1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Anthony Jacques Mantle

Contributed by: Sally Pearson, on 2008-11-12

Anthony Jacques Mantle
First Name Anthony Jacques
Surname Mantle
Year of Birth 1899
Year of Death 1988
Regiment Royal Naval Air Service
Place of Wartime Residence Essex

Anthony Jacques's Story

My father was a pilot who joined the RNAS in 1917 at the age of 17. After training at Cranwell, he went on to Vendome in France, then Italy and later saw action over Turkey whilst stationed in the Greek Islands. His flight career ended when he was forced to land behind enemy lines in Russia and was taken as a prisoner of war for several months in Moscow. He was later awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for his bravery in action.

Towards the end of World War I whilst stationed in Malta awaiting demob back to England, my father was offered the opportunity to see action on the Caspian Sea. He was stationed inland at Petrofska where he flew the DH-9A aircraft (Dehavilland two seater bi-planes), as part of the British movement to protect oil interests in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Whilst out on ariel reconnaissance with his observer, Harry Ingrams, their plane developed engine trouble and they were forced to crash land on a large island in the Volga Delta. They were unhurt and managed to burn the plane, but were ambushed shortly afterwards by an armed group of locals who took them prisoner. The local Commissar tore up the official documentation offering a reward for their safe return over the border and then organised for a local schoolteacher to act as translator as they were taken to Astrakhan for questioning. He was then by train to Moscow whereupon he spent several weeks in Lubyanka prison in the company of other allied prisoners before being moved to Bytereski Prison. His parents received a telegram to say that he was 'missing'. He and several others were later, with the help of Chaplain Frank North, sent back to England via Finland as part of an prisoner exchange.

Three weeks before he died, at the age of 88, my father piloted an aeroplane once more, after my mother entered him in a competition to win a free flight in a light aircraft.

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