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Remembered Today:

Can this airman be identified ?


micks
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Hi all

A few days ago while surfing through commonwealth war grave commission burial returns I came across a

interesting case of a unidentified british airman.

I have viewed many records regarding aircrew but this has a surprising amount of information attached.

Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery

Grave 4.G.12

Unknown British Aviator

Sergeant

R.A.F

Three wound stripes

Flying wings

Four war service chevrons

Died about 20 September 1918

Original place of burial

Devasier Farm German Cemetery

Grave 1260

36.D.24.a.6.8

The following officer is buried in

grave 4.G.13 but it isn't certain that they

were of the same aircrew.

Unknown British Aviator

Officer

R.A.F

Scottish officers cut-away tunic

One wound stripe

Died about 20 September 1918

Devasier Farm German Cemetery

Grave 1276

36.D.24.a.6.8

I am well aware of the complexity at hand but someone may have access to more detailed records.

All the best

Mick

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He should (theoretically, at least) appear on a memorial to the missing. So, having searched the CWGC database for a sergeant/serjeant/warrant-officer who died between 15 Sept-25 Sept 1918, it only throws up 5 men on memorials. One is on the Jerusalem memorial, so it's unlikely to be him. The remaining 4 are:

Leonard MURPHY, 237023 - but he was only 19, so unlikely to have 4 o/s chevrons

Sydney HOOKWAY, 61856, age 24, 103 Sqn, died 16 Sept, serving with 103 Sqn

Robert Hardwick LIGHTBODY, 158968, age 21, died 15 Sep, 203 Sqn

Richard Joseph SEAR, 94433, age 22, 21 Sep, 108 Sqn - but he was a sergeant-observer

Someone with access to AIR 79 and the MIC's might be able throw a bit more light on these men's service. Any RAF experts could maybe give some indication of where these men's planes came down.

Hookway looks like the most likely candidate, IMHO. That's assuming the approximate date of death is accurate.

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Sear was observer to 2/Lt Daniel Albert Shanks.

Files at the NA on Shanks here. His parents were from Canada.

They were last seen near Lichtervelde, which is quite a way North of Quesnoy-sur-Deule. There is something on Shanks' Casualty Card about St Joseph, but I can't read it very well.

That's the only one I've looked at so far.

Phil

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It looks like Headgardener has come up with a favourite in Hookway.

He was flying with Lt William Holland COLE. They were last seen near Lilles while on a bombing raid

Coles record is in AIR/76/171

Sydney Hookway was formerly Pte 34816 RAMC. According to his MIC, date of entry to France was 12.1.15. Would that qualify him for 4 chevrons? He was wounded whilst with the RFC in Nov. 1917.

Phil

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In the North Devon Journal of 8 November 1917, a Sydney Hookway "of 13 Hart Street in Bideford, now in the Royal Flying Corps, in a letter to his mother, describes his thrilling experience of having a Lucky shot bringing down his first enemy aeroplane in flames"

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It looks like Headgardener has come up with a favourite in Hookway.

Sydney Hookway was formerly Pte 34816 RAMC. According to his MIC, date of entry to France was 12.1.15. Would that qualify him for 4 chevrons? He was wounded whilst with the RFC in Nov. 1917.

1 chevron was awarded for overseas service in any single year - so for the unknown flyer to have 4 o/s chevrons implies that he qualified for a 1914 or 1914/15 star. Did the detail about him being wounded come from his AIR 79? He would have received a separate wound stripe for each separate wound, so a single incident in which he received 3 separate injuries would result in 3 (rather than 1) wound stripes.

We'd need to know the overseas service details of the others to stand any chance of naming him as a probable. I suspect the uncertainty regarding the exact date of death would be an issue from CWGC's perspective. Even then, there can't be many sergeant-pilots shot down in that area during much of 1918 with that particular combination of badges.

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I haven't seen his AIR 79 papers (no subscription). I got the details from here.

He doesn't appear to have any papers on the ICRC database. There was a card for Cole, but it was a dead end - death confirmed, but grave unknown.

Phil

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Well, the casualty card appears to indicate that he was a gunner, so he wouldn't have wings up. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but

the OP appears to indicate that the man was a pilot.

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1 chevron was awarded for overseas service in any single year...He would have received a separate wound stripe for each separate wound, so a single incident in which he received 3 separate injuries would result in 3 (rather than 1) wound stripes.

Sorry, but both those points are wrong in just about every respect.

Overseas Service chevrons were for time accumulated overseas - you were entitled to your first chevron on the first day you served overseas, but did not become entitled to a second until you had accumulated another 12 months service overseas (with an allowance of up to four weeks home leave to still be counted towards this). Thus a soldier wearing four chevrons must have accumulated somewhere between 3 and 4 years overseas service (which would fit nicely with service from early 1915 to late 1918, assuming the three wounds were not severe enough to warrant being shipped back home for any length of time or any other excessive periods of home leave being thrown into the bargain). If a soldier had served in 1914 the first stripe was red, for all service post-1914 the stripes were blue. To illustrate how the "service in any single year" = one stripe method is wrong, it is possible for a soldier to serve overseas in every year of the war, yet through being repeatedly wounded or similar and shipped home for long periods not accumulate the required time necessary for a second stripe and therefore only be entitled to the initial red stripe.

