Archive for the ‘WWI Memories’ Category

Captain Alfred Edwin McKay, 24 Squadron RFC

09 July, 2014
We have had an email from Graham Broad who is an historian in Ontario, Canada. He is doing research on a local athlete and student from his university, Alfred Edwin “Eddie” McKay, who served with 24 Squadron from about June ’16 to March ’17, then at the Central Training School, then with 23 Squadron as a Captain. He was KIA 28 Dec 1917.  McKay and his fellow Canadian squadron mate, Arthur Knight, were the 24 Squadron pilots involved in Oswald Boelcke’s last fight.
Graham has been poking around our WordPress blog and a couple of things caught his attention. One is a recent blog post that noted that a gentleman had come across a photo album with WW1 era 24 Squadron photos.
One of these photos on the website is thought to be Lanoe Hawker in a front row. We are trying to fix up Graham with a high resolution version of this photo. If it was taken in the summer/autumn 1916 (clothing would seem to indicate yes) his guy may be in it. 
Secondly, here is an update about his research. his research on McKay is going well, but he lacks two things: one, good photos of him while he’s with 24 and much in the way of personal recollections of the other pilots. Not much at the RAF Museum / National Archives has been found so far, so he is hoping someone in the 24 Squadron community might know of photo albums, personal papers of other squadron personal who might have served with McKay, etc., that they could point help with.. 
Post a comment if you are able to help.

Old Curiosity Shop – WWI photos

20 May, 2014
WWI 24 Sqn Stage

WWI 24 Sqn Stage


WWI 24 Group

WWI 24 Group

We do generate a steady trickle of interest from our Web Site and BLog and here is the contents of an interesting email from a Mr John Healy.

Some time ago he purchased an old photo album in a second hand book shop in Winchester, Hants embossed with the initials W.E.J. (He was always a Biggles fan from childhood). The album it turns out, contained several photos of SE’s and one of a theatre stage emblazoned with a crest of 24 Squadron RFC. There are also photos of personnel in costume and normal attire.

Here are a couple of extracts from the album to add to our on-line historical archive that keeps on growing.


On this Day – 23 Nov 1916

23 November, 2013

We have just been reminded via a Tweet from the RAF Museum that Maj L.G. Hawker VC, DSO was killed in a dogfight with Baron Manfred von Richtofen (the ‘Red Baron’).



20 September, 2013
Hawker Memorial

Hawker Memorial in Ligny-Thilloy









Yes, it’s going to happen again, albeit in a bit more of an informal format.

The broad plan of action is:-

Depart on the 10th of November, some are going on Eurostar but the method of travel is optional. The aim is to arrive at ARRAS in time for the evening meal, the preferred hotel is IBIS Centre Les Places.

Rendezvous with the local dignitaries at the French War memorial in town in time for the 11th hour on 11th day on  the 11th month.

Invite the Mayor for lunch, as previous years, with possible return to the Mayors home.

If you are interested, please contact Sam Wright [01249 890516]  who will answer any queries about the arrangements.

Here is the link to our BLog Post for last years event.

HAWKER VC – Biography Reprint

24 June, 2013
Hawker VC

Hawker VC

Some news in from F/L Phil Mobbs, the Hawker Memorial Champion -

Tyrrel Hawker’s biography of his brother is being re-published this summer, 31 August, by Pen & Sword.  (It’s been out of print since the 1960s & is quite pricey if you can find a copy.)
The introduction to the new version has been written by a former XXIV Sqn member with a keen interest in Hawker…………
Phil will & get a few copies for people to have a look in time for the Reunion on October 5th at Brize Norton this year..  Very reasonable at £15.99!!


19 November, 2012

If you were wondering how the Association return visit to Ligny-Thilloy turned out on the 11th of November, you need wonder no more. Chairman Keith Chapman has put together an excellent resume for the BLog, so read on:-

In line with arrangements expertly planned and coordinated by Wg Cdr Chas Whitaker, twelve Association Members and partners travelled to northern France last weekend to attend the annual Ceremony of Remembrance held in Ligny-Thilloy on Sunday 11 November. The weather was exactly the same as last year. That is to say, cold, dank and grey with mist and low stratus that would once again have thwarted any fly-past by a DH2 had one been planned.

The ceremony began promptly at 11.00 hrs when the Mayor (Monsieur Dominique Deleplace) called upon all present (villagers and British visitors alike) to assemble in front of the village war memorial. After a trumpeter had played the French equivalent of the Last Post, the Mayor read out the customary message from the President of France, followed by a roll-call of all those villagers who had died in the Two World Wars and other conflicts. The Mayor then paid tribute to the Allied Air Forces which had played such an important role in both World Wars, before calling upon our Deputy Chairman Sam Wright (smartly turned out in full Highland regalia) to play a haunting lament on the bagpipes, followed by a rendition of the French national anthem La Marseillaise. Villagers laid bouquets of flowers both on the village War Memorial and on the Hawker Memorial. Finally, our Chairman laid a poppy wreath on the Hawker Memorial. It was clear that the attendance of the XXIV Squadron Association contingent was much appreciated by our French hosts.

