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Friday, May 27, 2016

2nd/Lieut Henry Cope Evans, RFC

2nd/Lieut. Henry Cope Evans has the title as "the oldest Canadian ace of the Great War".

Born July 26, 1880, Evans was the only son of W. H. and Alice M. Evans of West Point, Camberley, Surrey, and was educated at Woodcote House School, Windlesham, and Haileybury. As a young man Evans emigrated to Ontario to learn fruit farming. He enlisted in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery during the Second Boer War, and served in South Africa for a year as part of "C" Battery. On returning to Canada he took up ranching near Macleod, Alberta, and also held a Government appointment as Range Rider. A keen sportsman and horseman, he was well known as a polo player, and was one of the early pioneers of the game in Western Canada. So in this sense, he was a an expert horseman like his 19th Dragoon and RFC mate, Stanley Winther Caws, and in fact was probably a member of the Legion of Frontiersmen.

On 23 September 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec, he enlisted as a trooper in the 19th Alberta Dragoons, service # 1951, arriving in England with the 1st Canadian Contingent in November 1914. He served with the Dragoons in France from February until September 1915, was promoted to the rank of sergeant and was badly affected by poison gas.

He was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant on 13 September 1915. On 25 September joined No. 24 Squadron in action at the front, not being officially gazetted as a flying officer (observer) until 22 November.

Evans was posted to Home Establishment on 26 January 1916 for pilot training, being appointed a flying officer on 15 May, and being granted the Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 2603, after flying a Maurice Farman biplane at the Military Flying School, Farnborough, on 23 May.

He re-joined 24 Squadron, flying antiquated DH2's on 4 July 1916, gaining his first victory on 20 July, driving a Roland C.II down out of control over Fleurs, and the next day he destroyed another enemy aircraft over Combles. Between 6 and 9 August he destroyed a further three enemy aircraft, gaining the five confirmed victories needed for flying ace status. Awarded a Distinguished Service Order. Evans was shot down and killed by German anti-aircraft fire on 3 September 1916 while on a morning offensive patrol over the British Fourth Army front. 

According to Trevor Henshaw, "Evans was flying an operational patrol combat with three HA's (hostile aircraft)shot down FLERS (Somme) safe landing? N.20a. at 11:05 am, killed ldg?, aircraft shelled?"

A downed DH2 September 1916 the Somme
He was listed as "missing" by the War Office, and as his remains were never recovered he is commemorated at the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

Check this out:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lieutenant Stanley Winther Caws, Royal Flying Corps

Lieut. Stanley Caws, RFC
Lieut.Stanley Caws is considered to be "the First Canadian Airman Killed in Action" during the war. 

Born March 22, 1879 St. Helens, Island of Wight to a well off family headed by father, Douglas Caws, he was a veteran of the Boer War serving in the elite 19th Paget's Horse, Imperial Yeomanry. He later emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta in 1903 with careers in the North-West Mounted Police, as a prospector, farmer and later joining the 19th Alberta Dragoons in 1913. 

He attested September 23, 1914 to the CEF's 1st Divisional Calvary, service #1908, as an acting member of The Legion of Frontiersmen, however on arriving Shorncliffe February 1915, England transferred to the fledgling Royal Air Force. graduating as a pilot in May, he joined 10 Squadron at Choques, France flying two-seater BE2Cs. On September 21, during a reconnaissance flight over Laiman, Caws and his observer, Lieut. W.H. Sugden-Wilson, were attacked by three German Fokker fighters, led by famous German ace Lieut. Max Immelmann, in a fight that lasted fifteen minutes they kept their assailants at bay until they had expended all they ammunition. Then, completely defenseless, Lieut.Caws was killed instantly by machine-gun fire; his observer, though wounded in the leg, managed to glide the aircraft down behind enemy lines, where he was taken prisoner. KIA Venay, France (near Lens) September 21, 1915.
Night fighter BE2c

There is much. much, material to be found on Lieut. Stanley Caws and his demise, on the Internet. Although his observer managed to land the aircraft and survived as a POW, Caws was killed instantly and apparently "burnt to a cinder" on landing. Lieut. Caws was given a full military burial by the Germans Willerval, east of Neuville.

The full account can be found here:

Over the years, the grave of Lieut. Stanley Winther Caws has either been lost and/or destroyed. Thus his name is perpetuated on the Arras Flying Service Memorial as having no know grave.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Lieutenant John Percy McCone, Royal Air Force

Lieut. John Percy McCone, RAF was a Canadian-born pilot in the Royal Flying Corps 41th Squadron that was the 67th Victory of the Red Baron, Baron Manfred von Richthofen. The Baron's combat report reads as follows:

Aircraft SE5A No. C1054 41 Squadron RFC
Engine No.115259 Lewis gun 27914 Vickers Gun B358

14:40 hrs., above Combles. SE5. Brought down behind the enemy's lines.
"During a protracted single-seat fight between ten SE5s and 25 machines of my own group, I attacked an Englishman at an altitude of 2,500 metres. Under my machine-gun fire , both wings broke away from the aeroplane in the air. The pieces were scattered in the vicinity of Combles. Weather fine.
A SE5a fighter late 1917 35 Squadron

"Shorty McCone had claimed two out of control victories while with the Squadron, an Albatros Scout on 22 January flying B68, and an unidentified enemy aircraft which he saw last diving into Beugny village on 23 March, flying C1054.

23 year-old L/Cpl John Percy McCone had joined the 33rd Battalion, CEF in London, Ontario April 23, 1915 and immediately transferred to the Canadian Cyclist Depot, Canadian Engineers. He had been born Quebec City March 11, 1891. Veteran of the Mexican Army insurrection Transferred to RFC and flight training in Reading February, 1917. Appointed flying officer and appointed to 41 Squadron December 5, 1917. Called "Shorty' because of his 5'4" height.

His body was never recovered and his name is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to Missing Airmen, France