To be entitled to a wounded stripe a mans name had to appear on a casualty list, each entry effectively covering any number of wounds sustained. Someone could suffer multiple injuries in one incident and it would still only entitle him to one stripe, but a man hit by any single piece of shrapnel on three clearly seperate occasions requiring medical attention would be entitled to three. One of the unfairities of the system, but that's how it was... It was not impossible for the system to be abused (a man wounded three times in the same day might quite rightly think he was entitled to three stripes instead of one), but if Hookaway is only officially recorded as being wounded once then officially he was only entitled to one wound stripe, not three.

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Thanks everyone for your input

I pushed the possible date of death back even further into august

and still found the same sticking points.

It emphasises the complexity of attempting to identify any first

world war grave let alone those of aircrew.

Mick

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Mick,

I don't know how far you want to go with it, but there are some very useful databases here.

Assuming that the two are not from the same air crew, there are a number of officers with Scottish connections killed around that date.

Phil

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Sorry, but both those points are wrong in just about every respect.Overseas Service chevrons were for time accumulated overseas - you were entitled to your first chevron on the first day you served overseas, but did not become entitled to a second until you had accumulated another 12 months service overseas (with an allowance of up to four weeks home leave to still be counted towards this). Thus a soldier wearing four chevrons must have accumulated somewhere between 3 and 4 years overseas service (which would fit nicely with service from early 1915 to late 1918, assuming the three wounds were not severe enough to warrant being shipped back home for any length of time or any other excessive periods of home leave being thrown into the bargain). If a soldier had served in 1914 the first stripe was red, for all service post-1914 the stripes were blue. To illustrate how the "service in any single year" = one stripe method is wrong, it is possible for a soldier to serve overseas in every year of the war, yet through being repeatedly wounded or similar and shipped home for long periods not accumulate the required time necessary for a second stripe and therefore only be entitled to the initial red stripe.

Andrew, thanks for the correction. yes, you're right about the chevrons being for accumulated service and not for service in any given year. I remember taking part in a thread on here several years ago in which this matter thrashed out, and for some reason I recalled the 'wrong' conclusion. However, wasn't there a caveat regarding 'unavoidable' absences? (i.e. a period in hospital in the UK recovering from a wound would not be excluded whereas a similar period caused by an injury received in training, or falling off a chair, or catching VD, would be excluded).

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Hookway reported missing 16/9/18;

qualified observer 1/9/18

Qualified air Gunner 15/6/17

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MM 26/1/18

Wounded gsw hand 3/5 /18

Gsw arm 12/11/17

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I remember taking part in a thread on here several years ago in which this matter thrashed out, and for some reason I recalled the 'wrong' conclusion. However, wasn't there a caveat regarding 'unavoidable' absences? (i.e. a period in hospital in the UK recovering from a wound would not be excluded whereas a similar period caused by an injury received in training, or falling off a chair, or catching VD, would be excluded).

The LLT has "Periods of absence without leave, in prison or detention, in hospital due to sickness due to avoidable causes, or in captivity as a prisoner of war, will be excluded when calculating the twelve months required to qualify for an additional chevron". However, I have always taken this to mean time in hospital whilst overseas which could have been avoided would (quite rightly) not qualify towards the chevrons. Someone who had been shipped back home for treatment for whatever reason cannot in all fairness still be seen as actively serving overseas. This is where a combination of Wounded Stripes and Overseas Service Chevrons can effectively tell a soldiers story to passers by - a man with only one chevron on the right arm but the left sleeve packed with stripes is showing why he has not got so much time accumulated as the chap with multiple chevrons. These regulations were changed later, but usually to include what was seen as the more unfair exclusions (eg the POW's, who were still away from their homes and overseas at the same time usually through no fault of their own but were initially being punished for that fact).

It should also be remembered that for colonial troops and similar, both service in France/Belgium/etc and the UK would still be classed as overseas service even if not in an active theatre of war (so an Australian soldier could be shipped to the UK and spend his whole war serving in Blighty, all the while accruing a nice set of Overseas Service Chevrons and gaining a medal entitlement, yet his otherwise identical UK counterpart spending his whole war there would get nothing) - another of the unfairities of the system.

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Pont du Hem seems to be a long way from the original place of burial near Wambrechies...however Wambrechies is much closer to 103 Sqdn's target of Lomme on the 16/9/18...

http://www.103.airwar1.org.uk/103sqn3.htm

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WH Cole formerly 3rd Class Air Mechanic discharged to commission 22nd Feb 1918

b. 28/9/1899 home address Leamington Spa

Qualified for wings 9/7/18

Listed missing 19/9/18

5905587269271552.png?k=o0R96Yeq_3l79x8tu

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 years later...

Hi, 

 

looking at at the pont du hem CWGC records and noticed the unknown sgt and officer with the date of death as 20/09/1918.

 

has anybody finally put a name against the unknowns

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