After the ceremony. everyone was invited to attend a convivial Vin d’Honneur hosted by the Mayor in the Village Hall, where Sam again impressed everyone with his prowess on the pipes! Later, the Association representatives entertained Monsieur and Madame Deleplace to an informal lunch in a small restaurant called “Le Gourmet” in nearby Bapaume, after which most people adjourned to the Mayor’s house for drinks, thus rounding off a truly memorable day. Both the Association contingent and the Mayor expressed the hope that such visits to Ligny-Thilloy for the annual Remembrance Ceremony on 11 November will become a regular event.


24 October, 2012

As those Members of No XXIV Sqn Association, who were at RAF Brize Norton on 6 October will know, plans are afoot to visit the village of Ligny-Thilloy, France on Remembrance Sunday. Our aim will be to pay our respects to the Fallen of The Great War and, in particular, to our first Squadron Commander, Major Lanoe G Hawker VC , DSO.

Last year, the events were fairly tightly co-ordinated, as so many of you were able to attend. This year I feel that participation will be, perhaps more appropriately, on a self-help basis….. !

Part One of this year’s “pilgrimage” will involve Association Members converging on the City of Arras, under their own steam, on Saturday 10 November. Many of you have already booked to stay at the Hotel Diamant or other suitable venues. Our President, Le Colonel Keith Chapman, has been instrumental in encouraging most of the attendees to bed down in the Hotel Diamant. But Keith is on holiday in the Continent of Africa, so you won’t be able to direct specific enquiries to him at this juncture !

Arrangements are in hand for us to enjoy a convivial Dinner at a Restaurant (to be advised) in Arras on Saturday evening. This will be booked by Le Colonel Dickie Bates, who is on holiday in Sicily at this time ! He would like me to obtain a “metaphoric show of hands” in his absence so that, on his return, he can ensure there are sufficient seats around sufficient tables.

It has proved a little difficult to formulate clear plans for the Association’s Participation at the Annual Remembrance Ceremony in Ligny-Thilloy at 1100 on11 November 2012. The Village itself has suffered a number of setbacks over the past months.

The first was when Monsieur Dominique Deleplace, the Maire of Ligny-Thilloy, who provided such huge support last year for the Memorial to Major Hawker, suffered a major heart attack in May.  Wisely or unwisely (!), he has decided to retain his appointment as Maire of Ligny Thilloy and he will again be overseeing the arrangements for this Year’s Memorial Ceremony.

Dominique is currently also on holiday at his home in the South of France ! He could reasonably have expected his responsibilities to have been overseen in his absence by his able assistant Madame Brigitte Le Grand.

Dominique said he would be very happy to meet the 20 to 30 Members of the XXIV Sqn Association (whom I forecast are likely to attend the Memorial Ceremony) in front of the Mairie at 1030 for 1100 on 11 Nov. Dominique has also confirmed that he is more than happy for Sam Wright, Deputy Chairman of the XXIV Sqn Association, to play his part, and the Last Post – in Full Scottish Piper Regalia (Dominique’s words) – during the Memorial Ceremony.

The Maire has also invited our party to join him for refreshments in the Village’s Hall after the Remembrance Ceremony. Last Year, more than 50% of attendees enjoyed an excellent lunch at The Hotel de la Paix in Bapaume, at which the Maire was our Guest of Honour.

Regrettably, bad news tends to come in threes and Dominique confirmed my worst suspicions yesterday. Apparently the Hotel de la Paix closed its doors in September – permanently – yet another victim of these difficult financial times. Last year, some of our party chose to have lunch at the Hotel Restaurant Le Gourmet, and I believe we could have lunch there this year but I would like to see a second show of hands – so to speak – to learn if members would like lunch to be made available at this Restaurant this year.

Further updates over the days between now and Friday 9 November will be on the XXIV Sqn Association Blog …….!

Best Regards Chas Chas Whitaker Mobile: 0044 (0) 7810 505059

If you plan on attending the Memorial Ceremony on 11 November, could you please complete the following and e-mail it to



Mobile Phone No…………………………………………………

Accompanied by………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Staying at Hotel …………………………………………………………………………..on Saturday 10 Nov

We would like to join XXIV Association Members for Dinner in Arras on Sat 10 Nov………..…YES/NO. (Time and Place to be advised)

We would like to join XXIV Association Members for Lunch on Sun 11 Nov…………………….…YES/NO. (Time and Place to be advised.

WW1 Casualty – 2 Lt E A C Archer Feb 1916

04 January, 2012

We have had an email query from Tony Keane from Dublin, Ireland and so posting the details to see if a bit of publicity will help.

“A great Uncle of my wife was killed in World War 1. He flew with the 24th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. I have got some information from the internet as you can see below but I was wondering if you or anyone could help me get a little bit more about him such as where he took off from on the day that he was killed.

According to the tables in the 24 Sqn History by Illingworth and Robeson, he was killed whilst flying and was the first casualty the squadron suffered. He goes on to say that.

