Ball, D.S.O., M.C., late Notts, and Derby. R., and R.F.C.
For most conspicuous and consistent bravery from the 25th of April to the 6th of May, 1917, during which period Capt. Ball took part in twenty-six combats in the air and destroyed eleven hostile aeroplanes, drove down two out of control, and forced several others to land.
In these combats Capt. Ball, flying alone, on one occasion fought six hostile machines, twice he fought five and once four. When leading two other British aeroplanes he attacked an enemy formation of eight. On each of these occasions he brought down at least one enemy.
Several times his aeroplane was badly damaged, once so seriously that but for the most delicate handling his machine would have collapsed, as nearly all the control wires had been shot away. On returning with a damaged machine he had always to be restrained from immediately going out on another.
In all, Capt. Ball has destroyed forty-three German aeroplanes and one balloon, and has always displayed most exceptional courage, determination and skill."
(London Gazette - 8 June 1917)
Albert Ball was killed in air combat in May 1917 having been credited with 44 enemy aircraft.
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of bravery of the highest possible order:
Capt. (A./Major) William George Barker, D.S.O., M.C., No. 201 Sqn., R.A. Force.
On the morning of the 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the F'oret de Mormal. He attacked this machine, 'and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and-he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames.
He then found, himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers, who attacked him from all directions; and was again .severely wounded in the left thigh; but succeeded in driving down' two of the enemy in a spin. He lost consciousness after this, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine, he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames.
During this fight his left elbow was shattered and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but, notwithstanding that he was .now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames. Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing.
This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes up to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and1 is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard of danger which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career.
Major Barker was awarded the Military Cross on 10th January, 1917; first Bar on 18th July, 1917] the Distinguished Service Order on 18th February, 1918; second Bar to Military Cross on 16th September, 1918; and Bar-to Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918."
(London Gazette - 30 November 1918)
"Lieut. (A./Capt.) Andrew Weathorby Beauchamp-Proctor, D.S.O., M.C., D.F.C., No. 84 Sqn., R.A. Force.
Between August 8th, 1918, and October 8th, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve enemy kit© balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control. Between October 1st, 1918, and October 5th, 1918, he destroyed two enemy scouts, burnt three enemy kite balloons, and drove down one enemy scout completely out of control.
On October 1st, 1918, in a general engagement with about twenty-eight machines, he crashed one Fokker biplane near Fontaine and a second near Ramicourt; on October 2nd -he burnt a hostile balloon near Selvjgny; on October 3rd he drove down, completely out of control, an enemy scout near Mont d'Origny, and burnt a hostile balloon; on October 5th, the third hostile balloon near Bohain. .
On October 8th, 1918, while flying home at a low altitude, after destroying an enemy two-seater near Maretz, he was painfully wounded in the arm 'by machine-gun fire, but, continuing, he landed safely at his-aerodrome, and after making his report was admitted to hospital. In all he has proved himself conqueror over fifty-four foes, destroying twenty-two enemy machines, sixteen enemy kite balloons, and driving down sixteen enemy aircraft completely out of control.
Captain Beauchamp-Proctor's work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance during the withdrawal following on the Battle of St. Quentin from March 21st, 1918, and during the victorious August 8th, has been almost unsurpassed in its Brilliancy, and. as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.
Capt. Beauchamp-Proctor was awarded Military Cross on 22nd June, 1918; Distinguished Cross on 2nd July, 1918; Bar to M.C. on 16th September, 1918; and Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918."
(London Gazette - 30 November 1918)
Richard BELL DAVIES DSO, RN
"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Squadron-Commander Richard Bell Davies, D.S.O., R.N., and of the Distinguished Service Cross to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gilbert Formby Smylie, R.N., in recognition of their behaviour in the following circumstances:
On the 19th November these two officers carried out an air attack on Ferrijik Junction. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Smylie's machine was received by very heavy fire and brought down. The pilot planed down over the station, releasing all his bombs except one, which failed to drop, simultaneously at the station from a very low altitude. Thence he continued his descent into the marsh.
On alighting he saw the' one unexploded bomb, and set fire to his machine, knowing that the bomb would ensure its destruction. He then proceeded towards Turkish territory. At this moment he perceived Squadron Commander Davies descending, and fearing that he would come down near the burning machine and thus risk destruction from the bomb, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Smylie ran back and from a short distance exploded the bomb by means of a pistol bullet. Squadron Commander Davies descended at a safe distance from the burning machine, took up Sub-Lieutenant Smylie, in spite of the near approach of a party of the enemy, and returned to the aerodrome, a feat of airmanship that can seldom have been equalled for skill and gallantry."
