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Alan Robinson, RNAS Pilot 1916 - 1918


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I am trying to find out a bit more about Alan Neal Robinson, my wife's great uncle who flew with the RNAS in WW1.

I have a few facts about Alan Robinson but would like to know more about the types of aircraft that he flew, where he served, apart from Great Yarmouth, and if possible, find a photograph of him.

It was only when I found his marriage certificate, which gives his 'Rank or Profession' as Flight Sub. Lieut RNAS and his residence as RNAS Great Yarmouth that I discovered he had been a pilot. My wife had never been told about his war service by her grandmother (his sister).

I have discovered the following so far:

  • Born 10th July 1892, Whitby North Yorkshire.
  • 1st Sept 1914 enlisted in 17th Service Battalion the Liverpool Regiment.
  • 30th July 1915 discharged from Liverpool Regt “for purposes of re-enlisting in the Inns of Court Yeomanry”. (British Army Pensions Records).
  • 7th November 1915, confirmed in the rank as Flight Sub-Lieut for Tempy. Service. (London Gazette, 27th June 1916, page 3643).
  • 19th February 1916, passed the Aero Club Certificate at Royal Naval Air Station Chingford, flying a Maurice Farman Biplane.
  • 6th November 1916 marriage certificate gives his address as RNAS Great Yarmouth.
  • 9th November 1917 promoted to Tempy. Flight Lieut. (London Gazette 13 November 1917, page 11702).
  • His name does not appear in the Royal Navy casualty lists for WW1 so I assume that he survived the war.

If anyone can help me with tracing the types of aircraft he flew, if he flew from ship or shore, which theatres of war he flew in, and any photographs, I would be very grateful.

Regards,

Anthony

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From his Royal Aero Club Aviator's certificate, dated 13th February 1916

Also, possible Probate entry from 1962 ( as you already know the wife's name, you should be able to tell if this is him)

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Severe health warning: you could download some of the files generated in respect of him from the National Archives, Kew. Alas for RNAS there is grave danger of buying minor variations of the same thing several times over. This happens on account of a RN and RNAS officers' record being generated. However, one positive outcome can be that they're quite comprehensive re 'confidential reports' assessing the ability or otherwise of an officer.

In this chap's case there only appears to have been one record digitized:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=C9748542

The disadvantage of spending £3.36 on it could be that there'll be a blank page, with a reference to some other RNAS file. On the other hand it might just have some additional information re appointments etc that was not gazetted. Your call. (I've generally found it to be quite a hit-and-miss affair with the ADM 273 files but when you do find one with information it's a mini-goldmine).

In this chap's case his RAF file weighs in at 6 pages (excluding the National Archives initial page), so it should be worth it:

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/Details?uri=D8221135

The first page of text should contain the RAF service info, with the later pages being transcriptions of his earlier RNAS service history. Overall, for the price of a takeaway meal you could possibly obtain some useful leads. (On the other hand it could be simply a list of dates and times that leave you with very little additional information beyond what you already have).

Best of luck with your research.

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Thank you to all who have posted.

I am a novice researcher and am grateful for your replies.

Furthermore, the swift and helpful contents of the replies have surprised me!

I am a new member, having joined to see some photos which may include of my wife's grandfather, G. Hodgkinson (MC and Bar) who flew with 26 Squadron in the East African campaign of WW1.

To Stephen Nulty

Thank you very much for the photograph of Alan Robinson.

How cheerful he looks - in spite of there being a war on!

My wife never heard her mother or grandmother talk of Alan, even though he would have still been alive when she was a child.

The Probate entry is 99.9% certain for him, his wife's name on the marriage certificate is Dorothie.

The image I have for his flying certificate is obviously a copy of an entry from a record online, there is no photo.

To Airshipped,

Thank you very much for all the advice and links.

  • I had found the file, ADM 273/8/4 but was wary of paying for a file that was described as 0 kilobytes across 3 pages and closed for 75 years. Having said that, I assume that the 75 years expired in 1994 and is now open!
  • I hadn't found the file AIR 76/431/45, (also described as 0 kilobytes which seems odd) thank you for that.
  • Is in normal for an archive file to be described as 0 kilobytes?

Now that I have two file references, and since I live in London, I could easily cycle down to Kew and have a look which would be more convenient than cycling to Yeovilton!

Thank you again,

Anthony

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Anthony

If you send me an email via my website (see below), I will send you a high resolution copy of the document

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  • 2 months later...

Thank you to all who have posted.

I am a novice researcher and am grateful for your replies.

Furthermore, the swift and helpful contents of the replies have surprised me!

