Contributed by: , on 2008-11-06
|Year of Birth||1890|
|Year of Death||1916|
|Regiment||Royal Flying Corps|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Longparish, Hampshire|
Hawker was the RFC's first Ace - deemed by the French media to be someone with more than 5 victories. His motto was "Attack Everything!" and this he did for his short life. Hawker had arrived at St. Omer with 6 Squadron one of the first reinforcement squadrons sent out to France. In April 1915 he carried out a raid on the Zeppelin Sheds at Gontrode near Ghent receiving the DSO in recognitions of his bravery.
In early 1915 one of the problems for pilots was weaponry. Pistols and rifles were still the norm as the propeller got in the way of any forward mounted machine gun. Hawker decided to get round this by mounting a Lewis gun on the upper wing of his Bristol Scout.
During an evenings flying Hawker shot down three enemy aircraft one of which was containing valuable intelligence which was recovered. For this and his previous successes and leadership Hawker received the first Victoria Cross won by an airman.
In February 1916 Hawker returned to France in command of 24 Squadron. Equipped with the new DH2 they were agile enough to be effective at driving off the German Fockers which had become a serious menace with their synchronised forward firing guns.
His death was to be dramatic in one of the longest dogfights of the war. Flying his DH2, he engaged an Albatros DII behind German lines flown by the Ace of Aces Manfred von Richthofen. The DH2 was a highly agile machine and Hawker an accomplished pilot but he knew that eventually the Albatros would gain the upper hand. Eventually Hawker had to pull away and make a dash for his own lines. Just short of safety Hawker was hit in the head by one of Richtofen's last rounds - he had become the Red Baron's eleventh victim.
His grave was eventually lost and he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Memorial.