Tag Archives: Royal Flying Corps

Geoffrey Richard Dudley Gee

Geoffrey Gee was born in Summergangs, Pinjarra, Western Australia to Raymond Gee and his wife Annie Matilda Alderson. His father was English and at some point before 1888 had emigrated to Perth, where he was Head Master of Hales School for a year.

Geoffrey was sent to school in England, joining Ashburnham House in September 1909. He was made an exhibitioner in 1910, and a King’s Scholar in 1911. Outside of term time he lived with his paternal aunt and her husband, Dr Bernard Ley, in Earl’s Court.

Geoffrey was very successful in a range of school activities. He was athletic, winning the school fives ties and was a runner up in the gymnastic competition (losing out due to a ‘lack of symmetry in some exercises’). He played cricket and football for the 1st XIs, earning full pinks after his performance in the Charterhouse football match, although ‘he dribbled much too close on to his forwards and only passed moderately’. In his final cricket season it was commented that he had ‘persevering temper, and both with bat and with ball did better than some of his critics expected’.

Gee was academic as well, winning the Phillimore prize for translation and speaking regularly at the school’s debating society – opposing a motion to restrict the franchise in this country. He performed ‘very creditably’ in the 1913 Latin Play. In his final term at the school, Election 1915, he was made a monitor.

Although Geoffrey won a place at Christ Church, Oxford, he joined 3rd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment straight after leaving the school. He went out to the western front in August 1916, but was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in January 1917 as an observer.

Geoffrey went up in his aeroplane near Ypres on 4th June 1917 and was never seen again. His name is on the Arras Flying Service Memorial in the Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.

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Rolf Mayne Neill

Rolf Neill was the only son of Harold and Louisa Neill of 22 Eldon Road, Kensington, London. He was born on 7th February 1898 and arrived at the school in September 1911.

He represented his house – Ashburnham – in Football, and eventually captained the Westminster 2nd XI by the time he was in his final year.

He was a member of the school’s Debating Society. On Thursday 9th March 1916, he seconded the motion “that in the opinion of this House it is inadvisable for Great Britain to attempt reprisals for air raids.” He is recorded in The Elizabethan as arguing:

“…we had already attacked fortified towns, but reprisals would be the attacking of unfortified towns. Taking reprisals would only cause competition with the Germans, and make them more ‘frightful’ than ever. Also we have no aeroplanes to spare.”

In February 1915, he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, and was attached to the machine gun corps the following December. He left the school in April 1916 to join the Royal Flying Corps (Special Reserve) as a 2nd Lieutenant, and he became a Flying Officer with them in August.

In September 1916, he joined a Sopwith Squadron on the western but was only out there for a couple of months before being invalided home. He was able to rejoin his squadron in March 1917, but was killed in action near Messines on the 3rd June 1917.

His obituary in The Elizabethan reads as follows:

Mr. NEILL, the only son of Mr. Harold Neill, of Kensington, was at the School from September 1911 to Easter 1916, and was second Monitor in Ashburnham. He left School to join the Flying Corps, and after some meritorious and successful service, fell within the German lines. Our own generation mourns an excellent fellow.

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John Hampson Dodgshon

John started at Westminster in Homeboarders’ House, but moved to Rigaud’s during his time at the school, leaving in 1908. He was a member of the Officer Training Corps whilst at school.19161001_Dodgshon,JH

We do not know what he did immediately after leaving school, but in July 1913 he joined the Honourable Artillery Company, which is one of the oldest military organisations in the world. He served in Flanders and France from 18th September 1914, but was invalided home in February 1915. Once he had recovered he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the Surrey Yeomanry and he went out to serve in Egypt in 4th October 1915. He then served in the Dardanelles for six months as an Assistant Military Landing Officer.

On his return to England John declined a post as Assistant Equipment Officer in the Royal Flying Corps, as he felt he ought to take a more active part in the war. He obtained his ‘wings’ in August, 1916 and became an instructor at the Royal Central Flying School in Upavon, Pewsey, Wiltshire. He was killed on 1st October when flying from Bournemouth Aerodrome, acting as an observer. The aeroplane’s elevator control disconnected causing it to crash near Eastbourne.

