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Remembered Today:

RFC Pilots - KIA


diggerslouch

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I have had this photo for sometime now, so if anyone can help to identify the pilot who was KIA in Oct 4th 1917, the inscription reads:

'To Vera, with foundest wishies from Norman and Harold'. now under Harold's name says; 'Killed in Action Oct 4th 1917 10 Hun plane to credit in 21 days, buried at (it looks like) Bullicourt France.

I have attached the photo, so any help would be gratefull..

Regards

Steve

This is the flip side of the postcard, with the inscription....

Steve - Diggerslouch

post-72337-0-72643500-1311722762.jpg

post-72337-0-41382000-1311722883.jpg

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Steve

2Lt Harold William Dawson of No 19 Sqn RFC (from Christchurch, and formerly NZ Engineers) was killed in an accident on 4 October 1917 while flying SPAD VII B1533. He is buried in Ballieul (extension) Cemetery, France.

I'd say that he is your man.

Gareth

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This one?

Name: Harold William Dawson

Death Date: 4 Oct 1917

Rank: 2/Lieutenant (T)

Regiment: Royal Flying Corps

Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Comments: 19 Squad Gen Lis

Name: DAWSON, HAROLD WILLIAM

Initials: H W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Regiment/Service: Royal Flying Corps

Unit Text: 19th Sqdn.

Secondary Regiment: New Zealand Engineers

Secondary Unit Text: and Gen. List, formerly Div. Signals

Age: 21

Date of Death: 04/10/1917

Additional information: Son of William Taylor Dawson and Grace Marion Dawson, of 207. Hills Rd., St. Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 41.

Cemetery: BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION (NORD)

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Many thanks for the info...really apprecite it..

Steve

Name: Harold William Dawson

Death Date: 4 Oct 1917

Rank: 2/Lieutenant (T)

Regiment: Royal Flying Corps

Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Comments: 19 Squad Gen Lis

Name: DAWSON, HAROLD WILLIAM

Initials: H W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Second Lieutenant

Regiment/Service: Royal Flying Corps

Unit Text: 19th Sqdn.

Secondary Regiment: New Zealand Engineers

Secondary Unit Text: and Gen. List, formerly Div. Signals

Age: 21

Date of Death: 04/10/1917

Additional information: Son of William Taylor Dawson and Grace Marion Dawson, of 207. Hills Rd., St. Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: III. F. 41.

Cemetery: BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION (NORD)

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Many thanks for the info...really apprecite it..

Steve

Steve

2Lt Harold William Dawson of No 19 Sqn RFC (from Christchurch, and formerly NZ Engineers) was killed in an accident on 4 October 1917 while flying SPAD VII B1533. He is buried in Ballieul (extension) Cemetery, France.

I'd say that he is your man.

Gareth

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He will potentially have both a New Zealand army record, available from Archives New Zealand (also check the Cenotaph database on the Auckland War Memorial Museum website which may contain additional biographical detail) and an RFC officers file in WO 339 or WO 374 at The National Archives (UK). Despite the date of his death, there may also be an outline RAF officer's record in AIR 76 at The National Archives, these are available in the Documents Online section of their website

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Steve,

Just a little bit more info:

B1533 SPAD VII 19Sqn - He was taking off for a Ground Attack Patrol at 8-15am on the 4th when he crashed. I am assuming he would have been operating out of Bailleul (Asylum Ground) air field.

Hope this helps.

Regards, Trevor

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Respectfully suggest that if he died in an accident it was a case of "Killed on active service" not "Killed in action"; the latter applies only where the person concerned was attacking the enemy or engaged in combat, which appears not to be the case in this instance.

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Thanks for your help, I managed to donwload his service records from NZ, just researching the UK side now..

Regards Steve

He will potentially have both a New Zealand army record, available from Archives New Zealand (also check the Cenotaph database on the Auckland War Memorial Museum website which may contain additional biographical detail) and an RFC officers file in WO 339 or WO 374 at The National Archives (UK). Despite the date of his death, there may also be an outline RAF officer's record in AIR 76 at The National Archives, these are available in the Documents Online section of their website

Thanks for your help, I managed to donwload his service records from NZ, just researching the UK side now..

Regards Steve

Steve,

Just a little bit more info:

B1533 SPAD VII 19Sqn - He was taking off for a Ground Attack Patrol at 8-15am on the 4th when he crashed. I am assuming he would have been operating out of Bailleul (Asylum Ground) air field.

Hope this helps.

