Search This Blog

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lieutenant Henry Lloyd Hammond, 215th Squadron, RAF, MIA

Born August 6, 1895 on a farm in Woodhouse Township, Port Dover, Norfolk County, Ontario to parents George Hammond and Elizabeth Burtch. The farmland in this area of South-Western Ontario has very sandy and fertile soil, allegedly the best in Canada. They did and continue to grown high income crops like tobacco, asparagus, ginseng and ginger. As the oldest son, owning this farm was the future Henry Lloyd had to look forward to. His officer's attestation record shows that on January 1, 1916 a medical officer considered him fit for active duty, single, occupation was a farmer, he had served in the 39th Norfolk Rifles Regiment and enrolled in "Canadian Officer Training Corps" for one year.

He was enlisted in the 133rd (Norfolk's Own) Battalion in Simcoe, Ontario as a Lieutenant on January 1, 1916. However somewhat puzzling in his service file is a notation dated October 2, 1916 "S.O.S.  Permitted to resign - inefficient". His last pay day was November 1, 1916. However in researching the background of Henry Lloyd Hammond, we were investigating his death on August 4, 1918 and how he came to be piloting a British heavy bomber of the period (Handley Page 0/400) in the skies over France. I was sure that his statement as having one year in the C.O.T.C. was relevant so when I could not locate his name on either the McGill or U of T Honor Memorials, I looked farther afield. Sure enough I found his name on the Memorial Roll of the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph graduating in 1917 on the Honor's List. I am suspecting Henry's father, George, was an area farming and political friend of Lt.- Col. Arthur Clarence Pratt, Officer in Command 133rd Battalion and the long-time MPP (1909-1919) for South Norfolk, Country and born just down the road in Lynedoch. Pratt was no doubt more than an acquaintance to Sir Sam Hughes therefore released Henry Lloyd legally by using the excuse that he wasn't efficient. What we didn't know as while that during his service in the 133rd Battalion AND during his classes at O.A.C. in Guelph, in all probability he was taking flying instruction late 1916/early 1917 at Leaside Aerodrome and ground classes at University of Toronto. He met his future wife, Roselin Kenney, about this time in Toronto. They married November 5, 1917 in Toronto probably after his flight instruction was finished up in Texas and prior to leaving for England.Much of the maintenance and ground crew of the early RAF (Canada) was female. He gave his occupation as farmer AND soldier. She was a housekeeper.
At his point, we have not found the British service record for Henry Lloyd Hammond. Again speculation says he arrived in England late 1917 or early 1918 around the time the 215th Squadron was being raised. No. 215 Squadron RAF was formed in France on 1 April 1918 by renumbering No. 15 squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service. No. 15 Squadron RNAS had been formed on 10 March 1918 to operate the Handley Page 0/100 as a night bomber squadron against targets in Germany. Soon after the squadron became part of the Royal Air Force it returned to England to re-equip with the Handley Page O/400 before returning to France as part of the Independent Air Force. After World War I hostilities ended (November 1918), the squadron disbanded on 18 October 1919.

So Lieutenant Hammond was assigned to this 215th Squadron, a night bombing unit fighting the huge-for-its-time Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber. This monster operated with a crew of three - a pilot and two
Royal Air Force Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber
observer/gunners. On the night of August 3, 1918, aircraft HP O/400 #C2372 was flying a night bombing mission to a target called FIVES Railway Station behind German lines with Lieut. H.L.Hammond as pilot; Sgt. H.F. Pheby as gunner and 2nd/Lt H.W. Brinkworth as gunner. The aircraft was lost: Hammond was classed as Missing In Action; Brinkworth and Pheby classed as Killed In Action. Strangely, the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial have Lieutenant Hammond listed on the Arras Memorial and not on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, where rightly VAC should have him. This is where Sergeant Henry Thomas Pheby #220141 and 2nd/Lt Wilfrid Henry Brinkworth are located. There is some possibility. the aircraft was downed behind German lines with the three men being taken prisoner and/or injured  and/or buried behind enemy lines.

Thanks once again for Marika Pirie and her photos and newspaper clippings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting ! Lloyd Hammond was my great uncle and interesting to hear more about him. I never met him of course but did get a chance on a couple of occasions to speak to his brother, William A. Hammond that also served in WWI. I don't know for sure but I believe Lloyd's wife went on to be a well known painter. Please see wikipedia link below. Thanks again!

Randy Hammond