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Eric Hinckes Bird

Eric Hinckes Bird was a member of Rigaud’s House from 1907-1912. After leaving school he went to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He obtained a commission just after the outbreak of the war and initially served as a Lieutenant in the City of London Regiment of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He was invalided home after six months on the western front in which his Regiment was involved in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the Battle of Aubers and the action of Bois Grenier. He recovered and returned to active service and subsequently became attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an Observer. He was sent out to France in June 1916.

His aircraft, an FE2b fighter, was returning from a successful bombing raid on Henin Leitard early in the morning of 26th June. As the aircraft returned home it was attacked by German Fokkers and, along with other allied aircraft, became embroiled in a frenzied fight.

Bird’s pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Riley made a forced landing near Mazingarbe but the aircraft ran into hidden barbed wire defences, turned over and was wrecked. Riley was thrown on to his head and suffered a severe concussion but he later recovered. Bird was less fortunate receiving a blow to the back, breaking and wrist and dislocating a shoulder and died of his wounds the following day.

German solider Lt. Max Ritter von Mulzer claimed to have caused the aircraft to crash.

Max Ritter von Mulzer pictured in his Fokker aircraft
Max Ritter von Mulzer pictured in his Fokker aircraft
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Wyndham John Coventry

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Wyndham was at the school for barely two years, joining Ashburnham House in April 1902 and leaving in July 1904 at the age of 17.

He represented Ashburnham in the Senior House Match against Grant’s in 1904. The match was not going well for Ashburnham, when: ‘About this time Aglionby unfortunately put his finger out and was compelled to leave the field. Coventry took his place behind the wickets, and the change was not forhe better.’ But he had more success when the game resumed on Friday: ‘Coventry, the only batsman to offer any resistance, was last out for a plucky 23, after batting nearly an hour and a half.’ Wyndham was rewarded with House Colours at the end of the Season.

He came from a military family. His maternal grandfather, John Joseph Grinlinton had served in the Crimean campaign and was knighted in 1894. Therefore it is not surprising that Wyndham joined the army after leaving school. After passing out from Sandhurst in 1907 he joined the Indian Army. Here he excelled in horse riding and held the unique distinction of having won both Indian Cavalry Steeplechases (for horses and ponies) on the same day in 1914.

On the outbreak of war he left India with drafts for the Western front and worked as an observer in the Royal Flying Corps until June 1915. He was then recalled to his regiment in India and joined the expeditionary force to Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in July 1915. He took part in the battles of Kut and Ctesiphon and was mentioned in despatches by General Townshend for gallant and distinguished service in the field. He died on 1st January 1916 from wounds received in action at Ali Gharbi the previous day. His colonel wrote: ‘He is indeed a great loss to the regiment, and the Indian officers and men feel it as much as we do; we shall miss him very much’.

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A memorial to Wyndham in Hampshire
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Albert Ernest Morgan

19150310_Morgan,AlbertErnestAt the beginning of the First World War, the Royal Flying Corps, in which Albert Ernest Morgan was a pilot, were used entirely to support ground troops through photo-reconnaissance and artillery observation. Although technology advanced very quickly throughout the war, to start with it was rudimentary at best. Heavy equipment weighed planes down, a lack of usable communications made any work more difficult, and no parachutes made it even more dangerous for the men flying the planes.

After spending less than 3 months on the Western Front, Morgan was involved in directing artillery fire in the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle on the 10th of March, 1915. The plane was hit by shellfire, killing both him and his observer, Aubrey Gordon Irving. They were buried next to each other, their graves now in the Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard, in France. On Morgan’s, rather poignantly, his mother had engraved ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori’.

Morgan started at Westminster in September 1902, aged 13. He was a half boarder (he lived in Bayswater) in Grant’s for the next 3 years, but other than this we know nothing about his time at the school. He seems to have not been involved in any sport or activities while here, and we don’t even know where he went after he left in 1905. We do know that he received his commission in the Royal Fusiliers in 1911, and was in the Royal Flying Corps from 1914, where he was an assistant instructor.

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