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Starlight

Captain W Picton-Warlow

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Starlight

This is very much a long shot but can anyone tell me in which squadron Captain W Picton-Warlow was serving at the time of his death on the 20th December 1914, whilst he was flying back to England? From the official records of Number 6 squadron, he joined the squadron as commander of A flight in early 1914 but at the time of the 'concentration' at Neverhaven a few months later he was no longer in command of any of the flights. He is not listed as one of the pilots who flew out to France with the squadron in October 1914. His name never makes it to the official log of officers for Number 6 squadron, but this was not started until October 1914. The log was updated at a later date with some of the earlier officers that were missed, but Captain Picton-Warlow was not one of them. His death is recorded on the CWGC database (but not the squadron) but not in either of "The Sky Their Battlefield" or "Airmen Died in the Great War".

Regards

Steve

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ypres1418

only thing i can add is he was called Wilfred,

thats on ancestry, sorry

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ypres1418

hope it attaches, Mandy

post-6939-1254780002.jpg

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ypres1418

the rest of the card, Mandy

not much help but just in case you dont have them, Mandy

post-6939-1254780156.jpg

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fetubi

Steve,

What I have is this:

Bleriot 2Seater Monoplane, RFC, *test met clouds but headed out to North Sea: lost? fuel? missing(Capt W Picton-Warlow KIFA) 20Dec.14 on leave

I am guessing he was at a depot, or else flying from a coastal airfield, given the above description, which I think is based on something I found in Flight - but again, no mention of a squadron - conceivably he was between postings, maybe?

I would be interested to know if he was operating from the French or the English coast.

I might be able to track down a missing Bleriot on this date if he was in France at a unit, come to think of it. But the area in which he was lost - the North Sea - sounds decidedly like "off the UK" now I think about it.

Trevor

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HERITAGE PLUS

By way of explaination of the name on the back of the MIc posted by Mandy:

His father Colonel John Picton-Warlow inherited the Ewenny Manor estate in 1867 and changed his name at that juncture to Picton-Turberville (the Turberville family had held the manor earlier).

Dave

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Starlight
I might be able to track down a missing Bleriot on this date if he was in France at a unit, come to think of it. But the area in which he was lost - the North Sea - sounds decidedly like "off the UK" now I think about it.

Trevor, I've just had a look at the Flight archives and came up with this:

". . .to get an old crock of an aeroplane back to England and thus save transport. Supplemental statement.—Date, December 30th, 1914. Machine, Bleriot monoplane. Lost in Channel. Pilot, Captain Picton Warlow. Facts.—The machine was a two-seater Bleriot monoplane, a type that was in process of being discarded as too slow in climbing with full military load. As these machines could be spared fro... "

From this, it looks like he was flying the Bleriot back from France. From another Flight article (dated July 1916) it would appear that he may not have been given a choice:

"...committee inquiring into the administration and command of the Royal Flying Corps had a brief public sitting on July 26th. Colonel Beatty was called in reference to an allegation that Captain Picton Warlow was allowed, or ordered, to fly an old machine which had ceased to be of any value in France, back to this country when the machine was in a dangerous condi tion to fly in. Colonel Beatty s... "

Steve

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fetubi

Steve,

The Flight Archive is a fantastic resource, isn't it? I'll have a look for a Bleriot Tandem coming off strength of a unit in December and see if we can track down the machine.

Regards,

Trevor

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Starlight

Thanks Trevor - don't you ever sleep?

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Starlight

I had a more detailed look at the Flight archives regarding this flight and it states the following:

"Colonel Beatty said that he was present at headquarters when the officer started for England. It was not a question

of a man being allowed or ordered to fly back, it was a privilege. The machine was a two-seater Bleriot with an 80 Gnome engine. It was obsolete for use in the field, but by no means obsolete for training purposes. The same type was, he believed, still in use. He could not definitely recollect how long this actual machine had been in use. To the best of his recollection it was almost new. The type at that time was discarded because it could not climb the height required with a military load. If it was not a new machine, he could say quite definitely that it would have been overhauled. The day, December 20th, was a very good one, and he was told that England could be seen from the aerodrome. It was clear, but slightly cloudy, with some wind. . . . . . . . The Chairman : When it was decided to discard types of machines which were outclassed by newer types, what was done with the discarded machines ?—A machine which could be of real use for training purposes, whenever possible, was flown to England. If a machine was fit to fly across, then the pilot who was coming across was allowed to fly it."

Perhaps Captain Picton-Warlow was going on leave and took one of the squadron's old machines back with him.

Steve

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Starlight
hope it attaches, Mandy

Thanks for posting these images Mandy - apart from providing additional information they bring the past to life when you see what was actually written.

Steve

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per ardua per mare per terram

The medal roll might identify if he was with a squadron. The location of Colonel Turbervill in 1917 might also be a clue, was he applying for a particular squadron? Alas service records for PICTON-WARLOW, F and PICTON-WARLOW, Lieut R.

