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MikeW

Ivor Novello - aka David Ivor Davies

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MikeW

After struggling through numerous biographies of Ivor Novello, I have come up with the following:

Joined RNAS in 1916.

He had two two bad crashes, one of them allegedly in a DH6 at Chingford.

Transferred to Air Ministry as a clerical worker (presumably after 1st April 1918).

Was given 3 months leave of absence by Winston Churchill to go on a goodwill mission to Sweden. Was there when the armistice was signed.

For some unknown reason these biographies just blah on about his film and stage career and leave out the interesting stuff.

Can anyone help with fleshing his RNAS life out? Where was he trained (apart from Chingford), details of the crashes, did he serve in France, etc. etc.

Mike

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Frank_East

Mike,

Wing Commander Tom Browne of No 216 Squadron RAF, ex No 16 Squadron RNAS mentions in his "The skyline is promise" that Ivor Novello was at RNAS Chingford as a "RNVR two striper" in late 1917. Novello was not on the permanent staff but was attracted to the place for its location to the West End theatre land.

Stage personalities such as Lawrence Irving and Ben Travers who were on the staff also got involved in camp entertainment.Browne records a Christmas 1917 production entitled "Chingford a la Chu Chin Chow" with Novello playing the part "Second Do";Travers playing the part "The Wazir O-Ben-Avro" and Irving playing the part "The Peti-O-Phizier".

In 1916 the same trio put on a production entitled "The Chingford Revue of 1916".

The book does not indicate Novello's path but normally RNAS entrants did 6 weeks induction training at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich before being allocated to the various initial flying training schools.Some RNAS entrants had transferred from the Merchant Navy or some branch of the armed services after active service.Novello may have been one of these people who did join from previous service and later "ceased training "but was attached to Chingford in some other capacity. He is not mentioned as being posted to Cranwell for flying school, to Eastchurch for bombing and gunnery instruction,to Stonehenge for night flying and finally Ochey in France for operational duties with No 216 Squadron.This covered Browne's career timespan from September 1917, as an entrant to the end of June 1918 when he was fully trained and able to join a squadron as a pilot. For Novello to serve operationally as a pilot,he would have had to progress through about 9 months training such as detailed by Browne's training programme.

If Novello became a clerical officer in the new RAF in April 1918 it may be on account that he had to remuster in a another trade after not passing out as a pilot. for whatever reason.

Hope this helps.

Regards

Frank East

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Kate Wills

I had understood that, having destroyed two expensive machines in training, Novello was felt to be more proficient flying a desk, and transferred to the Admiralty. He was quite content with this, as it allowed him to keep touch with his theatrical friends, and be with his domineering 'Mam'.

In the spring of 1915 he toured the base camps (no pun intended) and hospitals as a performer with 'Concerts at the Front'. 'Home Fires' generally stole each show.

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Myrtle

In 1916 Ivor Novello applied for a commission in the Royal Naval Air Service. He became a sub-lieutenant and was sent to HMS Crystal Palace, officially HMS Victory VI, for his training. From Sydenham he went to Chingford to complete his course and learn to fly. It is said that he had difficulty with his white scarf knot and that Lt. Commander Nichol-Mirriam sometimes instructed him in flying. When attending lectures Ivor was often seen taking notes when in fact he was working on a score.

When he went up for his first solo flight it became apparent that he didn't know how to land . He is said to have made a pancake landing destroying the wheels and undercarriage. He was unhurt. His second flight also resulted in a crash from which he emerged stunned and with a damaged ankle. Following these two crashes Ivan Novello was not allowed to do any more flying. He was transferred to the Air Ministry to carry out clerical work.

Myrtle

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MikeW

Thanks everyone,

I had surmised that he had started to follow the Crystal Palace/Chingford or Eastchurch/Cranwell/Freiston route which was the norm for new would-be pilots inducted in 1916.

I hadn't realised that his flying career stopped so quickly though!

Mike

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Sue Light

I'm a bit behind the times but have just come across this thread. This photo is from a friend's extensive collection of RNAS photographs - has been posted elsewhere, so may have been seen by some people. Ivor Novello is on the right.

Sue

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MikeW

Sue,

thanks for posting the photograph, I hadn't seen this one before.

My researches unearthed quite a bit of information relating to his Wartime career including the full and unexpurgated service record. All of the published material, is to some extent wrong, probably more by omission than incorrect statements.

I also found that one of the "appreciation societies" commissioned the Fleet Air Arm Museum to put together a file of his time in the RNAS. Apparently the society didn't like the result and buried it!

Mike

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MikeW

Sue,

sorry, meant to put in the other post, do you know the names of the other officers?

Mike

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Sue Light

Mike

This photo is one that was just a snap taken by [or rather with the camera of] the tall man third from the left, whose name was Leslie Kahn-Rein. He was my friend's stepfather, and much older than her mother. I have his complete album, and although quite a few of the photos are water damaged, and very fragile, I have scanned a few, and are posted here:

Royal Naval Air Service

The captions are Leslie Kahn Rein's originals. I contacted the Fleet Air Arm Museum about the album over a year ago now, but have not had any reply, other than an acknowledgement. I would be interested to know anything else about the photos or the people in them.

Regards - Sue

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Sue Light

Myrtle has kindly pointed out to me that my brain is at least twice as old as my body - the photo is of Noel Coward and not Ivor Novello. Now somewhere I think that I have one of Ivor Novello as well!

Off to eat humble pie!

Sue

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