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Remembered Today:

Flag Commander R.O.B. Bridgeman DSO


bushfighter

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Zanzibar Anglican Cathedral

Peter Dye wrote an excellent series of articles on early aviation activities in East Africa during the Great War. They were published in Cross & Cockade International Journal.

On page 33 of Volume 38, Number 1, 2007 he wrote:

Early in 1917, tragedy struck when Moon (Flight Lieutenant Edwin Rowland Moon RNAS) and Flag Commander the Hon Richard Bridgeman undertook a reconnaissance of the Rufiji Delta in Short 8254, operating from Himalaya. On their way back to Himalaya the engine failed and the seaplane made a forced landing in a creek. The engine could not be restarted and, with Germans in the vicinity, it was decided to burn the seaplane. Moon and Bridgeman spent the next three days walking and swimming towards the mouth of the river. Sadly, Bridgeman died after a raft they had made was swept out to sea. Moon was captured by German Askaris on 9 January 1917 and remained a POW for the remainder of the war. He was later to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his 'constant flights over the enemy coast and his great coolness and resource'.



Richard Orlando Beaconsfield Bridgeman, Royal Navy, had been awarded a DSO earlier in the campaign with the citation:

Cdr. Bridgeman displayed great courage and coolness on the 19th August, 1915, in command of two whalers which proceeded into Tanga Harbour. The manner in which the whalers endeavoured, though subjected to a heavy and accurate fire, to carry out their orders and board the S.S. Markgraf was worthy of the best traditions of the Royal Navy.

Here are two oblique-angle images of the Bridgeman brass plaque in Zanzibar Anglican Cathedral. (The sunlight through the windows prevented a direct photograph.)

Harry

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A handsome memorial. The fatal sortie of Commander Bridgeman ("Flag Commander" is an appointment, not a rank) as an observer was not untypical of the way some senior naval officers took to the skies with RNAS. Only six weeks earlier Captain C MacKenzie (commanding HMS HIMALAYA, the ship which launched the Moon/Bridgeman aircraft) had also taken to the skies as observer for a successful recce sortie over Lindi harbour. Given the hazards of flight it was probably not wise for senior officers (inexperienced non-aviators) to place themselves in harm's way in this fashion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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HMS Vengeance at Mafia Island

Commander Bridgeman aboard the seaplane

(Photo courtesy of the Liddle Collection, Leeds University)

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Commander Bridgeman's first grave

(Photo courtesy of the Liddle Collection, Leeds University)

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Commander Bridgeman's present resting place

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A photograph of the gallant Commander

(Courtesy of the Liddle Collection, Leeds University)

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  • 1 year later...

Could this be the original grave marker? It's now in Weston-under-Lizard Cemetery, Staffordshire.

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It certainly looks like it, but a duplicate could have been made for his family.

Harry

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Philip Wilson

His entry on page 211 of Part 2 of the Distinguished Service Order reads:

BRIDGEMAN, The Hon. R.O.B. (DSO LG 14.7.16)

b.Feb 1879; 2nd son of the 4th Earl of BRADFORD and Lady Ida Anabella Frances Lumley, 2nd d. of the 9th Earl of SCARBOROUGH; Lieutenant, R.N., 1900, Commander in 1912.

Just before the war he was serving in the light cruiser Hyacinth. He was with the squadron that took part in the operations that led to the destruction of the German cruiser Konigsberg.

Vice-Admiral Sir Herbert G.KING HALL mentioned Commander BRIDGEMAN in his illuminative Despatch published in L.Gaz. on 8 Dec.quoted in the Gazette of Commander BRIDGEMAN's decoration.

Commander BRIDGEMAN was First-Lieutenant of the Medina during the voyage of the King and Queen to India (Nov 1911, to Feb 1912 ) and was promoted Commander from the date of the ship's paying off

on 15.2.1912. He was killed in action 6.1.17.

There is a photo of him in Naval Uniform alongside his entry but it looses clarity when scanned as its fairly dark.

Philip

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I've visited the cross several times and i dont think it's the original.

Neil

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  • 2 years later...

This memorial inscription sowing an aeroplane is inside St Andrew's Parish Church at Weston-Under Lizard. I saw it on some Flickr photos of churches:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/spenvalleywanderer/15809429646/in/photostream/

And this is the wikipedia page on his plot Edwin Rowland Moon, who was a pioneer aviator:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Moon

Edwin Moon's grave marker was similar to Richard Bridgeman's as it was a part of a propeller from the seaplane he was killed in

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