Contributed by: Ian Bennett, on 2008-11-02
|Year of Birth||1891|
|Year of Death||1918|
|Regiment||Royal Flying Corps|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Cambridge, Cambridgeshire|
Parachutes were not issued to aircrew
Harry and Arthur Bennett had emigrated to Canada from Cambridge. In 1914 they vounteered for the Canadian Infantry. Arthur stayed in the East Ontario Regiment and after he had been injured in the attack on Vimy Ridge on 9th April 1917 he was invalided back to Canada. Harry transferred into the Royal Flying Corps and went to France with the 49th Squadron as a bomber pilot. On 24 September 1918 in an attack on the Aulnoye railway junction his DH9 aircraft was hit and set on fire. British aircrew were not issued with parachutes and in a burning aircraft had the choice of staying in the plane and suffering a painful death, jumping out to a certain but quicker death or blowing their brains out with the pistol that many carried for that purpose. In a two seater plane there was also the observer to be considered. Harry brought his plane down behind enemy lines and his Observer, 2nd Lt Robert Hunter Armstrong, was uninjured and taken prisoner. Harry died from his burns. Ironically the German pilot Lt Paul Baumer who had shot him down had been saved a few weeks earlier by the parachute which had been issued to him.