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Remembered Today:

Major F. F. Waldron, Commanding Officer, 60 Squadron


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Hi Everyone,

I am looking for a source for the following information on the above-mentioned Major "Ferdy" Waldron. Has anyone read about Waldron's obsession with gathering fellow Etonians for his squadron? I cannot remember where I got this, or indeed if it is true!! it read as follows:

"The 60th Squadron was formed from the No1 Reserve Aero- plane Squadron at Gosport, and Major Waldron was its first Commanding Officer. Waldron called for as many of his fellow Etonians as he could, even poaching them from other squadrons. He had previously commanded No1 Reserve Airoplane Squadron and was a cavalry officer who had been seconded from his Hussar Regiment to the RFC some time before the war. He was one of the earlier military aviators; had been an instructor at the Central Flying School at Upavon and was a first-class pilot."



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The quote is here - http://www.rafjever.org/4squadhistory1.htm Elsewhere on the net, I found this quote -

"In April 1916 Smith-Barry—promoted captain—was one of three old Etonians appointed as flight commanders in 60 squadron, formed for service in France under another old Etonian, Ferdie Waldron. The squadron, based at Vert Galant (north of Amiens), took part in the Somme battle, beginning on 1 July. Waldron was killed on 3 July, and Smith-Barry, promoted major, took command for the rest of the year" - http://www.oxforddnb.com/templates/article.jsp?articleid=72242&back=

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Thank you; you have come to my rescue once again. The reason that I asked the question, was because Major Waldron did not attend Eton College!! he began his education at Monkstown park School, Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) and I have not been able to find out where it was in England that he continued his studies, but he was not an old Etonian.

Thanks again,


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Scott's History of 60 Squadron (Chapter II 'The Somme') describes the death of Francis Fitzgerald Waldron, and his replacement by fellow Irishman Smith-Barry:



Sixty had not to wait long for its first taste of

serious fighting. The " aerial offensive," which

always precedes any " push," was already well

developed when the squadron commenced war

flying. Casualties were heavy, and on July 3,

two days after the official commencement of the

Somme battle, Ferdy Waldron was shot down and

killed on the " other side." He considered it his

duty to try and do one job per day over the line,

and on this particular morning he led " A " Flight's

80 h.p. ''bullets " over at 4 a.m. in perfect weather.

The other members of the patrol were Smith-

Barry, Armstrong, Simpson, and Balfour. The

last-named thus describes the fight: "Both

Armstrong and Simpson fell out, through engine

trouble, before we reached Arras. Armstrong

landed by a kite balloon section and breakfasted

with Radford (Basil Hallam, the actor), whose

kite balloon was attacked a few days later, and

who met his death through the failure of his

parachute. Waldron led the remaining two along

the Arras-Cambrai road. We crossed at about

8,000 feet, and just before reaching Cambrai we

were about 9,000, when I suddenly saw a large formation of machines about our height coming

from the sun towards us. There must have been

at least twelve. They were two-seaters led by

one Fokker (monoplane) and followed by two

others. I am sure they were not contemplating




at all, but Ferdy pointed us towards them

and led us straight in.

"My next impressions were rather mixed. I

seemed to be surrounded by Huns in two-seaters.

I remember diving on one, pulling out of the dive,

and then swerving as another came for me. I can

recollect also looking down and seeing a Morane

about 800 feet below me going down in a slow

spiral, with a Fokker hovering above it following

every turn. I dived on the Fokker, who swallowed

the bait and came after me, but unsuccessfully,

as I had taken care to pull out of my dive while

still above him. The Morane I watched gliding

down under control, doing perfect turns, to about

2,000 feet, when I lost sight of it. I thought he

must have been hit in the engine. After an

indecisive combat with the Fokker I turned home,

the two-seaters having disappeared. Smith-

Barry I never saw from start to finish of the

fight. I landed at Vert Galant and reported that

Ferdy had


gone down under control.' We all

thought he was a prisoner, but heard soon after-

wards that he had landed safely but died of

wounds that night, having been hit during the


" About twenty minutes after I had landed.Smith-Barry came back. He had not seen us, but

had been fighting the back two Fokkers, which he

drove east, but not before he had been shot about

by them, one bullet entering the tail and passing

up the fuselage straight for his back until it hit

the last cross-member, which deflected the course

of the missile sufficiently to save him."

