Tag Archives: Royal Flying Corps

CWG: Captain William Rowell

Captain William Rowell

William Cecil Rowell was born on 29th November 1892 in Wolborough, Newton Abbot, Devon. He was the youngest of three children to architectural surveyor Spencer Rowell and his wife, Annie.

The 1911 census recorded that William had left the family home to study to be a civil servant, and was boarding with a family in Fulham, London. His studies complete, he was driven by a need to serve his country and, on 22nd January 1913, aged just 20 years old, he enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Full details of his service are not available, but it is clear that he was committed to his purpose. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant soon after enlisting, rose to full Lieutenant in November 1914, and Captain a year later. It’s not possible to pinpoint where he served, he was wounded twice and, after his second recovery, he made a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps (later moving to the new Royal Air Force when it was founded in 1918).

Captain Rowell was based at Bekesbourne Airfield in Kent. He qualified as a pilot with 50 Squadron in October 1918, but was injured when, on the 12th November, his Sopwith Camel collided with the hanger. William was admitted to the Military Hospital in nearby Canterbury, but the injuries to his leg proved too severe for it to be saved, and he underwent an amputation in January 1919.

Tragically, while the initial prognosis was good, within a few weeks sepsis set in; Captain Rowell passed away on 22nd May 1919, aged just 26 years old.

William Cecil Rowell’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. He was laid to rest in the family plot in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Wolborough.

CWG: Lieutenant Frederick Liardet

Lieutenant Frederick Liardet

Frederick Charles Evelyn Liardet was born in Brighton, now a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, in 1888, and the eldest son of Wilbraham and Eleanor Liardet.

There is little further information about Frederick’s early life, but, when war broke out, he wanted to play his part for King and Country, and enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment.

He had an adventurous career… Having been twice wounded while on active service in France, he was appointed an instructor in the Balloon Section of the Royal Flying Corps.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette: Tuesday 18th December 1917

On 23rd October 1915, Frederick married Kathleen Norah Liardet in Highweek, Newton Abbot, Devon. She was the daughter of a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and may have been a cousin (while their surname is unusual enough for there to be a connection, I have been unable to identify a specific connection). The couple went on to have a daughter, Barbara, who was born in 1917.

In 1916, while on a night flight with the Royal Flying Corps, the now Lieutenant Liardet was involved in an accident and badly injured. He returned to England to recover, he and Kathleen living with her family. While his health initially improved, he relapsed and passed away on 13th December 1917, aged just 29 years old.

Frederick Charles Evelyn Liardet was laid to rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in his adopted home of Highweek, Devon.

CWG Air Mechanic Walter Naish

Air Mechanic Walter Naish

Walter Matthias Naish was born in the autumn of 1896, and was one of of five children to agricultural labourer Matthias Naish and his wife, Sarah Ann. Born in Lovington, near Castle Cary, Somerset, this is where the family is recorded as living for the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

When he left school, Walter found work as a cabinet maker; war was on the horizon, however, and he enlisted on 28th February 1916. He was immediately put on reserve, however, and was only mobilised in January 1917, when he was assigned to the Royal Flying Corps as an Air Mechanic.

Tragically, Walter’s military career was not to be a long one. He was admitted to the Connaught Hospital in Aldershot with conditions unknown, and passed away on 3rd March 1917, just 51 days after leaving home. He was just 20 years old.

Walter Matthias Naish’s body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He lies at rest in the Castle Cary Cemetery, not far from his home.

CWG: Captain John Jackson-Barstow

Captain John Jackson-Barstow

John Eric Jackson-Barstow was born on 10th August 1895, and was one of seven children – and the only boy – to John and Mary Jackson-Barstow. John Sr was a Justice of the Peace from Yorkshire, who had moved his family to Somerset in the early 1890s; this is where John Jr and his sisters were born.

When war broke out, John Jr enlisted as a Trooper in the North Somerset Yeomanry and, by the autumn of 1914, he was moved to France.

On the outskirts of Ypres, his regiment were involved in a prolonged attack by German forces and Trooper Jackson-Barstow was injured. Medically evacuated to England, he received a commission and was given the role of aide-de-camp to a general based on the East Coast.

In 1917, Captain Jackson-Barstow transferred to the Royal Flying Corps – later moving to the newly-formed Royal Air Force. Over the following months, he regularly flew sorties across France and did extensive piloting in English skies.

Captain Jackson-Barstow continued in his role when the Armistice was signed. On 27th January 1919, he was flying in Surrey; it was snowing heavily, which limited what he could see. Flying low, he crashed into a hill near Oxted, and was killed instantly. He was just 23 years of age.

John Eric Jackson-Barstow’s body was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the family grave in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare.

