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rob1713

Mystery Airman help required please

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rob1713

I recently acquired a First World War photograph album with a large number of pictures of named individuals. Unfortunately I am struggling to decipher the flowing script of the chap who originally labelled the pictures. 

 

I would like to find out more about this RFC officer. It is in a page of the album where some of the other pictures are dated 1916/17.  At this time period, the original owner of the album was an RAMC officer attached to the 25th General hospital at Hardelot. So I'm guessing it's either an officer who he met there or one of his pals from his previous unit who has transferred to the RFC and had his picture taken before he earned his pilots or observer wings. 

1.  Can anyone decipher his name.

2.  Does anyone recognise the medal ribbon

3.  Can anyone confirm that RFC aircrew were issued with wings during this period.

 

Frustratingly the answers to some of these questions are probably on the reverse of the photo but it is well glued into the album but there is writing just visible when I gently fold the edges.

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pete-c
9 hours ago, rob1713 said:

I recently acquired a First World War photograph album with a large number of pictures of named individuals. Unfortunately I am struggling to decipher the flowing script of the chap who originally labelled the pictures. 

 

I would like to find out more about this RFC officer. It is in a page of the album where some of the other pictures are dated 1916/17.  At this time period, the original owner of the album was an RAMC officer attached to the 25th General hospital at Hardelot. So I'm guessing it's either an officer who he met there or one of his pals from his previous unit who has transferred to the RFC and had his picture taken before he earned his pilots or observer wings. 

1.  Can anyone decipher his name.

2.  Does anyone recognise the medal ribbon

3.  Can anyone confirm that RFC aircrew were issued with wings during this period.

 

Frustratingly the answers to some of these questions are probably on the reverse of the photo but it is well glued into the album but there is writing just visible when I gently fold the edges.

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It looks to me like:  Flight Officer as below.    Does that make any sense with regard to the other images in the album?

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sdparker

The medal ribbon looks like French Croix de Guerre to me

Regards

Geoff

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Alan Bentley

Please excuse my ignorance but while I was in the RAF 9not the RFC!)not all officers were aircrew.

Is it possible that this was an officer who had, what we called "ground duties"?.

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rob1713
On 3 November 2019 at 07:51, pete-c said:

 

It looks to me like:  Flight Officer as below.    Does that make any sense with regard to the other images in the album?

No unfortunately the picture underneath this one does not relate to it. I think the initial letter is a G going by some of the writing in the album I can decipher. 

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rob1713
On 3 November 2019 at 08:44, sdparker said:

The medal ribbon looks like French Croix de Guerre to me

Regards

Geoff

 If it is I wonder if there is a list of RFC recipients? Thanks for the possible lead Geoff, I'll have a look online to see if such a list exists.

On 3 November 2019 at 10:22, Alan Bentley said:

Please excuse my ignorance but while I was in the RAF 9not the RFC!)not all officers were aircrew.

Is it possible that this was an officer who had, what we called "ground duties"?.

That's a good point Alan, another lead for me to pursue.

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salientguide

Could he be French? I don't think Fight Officer was a British rfc rank.  G LeBron or similar

Although he does have rfc collar badges!

Edited by salientguide
Spell

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travers61

The RFC had titles for the roles officers did, which went alongside their standard army rank.

 

Flight Commander was used, and I have researched one RFC pilot, a 2nd Lt, who in March 1918, just before the RAF was formed, was transfered to an RFC squadron in France as a Flying Officer.

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pierssc

I also think the initial is G but I really struggle with the surname.  Does it start with an R, a K, or a P?  Does it end in "...our", "...low", "...ford"?  Or something else entirely?

 

The subject has quite a marked squint/dodgy eye which I would have thought would rule him out from flying duties, either as a pilot or observer.  Ground duties are maybe more likely.  But how did he get his medal? 

 

I wouldn't place much weight on a doctor describing him as a "flight officer".  "Flying Officer" was used then to denote an officer (of any rank) who drew flying pay but that's quite a technical distinction which outsiders probably wouldn't know about.  He's a 2nd Lieutenant.  The current RAF ranks didn't come in till sometime after the war.   I suspect the compiler just meant that  he was with the RFC. 

