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Remembered Today:

Basil Raynham Rolfe, 94 squadron perhaps ?


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I am trying to ascertain if Basil Raynham Rolfe (08708) completed his flying training with 94 squadron at Harling Road. The National Archive AIR 76 file is not available for this officer and I note a Lt Rolfe with 94 sqdn in February 1918 and wonder if they are one of the same ?

Known details for Basil Rolfe are,

Basil Raynham Rolfe joined the R.F.C.in 1917 and went overseas to fly SE5s with 29 squadron.

August 11, 1918 SE5a E1386 force landed Abeele aerodrome after radiator shot through over Courtrai on special mission.

September 28, 1918 SE5a F5456 Last seen over Linselles going E in rainclouds on offensive patrol. Lt B R Rolfe missing, later reported PoW.

In 1929 he re-entered the R.A.F. with a short-service commission, and before going to Brough in 1938 had eight years of test flying at the Greek National Aircraft Factory, established by the Blackburn Company, at Phaleron, near Athens. He was awarded the Greek Award "Royal Order of the Phoenix".

As a Flying Officer Basil Rolfe was killed on March 5, 1940 when Botha L6129 of the Blackburn Company dived into ground near Flixborough, Lincs, during a test flight. Also on board was John Johnson, B.Sc (FTO/Blackburn), who died from his injuries.

Many thanks for any pointers,

Regards,

Ian

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There is a February 1918 newspaper article which tells how Rolfe has smashed up and written off his plane, returning to duty after 10 days recovery.

Frustratingly, it doesn't say where it happened!

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Many thanks for your reply, any other details in the article appreciated, aircraft type perhaps, name of newspaper / where published (Norfolk perhaps ?)

Regards,

Ian

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Not much use, i'm afraid - it was in a newspaper local to the family home, and was likely submitted by his father.

16 February 1918 - Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald - Folkestone,

FLYING OFFICER’S ADVENTURE

Second Lieutenant Basil R. Rolfe, “Buffs “ attached R.F.C., (the son of Mr. F. W. Rolfe, Ste. Marie, Quested-rd., Folkestone), recently had very marvellous escape. When was flying at a height of 1,000 feet his engine went wrong and stopped. In turning to get the position to plane down his machine side slipped and then nose dived,, striking the ground with such force that the engine was split to pieces and the aeroplane completely smashed up. He was strapped to his seat, but the strap gave way and was pitched out over the engine, but to his own and everyone’s surprise he scrambled to his feet and found he had only sustained a slight cut on the right eyebrow and a severe shaking. After ten days rest he has returned to duty keen as ever. Lieutenant Rolfe is an old boy of Mary’s Higher Grade School.

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To the contary this details the incident well and points to Rolfe's hometown, so if this is my man all very useful.

Your help much appreciated.

Regards,

Ian

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Ian,

Are you aware that National Archives hold two War Officer files relating to him Rolfe?

WO 339/68003

WO 372/17/76913

The latter is his medal card which can be downloaded for a small fee.

The former is not available for download online. I have had a number of these WO339 files copied for my own research and have found that they can vary from a handful of pages to well over 100, but typically averaging about 50 featuring medical reports, money and casualty matters and often completed commission application forms. If you can’t visit personally I would recommend Lee Richards of ARCRE as a photographer who does an excellent job for a modest fee. More details about his service here

http://arcre.com/

Errol

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Hello Errol,

Many thanks for the head up re WO339 files, I was not sure what these contained but think it now worthy of investigation, I will make an approach to Lee.

Best regards,

Ian

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I'm at the TNA tomorrow and I can copy these for you and save you a couple of quid!

Just send me a private message with an email address and I'll send images when I get home tomorrow night

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