Captain John Jackson-Barstow
(from findagrave.com)

CWG: Boy Leslie Perkins

Boy Leslie Perkins

Leslie Harry Perkins was born on 15th June 1901, the only child to Harry and Rosalie. Harry was a solicitor’s clerk from Taunton in Somerset, and Leslie was born and raised in nearby Weston-super-Mare.

Given Leslie’s young age, there is very little documentation about his early life. When he left school, he found work as a motor fitter but, with war raging across Europe by this point, he was keen to put his skills to use.

On 9th October 1917, he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). His service records show that he stood 5ft 10ins (1.77m) tall and noted that he had three scars on his left hand. Because of his age, he was given the rather diminutive rank of Boy.

He worked in the Engine Repair Section just outside Sheffield, Yorkshire, and, transferred across to the RFC’s successor – the Royal Air Force – when it was formed on 1st April 1918.

It was here, in the autumn of 1918, that Boy Perkins contracted influenza. Sadly, like so many others of his generation, he was to succumb to the disease, and passed away in the camp’s hospital on 1st December 1918. He was just 17 years old.

Leslie Harry Perkins’ body was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the family grave in Milton Cemetery, in his home town of Weston-super-Mare.

CWG: Lieutenant Herbert Marshall

Lieutenant Herbert Marshall

Herbert William Hare Marshall was born in Ambala, India, on 19th August 1890. His father – Herbert Seymour Marshall – was a Colonel in the army, and was serving in India with his wife, Charlotte, when their children – Charlotte (known as Jessie) and Herbert Jr – were born.

The family were back in England by 1898, and had set up home in the Somerset seaside town of Weston-super-Mare. When Herbert Sr passed away that year, Charlotte was set up on a widow’s pension, and this allowed her to send her son to St Peter’s, a private boarding school in the town.

When her son’s schooling was complete, Charlotte took the family off to Canada. They settled in British Colombia, in Revelstoke, a mountain town halfway between Calgary and Vancouver. Here, Herbert found work as a bank clerk, but war came to Europe, and he felt a need to do his bit for King and Country.

Herbert enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in November 1914; his service papers record him as being 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, 148lbs (67kg) in weight. He had black eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion – something that he may well have inherited through his mother’s genes.

Shipped to England, by August 1915, Private Marshall had been discharged from the CEF as part of a transfer to the New Army – also known as Kitchener’s Army, the volunteer British Army raised as a direct result of the outbreak of war.

Detailed information about Herbert’s military service is lacking, although it seems that he joined the 17th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, one of the regiments heavily involved during the Battle of the Somme.

By October 1916, however, the now Lieutenant Marshall had made another mover, this time joining the Royal Flying Corps. On the afternoon of 26th August 1917, he was an observer on a flight at Marham, in Norfolk. The pilot, a Lieutenant Challington, was banking the aircraft, when it dived and crashed, killing both men. Lieutenant Marshall had turned 27 years old the week before.

Herbert William Hare Marshall’s body was brought back to his adopted home of Weston-super-Mare. He lies at rest alongside his father in the town’s Milton Road Cemetery.

CWG: Air Mechanic 2nd Class Edward McIntosh

Air Mechanic 2nd Class Edward McIntosh

Edward James McIntosh was born in January 1899, the youngest of four children to Henry and Caroline McIntosh from Gillingham in Kent. Henry and Caroline ran a greengrocer’s and their eldest son, Harry, followed them into the business when he left school. One of Edward’s sisters Beatrice became a dressmaker, while the other, Gertrude, became a servant for the secretary to an engineering company.

Sadly, little else remains of young Edward’s life. He enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps when war broke out; given his age, it is unlikely that he signed up before 1917, although there is no record to confirm this.

Edward achieved the rank of Air Mechanic 2nd Class (although his gravestone gives his rank as Second Airman), but there is little more documentation to flesh out his military service.

Edward was admitted to the Military Hospital in Aldershot in January 1918, suffering from meningitis. Sadly this was to take his life, and he passed away on 10th January 1918, having just turned 18 years old.

Edward James McIntosh lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in his home town of Gillingham, Kent.

CWG: Air Mechanic William Manning

Air Mechanic William Manning

William Charles Manning – known as Willie – was born in Bridgwater in 1890, one of ten children to Samuel and Emily Manning. Samuel was a cabinet maker, and at least of three of his sons, Willie included, went into the family business.

There is little information available on Willie’s life, but he married Nellie Dodden, also from Bridgwater, in November 1915. Sadly, this was around the time that Nellie’s father passed away; tragedy for Nellie was still close by.

Willie’s military records are minimal, although details of his passing can be determined from the subsequent newspaper report.

He had enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps around October 1915, certainly around the time he and Nellie married. He was an air mechanic, something his woodworking skills probably drew him to and was based at Manston Airfield in Kent.

On 8th July 1916, Willie was a passenger in a flight piloted by Lieutenant Bidie. It seems that Bidie was turning the plane while at low altitude, while attempting to land. The plane crashed, and both Bidie and Willie were killed. Air Mechanic Manning was just 25 years old.