 

I have had a trawl through www.casualtyforms.org looking for people with the first name "George" who have a surname the right sort of shape, but no names jumped out at me - and of course the "G" (if it is a G) may stand for Gordon, or Gilbert, or Guy, or whatever.  Likewise I tried a search using the endings I thought it might be, in the R, K and P surnames in www.airhistory.org.uk, but again without any obvious candidates.   That is such a huge resource he is bound to be there somewhere if we can just get a bit more of a clue....

 

Doctor's handwriting eh?  Can you show us some more examples of this guy's script please so we can try to narrow it down a bit?

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salientguide

Contradicting my earlier post and in summary Officer in RFC uniform, 2nd Lt from single pip on shoulder. No full set of wings or half wings to suggest pilot or observer.. Looks like a ground specialist possibly commissioned in directly as no other regimental insignia seen. ( Officers were generally "seconded or attached RFCfrom their original regt.) Ranks of flight commander or other equivalent were usually a captain but 2lt could be his substantive rank while he acted up?

 

Most intriguing is what looks like CdeG ribbon. There are some lists on Google of recipients but without deciphering that surname pretty impossible.

 

perhaps no further forward until then but intriguing! SG

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rob1713
4 hours ago, pierssc said:

I also think the initial is G but I really struggle with the surname.  Does it start with an R, a K, or a P?  Does it end in "...our", "...low", "...ford"?  Or something else entirely?

 

The subject has quite a marked squint/dodgy eye which I would have thought would rule him out from flying duties, either as a pilot or observer.  Ground duties are maybe more likely.  But how did he get his medal? 

 

I wouldn't place much weight on a doctor describing him as a "flight officer".  "Flying Officer" was used then to denote an officer (of any rank) who drew flying pay but that's quite a technical distinction which outsiders probably wouldn't know about.  He's a 2nd Lieutenant.  The current RAF ranks didn't come in till sometime after the war.   I suspect the compiler just meant that  he was with the RFC. 

 

I have had a trawl through www.casualtyforms.org looking for people with the first name "George" who have a surname the right sort of shape, but no names jumped out at me - and of course the "G" (if it is a G) may stand for Gordon, or Gilbert, or Guy, or whatever.  Likewise I tried a search using the endings I thought it might be, in the R, K and P surnames in www.airhistory.org.uk, but again without any obvious candidates.   That is such a huge resource he is bound to be there somewhere if we can just get a bit more of a clue....

 

Doctor's handwriting eh?  Can you show us some more examples of this guy's script please so we can try to narrow it down a bit?

 

Thanks for spending time on this Piers. I don't think his handwriting is untidy in fact it's very neat ( compared with mine) I had some Victorian letters which were Written in the same flowing script. I think  it's just that our modern eyes aren't used to reading words written on this style anymore. Anyway I've attached some pics of picture labels he's added that I'm 99% sure of.

Im happy with the G for his first name, I'm thinking his surname starts with a C or an L ( going by the way he has written Capt & Lt) but I'm probably wrong.

Labels read as;

1. Corporals ??????? + Sidney Bullen

2.  2 Lt Gordon Phillips Bucks Yeomanry

3. Staff Sgt G A Withey ( the albums original owner)

4. Driver G Phillips

5. Dereham air raid

6. 25 Gen HP Officers

7. Capt G A Withey Weisdorf

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear All,

I have a portrait of a RFC 2Lt without any Insignia on his uniform, who was under training to become a Pilot at the time (later KiA).

Therefore, this particular Croix de Guerre recipient could well have been under Training - or could even have been an Observer, who had not yet qualified for the half-wing Badge.

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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2ndCMR

"Flight Officer G. Gibson"

"Corporals F. ------ +
Sidney Bullen," [the crossing of the "d" is an error or was the previous "+" perhaps]

& "2nd Lt. Gordon Phillips, Bucks Yeomanry" [Interesting cap badge of chalk horse]

Staff Sgt. G. A. Withey(?)

Wilfred(?) G Phillips 1914

Durham(?) air raid 1915 http://www.durhamatwar.org.uk/story/11259/

25 Gen HP [Hospital?] Officers  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A03237/

Capt. G. A Witney [?] Welsdorf 1919 https://www.wipolo.com/en/destination/1365636/welsdorf.html

 

Staff Sgt. Withey/Witney has presumably become Capt. Withey/Witney by 1919.

