Major Lanoe George Hawker V.C. Englands 1st Ace 1890/1916 – Part 3
Following an initial Air victory in June, On 25th July 1915, when on patrol over Passchendaele, Captain Hawker attacked three German aircraft in succession, Flying Bristol Scout C 1611 after his earlier mount 1609 had been written off, his custom built machine gun mount was transferred to 1611. The first victory of the day occurred when Hawker emptied a full drum from his Lewis gun into it, it went spinning down out of control. The second was driven to the ground, damaged and the third an Albatros C1 Burst into flames and crashed to the ground killing both the pilot and observer. For this feat Hawker was awarded the Victoria Cross, the third airman to receive it.
This particular sortie was just one of many that he flew, during a year of almost constant flying and fighting. He claimed at least three more victories in August flying various Aircraft. Hawker was posted back to England in late 1915 with some 7 victory claims, 1 captured, 3 destroyed, 1 out of control and 1 forced to land making him the first British flying Ace and a figure of considerable fame within the ranks of the RFC.
It has since been argued that shooting down three enemy aircraft in one sortie was a feat repeated many times later in the War, and whether Hawker actually merited his Victoria Cross. However in the context of air fighting in Mid 1915 it was unusual to shoot down one enemy aircraft, let alone three, and the V.C. was awarded on the basis that all of the enemy planes were armed with machine-guns.
To Be Continued ………….
(C) Damian Grange 2017