William Charles Manning lies at rest in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.

CWG: Second Lieutenant Frederick Pullen

Second Lieutenant Frederick Pullen

Frederick John Edward Pullen was born in May 1899, the only son to Albert and Bessie Pullen from Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Albert worked at the local prison, acting as clerk, warden and school master to the inmates.

Little else survives to expand on Fred’s military life; his gravestone confirms that he had enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps and, although no date can be attributed to this, it is likely to have been almost as soon as he turned 17.

A report of the young man’s funeral does give a little insight into the young man.

…before entering the service of his country, Lieutenant Pullen was in the Civil Service, and a letter from his late surveyor at Oxford, speaks in high terms of his character and abilities.

He graduated to the rank of Service Pilot in February last, and was gazetted in March. By the Naval authorities he was considered a very good pilot, and was graded as Class A (exemplary).

Shepton Mallet Journal: Friday 5th April 1918

Alongside the Edwardian trait of listing the chief mourners and floral tributes, the newspaper also gives an in-depth report of the cause of Second Lieutenant Pullen’s demise.

The brave young office, who was at a war school [Manston Airfield, Kent], was engaged in ‘stunting’ or trick flying, absolutely necessary in warfare, when from some unknown cause, he fell into a field, and was instantly killed.

A farmer who was ploughing near the spot said he was not conscious of the presence of an aeroplane in the vicinity till this one seemed to drop from the clouds. It nose-dived, but righted on coming near the earth, and seemed to swoop up again, but before going far turned turtle and fell, upside down.

The poor lad was found crushed beneath his gun, and had met instantaneous death. Letters received from witnesses of the accident stated that people living in the neighbourhood hurried to the spot with remedies of all sorts, and were much saddened to find that nothing that they could do was of any avail.

Shepton Mallet Journal: Friday 5th April 1918

Second Lieutenant Pullen met his death in a flying accident on 26th March 1918. He was just 18 years old.

Frederick John Edward Pullen lies at rest in the cemetery of his home town of Shepton Mallet.

Second Lieutenant Fred Pullen (courtesy of findagrave.com)

CWG: Second Lieutenant Victor Bracey

Second Lieutenant Victor Bracey

Victor Charles Edelsten Bracey was born in October 1897, the only child of William and Florence Bracey. William was a physician and surgeon, practicing in Lancashire when Victor was born. The young family soon moved south, however, and by the time of the 1901 census, they were living in Wedmore, Somerset, where William had taken up as the village’s general practitioner.

Military records for Victor are not available, but his life can readily be pieced together from newspaper reports of his death and the de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, published after the war.


Two air fatalities have occurred within twenty-four hours of each other in the New Forest. On Saturday [22nd September 1917] Second Lieutenant Ernest Hargrave’s machine nose-dived from the height of 200ft, and crashed to earth.

Second Lieutenant Victor Bracey was flying on Sunday morning at a height of 300ft, when his machine turned and came down in a spinning nose-dive.

At the inquests verdicts of “Death by misadventure” were returned.

Western Gazette: Friday 28th September 1917

BRACEY, VICTOR CHARLES EDELSTEN, 2nd Lieut., RFC, only child of William Edelsten Bracey, LRCP [Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians], Lieut. (Hon.) RAMC (retired), by his wife, Florence Marion, dau. of the late James Canning Gould.

[Victor was] educated St Peter’s School, Weston-super-Mare, and Blundell’s School, Tiverton, where he was a member of the OTC [Officers’ Training Corps]; passed into the Royal Military Academy in April 1915; joined the Inns of Court OTC in December 1916; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. RFC [Royal Flying Corps] 27 April 1917, obtaining his wings in July, and was killed in an aerial accident at the Beaulieu Aerodrome, Hampshire, 23 September, while testing a new machine.

A brother officer wrote that he was a gallant gentleman and a most skilful pilot.” He was a keen cricketer and footballer, and while at Blundell’s played in the First Cricket XI and the Second Football XV, and was also captain of the First Hockey XI; later played for the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and the RFC Rugby Football XV at Oxford.

de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919

A note on Second Lieutenant Bracey’s Roll of Honour states that he was ineligible for medals as he saw no overseas service; this seems to have been challenged by Victor’s father in 1921, but nothing confirms whether this anything was subsequently awarded.

Victor Charles Edelsten Bracey lies at rest in the churchyard of St Mary’s in Wedmore, where his father continued to practice. He died, aged just 19 years of age.

William’s prominence in the village played a big part in Victor’s legacy. A Memorial Fund was set up; this helped fund “necessitous cases for medical requirements and for conveying patients to hospitals“. The Victor Bracey Cup was also awarded into the 1940s for sporting achievement in the schools he had attended.