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Gilbert Mapplebeck RFC

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Hi Graham

No boundary changes - Essex is north of the River Thames and Kent, where Dartford is located, is south of the Thames, so the boundary between the two counties has always been somewhere mid-river. Joyce Green is on the outskirts of Dartford (just down the road from where I live) and I had to take my mother to hospital there some years back (the hospital closed in 2000); I did so without getting my feet wet :-)

Looks like there was a genuine error made at the time document at Kew was compiled.


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On 05/11/2015 at 12:42, ghc said:

His gravestone in Streatham Cemetery, Tooting in the Borough of Wandsworth states that he died as Captain G.W. Mapplebeck, D.S.O. "The King's Regiment, Attd Royal Flying Corps", 24th August 1915, Aged 22.

I often stopped by at this grave as my grandfather is buried in this cemetery and his birthday is 24th August which was how I found the grave - I had a copy of Terry Treadwell's RFC Archive Photographs: Images of Aviation and inside there is an image of the firing party volleying over Mapplebeck's burial, so on a visit on one 24th August (I used to live a couple of streets away) I tried to find the grave using this book going from the angle of a chapel seen in the picture.

Apparently his brother Tom flew as well.

An interesting cemetery; Edward Foster VC is also buried here.

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alex revell

More can be read about this gallant gentleman in a forthcoming book: Baptism of Fire. The Royal Flying Corps at War - the First Year in France 1914-1915.

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In his book "The Queen of Spies - Louise de Bettignies" Constable & Co, London, 1935 (ASIN: B001L9PWYS), on pages 81 and following, writer major Thomas Coulson refers to a Royal Flying Corps lieutenant Maplebeck who was on a mission to deliver carrier pigeons to the intelligence network of Frenchwoman Louise de Bettignies. Her network was called the "Alice network" (her cover name was "Alice Dubois") or the "Ramble network" that worked for British Intelligence HQ in Folkestone. Louise de Bettignies is a French heroine (of Edit cavell's stature) and a national icon.

The story told about Lt Maplebeck is exactly the same as the one about Gilbert Mapplebeck. Coulson does go on making writing errors when he talks about a wine merchant Jacquot (instead of Jacquet) that helped Mapplebeck escape. 

he also explains that Mapplebeck was hidden at Louise de Bettignies' home in Lille at 166, Rue d'Isly. 

I feel quite uneasy about these writing errors and I must question the reliability of Maj. Coulson as a historian.

Major Coulson is best known because of his book about Mata Hari (ASIN: B003PO82EY).


I am currently writing a book about the Great war history of the town of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux in France. Louise de Bettignies is mentioned in it because she was born in Saint-Amand. Please see the book poster. 


As I was checking written sources about her, I came accross Gilbert Mapplebeck.


Could anyone acknowledge the fact that Mapplebeck flew carrier pigeons over to France for British Intelligence? 

If someone would be interested, I could scan the pages of Coulson's book and post them here as the book is extremely scarce.


Thanking you beforehand.
With kindest regards,


Edited by aldlb57
type error

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Tavern Druid
On 11/5/2015 at 08:11, ghc said:

I have just finished working on a book about the remarkable Gilbert Mapplebeck, in association with his nephew, Peter. It features the text of the two diaries that he kept, one including details of the Gembloux flight and other events, the second detailing the night bombing mission to Lille that ended with him being shot down, hidden by locals and then smuggled back to England. Using large amounts of archive material from the family and materials from the Records Office at Kew, we have been able to piece together the story of his 1 year in the RFC before he was killed at Joyce Green Aerodrome in Essex just two days short of his 23rd birthday.







Just come across your 2015 post.

I am researching the names on a War Memorial in Dartford and the Subject of you book is on the memorial.

It's not spelt correctly the entry is as follows


Mapelbeck G.W.R D.S.O

The Church is St Alban's Church, St Alban's Road, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1FT


There are 20 other RFC names on this memorial and 9 other RFC men not on this memorial.

And I am interested to find out what connection they had, of did not have, with this church as it was not the nearest one to the airfield.

As of now I have not found any evidence of these RFC men living in close proximity to the church.

Would you have any evidence of Capt Mapplebeck connection might have been here?

The majority of the men on the memorial from the other branches of service lived in close proximity to the church.

So I find it a bit strange that these airmen are remember here.

I am pleased that they are otherwise they might be forgotten altogether and that would be tragic.

I would be very grateful if you could help.


Have you ever seem confirmation of his Forenames from a birth or a baptism record ?



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Hi David,


Feeling extraordinarily guilty that you left this message for me almost a year ago and I have only just logged on after over a year to find it.  I am just preparing a talk that I'm givging to the RAF Club in London on 12th February about Gib.


His full name was Gilbert William Roger Mapplebeck and he was the son of William and Sara Helen Mapplebeck.  William was a dentist in Liverpool.  Gib's name has been miswritten on a number of occasions - in Lille, where he was shot down in 1915, he is referred to as Robert Mapplebeck.


I can only assume that the memorial is a collective one, covering all of ther airmen who lost their lives whilst at Joyce Green and who may have been based in the area.


I have seen confirmation of his name on a birth certificate, although that has been returned to the family.


I would be interested in the outcome of your research and once again apologise for the dreadful delay in getting back to you.





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alex revell

May I call everyone's attention to my new book: Baptism of Fire The Royal Flying Corps at War. The First Year in France 1914-1915. which is now published. It gives full details of Gib Mapplebeck's activities in the RFC during that time, including the unusual nature of his wound!

The book is available through my website, wickfordbooks.co.uk - where reviews can be read - or through the bookshop of Cross and Cockade International.  



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