(London Gazette - 1 January 1916)
William Avery BISHOP DSO, MC
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer:
Captain William Avery Bishop, D.S.O., M.C., Canadian Cavalry and Royal Flying Corps.
For most conspicuous bravery, determination and skill.
Captain Bishop, who had been sent out to work independently, flew first of all to an enemy aerodrome; finding no machine about, he flew on to another aerodrome about three miles south-east, which was at least twelve miles the other side of the line. Seven machines, some with their engines running, were on the ground. He attacked these from about fifty feet, and a mechanic, who was starting one of the engines, was seen to fall. One of the machines got oft the ground, but at a height of sixty feet Captain Bishop fired fifteen rounds into it at very close range, and it crashed to the ground.
A second machine got off the ground, into which he fired thirty rounds at 150 yards range, and it fell into a tree. Two more machines then rose from the aerodrome. One of these he engaged at the height of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition. This machine crashed 300 yards from the aerodrome, after which Captain Bishop emptied a whole drum into the fourth hostile machine, and then flew back to his station.
Four hostile scouts were about 1,000 feet above him for about a mile of his return journey, but they would not attack. His machine was very badly shot about by machine gun fire from the ground."
(London Gazette - 11 August 1917)
After the war he transferred to the newly formed Royal Canadian Air Force and retired in the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.
Gabriel George COURY
"2nd Lieutenant Gabriel George Coury, South Lancashire Regiment.
For most conspicuous bravery. During an advance he was in command of two platoons ordered to dig a communication trench from the old firing line to the position won. By his fine example and utter contempt of danger he kept up the spirits of his men and completed his task under intense fire.
Later, after his battalion had sufferedsevere casualties and the Commanding Officer had been wounded, he went out in front of the advanced position in broad daylight and in full view of the enemy, found his Commanding Officer, and brought him back to the new advanced trench over ground swept by machine gun fire. He not only carried out his original task and saved his Commanding Officer, but also assisted in rallying the attacking troops when they were shaken and in leading them forward."
(London Gazette - 26 October 1916)
The above action took place on 8 August 1916 near Arrow head Copse, whilst 2 Lt Coury was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment and was attached to the 1/4th Battalion.
Lt Coury was seconded to the RFC as an flying officer (observer) on 15 November 1916 and was appointed a flying officer on 20 September 1917 (with seniority from 28 August 1917). He transferred to the RAF on 1 April 1918 and transferred to the Administrative Branch on 20 September 1918. He was promoted to Temporary Captain in the Administrative (Medical) section on 30 September 1918.
John Manson CRAIG
"2nd Lt. John Manson Craig, R. Sc. Fus.
For most conspicuous bravery on the occasion of an advanced post being rushed by a large, party of the enemy. This officer immediately organised a rescue party, and the enemy was tracked over broken country back to his trenches. 2nd Lt. Craig then set his party to work removing the dead and wounded.
During the course of this operation his men came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire. An N.C.O. was wounded, and the Medical. Officer who went out to his aid was also severely wounded. 2nd Lt. Craig at once went to their assistance and succeeded in taking the N.C.O. under cover. He then, returned for the Medical Officer, and whilst, taking him to shelter was himself wounded.
Nevertheless, by great perseverance, he succeeded in rescuing him also. As the enemy continued a heavy fire and in addition turned on shrapnel and high explosives, 2nd Lt. Craig scooped cover for the wounded and thus was the means of saving their lives. These latter acts of bravery occurred in broad daylight, under full observation of the enemy ,and within close range.
On three previous occasions this officer has behaved in a conspicuously brave manner, and has shown an exceptional example of courage and resource."
(London Gazette - 2 August 1917)
2 Lt Craig was awarded his VC for an action in Egypt on 5 June 1917, he was serving with the 1/4th Battalion but attached to the 1/5th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Lanoe HAWKER DSO
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers, Non-commissioned Officer and man, in recognition of their most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in the field:
Captain Lanoe George Hawker, D.S.O., Royal Engineers and Royal Flying Corps.
For most conspicuous bravery and very great ability on 25th July, 1915. When flying alone he attacked three German aeroplanes in succession. The first managed eventually to escape, the second was driven to ground damaged, and the third, which he attacked at a height of about 10,000 feet, was driven to earth in our lines, the pilot and observer being killed.
