A pilots' war




 No. 27 Squadron RFC,  1916 continued

On 21 May 1916 Lt. James Turner of 27 Sqn distinguished himself by capturing an enemy aircraft from the ground. This exploit is described in RFC Communiqué 37 below:

Extract from ROYAL FLYING CORPS Communiqué 37

May 21st 1916


At about 2.45 a.m. on the 21st, the pilot on duty at 27 Sqn's aerodrome at Treziennes was informed that a machine had been heard flying over the aerodrome. The weather was very misty, and he prepared Very lights in order to signal to the aeroplane. About 3 a.m. the machine was again heard, and was seen over Isebergues. Lt. J. C. Turner, the orderly pilot, fired one Very light. This was answered from the machine by one white star-light. Lt. Turner again fired a red light and the machine again replied with a white star-light. The aeroplane then endeavoured to land but misjudged the landing and went round the aerodrome again. By this time Lt. Turner had been able to see that the machine had German markings, but the pilot was evidently under the impression that he was landing at a friendly aerodrome. Lt. Turner restrained the guard from firing, and ordered his machine to be got ready. The hostile machine now landed successfully and taxied up to the sheds where pilot and passenger at once surrendered.

Editors note:

On 29 May 1916 Capt. Smith (27 Sqn) flew the aircraft mentioned in RFC Communiqué 37 from Hesdin to the Administrative Wing at Farnborough for evaluation. Capt. Smith records the aircraft, a German LVG serial 1543, as having landed at Treizennes. (see Capt. Smith’s log entry below). Major Borton had flown the aircraft to the RFC Depot St Omer for inspection on the 22 May (according to Chaz Bowyer's 27 Squadron history "The Flying Elephants").

May 29  9.0 am  LVG 1543  2 hrs 30 mins

Comment: "Hesdin - Farnborough, Delivered captured German machine to Administrative Wing. Crossed Channel South Boulogne to Dungeness at 350 metres. Speed indication showing an average speed of 80-85 kilometres per hour. Machine very slow on controls & very nose heavy when the engine is off. Engine 160 HP Benz."


Captured German LVG  aircraft serial 1543

German LVG 1543 (over-painted with British markings!)

This aircraft was later displayed at the Lord Mayor's Show in London 1916.

No. 27 Squadron moved to Hesdin (St Andre-aux-Bois) at the end of May 1916.

Lt J C Turner and Capt Smith, RFC, No 27 Sqn at Hesdin

Lt. J C Turner with Capt. Smith at 27 Sqn aerodrome Hesdin, France, June 1916.

See extract from Communiqué 37 above describing Lt. Turner’s actions as duty pilot in capturing a German aircraft (photograph above) and its crew (Feldwebel Richter the pilot and Lt. Brandt the Observer).

Lt. Turner was reported missing on 3 August 1916 following a raid on the airship sheds at Cognelee. [Later confirmed dead, now buried at CWG cemetery Namur. Aged 20.]


27 Sqn transport

27 Sqn transport

Capt. Smith returned to France after a week's leave in England delivering an FE 6 to St Omer.

June 8  FE 6A 1 1/2 hrs 

Comment: " Farnboro' to St Omer. Returned to France on 250 HP FE Rolls Royce engine. Engine stopped after being shut off over St Omer aerodrome."

June 9 and 10 conducted a couple of short flights on Martinsyde 7269.

Editors note: On June 13 Capt. Smith was posted to command No.24 Reserve Squadron, Netheravon. He had flown approximately 100 hours with No. 27 Sqn.

History note: The Battle of the Somme

The battle of the Somme commenced on 1 July 1916 and continued to 19 November 1916. Losses, killed and wounded, numbered over 600,000 men on each side. The offensive also saw the first use of tanks (by the British).

21 & 27 Sqn officers ? Hesdin 1916

Probably all 21 Sqn officers as they are pictured in front of an RE7 (diagonal struts from lower to upper wing). Centre right appears to be Capt. Jack Cooper of 21 Sqn, on the far left Capt. Kenneth Pearson, 2nd right possibly 2 Lt. Don Brophy. Others in the photo may include Creery, Duggan, Lee, Goulding - mentioned in Brophy's diary see below.

No 27 Sqn shared the airfield at Hesdin with 21 Sqn (as the RFC HQ Wing Squadrons under Lt. Col. Dowding) - see Orbat for detail.

A contemporary account by RFC pilot Don Brophy of 21 Squadron (A rattle of pebbles) can be found at this link from the Canadian Forces Directorate of History and Heritage.

Click here for a list of officers serving in No 27 Squadron in this period (Jan-Jun 1916)


No 27 Sqn Pages  1  2  3

Copyright © 2004 in the diary text and photos from 1915 and 1916 is held by Major Smith's family. Copyright © 2004 www.airwar1.org.uk