Air Aces of World War One

Captain Philip Fletcher Fullard – English Ace – 1897 / 1984

Fullard was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, the son of Thomas Fletcher Fullard. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School, where he was an accomplished sportsman, captaining the school’s hockey and football teams. Fullard joined the Inns of Court Training Corps in 1915, and after receiving high marks in his examination he was offered a commission in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, but was then selected for the Royal Flying Corps. He was commissioned as a probationary temporary second lieutenant with the RFC on the 5th of August 1916. He trained at the No.2 School of Military Avionics at Oxford, with No. 3/24 Reserve Squadron, and at the Central Flying School at Upavon, and on the 26th of December was appointed a flying officer and conformed in his rank as a second lieutenant on the General List. Fullard soloed after only three hours of flying time, and on account of his exceptional flying ability, he was retained at Upavon as an instructor, but was eventually sent to serve in France with No.1 Squadron RFC in May 1917.

Flying various models of Nieuport Scout throughout his combat career, Fullard scored steadily over the next six months. He opened his victory log with two victories in May, followed by five in June. On the 19th of June, whilst still only a second lieutenant, he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain. In this role, he scored more victories with eight in July and a further twelve in August. He damaged the blood vessels in one eye while flying in September, resulting in temporary blindness that grounded him for most of that month. Fullard was awarded the Military Cross and Bar in September 1917; both awards were announced in the same issue of the London Gazette. Fullard recovered to score eleven more victories in October, and two in November, including the German eight victory ace Leutnant Hans Hoyer. Fullard was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Two days after his fortieth victory he suffered a compound fracture of the leg during a soccer match between his Squadron and an infantry battalion. He did not return to duty until near the end of the war, when on the 24th of September 1918 he was promoted to acting major.

During his period of active service, Fullard once bought down four German aircraft in a single day. and he and another pilot bought down seven enemy aircraft before breakfast, with Fullard accounting for three of them. Also, during the time that Fullard spent as flight commander, a period of three months, His flight of six pilots bought down more enemy aircraft than any other Squadron in France without suffering a single casualty. In one combat Fullard’s flying goggles were shot away from his eyes and some Verey lights in his cockpit ignited, setting his aircraft partially on fire, but despite this he still managed to fly back to the safety of the British Lines. A curious fact is that he scored all of his victories flying a Variety of Nieuport Scouts, initially the 17, then the 23 and finally the 27. Fullard was one of the most successful and consistent pilots of this make of aircraft.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

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