Regards, Trevor

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Steve,

From my trilogy For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Three: Biographies & Appendices)':

DAWSON, 2nd Lieutenant Harold William.*

10187 (4/1914 in NZEF); b Gore 3 Dec 95; ed?; engineer - Hawkes [Ltd?], Chch. NZEF (NZE) 17 Nov 15, emb with 11th Reinfs for Egypt 1 Apr 16, arr 2 May 16, emb for France 10 May 16, att NZ Inf Depôt 5 Jun 16, att RE Sigs Sch 12 Jul 16, att RFC 1 Sqn (various) 7 Sep 16, ctba & emb for UK & NZEF HQ 18 Sep 16, Codford 22 Sep 16, NZEF HQ 4 Oct 16, emb for France 15 Oct 16, RE Sigs Depôt 18 Oct 16, att RFC & Hesdin 12 Jan 17, emb for UK & Farnborough 14 Jan 17, OCW 1 Feb 17, 2SoMA as Pilot u/t 2 Mar 17, t/frd to RFC & Comm 4 Mar 17, 14 Res Sqn, 52 Res Sqn [redesignated 52 Trg Sqn 31.5.17] c.31 Mar 17 [att Reading (1SoMA?) r/cse 14 May-? Jun], Pilots Badge & 11 Trg Sqn 18 Jun 17, 56 Trg Sqn c.30 Jul 17, emb for France & 19 Sqn (SPAD 7) 8 Sep 17, kao 4 Oct 17. Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension - III.F.41, Nord, France. Son of William Taylor & Grace Marion Dawson, St Albans, Chch. Note: * birth reg as Harold William Everard Dawson. Credited with 1 e/a dest.

So clearly not the 10 victory ace that the postcard suggests.

Lyffe,

"Respectfully suggest that if he died in an accident it was a case of "Killed on active service" not "Killed in action"; the latter applies only where the person concerned was attacking the enemy or engaged in combat, which appears not to be the case in this instance."

Killed while partaking in an operational flight, so 'killed in action correct'.

Errol

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Lyffe,

"Respectfully suggest that if he died in an accident it was a case of "Killed on active service" not "Killed in action"; the latter applies only where the person concerned was attacking the enemy or engaged in combat, which appears not to be the case in this instance."

Killed while partaking in an operational flight, so 'killed in action correct'.

Errol

Errol and Lyffe,

What you say there Errol isn't universally accepted in the round, and where my own research has taken me over the years - having looked at and recorded over 15,000 WW1 airmen casualties in detail from British primary sources - personally leans me towards Lyffe's approach, as regards airmen.

The whole question of what is a casualty in action or a casualty through accident or other mishap is always going to need discussing, as to exact defintions and understandings. It's always a discussion worth having, but in the end as long as people (i.e. historians) are defining and explaining what approach they have taken, so people know what it is they are reading, then in my view that is the important thing. Without an atom of disrepect to the memory of these amazing young men I would say it is also more informative to their memory to know the context of how they died or were wounded or injured - and allow the terminology to flow from this.

Returning to this particular airman's death, my view is he was killed in a flying accident. The primary sources which describe it - e.g. the RAF Casualty Report - doesn't and wouldn't mention "Killed in Action" anywhere for these events, because of what happened - it was a flying accident. On the other hand, "Killed in Action" is used quite specifically on these Returns and in other RFC/RAF records when the casualty was due directly or indirectly to enemy action.

As I say, this is about my own personal view.

Errol your trilogy sounds amazing. Very well done.

Best Regards,

Trevor

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KIA is correct. By taking off on a combat patrol he was 'engaging the enemy'. Had he being going up to check his gun then KOAS would be correct.

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KIA is correct. By taking off on a combat patrol he was 'engaging the enemy'. Had he being going up to check his gun then KOAS would be correct.

Can you direct me to the source for this statement, in respect of "Killed in Action"? Strange that for four years the RFC/RAF took a different view when making out their returns and their use of KIA etc therein. Of course, I do understand what you're saying, and can see the sense of it. I just don't think it's as informative as it could be. I've no argument with CWGC (or anyone else) using KIA, for example. I just feel there is maybe more to it.

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Can you direct me to the source for this statement, in respect of "Killed in Action"? Strange that for four years the RFC/RAF took a different view when making out their returns and their use of KIA etc therein. Of course, I do understand what you're saying, and can see the sense of it. I just don't think it's as informative as it could be. I've no argument with CWGC (or anyone else) using KIA, for example. I just feel there is maybe more to it.

You are conflating KIA with Killed by the enemy. The RFC/RAF returns are distinguishing between accident, enemy action (and presumably friendly fire) all of which can lead to KIA. He had put himself in harms way by flying a combat mission hence KIA - any other interpretation is an insult to his memory

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You are conflating KIA with Killed by the enemy. The RFC/RAF returns are distinguishing between accident, enemy action (and presumably friendly fire) all of which can lead to KIA. He had put himself in harms way by flying a combat mission hence KIA - any other interpretation is an insult to his memory

Another angle on this KIA business:

Airman A takes off on an operational flight and during it is seen to be shot down and killed - so clearly a case of KIA

Airman B takes off on an operational flight and fails to return for reasons unknown. His aircraft and body are never found and therefore no exact cause of death can be established - so how else would he be described if not KIA?