The personal bravery shown by this Officer was of the very highest order, as the enemy's aircraft were armed with machine guns, and all carried a passenger as well as the pilot."
(London Gazette - 24 August 1915)
"2nd Lt. James Palmer Huff am, 5th Bn., .W. Rid. R. (T.F.), attd. 2nd Bn.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotionto duty on the 31st Aug., 1918. With three men he rushed an enemy machine-gun post and put it out of action. His post was then heavily attacked and he withdrew fighting, carrying back a wounded comrade.
Again on the night of 31st Aug., 1918, at St. Servin's Farm, accompanied by two men only, he rushed an enemy machine gun, capturing eight prisoners and enabling the advance to continue. Throughout the whole of the fighting from Aug. 29th to Sept. 1st, 1918, he showed the utmost gallantry."
(London Gazette - 26 December 1918)
After the war he remained in the Army and was seconded to the RAF from the 1st Duke of Wellington's Regiment in the rank of Flying Officer.
"Second Lieutenant Gilbert Stuart Martin Insall, No 11 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
For most conspicuous bravery, skill and determination, on 7th November, 1915, inFrance. He was patrolling in a Vickers Fighting Machine, with First Class Air Mechanic T. H. Donald as gunner, when a German machine was sighted, pursued, and attacked near Achiet.
The German pilot led the Vickers machine over a rocket battery, but with great skill Lieutenant Insall dived and got to close range, when Donald fired a drum of cartridges into the German machine, stopping its engine. The German pilot then dived through a cloud, followed by Lieutenant Insall Fire was again opened, and the German machine was brought down heavily in a ploughed field 4 miles south-east of Arras.
On seeing the Germans scramble out of their machine and prepare to fire, Lieutenant Insall dived to 500 feet, thus enabling Donald to open heavy fire on them. The Germans then fled, one helping the other, who was apparently wounded. Other Germans then commenced heavy fire, but in spite of this, Lieutenant Insall turned again, and an incendiary bomb was dropped on the German machine, which was last seen wreathed in smoke. Lieutenant Insall then headed west in order to get back over the German trenches, but as he was at only 2,000 feet altitude he dived across them for greater speed, Donald firing into the trenches as he passed over.
The German fire, however, damaged the petrol tank, and, with great coolness, Lieutenant Insall landed under cover of a wood 500 yards inside our lines. The Germans fired some 150 shells at our machine on theground, but without causing material damage. Much damage had, however, been caused by rifle fire, but during the night it was repaired behind screened lights, and at dawn Lieutenant Insall flew his machine home with First Class Air Mechanic T. H. Donald as a passenger."
(London Gazette - 22 December 1915)
After the war war Insall remained in the RAF.
"Lt. Alan Jerrard, Royal Air Force (formerly of the South Staffordshire Regiment)
When on an offensive patrol with two other officers he attacked five enemy aeroplanes and shot one down in flames, following it down to within one hundred feet of the ground.
He then attacked an enemy aerodrome from a height of only fifty feet from the ground, and, engaging single-handed some nineteen machines, which were either landing or attempting to take off, succeeded in destroying one of them, which crashed on the aerodrome. A large number of machines then attacked him, and whilst thus fully occupied "he observed that one of the pilots of his patrol was in difficulties. He went immediately to his assistance, regardless of his own personal safety, and destroyed a third enemy machine.
Fresh enemy aeroplanes continued to rise from the aerodrome, which he attacked one after another, and only retreated, still engaged with five enemy machines, when ordered to do so by his patrol leader Although apparently wounded, this very gallant officer turned repeatedly, and attacked single-handed the pursuing machines, until he was eventually overwhelmed by numbers and driven to the ground Lt. Jerrard had greatly distinguished himself on four previous occasions, within a period of twenty-three days, in destroying enemy machines, displaying bravery and ability of the very highest order"
(London Gazette - 1 May 1918)
Post War Jerrard remained in the RAF and eventually retired in the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Frank Howard KIRBY OBE, DCM
"On the morning of the 2nd June, 1900, a party sent to try to cut the Delagoa Bay Railway were retiring, hotly pressed by very superior numbers. During one of the successive retirements of the rearguard, a man, whose horse had been shot, was seen running after his comrades. He was a long way behind the rest of his troop and was under a brisk fire. From among the retiring troop Corporal Kirby turned and rode back to the man's assistance. Although by the time he reached him they were under a heavy fire at close range, Corporal Kirby managed to get the dismounted man up behind him and to take him clear off over the next rise held by our rearguard. This is the third occasion on which Corporal Kirby has displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy."
