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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Why isn't he listed as being in the RFC


vanessaldixon

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Here is the newpaper report of the death of a member of my family

Ashton Reporter 1917 - FLYING MAN KILLED - Machine Brought Down In France. DUKINFIELD FAMILY LOSE TWO SONS - News has been conveyed to Mr and Mrs Daniel Dillon of 73 Pickford Lane, Dukinfield, of the death of their eldest son, Lance-Corporal John Dillon, at No 23 Casualty Clearing House Station, France. He was originally in the 11th Hussars, but was afterwards transfered to the Royal Flying Corps in France. The Rev. F.M. Sykes, Church of England chaplain to the forces, wrote on May 8th to Mr Dillon as follows - "Your son, Lance-Corporal John Dillon, was brought into No. 23 Casualty Clearing Station last afternoon, suffering from concussion and fracture of the base of skull. I cannot say how his machine came down; but he never regained consciousness at all, and passed away quite peacefully at about 10 o'clock this morning. I did what I could for him, praying with him, and you may be sure that he received every possible attention. I have laid his body to rest in the military cemetery at Lapugnoy, and his C.O. and a detachment from his unit were present at the service." Lance-Corporal Dillon had been on active service thoughout the war. In November, 1914 he came home from France suffering from frost bite through exposure in the trenches. He returned after a month's leave, but had to come home again, and was an inmate at the Buxton Hospital for six weeks. He leaves a widow and a baby four months old. Previous to joining the army he was employed at Minerva Mill. He was connected with the Old Chapel, and his name is on the Roll of Honour. Mr and Mrs Dillon have lost another son in the war, Drummer Robert Dillon, Lancashire Fusiliers, killed on the 7th July, 1916, in France. He was 21 years of age and a piecer at Newton Moor Spinning Co's mill. A third son in Private Wilfred Dillon, 2/9th Manchesters, aged 20 years, at present fighting in France. He was an apprentice at Jones's Guidbridge.

What I don't understand is that when you go to the CWGC he is listed as being in the 11th Hussars, there is no mention of the RFC. From a child I was always told about him dying when his aircraft crashed so I was surprised to see that he had been in the army first.

Also as the article gives the date of the crash and his burial an area, does anyone know what sort of action he would have been involved in at the time.

Vanessa

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I am sure that somebody will answer your query more fully but IIRC aircrew were "attached" to the RFC unless they joined directly. They usually wore their own regimental badges and distinctions.

I shall be visiting Lapugnoy Cemetery in May - would you like a photograph of the grave?

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Welcome to the Forum, Vanessa.

He isnt listed in the book "The Sky their Battlefield" which details the circumstances of combat fatalities. It's probable, therefore, that he was perhaps flying a training mission, delivering an aircraft or similar. Possible also that his injuries were not attributable to a flying incident - it may simply have been an assumption the chaplian made. The RAF Museum holds casualty cards for RFC men and, assuming his has survived, it should detail exactly what happened to him.

John

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Thank you Squirrel and John, you have been a huge help, you have answered questions that have bugged me for a long time.

Squirrel I would love a photo of the grave, it will add a nice finishing touch to his story.

Vanessa

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Vanessa,

I will make a diary note to take the picture and reread the letter while I am there.

Send me a pm with your e-mail and/or postal address

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Vanessa

I presume you know that John and Robert are commemorated on the Duki. war memorial. John is also commemorated on the memorial at Old Chapel but, oddly, Robert isn't. All three brothers are commemorated on the Chapel's roll of honour of those who served.

John

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Vanessa

I presume you know that John and Robert are commemorated on the Duki. war memorial. John is also commemorated on the memorial at Old Chapel but, oddly, Robert isn't. All three brothers are commemorated on the Chapel's roll of honour of those who served.

John

Yes, I did think it odd that he is not on the Old Chapel Memorial, but the newspaper article concerning Robert's death states that he was a member of the Foundry Street Primitive Methodist Sunday School, and that he was listed on their Roll of Honour, they also held a memorial service for him. Don't know why he is on the Old Chapel Roll of Honour but not the memorial though. Fortunately Walter survived the war and another son was too young for WW1 and too old for WW2.

Vanessa

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I sent Vanessa here from another forum and I know she is very pleased with the help she has been offered here.

The only thing I would add to this is that he is an ordinary soldier, not an officer and thus 'attachment' to the RFC would be unusual. On his CWGC entry there is no mention of the RFC. The only source for this is the statement quoted above.

Perhaps one of the forums RFC specialists could see if there are any aircraft losses/combats in this area for the time frame?

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Perhaps one of the forums RFC specialists could see if there are any aircraft losses/combats in this area for the time frame?

As above, the answer will lie in his casualty card.

In the interim, if anyone has a copy of "Airmen Died in the Great War", there may be a clue.

For info, his entry on the GRO Overseas Deaths List is as the Hussars (death certificate reference: C.2.50)

John

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I echo the welcome!

He also isn't in Airmen who died in the Great War. His Medal Index Card seems not to be on Ancestry yet either.

Other ranks who joined the RFC were renumbered by the latter. They also received new ranks, as far as I know they did not have lance corporals with the RFC.

Good news though if he was in the 11th Hussars for the retreat from Mons he took part in the 'Affair at Nery'. There are several threads on this if you can find them on the forum.

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Curious & curiouser.

He does, however, appear in Soldiers Died in the Great War (as a Hussar) which records him as having "died". Vanessa - "Soldiers Died" is notoriously inaccurate but "died" is usually a designation for a non-combat related death.

The summary of his medal index card (at the National Archives website also just lists him as a Hussar.

