Witley, May 10, 1917

Thursday       We had a light fall of rain today the first for 3 weeks After lunch it came out warm  The weather is certainly splendid Yesterday I rec’d 3 letters from J. Rec’d one from Bert on Tues[.] am feeling great

Brother Bert, you will recall, has enlisted with the Royal Naval Air Service, and is serving with No. 7 Squadron (not to be confused with No. 7 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps). Percy’s address for him is simply “France,” but as of last month, the squadron has been at Coudekerque outside Dunkirk. During April and May the squadron has been flying night raids on German seaplanes at Ostend, in their new Handley Page 0/100 bombers. (1) The largest aeroplane yet built by the British, the 0/100 has a wingspan of 100 feet (over 30 m). (2)

handley page 0 100 PC72-99-8 RAF Museum.jpgWhat exactly Bert did is unclear. His rank seems to have been aircraftman II (and later I); RNAS also had air mechanics, which sound more like ground crew, but the enthusiasts on the internet who are devoted to these subjects say that there was no rigid distinction between air and ground crew in the RNAS.(3) So perhaps all the stories Bert told his family are true, that he was a mechanic, and a motorcycle dispatch rider, and an airborne bomber. (4)

(1) Bomber Command No. 207 Squadron. Royal Air Force/History.
(2) Website of the Royal Air Force Museum, which also provides the photograph.
(3) Such as 1914-1918.invisionzone.com
(4) Theobald, C. I. The Faversham Connection: A Theobald Family History. Privately published 2004. 64-65.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”




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