(London Gazette - 5 October 1900)
Wg Cdr Kirby won his VC whilst serving in the Royal Engineers during the Boar Wat in South Africa as a Corporal. He later transferred to the RFC, being commissioned as an Equipment Officer and he remained in the RAF after WW1, eventually retiring as a Wg Cdr.
Cecil Leonard KNOX AuxAF
"T /2nd Lt Cecil Leonard Knox, R E
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty Twelve bridges were entrusted to this Officer for demolition, and all of them were successfully destroyed. In the case of one steel girder bridge, the destruction of which he personally supervised, the time fuze failed to act.
Without hesitation 2nd Lt. Knox ran to the bridge, under heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and when the enemy were actually on the bridge he tore away the time fuze and lit the instantaneous fuze, to do which he had to get under the bridge.
This was an act of the highest devotion to duty, entailing the gravest risks, which, as a practical civil engineer, he fully realised."
(London Gazette - 4 June 1918)
He joined No 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron Auxiliary Air Force on 23 November 1926, was promoted to Flying Officer on 23 May 1928, Flight Lieutenant on 1 January 1930 and relinquished his commission on 23 Nov 1931.
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers and Non-commissioned Officers in recognition of their most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in the Field:
Captain John Aidan Liddell, 3rd Battalion, Princess Louise's (Argyll- and Sutherland Highlanders), and Royal Flying Corps.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on 31st July, 1915.
When on a flying reconnaissance over Ostend-Bruges-Ghent he was severely wounded (his right thigh being broken), which caused momentary unconsciousness, but by a great effort he recovered partial control after his machine had dropped nearly 3,000 feet, and notwithstanding his collapsed state succeeded, although continually fired at, in completing his course, and brought the aeroplane into our lines half an hour after he had been wounded.
The difficulties experienced by this Officer in saving his machine, and the life of his observer, cannot be readily expressed, but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the undercarriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished his task."
(London Gazette - 23 August 1915)
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the late Captain (acting Major) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C., 85th Squadron Royal Air Force, in recognition of bravery of the first order in Aerial Combat:
On the 17th June, 1918, he attacked a Halberstadt machine near Armentieres and destroyed it from a height of 8,000 feet. On the 7th July, 1918, near Doulieu, he attacked and destroyed one Fokker (red-bodied) machine, which went vertically into the ground from a height of 1,500 feet. Shortly afterwards he ascended 1,000 feet and attacked another Fokker biplane, firing 60 rounds into it, which produced an immediate spin, resulting, it is believed, in a crash.
On the 14th July, 1918, near Merville, he attacked and crashed a Fokker from 7,000 feet, and brought a two-seater down damaged. On the 19th July, 1918, near Merville, he fired 80 rounds into an Albatross two-seater, which went to the ground in flames.
On the 20th July, 1918, East of La Bassee, he attacked and crashed an enemy two-seater from a height of 10,000 feet. About an hour afterwards he attacked at 8,000 feet a Fokker biplane near Steenwercke and drove it down out of control, emitting smoke.
On the 22nd July, 1918, near Armentieres, he destroyed an enemy triplane from a height of 10,000 feet. Major Mannock was awarded the undermentioned distinctions for his previous combats in the air in France and Flanders:
Military Cross. Gazetted 17th September, 1917.
Bar to Military Cross. 'Gazetted 18th October, 1917.
Distinguished Service Order. Gazetted 16th September, 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (1st). Gazetted 16th September, 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (2nd). Gazetted 3rd August, 1918.
This highly distinguished officer, during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed. The total number of machines definitely accounted for by Major Mannock up to the date of his death in France (26th July, 1918) is fifty - the total specified in the Gazette of 3rd August, 1918, was incorrectly given as 48, instead of 41."
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve; of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer:
2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Byford McCudden, D.S.O., M.C., M.M., Gen. List and R.F.C.
For most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, keenness, and very high devotion to duty.
Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for 54 enemy aeroplanes. Of these 42 have been definitely destroyed, 19 of them on our side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 have been driven out of control.
On two occasions, he has totally destroyed four two-seater enemy aeroplanes on the same day, and on the last occasion all four machines were destroyed in the space of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
While in his present squadron he has participated in 78 offensive patrols, and in nearly every case has been the leader. On at least 30 other occasions, whilst with the same squadron, he has crossed the lines alone, either in pursuit or in quest of enemy aeroplanes.
