Hawker VC – fascinating information from New Zealand

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre NZ

When  Association member Chris Carrington was in NZ about three months ago, he visited the Aviation Heritage Centre in Blenheim (South Island) which has been set up and funded with no expense spared by Peter Jackson, the film mogul famed for his ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy and ‘The Hobbit’.

The focus is on WW1 aviation. Displays include many original and replica aircraft of the period. Most are maintained in flying condition.

Of particular interest to us in XXIV Association, as we prepare for OP LIMA TANGO 2016, is the fact that, alongside these wonderful machines are displayed collections of RFC & Luftwaffe memorabilia, including original material relating to XXIV, Hawker himself and Manfred von Richthofen. Chris reports that among the most interesting items he found were an Op Order signed by Hawker ( Zoom your Browser window to enlarge image)

At the bottom, you’ll see that the Orders were signed “In the Field” by Hawker himself on 19 July 1916. Of special note are the hand-written annotations in the left margin. The word ‘Self’ occurs frequently (!!) confirming that Hawker liked to lead by example by flying as much as possible, even if it meant disregarding instructions from Field HQ that commanding officers of fighter squadrons were not to fly on combat sorties.

Hawker - Op Order

No. 24 Squadron R.F.C. OPERATION ORDERS for JULY 20th 1916

and also a display of Richthofen’s post-combat trophies, including a silver cup commemorating his victory over Hawker on 23 Nov 1916.

That date is rather crudely engraved on the cup, a photo of which is also shown below. It seems that Richthofen was not the most modest of men and had a cup specially made for each of his victories, thus keeping his silversmith busy for quite a long time! His victory over Hawkers was his 11th and the number 11 is engraved on the cup, together with the type of aircraft that Hawker was flying.

von Richthofen Silver Cup

von Richthofen Silver Cup

Any other contributions and comments are most welcome to our growing on-line history of XXIV.

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