Errol

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You are conflating KIA with Killed by the enemy. The RFC/RAF returns are distinguishing between accident, enemy action (and presumably friendly fire) all of which can lead to KIA. He had put himself in harms way by flying a combat mission hence KIA - any other interpretation is an insult to his memory

I don't think I'm conflating anything. As I explain above I'm trying to understand specific terminology that was used in a decidedly consistent and specific way by the flying services at the time, across four years, and bring that into a contemporary resonance with additional knowledge.

Having said that, I now feel it is indeed correct to incorporate "KIA" into relevant accidents when these occurred during specific flying operations against the enemy, such as 2Lt Dawson's above. The fact that he died/was killed as a result of a flying accident should sit alongside that.

Trevor

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Interesting comments from forum members, and thanks for the info....would it be asking to much, but it did say that he shot down 10 huns in 21 days, can this be confirmed anyway, maybe war diaries from the squadron???...

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Interesting comments from forum members, and thanks for the info....would it be asking to much, but it did say that he shot down 10 huns in 21 days, can this be confirmed anyway, maybe war diaries from the squadron???...

As mentioned in the bio details I posted earlier, Dawson was credited with just the one enemy aircraft destroyed. Note also that he served operationally for less than a month - had he shot down 10 aircraft in that time it would have been a spectacular and therefore an already well-known and documented achievement.

In short, there is absolutely no evidence to confirm a greater score than just the one for Dawson. The author of the postcard was clearly misinformed or confused in some way.

Errol

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  • 2 years later...

The RFC Communiques suggest that Dawson achieved three victories:

19 September 1917 - While searching for reported EA, four Spads of No 19 Squadron attacked and engaged six Albatross Scouts near Becelaere. Lieut H Dawson observed one of the scouts diving at his tail, so stalled his machine, with the result that the Albatross Scout shot past below, and Lieut Dawson immediately dived after him, and got in a good burst at close range, and the enemy machine went down out of control and crashed. I have this at 18:50 over Zillebeke; Dawson in Spad 7 B3618.

22 September 1917 - On the evening of the 22nd, 2nd Lt H Dawson, No 19 Squadron, drove down an Albatross Scout out of control. I have this at 18:55 over Gheluwe; Dawson in Spad 7 B3620.

24 September 1917 - In the evening, 2nd Lieut H Dawson, No 19 Squadron, attacked a two-seater Rumpler and shot it down out of control. I have this as 18:30 over Poelcapelle; Dawson in Spad 7 B3520.

So, one destroyed and two out of control.

Note that the first two EA appear as "Albatross" in the Communiques; it's not my bad spelling.

Graeme

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  • 3 weeks later...

A bit of a red herring - I thought that Pilots had their 'own' machine - CS Lewis and Capt Ball's personal Nieuport as examples. But Dawson flew three different Spads within a week. Can someone explain please

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you were senior enough, maybe.... but even your own machine needs servicing/battle-damage repair every now and then; and you wouldn't want to sit on the ground waiting.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest Helensdaughter

I am researching Harold for the Christchurch Library site to honour soldiers and the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church upon whose Roll of Honour his name appears. I wish to thank this group for the useful information posted esp Trevor whose information about the crash I have noted. But especially I would like to ask Diggerslouch for permission to use the photograph with attribution to ? I would be grateful if he would contact me lmseaton@clear.net.nz

This is what I have researched and written so far.

Harold William Dawson 4/1914

Harold was born at Gore on 3 December 1895, son of William Taylor and Grace Marion Dawson. He received his education at the Normal School and Technical College. He was a prominent member of the Baptist Hockey Club, and the Young Men's Bible Class, and was well-known in athletic circles. Prior to enlisting he was serving an mechanical apprenticeship with Messrs Cooper and Duncan. He was 5ft 4¼ in tall with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His brother also served and a photograph shows them together.

Harold enlisted 17 November 1915 and was posted as a sapper. He left with the Engineering section of the 11th Reinforcements for Suez but within a few days of arriving in Suez he had embarked again for France where he served as a motor 'dispatch rider for the signals company. Shortly after his arrival in France he was promoted to corporal, and this was followed by his transference to England, where he gained a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. He was one of three successful candidates out of the 350 who sat for the examination. He resigned from the NZEF to take up a commission in the Royal Flying Corp on 4 March 1917, later flying with No 19 Squadron. Since entering the Flying Corps he had been stationed first on the English Coastal Defence Stations, and then in France, where he had acted as pilot on scouting machine and on the battle planes. A few days before his death he wrote a letter to his parents “I now have seven Hun planes to my credit and, although my machines have been riddled several, times, I've never been scratched. My best day for adventure came last 'push,' when four planes were shot to pieces under me, necessitating a fresh machine for my next flight”. Sadly he died on 4 October 1917 in what his record notes was a flying accident. He was taking off for a Ground Attack Patrol at 8-15am on the 4th when he crashed. He is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

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Hi,

left grave of Harold William DAWSON at Bailleul Mil Cem Extension

regards,

Cnock

post-7723-0-35661500-1430560232_thumb.jp

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