The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently:
On the 23rd December, 1917, when leading his patrol, eight enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 2.30 p.m. and 3.50 p.m. Of these two were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines. On the morning of the same day he left the ground at 10.50 and encountered four enemy aeroplanes; of these he shot two down.
On the 30th January, 1918, he, single handed, attacked five enemy scouts, as a result of which two were destroyed. On this occasion he only returned home when the enemy scouts had been driven far east; his Lewis gun ammunition was all finished and the belt of his Vickers gun had broken.
As a patrol leader he has at all times shown the utmost gallantry and skill, not only in the manner in which he has attacked and destroyed the enemy, but in the way he has during several aerial fights protected the newer members of his flight, thus keeping down their casualties to a minimum.
This officer is considered, by the record, which he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honour.
(London Gazette - 2 April 1918)
James McCudden was killed on 9 July 1918 in a flying accident as he took off in a SE5A to take over command of No 56 Squadron.
"2nd Lt Alan Arnett McLeod, Royal Air Force
Whilst -flying with his observer (Lt, A. W. Hammond, M C.), attacking hostile formations by bombs and machine-gun fire, he was assailed at a height of 5,000 feet by eight enemy triplanes, which dived at him from all directions, firing from their front guns By skilful manoeuvring he enabled his observer to fire bursts at each machine in turn, shooting three of them down out of control By this time Lt McLeod had received five wounds, and whilst continuing the engagement a bullet penetrated his petrol tank and set the machine on fire He then climbed out on to the left bottom plane, controlling his machine from the side of the fuselage, and by side-slipping steeply kept the flames to one side, thus enabling the observer to continue firing until the ground was reached The observer had been wounded six times when the machine crashed in " No Man's Land," and 2nd Lt McLeod, notwithstanding his own wounds, dragged him away from the burning wreckage at great personal risk from heavy machine-gun fire from the enemy's lines This very gallant pilot was again wounded by a bomb whilst engaged in this act of rescue, but he persevered until he had placed Lt Hammond in comparative safety, before falling himself from exhaustion and loss of blood."
(London Gazette -
"Lt. Frank Hubert McNamara, Aus. Forces, R.F.C.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during an aerial bomb attack upon a hostile construction train, when one of our pilots was forced to land behind the enemy's lines.
Lt. McNamara, observing this pilot's predicament and the fact that hostile cavalry were approaching, descended to his rescue. He did this under heavy rifle fire and in spite of the fact that he himself had been severely wounded in the thigh.
He landed about 200 yards from the damaged machine, the pilot of which climbed on to Lt. McNamara's machine, and an attempt was made to rise. Owing, however, to his disabled leg, Lt. McNamara was unable to keep his machine straight, and it turned over. The two officers, having extricated themselves, immediately set fire to the machine and made their way across to the damaged machine, which they succeeded in starting.
Finally Lt. McNamara, although weak from loss of blood, flew this machine back to the aerodrome, a distance of seventy miles, and thus completed his comrade's rescue."
(London Gazette - 8 June 1917)
MacNamara was awarded his VC whilst serving with No 67 Squadron RFC (No 1 Squadron AFC) and after the war joined the Royal Australian Air Force, eventually retiring as an Air Vice-Marshal
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to No. 1396 Sjt. Thomas Mottershead, late R.F.C.,
For most conspicuous bravery, endurance and skill when, attacked at an altitude of 9,000 feet, the petrol tank was pierced and the machine set on fire.
Enveloped in flames, which his observer, Lt. Gower was unable to subdue, this very gallant soldier succeeded in bringing his aeroplane back to our lines, and though he made a successful landing, the machine collapsed on touching the ground, pinning 'him beneath wreckage from which he was subsequently rescued.
Though suffering extreme torture from burns, Sjt. Mottershead showed the most conspicuous presence of mind in the careful selection of a landing place, and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of his observer.
He has since succumbed to his injuries."
(London Gazette - 12 February 1917)
Motteshead was serving with No 20 Squadron at the time he gained his award.
Frederick William PALMER MM
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to No. 731 L./Sjt. (now 2nd Lt.) Frederick William Palmer, R. Fus.
For most conspicuous bravery, control and. determination.