” Only two machines failed to cross the English Channel on February 7 (1916), and the following day the Squadron was unfortunate enough to suffer its first casualty – Lt. Archer , then in charge of “C” flight, failing to pull his machine out of a spin and crashing into the ground. Thus a career full of promise to the RFC terminated on its threshold.” >

From the serial listing for a forthcoming CCI monograph on the DH2: 5922 24 Sqn C Flt dd 4.1.16, to BEF with unit and wrecked in landing crash from spin from 70’ at St Omer 9.2.16 (2Lt E.A.C. Archer KIFA).

Hawker Memorial Event – Photos

15 December, 2011

Our thanks to Peter Hoare, who as well as sending in a very interesting background article, see the post entitled Major Lanoe Hawker Connections ,  has also sent in a concise series of photos of the days events.


Luftwaffe and 24 Sqn Standard Bearers take part in the village remembrance ceremony held in the morning


At the ruins of Luisenhof Farm, near where Major Hawker was buried.


24 Sqn and Luftwaffe aircrew in a spirit of reconciliation


Spectators assemble in front of the Mairie before the ceremony


The memorial to Major Lanoe Hawker with wreaths laid during the unveiling ceremony

Major Lanoe Hawker Connections

20 November, 2011

The following post is from Pete Hoare. He was not only in Ligny-Thilloy for the ceremony but also in Belgium the previous day to visit the graves or inscriptions of family members who had been killed near Ypres during WW1. During that quick visit to the Ypres battlefield, Pete managed to pinpoint the site of the airfield at Poperinge (about 10 miles west of Ypres) from which Hawker had flown with No. 6 Squadron before taking command of the newly-formed XXIV Squadron. Pete has written a most interesting and informative report about Poperinge airfield etc which is shown below.


In 1979 the Squadron was asked by the RAF museum to organise a First Day Cover in tribute to Major Lanoe Hawker, one of a series celebrating WW1 flying aces. I was pleased to take on this task as a secondary duty. Many months of preparation included a visit to Hawker’s birthplace, Longparish in Hampshire, where I had the pleasure of meeting Lanoe’s brother, Lt Col Tyrrell Hawker MC, the author of ‘Hawker VC’. I also visited the village church where there is a stained-glass window depicting Hawker at Bertangles airfield, where 24 Squadron was based in 1916.

For added significance the First Day Cover was connected to a commemorative flight to mark the 25th Anniversary of the first flight of the C-130. This was added to the end of a normal task, so on the appointed day we flew Lyneham – Bergen – Bardufoss – and then to Cambrai. Relations with the French services then were not as cordial as they are now, nevertheless we were provided with a coach by the FAF. The main task in the short time we had in a long day was to pick up a number of envelopes, the ‘specials’, from the main post office in Amiens where they had been left that morning by my wife Chris for hand-franking. This passed off smoothly and left us time to drive north of Amiens to attempt to locate Bertangles airfield. No evidence remained of its one-time significance, but by using the description in ‘Hawker VC’ and the skyline from the stained glass window in Longparish Church it was possible to be sure that we were standing on the same turf as our gallant predecessors. On the way back to Cambrai were able in the short time remaining to pass close to the site of Hawker’s final dogfight with the Red Baron. The short hop to Lyneham concluded a long but memorable day.


When I heard about the Hawker Memorial and the ceremony at Ligny-Thilloy I was understandably keen to be present. Chris and I travelled to Belgium the day before the quite remarkable event at Ligny to visit places where our own family members were remembered. We stayed in Poperinge. Although only 12k west of Ypres and subject to frequent shellfire, ‘Pop’ as it was known in WW1, remained west of the front line; indeed, it served as the railhead for the Ypres salient and a welcome ‘R & R’ destination for weary troops.

I was aware from my previous research that 6 Sqn, in which Lanoe was serving in 1915, was based at Poperinge during the second battle of Ypres. With some time to spare I set out to try to locate this airfield from which he had set out on the missions which would lead to the award of the DSO and VC. Our enquiries led to Talbot House in Poperinge. This all-ranks club, was known (in signallers’ shorthand) as Toc H in WWI. The widespread movement providing moral support originated from this building which is still open as a hostel and run by volunteers. My enquiry about a local airfield was met with blank looks until I met by chance a gentleman who had written a number of books about the First War. He suggested I should try at the Chateau de Lovie, about 3k NW of Poperinge, on the road to Krombeke. The grounds of the chateau now house a large institution for mentally handicapped people of all ages. However a very helpful PR manager, after a few hours research, was able to show me photos of the chateau when it served as GHQ for the Ypres campaign both for French and later British General Staff. Indeed it was the HQ of General Gough during the battle of Paschendaele. She then produced aerial photos of the chateau taken shortly after the end of WW1 which showed Poperinge airfield close by with aircraft on the ground.

We were then able to locate the site on the ground. As we studied the photos to be certain a lady came out of a nearby house. She had no knowledge of an airfield but asked her elderly father who with a sweep of the arm indicated the totally flat and treeless area where it had once been. As expected no signs remained of its significant role in history. My research was hurried and certainly not original but nevertheless I felt privileged to be the first 24 Sqn representative, probably for some decades, to be at the site where Hawker was based when he made his name as the first fighter ace.


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