Archive for the ‘WWI Memories’ Category

Major Hawker Memorial at Ligny-Thilloy – Upkeep

09 January, 2015


Hawker Memorial Overview

Hawker Memorial Overview


Hawker Memorial Close Up

Hawker Memorial Close Up

Here is a resume and update of some of the background work that has been taking place thanks to the efforts of our Chairman/President and the local people over in France.

Following the visit to Ligny-Thilloy for the ceremony on 11 November 2014,  a fair amount of pointing had fallen out of the brickwork on the Hawker Memorial and that some of the lettering had already become indistinct. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) were contacted to ask if they could send an expert to have a look at the memorial and advise what repairs, if any, were needed.

We received a holding reply, saying that someone from CWGC would inspect the memorial in due course. Meanwhile, they politely reminded us that, since the memorial had been privately erected and was not under the care and maintenance of CWGC, there would be a charge for any repairs which they carried out.

You will be pleased to know that they have given the memorial a clean bill of health. The CWGC expert had found the memorial to be in “near pristine” condition and that this was entirely due to work organised by our good friend the Mayor, Dominique Deleplace.

During the reception on 11 November, some of the visitng party had informally expressed concern to Dominique about the state of the memorial … but had no idea he would take remedial action so swiftly. The repairs and cleaning must have been done quite soon after the visit because everything had been completed by the time the CWGC inspector arrived only a fortnight later. Anyway, we are indebted to the Mayor for taking this initiative, which has saved the Association and Squadron a tidy sum.

We now have further corroboration, if any was needed, that the village attaches great importance to the Hawker Memorial.

Red Baron’s WWI German Fokker triplane rebuilt by flying enthusiast

14 November, 2014

A post that is a little bit topical at the moment, especially with a contingent of the Association over in France for the 11/11/11 commemoration.

Aviation enthusiast Paul Ford has built himself an exact replica of the Red Baron’s Fokker triplane. He spent endless hours, and £180,000 on the aircraft – and it’s now available for passengers to take part in mock dog-fights. The original Fokker Dr1 Dreidecker, a German World War One fighter plane, was made famous by Manfred Von Richtofen, ‘The Red Baron’. He downed at least 70 allied pilots until his death in 1918.


Hawker Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony – 11/11/14

16 October, 2014
Aerial Combat

Aerial Combat

Hawker Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony

Currently there are some 12 or so XXIV Sqn Association members, and one serving 24 Sqn Member, planning to participate in our annual visit to the Village of Ligny-Thilloy to pay our respects to Major Lanoe Hawker VC – the first OC 24 Sqn – and French victims of The Great War.

We will meet for a dinner in Arras during the evening of Monday 10 November.  We will then assemble by the War Memorial in the village for the Ceremony, which will commence at 1100 on Tuesday 11 November.  After the Ceremony, there will be convivial Celebrations with the Mayor and a lunch at a hotel in the town of Bapaume.

If  you would like to attend – or would like more information before making a decision, would you please contact me on the e-mail or telephone shown below.

Yours sincerely

Chas Whitaker, XXIV Sqn Association, Hawker Memorial Liaison Officer

E-Mail :
Mobile:  0044 (0) 7810 505059

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.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 75 other followers