This was the end of a first-class squadron

commander, and, coming so early in our fighting

career, was a heavy blow. If he had lived,

Waldron must have made a great name for himself

in the R.F.C.

Smith-Barry now took over the squadron. He

was a great " character " —an Irishman with all

an Irishman's charm. A trifle eccentric, he was

a fine pilot. He had crashed badly near Amiens

in the retreat from Mons, the first Flying Corps

casualty, breaking both his legs, which left him

permanently lame. Although beloved by his

squadron, his superiors sometimes found him a

little trying officially. It is often said, half

admiringly, of a man by his friends that " he

doesn't care a damn for anyone." I believe this to

have been almost literally true of Smith-Barry. He

could do anything with an aeroplane, and delighted

in frightening his friends with incredible aerial

antics. He was a fine, if original, squadron

commander, almost too original, in fact, even for

the R.F.C, where, if anywhere in the fighting

services, originality was encouraged.

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On the issue of Waldron and Smith-Barry, sometimes the tales of butlers and batmen get exchanged and exaggerated with the telling. Here's Scott on Robert Raymond Smith-Barry, but it was probably a tale relating to Francis Fitzgerald Waldron:

hen Nicolson was

killed at Gosport, Smith-Barry appointed Doby

as his batman and, in order to take him to France,

dressed him in R.F.C. uniform and called him Air

Mechanic Doby. This boy was most useful, being

competent to bargain with his compatriots for the

goods which the mess required. When a year had one by and there had been several changes in

command, nobody knew his history, and he was

regarded as a genuine member of the Corps.

History does not relate how he was eventually

" demobilised."

This, then, was the kind of man who took over

the squadron on Waldron's death - at a critical

point in career.

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Sorry to post yet again from Scott but it'd appear that he writes of Waldron then continues to describe Smith-Barry and other Old Etonians, hence the possibility that a reader could incorrectly infer that all the people in those paragraphs were old Etonians:

Major F. Waldron,known to his friends as " Ferdy," was the first

commander of the new unit. He had previously

commanded No. 1 R.A.S., and was a cavahy officer

who had been seconded from his Hussar regiment

(the 19th), some time before the war, to the R.F.C.

He was one of the earher mihtary aviators. He

had been an instructor at the Central Flying

School at Upavon and was a first-class pilot.

The three original flight commanders (Capts. R.

Smith-Barry, A. S. M. Somers, and H. C. Tower)

were all three old Etonians. The original flying

officers were : Capt. D. B. Gray ; Lieuts. H. A.

Browning-Paterson, J. N. Simpson, G. F. A.

Portal, H. H. Balfour, H. Meintjies, A. D. Bell-

Irving ; 2/Lieuts. C. A. Ridley, D. V. Armstrong,

H. G. Smart, and G. D. F. Keddie.

The observers were : Lieuts. R. H. Knowles

and G. Williams ; 2/Lieuts. L. L. Clark, H. J.

Newton, H. H. Harris, H. Good, C. F. Overy,

J. I. M. O'Beirne, W. E. G. Bryant, J. Laurie-

Reid, J. N. O. Heenan (A.E.O.), and J. Bigood

(A.E.O., wireless).

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Thank you for further comment on Major F F Waldron and his fellow countryman, Captain R R Smith-Barry. Our pal, IPT has given two web addresses, in which it is claimed that major Waldron was an Old Etonian. The article by Vincent Orange, which appears under the Oxford University Press website, is particularly interesting; http://www.oxforddnb...leid=72242

The other website is at http://www.rafjever....uadhistory1.htm

The question is; how did a rumour like that get out and is repeated again and again, without someone checking the source?

Best wishes,


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Ken, I think Vincent Orange's comment could have been a slip of the sub-editing process: he wrote "In April 1916 Smith-Barry—promoted captain—was one of three old Etonians appointed as flight commanders in 60 squadron, formed for service in France under another old Etonian, Ferdie Waldron." The three Old Etonian flight commanders were Smith-Barry, Somers and Tower. However, if Waldron was being included in that total then there would have been 4 Old Etonians?

