The Great War > 1914 - 1918

Transfers of Manchester Regiment Officers to RFC/RAF

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Cheers Philip!  If I find anything else out I'll let you know.

2nd/Lt F.H.Thorp RFC & 10th Bn. Manchester Regiment.

Lieutenant Thorp was a pilot serving with No.13 Squadron RFC, a squadron equipped with two-seater bi-plane aircraft of a type known as the RE8.  He died of wounds on 31st March 1918, a period of the Great War when the British had "their backs to the wall" and were in retreat on account of the German breakthrough.

The strategy of the RFC (within a few days to become the RAF) was to stifle the German advance as best they could and in doing so casualties were by no means light, for instance, the total losses on the 30th March and 31st March were 19 aircraft and crews.

The RE8 aircraft as previously mentioned is designed for an operational crew of two, so it was interesting to note that to achieve maximum effort against the enemy, two RE8 squadrons were despatching aircraft into action without an Observer or gunner, relying on the pilot alone to bring down any attacker.   What was achieved by this is not clear, but two of the aircraft in action on this basis were shot down on 30th March, the pilots being wounded and in the case of Lt.Thorp, he sadly succumbed to his wounds the following day.   He is buried in Aubigny Comm. Cem. Extn.   PhilipG.

2/Lt henry,leslie,cooper morley
1/8th manchesters
wounded in the left calf at Gallipoli may 1915,admitted to cairo hospital
aged 21
resided thornbury house,victoria park,manchester
became a captain in the RFC
died 1st November 1948 at the royal sussex county hospital

mack ;D


Thank you for that. As you surmised some time ago, there is a greater number who decided to transfer than I had ever anticipated.  Philip.

2nd Lt. D.E.Stevens: No. 20 Squadron RFC and 2/5th battalion Manchester Regiment.

No. 20 Squadron was equipped with Bristol F2b aircraft and in March 1918 was operating in the Ypres sector.   The F2b was a two-seater biplane fighter of good repute and it was in a machine of this type that 2nd Lt. Stevens was killed in action on the 13th March 1918.

It is not clear how Stevens met his death, for intriguingly, he appears to have been flying solo, there being no Observer/gunner in the rear cockpit.  In cases such as this, I have sometimes wondered how the pilot could have been killed.   Was it an "air test" and he was surprised in flight by enemy action, or could it have been an "area familiarisation patrol" with the same result?  We may never know.   I note that the CWGC have his rank recorded as Lieutenant although the squadron gave him the rank of 2nd Lt. in their records.   

By coincidence, Wilfred Owen was commissioned in the 5th Manchesters, too and was killed in action in November 1918 whilst attached to the 2nd battalion holding the rank of 2nd Lt.   After his death it was discovered that Owen should have been promoted to Lieutenant some 18 months prior to his death, the CWGC in due course being advised accordingly.   I wonder if this could be the case regarding Stevens' rank?

This young airman is buried in Longuenesse (St.Omer) Cemetery.   PhilipG.


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