I am a new member, having joined to see some photos which may include of my wife's grandfather, G. Hodgkinson (MC and Bar) who flew with 26 Squadron in the East African campaign of WW1.

Now that I have two file references, and since I live in London, I could easily cycle down to Kew and have a look which would be more convenient than cycling to Yeovilton!

Thank you again,

Anthony

Hi Anthony, As in my wont from time to time just thought I would see if I could find anything new connected with the guy I'm researching, Courtney Brocklehurst, who also flew with RFC 26 Squadron. I have recently come across Brocklehurst's diaries for 1917 and some photo albums. The diary mentions Hodgkinson several times as Brock flew in Hodge's flight. ("A" Flight) I also have a couple of photos of Hodge if you're interested.

I was also wondering whether you'd come across a rather more famous member of the squadron, the author Leo Walmsley. He wrote a couple of accounts of his time with "A" Flight and mentions Hodge specifically on many occasions. Can tell you more.

Alan

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Alan,

Thank you for getting in touch. I would be interested in having some photos of GW Hodgkinson and to read Walmsley's accounts - are they email ready, if so I would love to see them? I really don't know much about the war in East Africa and would like to know more of what he got up to and what his two MCs were awarded for. The MC's were British South African so the citations didn't go through the normal War Dept channel or so I have been told. Having said that, I still haven't got down to the National Archive to check his file.

On page 478 of Flight magazine dated 16th April 1954 in an article about the BE 2 Series aircraft I did find a reference to "G" and Walmsley refuelling their aircraft - while still in the air:

"Capt Hodgkinson and Lt Walmsley took extra tins of petrol to top up the tanks in flight . . . endurance increased to five hours.".

I suppose that the huge distances they had to cover, and lack of flat ground to land on meant that refuelling in the air was safer and preferable to crash landing in the bush!

GW Hodgkinson joined up again in WW2 and served in "Air Intelligence" as a Wing Commander. Interestingly, his son Colin Hodgkinson flew in WW2 after "losing" his legs in a flying accident - long story - but he went on to fly over 100 operational sorties in Spitfires.

Thank you again, it would be good to fill in some blanks.

Kind regards,

Anthony

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Hi Anthony, Attach three photos, Hodge's aviator's certificate, the photo that went with it and a photo Brocklehurst took in 1917, probably at (Alt) Iringa.

Walmsley's main account of his time in RFC 26 Squadron is to be found in a book he wrote called Flying and Sport in East Africa. Alas the book is hard and expensive to get hold of. However, most (95%) of it had already appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in 4 parts between Nov 1919 and Feb 1920. These are available to read or download on-line. See:

http://www.archive.org/details/blackwoodsmagazi206edinuoft

and

http://www.archive.org/details/blackwoodsmagaz207edinuoft

(I have actually extracted the four articles and recombined them as one PDF which I can email you if you PM me your email address).

Hodge is mentioned quite a few times in the above. In another book by Walmsley, 'So Many Loves', there is also a chapter or two about his time in the squadron (though I can't remember whether Hodge appears), and in Walmsley's biography, Shells and Bright Stones by Nona Stead, his time in the RFC is summarised, based on his own accounts. The refuelling story is quite famous and comes from Walmsley's first book/4th article. It even appeared in the official account of the War in The Air (Part 3 covering GEA).

Brocklehurst appeared on the scene just as Walmsley left it - in fact Walmsley refers to their imminent arrival just before he crashed, leading to him being sent home. Brocklehurst, a newly trained pilot met Hodge, his Flight Commander, for the first time at Iringa in Aug 1917.Hodge tried to leave next day by plane but it was too windy and cloudy so he came back. Hodgkinson and Sutton, another new pilot, left for Songea in a tender the next day. Brocklehurst later wrote to his brother:

The CO of this flight is a man called Hodgkinson, he has a farm on the Guaso Nyiro (BEA), about where the Somali was mauled by the leopard…He knows Mrs Aggett & several people we knew.

There are a few other references later on if you're interested, not all complimentary!

Other pilots in the flight at that time, were Graeme Blackburn, Robert Eversden, William Sutton and Basil Hunt (Mike). Observers were van Rolleghem, Weinberg and Steedman.

I assume you've found already Hodge's AIR 76 record at Kew which you can read there for free or download at home for £3.36 - see http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/s/res?_q=air+76+hodgkinson+gerard

Hope this is of interest. Naturally I'd be interested if you have any info from this time which might be relevant to my research on Brocklehurst. We also have a couple of pictures of someone who might just be Hodge, visiting Brock and his wife Lady Helen at their home in the early1920s.

Cheers.

Alan

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