The entry in "Airmen Died in the Great War" reads 'PICTON-WARLOW, Capt Wilfred, pilot, (Welsh Rgt) native of Brigend, Glamorgan, age 30. Kwf 20.12.14. NKG listedon Arras Memorial, France'

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NigelS

Can't answer your question Steve, but in case you haven't seen them here's his index card (which gives No. 3 Sqdn) and photo from the Royal Aero Club Aviators' certificate records. NB it looks as if the record card, which gives him as Captain, must have been created later than the photo record which gives him as Lieutenant (his promotion to Capt was gazetted as 7th June '13 http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/28731/pages/4479 and that as F/O in 14th Aug '13 http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/28752/pages/6236 )

post-5512-1254853328.jpg

post-5512-1254853299.jpg

NigelS

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per ardua per mare per terram

Love the tashe! No. 3 Sqdn would reflect the state of squadrons in 1913, only a year after the formation of the RFC.

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Starlight
Love the tashe! No. 3 Sqdn would reflect the state of squadrons in 1913, only a year after the formation of the RFC.

That fits in with the official squadron records for Number 6 in which it states "The squadron proper began [on 31st Jan 1914] with Captain J H W Becke from Number 2 squadron, Captain W Picton-Warlow from Number 3 squadron, Sergeant Major W E Moore from Number 1 squadron and thirty one other ranks posted from the Headquarters, from the Flying Depot and from Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 squadrons. . . . ."

Steve

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fetubi

Steve,

It's interesting to note that in the closing months of 1914 3 Squadron operated the vast majority of RFC Bleriots in France, the remaining one or two serving with 5 Squadron. This may have had implications for this airman finding himself being asked to fly one back to England - perhaps he had experience on the type back in 1913, although 3 Squadron were probably flying more Henry Farmans then. Pure surmise, this, but perhaps the machine he was told he was to ferry back was a redundant 3 Squadron machine, which he may have felt some link with.

Two of the very earliest RFC fatalities directly linked to the outbreak of war were also on a Blériot Tandem of 3 Squadron - two minutes after leaving the ground in Blériot 260 on their way to Dover, en route to France, 2Lt RR Skene and AM RK Barlow were killed in a crash, on 12th August 1914.

Trevor

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Starlight
This may have had implications for this airman finding himself being asked to fly one back to England - perhaps he had experience on the type back in 1913, although 3 Squadron were probably flying more Henry Farmans then. Pure surmise, this, but perhaps the machine he was told he was to ferry back was a redundant 3 Squadron machine, which he may have felt some link with.

Thanks for investigating the Bleriots, Trevor. With the fact that Wilfred Picton-Warlow joined No 6 as a Captain (same rank as Becke who was its first CO) but does not appear on the squadron's list of officers who flew out to France, I wonder if he might have been returning to England on leave in December 1914 to be groomed as a CO for a new squadron. As he was flying a Bleriot (from the records of No 6 they did not have any Bleriots on charge at the time), perhaps he had already been transferred to another squadron (3?), which might account for his absence in No 6 squadron's personnel file.

Steve

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fetubi

Steve,

I think I've found the Bleriot Capt Picton-Warlow was ferrying back to the UK.

As well as 3 and 5 Squadron your 6 Squadron actually had three Bleriots on strength at various times. The first to arrive was Bleriot 296. It had originally been brought over to France by 3 Squadron in August and been pushed back to the Air Park a couple of times before they finally gave it up on Sept 29th. It arrived at 6 Squadron from the Air Park on 5 November 1914. It was their first Bleriot. It remained on strength until, guess when.. December 16th, when it was flown to the Air Park and relinquished.

By this time the unit did actually have another Bleriot, 1828, which had been flown in from Paris on 30th Nov (and would serve well into February 1915). Five days after Bleriot 296 went off strength of 6 Squadron it received another of the type, serial 1842, from Paris. This only served about three weeks with the unit before being returned to the Air Park.

Going back to Bleriot 296 - it turns up at the Air Park from 6 Squadron on December 16th. On December 20th Captain W Picton-Warlow of 6 Squadron takes off from the Air Park ferrying a Bleriot two-seater back to the UK. And 296? It's a Bleriot XI-2 - a two-seater.

I would put a modest amount of money on the fact that Picton Warlow was the 6 Squadorn pilot who brought the Bleriot into the AP from his unit on the 16th, and then, being known to be going on leave, was requested/ordered to take it on its way back to England. I think he was in 296.

Regards,

Trevor

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Starlight

Trevor, you've provided more details than I could ever have imagined possible - thank you so much for the time you have taken. It certainly puts flesh on the one-line story of a pilot who got lost in the clouds and also provides a pretty solid case that Cpt Picton-Warlow was still serving with No 6 at the time of his death.

Any thoughts of expanding "The Sky Their Battlefield" into a twenty volume piece of work? I'd buy a copy.

Regards

Steve

PS The only unanswered question is why Cpt Picton-Warlow never made it to No 6 squadron's official register of officers that was opened when the squadron arrived in France in October 1914 (especially as all of the twelve pilots who first flew out to France with the squadron have been recorded).

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guernseyliz

If anyone is still interested, I've written a piece about Picton Warlow. I came across him whilst researching Guernsey men who fell in the great War- he is on the Elizabth College RoH. The article will be available soon at www.greatwarci.net, under the "war in the air" section.

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