 

In graphological terms eminently suited for a career in medicine. :lol:

Edited by 2ndCMR

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pierssc
9 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

"Flight Officer G. Gibson"

 

 

I think you've got the G of the surname - I can see the similarity with the first initial letter now.  Also the n at the end - he seems to often end his lower-case ns with an upward florish.  I can't see many officers called Gibson with the initial G during the period of the RFC.  There was one commissioned in September 1918 (too late) and another one whose only mention in airhistory was in 1924. 

 

There is a Griffiths Ifor (or Ifor Griffiths) Gibson (his Casualty form refers to him as I.G.) born 1895, 11th Bn West Yorks, accepted as Observer on probation March 1917; to Home Establishment 2 April 1917, then to France June 1917, attached to 16 Squadron 11 June, to 1AD 2 July, 6 Squadron 12 July, wounded 10th August, died of wounds 11th August.

 

TSTB II records that 6 Squadron RE8 A4293 was on Artillery Patrol was shot up and damaged but landed at its aerodrome.  The piot, Lt AC Pickett, was OK but the observer, 2 Lt I.G. Gibson, died of wounds on 11/8.  I think 6 Squadron was based at Abeele (Abele) at this time.  The aerodrome was 4 or 5 miles to the SW of Poperinghe.

 

So we have a 2nd Lt, observer (with no reference to his qualifying for his wing), wounded and died in August 1917.

 

Previously at Gallipoli in the infantry, wounded in the chest there.   There is a photo of him at https://colstonscommemoration.wordpress.com/research/a-h/gibson-ifor-griffiths/

 

Is he the same chap?

 

More info at http://www.lijssenthoek.be/en/address/3236/-griffiths-ifor-gibson.html

 

Ancestry has some more info - worth a look as it includes biog info from de Ruvigny.

 

Originally Pvt 2225 5th Welsh Regt, discharged to Commission in the West Yorks regiment.

 

Appears to have died No 3 Canadian Clearing Station 11/08/1917

 

No reference to Croix de Guerre.  But for that I'd think you had a stong contender.

 

It's tempting.... can we find the CdG?

 

Also not sure of link to the compiler of the photos, as Gibson died nowhere near Hardelot... had he previously been at Gallipoli too?

 

 

 

 

Edited by pierssc

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pierssc
9 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

Capt. G. A Witney [Putney?] Welsdorf 1919 https://www.wipolo.com/en/destination/1365636/welsdorf.html

 

 25 Gen Hospital was at WIESDORF March 1919 according to LLT - see

https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/british-base-hospitals-in-france/

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2ndCMR
15 minutes ago, pierssc said:

 

I think you've got the G of the surname - I can see the similarity with the first initial letter now.  Also the n at the end - he seems to often end his lower-case ns with an upward florish.  I can't see many officers called Gibson with the initial G during the period of the RFC.  There was one commissioned in September 1918 (too late) and another one whose only mention in airhistory was in 1924. 

 

......

 

 

Could also be "Gilson" I think.

 

Edited by 2ndCMR

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pierssc

I thought about Gilson, but there are none with a G first name in airhistory. Not conclusive, but it is pretty comprehensive.

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2ndCMR
11 minutes ago, pierssc said:

I thought about Gilson, but there are none with a G first name in airhistory. Not conclusive, but it is pretty comprehensive.

 

Perhaps "Gilow"  as well.

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pierssc

Maybe, but as I said I think the upward ending "n" is telling - I think your spotting was inspired.   IG Gibson looks a pretty hot contender.  It seems (having dug a bit more) that he was commissioned in January 1916; joined the RFC in June 1916, then spent some time in the local recruiting office in his home town until accepted as an observer - round about the time of the heavy casualties in April 1917.  So that would explain why he might be photographed in RFC uniform without any wings but with a medal ribbon...

 

His previous service at Gallipoli might have got him his Croix de Guerre - but I confess I don't know whether this was just for officers, or other ranks as well.  I don't know how to find that list of awardees.  There's nothing about it on his MIC.