Unless you have some other information, I have to start to wonder if the newspaper report about him being with the RFC is accurate. I think you should explore whether 11th Hussars were in the neighbourhood at the time and possible using the casualty clearing stations that buried at Lapugnoy.

John

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Last year I researched a man who died and is commemorated as an ordinary soldier, and is recorded in all printed records as such. However, the research showed clearly that he was attached to an infantry battalion as a form of 'probationary officer', and had put in for a commission, and was learning his duties in the field in seems. I had only ever come across one example of that before, and thought it unusual, but I am wondering if it is the case here? That this man had applied for a commission in the RFC, possibly as an observer, and was learning some of the trade while waiting for his commission papers? It would explain why there is no mention of RFC against him in any records, and may explain why he might slip through some printed RFC records. I would agree a letter to the RAF Museum might help, but I wonder if anyone knows which RFC squadrons were operating in this area at the time?

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I've now written to the RAF museum to see if there is a casualty card for John Dillon. I'll let you know what they have to say. Hopefully it will help to clear up this mystery.

Vanessa

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There might be more information on the Hussars medal rolls. The problem with the RFC/ RAF other ranks is that without a service number it is difficult to get leads on them.

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I've downloaded the war diary of the 11th Hussars March to May. Quite a traumatic read really. At the time of John Dillon's death ie 1st May to 7th May they were at Auchy Les Hesdin, on the 7th they moved to Cavron St Martin (that's what it looks like, the writing is faded). On the 14th they left Cavron to Bercgeneuve (at least that's what it looks like), they marched to Lapugnoy on the 15th May. John was injured on the 7th May and died on the 8th, he was buried at Lapugnoy. Does it sound like he could have been with the Hussars at the time of his death.

Vanessa

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All of which leaves the mystery of why the chaplain refers to his machine having come down!

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Does it sound like he could have been with the Hussars at the time of his death.

I don't think we can discount that, seeing as they are in the same neck of the woods as the field hospital. Does the diary mention casualties on the 8th or the couple of days previous?

Let's wait to see what you get back from the RAF Museum. If they can find a casualty card, then you'll have the answer. If they can't, then I'd say all the indications are that he was with the Hussars and the hospital chaplain was simply mistaken about the circumstances, or mixed him up with someone else.

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The last casualties had been in April, none are listed for May.

I do know that it was well known in the family that he was in the RFC, the fact that he had been transfered was information given to the newspaper by the family, the chapain doesn't mention this fact in his letter, just that his injury was a result of his machine coming down.

The RAF museum could take up to 20 days to reply, so I'll have to twiddle my thumbs until then, plus keep my fingers crossed they can help.

Vanessa

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've now received a reply from the RAF museum.

Thank you for your enquiry. I have checked our casualty cards and other

sources but have not been able to find any record of your man. Might he

perhaps have been hoping to transfer to the RFC, probably as an air

gunner, and been given a trial flight, which ended in an accident?

Looks like he was in that no mans land situation, still officially with the Hussars but hoping to transfer to the RFC and sadly killed in an accident, his injury of a fractured base of skull is consistant with the type of injuries sustained in aircraft crashes at the time. I watched the BBC program about the two WW1 airmen and it said a lot were killed in training.

At least I now know that his gravestone has the correct information on it.

Thank you to everyone for your help.

Vanessa

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Vanessa

Thanks very much for coming back to tell us the result. Sorry it didnt give you a clear answer and I think you're right to make the "leap of faith" that you are doing. Certainly, the idea of him being on trial flight, or some such, makes a lot of sense, particularly with the Hussars being in the area at the time.

By the way, have you also looked up the Cheshire Daily Echo to see if there was also an obituary? Might have more to add. Copies on microfilm at Ashton Local Studies Library.

John

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Vanessa,

thanks for posting the result from the RAF Museum, just a shame that it didn't throw more light on what happened to him. Like John, I'd guess that you are thinking along the right lines. I have made a diary note to take the photograph at Lapugnoy for you.

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Yes, if there is an obituary in the Cheshire Echo it might have a better photo of him, the one in the Ashton paper wouldn't photocopy very well from the film, you can hardly make him out.

Looking forward to receiving the photo, Squirrel, a fitting end to his story.

His aunts grandson was in the RAF WW2. Howard Hadfield was also killed, I know its not WW1 but this is his story

Sgt. Howard Hadfield, 1450378, was a member of the RAF 620 Squadron. His Stirling bomber EE906, QS-C was flying to Essen when it was shot down by a night-fighter (Maj. Werner Streib), it crashed at 00.28hrs, 26th July 1943 into farmland owned by the Bekx family at Lieshout in the Nord-Brabant province, two members of the aircrew bailed out and were taken as prisoners of war. He is buried at the Einhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery.

Vanessa

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May Howard Hadfield Rest in Peace.

As for John Dillon, to back your theory paperwork often lagged far behind events in WWI in all the services and the complication of moving between units complicated matters even more.

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I know I'm coming in rather late in the day to add any real help, but is it possible for any RFC pals here to check whether any aircraft were lost or damaged on or around the 7th or 8th May? The Chaplain reported the aircraft came down late afternoon (7th May) so were there any aircraft from squadrons in the area that were reported lost then?

It sounds very much like the CCS was near the front lines, so it may have been a trial reconnaissance mission or perhaps a flight over where his unit was stationed (maybe a stunt that went horribly wrong or were shot down whilst flying low over the trenches)? It sounds like a forced landing (engine failure?) rather than being shot as no wounds were mentioned.

That might help fill a missing piece in the jigsaw if we can trace which aircraft were lost in that timeframe???

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