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Remembered Today:

No 2 School Aerial Gunnery, Turnberry

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HI All


Im still researching Capt HJ "Harry" Butler, RFC, who was posted as an instructor to Turnberry from January 1917 until April 1918.

I have several photos of him with other instructors, one which states on the rear " This is myself and my old pal Col Bell-Irving at Turnery before i left"

I take it that this is Richard Bell-Irving who some sources state was the Commandant at Turnberry.

I have also seen references that Louis Strange established and was the Commanding Officer of Turnberry.

Butler was stationed at Hythe in the months leading up to the establishment of the Turnery school with both Strange and Bell-Irving.

There are also some other references to Joseph Cruess Callaghan "The Mad Major" as the Commandant from January 1917 until March 1918.

But in other reference it states that Lionel Wilmot Brabazon Rees was the Commanding Officer there.


Has anyone got a list of the commanding officers of this base?

Why is there 4 sources that puts all of these men as the CO at the same time?


Any info would be appreciated.





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No.2 (Auxiliary) School of AG was formed 1.17 at Turnberry

A School of Aerial Gunnery was also formed at Loch Doon 1.17. Another at Hythe on 13.9.16, and also ones at Heliopolis and Aboukir


The 2.4.17 Nominal Roll shows Strange as CO of the Loch Doon School

Capt R Bell-Irving is shown as Wing Instructor at Hythe on 5.1.17 and the Army List March 1918 shows him as Commandant of a School of Aerial Gunnery, but not which one


Callaghan is shown in the Army List as Co of the School of Aerial Fighting


Rees was appointed Wing Commander 1.5.17 but I don't have any locations for him


Maj HE Chaney was CO at Hythe at Jan 17

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The TNA image viewer has been improved so a bit more info from their files:


Bell-Irving appt Chief Instructor at No.2 Aux SAG 12.10.16 (shown as 12.10.17)

Appt Commandant 2.17 until 5.18


Strange Commandant at Hythe 20.6.16 then at Loch Doon 13.9.16 until 5.2.17


Callaghan to 2 Aux SAG 22.2.17 then 1 SoAF 25.10.17


No record for Rees

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Chaney at SoAG  12.9.16 as Chief Instructor

No.1 SoAG as Acting Commandant 1.17 then Commandant 6.2.17 until 1.8.17 when he became Gun Inspector of Training Wing

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  • 1 year later...
W. Alister Williams

I hope I am not too late supplying you with some sources for information relating to Turnberry.


I have spent some considerable time researching the Turnberry School of Aerial Fighting, but there would appear to be very little extant information. There are, however, a number of books that make strong reference to the school. As well as my own 'Rees, VC – the first of the original 'Few' (by W Alister Williams, Wrexham, 2018). Lionel Rees, VC, commanded the school at Ayr and then Turnberry from the spring of 1918 until the end of the year.


Other books that are useful (all published in the USA) are: Hero of the Angry Sky. The World War 1 Diary and Letters of David S Ingalls, America's First Naval Ace, by Geoffrey L Rossano, Ohio, 2013; The Price of Honor, the World War One Letters of Naval Aviator Kenneth MacLiesh, by Geofrey L Rossano, Annapolis, 1991; War Birds, diary of an unknown aviator, by Elliot White Springs, New York, 1926. Also useful is Memoris of a World War 1 Air Ace, by Rodney D Williams, unpublished MSS, held at Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Madison, WIsconsin, accessed via Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (website).

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  • 8 months later...
Robert Hughes Photography

Hi, I have just restored this photograph for Stuart Jenkins, of his father Charles Henry Ward Jenkins appears in this photograph of "D" Flight, No.2. Auxiliary School of Aerial Gunnery at Turnberry, Scotland. Dated May 1918 in the hand-writing of Charles Jenkins.  Charles was ground based air support or aircraft engineer at the time.  Contact Stuart at website ofRFC1c_No2_Aerial_Gunnery_900x600.jpg.c904a2ac1ca3ca15ba78ad0aee4f1c49.jpg



Can anyone name any of the characters in the photo?  Thanks, Robert. 

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