 

Alternatively if we could find a link with the MO who compiled the album.... perhaps he was an old school friend, or also at Gallipoli?

 

 

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2ndCMR

Looking further "Driver" does seem much more likely than "Wilfred"

 

The two Phillips surnames might suggest they were related. 

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rob1713

Thanks for all your help with this. I think it could well be the same chap but like you say, a reference to the Croix de Guerre would prove or disprove it. I'm not sure if a list of awards to British personnel exists.

To give you further background on the source. The album was compiled by George Arthur Rayment Withey who originally served with the 2nd London Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance from 1909,  reaching the rank of Staff Sgt in 1916 when he was commissioned into the RAMC. It doesn't actually say what his actual role was but I believe he was in the transport company whilst he was an 'other rank' as many of the pics of him pre war show him either on a horse or in the transport lines, though he does wear an RAMC cap badge.His commissioned role was as a quartermaster at the 25th General Hospital in Hardelot then in Wiesdorf post war. Im confident he wasn't at Galipoli as there are cards bemoaning the fact that the 2 LMBFA had not been mobilised abroad even in late 1915.

The album contains over 300 pictures taken between 1909 - 1920 and has many named individuals. ( some indecipherable). I plan to post more pictures from the album over the next few weeks on a separate thread.

Thanks again for your help.

Rob

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pierssc

Thanks for the background on Withey.  His MIC says he first went to a theatre of war in France May 1916 which rules out Gallipoli.  Thanks also to JP for putting the photos side by side.

 

Amazing the difference a moustache makes!

 

From a technical point of view, I would say that the photo of Gibson on the right might have been taken from an angle (his right front) which would minimise his squint (if he had a squint).  Parting on the same side - face maybe a bit longer and thinner - but if he had just come out of hospital/Gallipoli there might be some strain which might have gone after some time at home.  I think possibly baggy eyes on both.  Photo on left from album is taken from left front and a lower angle and therefore maybe emphasises squint - subject also a bit fuller about the face.   No medal ribbon on RH picture - which isn't conclusive of anything, but it would have been nice if there was one.  Possibly the guy on the right has more sticky-out ears.  Both may have slight downturned eyebrow on their LHS?  Not convinced yet unfortunately, though I'd like to be!.

 

Withey seems to have no connection with Pontypridd either (or Gibson with Stoke Newington) so there's no obvious reason why IG Gibson should be in the album.

 

 

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McCudden

In my opinion, I think the caption reads ‘High office’ (a sort of joke, possibly picture taken after promotion) ‘G Gilow’

 

Alec

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rob1713
On 8 November 2019 at 21:34, pierssc said:

Thanks for the background on Withey.  His MIC says he first went to a theatre of war in France May 1916 which rules out Gallipoli.  Thanks also to JP for putting the photos side by side.

 

Amazing the difference a moustache makes!

 

From a technical point of view, I would say that the photo of Gibson on the right might have been taken from an angle (his right front) which would minimise his squint (if he had a squint).  Parting on the same side - face maybe a bit longer and thinner - but if he had just come out of hospital/Gallipoli there might be some strain which might have gone after some time at home.  I think possibly baggy eyes on both.  Photo on left from album is taken from left front and a lower angle and therefore maybe emphasises squint - subject also a bit fuller about the face.   No medal ribbon on RH picture - which isn't conclusive of anything, but it would have been nice if there was one.  Possibly the guy on the right has more sticky-out ears.  Both may have slight downturned eyebrow on their LHS?  Not convinced yet unfortunately, though I'd like to be!.

 

Withey seems to have no connection with Pontypridd either (or Gibson with Stoke Newington) so there's no obvious reason why IG Gibson should be in the album.

 

 

As I stated in an earlier post,  the chap who compiled the album is named Withey. For weeks I thought his name read WINTERS Well a mate of mine looked at it and said 'it looks like WITHEY to me'. lo and behold!!

Well, this same chap looked at this and said try  PENFOLD. I must admit, I can see that as a possibility and he does seem to have an eye for this type of writing.

Piers, would you be kind enough to have a look in the resources you mentioned earlier  and see if there is a G PENFOLD who may fit the bill.

Thanks

Rob

 

 

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