During the progress of certain operations, all the Officers of his Company having been shot down, Sjt. Palmer assumed command, and, having cut his way under point blank machine gun fire, through the wire entanglements, he rushed the enemy's trench with six of his men, dislodged the hostile machine gun which had been hampering our advance, and established a block. He then collected men detached from other regiments, and held the barricade for nearly three hours against seven determined counter-attacks, under an incessant barrage of bombs and rifle grenades from his flank, and front.
During his temporary absence in search of more bombs an eighth counter-attack was delivered by tine enemy, who succeeded in driving in his party, and threatened the defences of the whole flank. At this critical moment, although he had been blown off his feet by a bomb and was greatly exhausted, he rallied his men, drove back the enemy and maintained his position. The very conspicuous bravery displayed by this Non-commissioned Officer cannot be overstated, and his splendid determination and devotion to duty undoubtedly averted what might have proved a serious disaster in this sector of the line."
(London Gazette - 3 April 1917)
Lt Palmer was awarded his VC whilst an NCO in Royal Fusiliers for an action near Epehy in France over the 16 and 17 February 1917.
"Capt. (temp. Maj.) Lionel Wilmot Brabazon Rees, R.A. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.
Whilst on flying duties, Major Rees sighted what he thought to be a bombing party of our own machines returning home. He went up to escort them, but on getting nearer discovered they -were a party of enemy machines, about ten in all.
Major Bees was immediately attacked by one of the machines, and after a short encounter it disappeared behind the enemy lines, damaged. Five others then attacked him at long range, but these he dispersed on coming to close quarters, after seriously damaging two of the machines. Seeing two others going westwards, he gave chase to them, but on coming nearer he was wounded in the thigh, causing him to lose temporary control of his machine. He soon righted it, and immediately closed with the enemy, firing at a close-contact range of only a few yards, until all his ammunition was used up. He then returned home, landing his machine safely in our lines."
(London Gazette - 5 August 1916)
Rees remained in the RAF after the war and eventually retired in the rank of Group Captain
William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse RFC
"2nd Lieutenant William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse, Special Reserve, Royal Flying Corps.
For most conspicuous bravery on 26th April, 1915, in flying to Courtrai and dropping bombs on the railway line near that station. On starting the return journey he was mortally wounded, but succeeded in flying for 35 miles to his destination, at a very low altitude, and reported the successful accomplishment of his object. He has since died of his wounds."
(London Gazette - 22 May 1915)
This was the first VC awarded to a member of Britain's air services
"His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer:
Lt. William Leefe Robinson, Wore. R. and R.F.C.
For most conspicuous bravery. He attacked an enemy airship under circumstances of great difficulty and danger, and sent it crashing to the ground as a flaming wreck.
He had been in the air for more than two hours, and had previously attacked another "airship during his flight.
(London Gazette - 5 September 1916)
Reginald Alexander John WARNEFORD
"The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford, Royal Naval Air Service, for the conspicuous act of bravery specified below:
For most conspicuous bravery on the 7th June, 1915, when he attacked and, single-handed, completely destroyed a Zeppelin in mid-air. This brilliant achievement was accomplished after chasing the' Zeppelin from the coast of Flanders to Ghent, where he succeeded in dropping his bombs on to it from a height of only one or two hundred feet. One of these bombs caused a terrific explosion which set the Zeppelin on fire from end to end, but at the same time overturned his Aeroplane and stopped the engine. In spite of this he succeeded in landing safely in hostile country, and after 15 minutes started his engine and returned to his base without damage."
(London Gazette - 10 June 1915)
Ferdinand Maurice Felix WEST MC
"Air Ministry, 8th November, 1918.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to Lieut, (actg. Capt.) Ferdinand Maurice Felix West, M.C., - Royal Air Force (formerly of the Special Reserve, Royal Munster Fusiliers), in recognition of his outstanding bravery in aerial combat.
Captain West, while engaging hostile troops at a low altitude far over the enemy lines, was attacked by seven aircraft. Early in the engagement one of his legs was partially severed by an explosive bullet, and fell powerless into the controls, rendering the machine for the time unmanageable. Lifting his disabled leg, he regained control of the machine, and, although wounded in the other leg, he, with surpassing bravery and devotion to duty, manoeuvred his machine so skilfully that his observer was enabled to get several good bursts into the enemy machines, which drove them away. Captain West then, with rare courage, and determination, desperately wounded as he was, brought his machine over our lines and landed safely. Exhausted by his exertions, he fainted, but on regaining consciousness insisted on writing his report.
(The award of the Military Cross was gazetted on 26th July, 1918)"
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