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I don't have access to my spreadsheets on RFC personnel (I'm currently buried in RNAS research) but a glance at the 1911 UK Census would suggest that Waldron was at Netheravon Cavalry School in Wiltshire, a Lieutenant in the 19th Hussars. In the UK Census 1901 he may well have been the 14 year old boarder at the Oratory, Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire. (The Oratory is the RC equivalent of Eton, although some would argue that Ampleforth, Downside or Stonyhurst would have greater prestige). However, I'd need to look at my old spreadsheets to see if I have a service record for Waldron. If so then I'd also have a reference to his alma mater.

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Thank you, that is most helpful. As far as I am aware, Ferdy Waldron was a Protestant and a member of the Church of Ireland, so it is unlikely that he attended a RC school in England. He attended Monkstown Park School,as a border, which was a Protestant school. However you have turned up some a very interesting information and I would be most grateful if you can find any further information on where he attended college after he left Monkstown Park.

Best wishes,


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  • 3 months later...

Hi All

I can confirm that Francis Fitzgerald Waldron 'Ferdy' WAS a boarder at The Oratory School, i don't have the dates to hand, but as i work at the Oratory i have access to his records.


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I know nothing about Waldron's education but do know that he was a pioneer member of the RFC with 2 Sqn, a brave young man and a squadron commander who led from the front. Sad images:



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  • 9 years later...

Confused by the Eton comments as Major Waldron was born in Dublin and educated at the Newman Oratory in Brimingham. Here's his memorial: 


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Waldron was born 16/08/1886 in Newbridge, County Kildare, in what is now The Republic of Ireland.

2nd Lieut 19th Hussars 1907

Aviators Cert. 24/07/1912

Lieut. 19th Hussars 10/1912

Captain 19th Hussars 10/1915

In the 1901 Census Francis Waldron and  a David Waldron  were at school in Knockbeg School in the old Queens County which is in the Dioscese (?) of Kildare. Knockbeg was a Catholic School.

It was his father who was at Oratory.

He is commemorated in the Haddington Road Catholic in Dublin as a parishioner of Ballsbridge. The church has the only Catholic WW1 memorial in Ireland.

Edited by Alan Bentley
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On 04/10/2013 at 21:50, thedawnpatrol said:

Hi All

I can confirm that Francis Fitzgerald Waldron 'Ferdy' WAS a boarder at The Oratory School, i don't have the dates to hand, but as i work at the Oratory i have access to his records.


It was his father who a at Oratory

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If I recall correctly, Balfour included a few references to Ferdy Waldron in 'An Airman Marches'. (I hope that's republished soon, for the current cost of an older copy is close to that of an aeroplane ticket - and almost an aeroplane, if buying a signed copy etc).

I think the family moved around Ireland quite a lot, e.g. I've seen references to various racing lodges in the Curragh but the newspaper articles published after his death would also appear to connect the family to Co Down.

'Our Heroes' appears to confirm the family's equestrian links:


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Brigadier Francis (Frank) Waldron, born 12/12/1853 in Ballybrack, Dublin to Anne and Laurence Waldron. 

Married Helen Fitzgerald 06/05/1884 in Dublin.

Three daughters, one son.

Died 21/02/1932 in Melitta Lodge, Kildare.

His wife died in The Spa Hotel ,Bath in the 1930s.

Obviously, because of his Military career the family moved about, but I have found no family connection with Northern Ireland, and no connection with the Protestant Church.

In the1891 Canadian Census he was in Halifax with his wife and daughters. Madeline was born in England, the other two in Ireland, but no son. 

Edited by Alan Bentley
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Just on the Oratory, a centenary piece in a 2016 edition of the Oratorian does refer to Waldron, 1898-1901:


On the family's connections with various parts of Ireland, the media coverage would all appear to relate to his father in the context of being the handicapper for the Irish Turf Club rather than his previous miliary service. Here's an example (courtesy of the British and Irish Newspaper Archive via FMP) from the Belfast Telegraph.


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