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jimmyjames

Flt Sub Lt Herbert Joseph PAGE

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jimmyjames

Joseph Page, brother of Sir Frederick Handley Page, is commemorated on the Cheltenham Borough War Memorial. He was lost at sea (I would be grateful for details) on 15th February 1916 on patrol from Yarmouth.

He emigrated to Canada in 1910 and enlisted into the Canadian Air Service at the outbreak of war. Can anyone provide details of his career from enlistment to his attachment to RNAS Yarmouth?

With many thanks

Jimmy

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Dolphin

Flight Sub Lieutenant H J Page was lost with his pilot, FSL B R Lee in Short 827 8220, an aircraft built by Parnall & Sons of Bristol. In 'Airmen Died" they are shown as being killed while flying, ie in an accident. The following is in C F Snowdon Gamble's 1928 classic "The Story of a North Sea Air Station": 'On the 16th FSLs J Page and B R Lee went out on patrol [from Great Yarmouth] in a Short seaplane and never returned. For several days afterwards the sea was searched by aircraft and by HM ships, but these two officers and their machine were never seen again. Presumably they had experienced engine trouble and were forced to alight, and thereafter were drowned, for a heavy gale had sprung up during the night.'

Two photographs of Short 827s are below. The aircraft depicted (from Brad King's "Royal Naval Air Service") were operating in Zanzibar. The handling party in the upper photograph have adapted their attire to cope with the heat of tropical service.

post-25-1076414164.jpg

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jimmyjames

Thanks Dolphin.

Were the Short 827s a patrol or attack (carry guns or bombs) aircraft?

Interesting to note that Snowdon Gamble and the CWGC differ on the date of death of Page and Lee.

Regards

Jimmy

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Dolphin

Jimmy

The Short 827 (107 of the type were built) was primarily used for maritime patrol work, ie looking to see what was out there, with a focus on submarine activity. I have a number of books that say that 827s could carry bombs under the fuselage, but they're all imprecise about how many or the total weight. A Great Yarmouth 827 bombed German ships on 25 April 1916 after a bombardment of Lowestoft. For defence, some 827s were fitted with a .303 Lewis gun for use by the observer.

I checked Snowden Gamble again, and he definitely has 16 February as the date of FSL Page's disappearance. Perhaps the aircraft departed on 15 February, but was not officially missing, or considered lost until the day after. On the other hand, it could be a small error in the book.

Cheers

Dolphin

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jimmyjames

Dolphin

Once again, many thanks.

Looking again at the photos of the aircraft, how on earth did the pilot and observer manage to look directly forward - looks like some sort of box on top of the engine.

Regards

Jimmy

PS. An afterthought - when was the first successful sinking of a submarine by an aircraft?

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Dolphin

Jimmy

I think the short (no pun on the aircraft name intended) answer to your question is "With great difficulty". The radiator must have greatly obscured the forward view.

I happy to be corrected, but the best answer I can give to your second question is 18 August 1917, when the German UB32, commanded by Kapitänleutnant von Ditfirth, was sunk by bombs from Cherbourg-based Wight seaplane 9860 flown by FSL C S Mossop, with Air Mechanic A E Ingledew as observer. Mossop found the U-boat on the surface and was able to drop a 100lb bomb just ahead of the periscope before the submarine could dive.

Two photographs of Wight seaplanes are below.

Cheers

Dolphin

post-25-1076538015.jpg

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jhill
He emigrated to Canada in 1910 and enlisted into the Canadian Air Service at the outbreak of war. Can anyone provide details of his career from enlistment to his attachment to RNAS Yarmouth?

Hmmm! This is interesting.

So far as I know there was no such thing as the Canadian Air Service before the war. The closest thing was an extemporized “Canadian Aviation Corps” hacked together as part of the first Canadian contingent in August of 1914. It eventually had three members, E.L. Janney, W.F.N. Sharpe, and H.A. Farr. The “Corps” disappeared after arriving in England and its members went on to other things. There was no other government air agency, military or civil until 1918.

More likely, Mr. Page signed on with the RNAS in Canada directly. The Canadian government assisted both the RNAS and RFC in recruiting Canadians, but usually, they were never legally members of the Canadian service. Unless he travelled to England on his own to enlist in England, there are two ways he could have got there. If he already knew how to fly; that is, he possessed a Fédération aeronautique internalionale (FAI) certificate, he may have been documented and sent directly to England. This programme was set up in February, 1915, but fewer than thirty men were sent that year (from both services combined).

A new programme was set up in April to recruit those who did not already have have pilot's licences. Candidates were accepted on condition that they obtain pilot's certificates. The Admiralty had encouraged a private flying school, associated with the Curtis company, to set up in Toronto to train their candidates. The candidates paid for their own training, and if successful, were sent on to Britain for service training. By the end of July, 1915, eleven had graduated, including eight for the RNAS. The system was hopelessly jammed up for several reasons, and when the school closed for the winter in November, there were still 100 RFC and 150 RNAS candidates awaiting training. Most of these were eventually sent over to England to be trained in service schools, but it would seem that Mr. Page would more likely have already been in England by then.

By January 1916, there were some 120 Canadians in the Royal Naval Air Service, either engaged or en route from Canada.

I cannot find H.J. Page's name in any of my (admittedly meager) references. His name does appear on the Parliament Books of Remembrance, in the addendum to 1916. This may indicate that it took some time after the war before it was noticed that he was (by adoption) a Canadian. This happened sometimes to British born fellows who served with the Imperial Services.

I'm sorry this is the best I can do.

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Dolphin

Jimmy

I knew someone would correct what I had written about the first submarine lost to aircraft action, but I didn't expect it to be me.

The French submarine 'Foucault' was sunk by Austro-Hungarian aircraft in the Adriatic on 15 September 1916.

Cheers

Dolphin

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jimmyjames

Dolphin

Many thanks, yet again, for the info. I must admit that I felt a slight disappointment to learn that it was'nt a Commonwealth "first"!!!

jhill

Thanks for your posting - fascinating stuff. I'm off to check my sources but what I have from newspapers and the like is that he emigrated to Canada in 1910 and was in turn an architect, carpenter and navigator before settling down to farm chickens on an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland. He enlisted into the "Canadian Air Service" at the outbreak of war and posted to England and attached to the RNAS. He wife and child joined him in England soon afterwards.

Sketchy stuff which I think will be very worthwhile trying to flesh out.

Regards

Jimmy

PS. By the way, I have a note that the aircraft in which he was lost was named "New York Britons No 1". Was it fashionable (and allowed) to name aircraft in the war?

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Dolphin

Jimmy

It was common practice for aircraft to be presented to the RFC, RNAS, RAF and AFC by organisations who had raised funds, including wealthy individuals (I think the Nizam of Hyderabad presented a whole squadron of DH9As), towns, Regiments, commercial entities, etc. The identity of the presenter(s) was usually painted on the fuselage.

Britons living overseas presented a number of aircraft as part of their contribution to the struggle.

Dolphin

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