Commemorates more than 1 000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force, either by attachment from other arms of the forces of the Commonwealth or by original enlistment, who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave.
The flight of doves on the globe at the top of the memorial, follows the exact path of the sun on Armistice day: 11th November 1918.
At Easter in 1917 whilst the British and Canadians were launching their assaults in the Arras and Vimy areas, the RFC was fighting a desperate battle in the air. During what was to become called Bloody April, 131 RFC aircraft were lost: a third of its fighting strength.
This memorial was dedicated in September 2004 and is located at the Aerodrome at St Omer which was the home of HQ RFC for most of the war.
Major Lanoe Hawker VC
24th Squadron Royal Flying Corps
Died on 23rd November 1916 aged 25
Son of Mrs Julia Hawker, of 5, Victoria Terrace,
Eastbourne and the late Lieut Henry Hawker, RN
London Gazette dated 24th August 1915
For most conspicuous bravery and very great ability on 25th July 1915. When flying alone he attacked three German aeroplanes in succession. The first managed eventually to escape, the second was driven to ground damaged, and the third, which he attacked at a height of about 10 000 feet, was driven to earth in our lines, the pilot and observer being killed.
The personal bravery shown by this Officer was of the very highest order, as the enemy’s aircraft were armed with machine guns, and all carried a passenger as well as the pilot.
Hawker was Britain’s first ace as well as the first pilot to receive the Victoria Cross for an aerial combat. His motto was Attack Everything. He became Baron von Richthofen’s eleventh victim having only seven credited victories to his own name.
Major Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock VC
85th Squadron Royal Air Force
Died on 26th July 1918 aged 31
Son of Mrs J Mannock, of 24, Lozells Rd, Six Ways, Birmingham
London Gazette dated 18th July 1919
On the 17th June 1918, he attacked a Halberstadt machine near Armentières and destroyed it from a height of 8 000 feet. On the 7th July 1918, near Doulieu, he attacked and destroyed one Fokker (red-bodied) machine, which went vertically into the ground from a height of 1 500 feet. Shortly afterwards he ascended 1 000 feet and attacked another Fokker biplane, firing 60 rounds into it, which produced an immediate spin, resulting, it is believed, in a crash.
On the 14th July 1918, near Merville, he attacked and crashed a Fokker from 7 000 feet, and brought a two-seater down damaged. On the 19th July 1918, near Merville, he fired 80 rounds into an Albatross two-seater, which went to the ground in flames.
On the 20th July 1918, East of La Bassée, he attacked and crashed an enemy two-seater from a height of 10 000 feet. About an hour afterwards he attacked at 8 000 feet a Fokker biplane near Steenwercke and drove it down out of control, emitting smoke. On the 22nd July 1918, near Armentières, he destroyed an enemy triplane from a height of 10 000 feet.
Major Mannock was awarded the undermentioned distinctions for his previous combats in the air in France and Flanders: Military Cross, gazetted 17th September 1917; Bar to Military Cross, gazetted 18th October 1917; Distinguished Service Order, gazetted 16th September 1918; Bar to Distinguished Service Order (1st), gazetted 16th September 1918; Bar to Distinguished Service Order (2nd), gazetted 3rd August 1918.
This highly distinguished officer during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed.
Mannock’s actual number of victories has been disputed since the end of the war. His VC Citation claims 50 whilst he himself claimed 51. Research has suggested a higher figure of 61. This has been compiled using the fact that Mannock did not always claim shared victories (Two pilots bringing down an adversary between them).