A hundred years ago today the first Naval Aviation Victoria Cross will be awarded to Flight Sub Lieutenant Reginald Warneford serving with the Royal Naval Air Service. His exploits of being the first British airman in bring down a Zeppelin (LZ.37) would make headline news around the world, but within ten days of being thrust into the limelight; Flight Sub Lieutenant Reginald Warneford would be dead.
On 17 June 1915, Warneford received the award of Légion d'honneur from the French Army Commander in Chief, General Joffre. Following a celebratory lunch, Warneford travelled to the aerodrome at Buc in order to ferry an aircraft for delivery to the RNAS at Veurne. Having made one short test flight, he then flew a second flight, carrying an American journalist, Henry Beach Newman, as passenger. During a climb to 200 feet, the right-hand wings collapsed leading to a catastrophic failure of the airframe. Accounts suggest that neither occupant was harnessed and were both thrown out of the aircraft, suffering fatal injuries. In the case of Newman, death was instantaneous.Warneford died of his injuries on the way to hospital.
He was buried at Brompton Cemetery, London on 21 June 1915 in a ceremony attended by thousands of mourners.
This is Flight Sub Lieutenant Reginald Warneford official report dated 8th June 1915
I left Furnes at 1:00 am on 7th June 1915 on Morane No. 3253 under orders to look for Zeppelins and attack the Berchem St Agathe Airship Shed with six 20 lb bombs.On arriving at Dixmude at 1:15 am, I observed a Zeppelin apparently over Ostend and proceeded in chase of the same. I arrived at close quarters a few miles past Bruges at 1:50 am and the Airship opened heavy maxim fire, so I retreated to gain height and the Airship turned and followed me. At 2:15 am it stopped firing and 2:25 am I came behind, but well above the Zeppelin; height than 11,000 feet, and switched off my engine to descend on top of him. When close above him at 7,000 feet altitude I dropped my bombs, and, whilst releasing the last, there was an explosition which lifted my machine and turned it over. The aeroplane was out of control for a short period, went into a nose dive, but control was regained. I then saw the Zeppelin was on the ground in flames. The joint on my petrol pipe and pump from the back tank was broken and at about 2:40 am I was forced to land in enemy territory to repair my pump. I made preparations to set the machine on fire, but was not observed, so was able to affect a repair of the aircraft and after considerable difficulty in starting my engine single handed, was able to take off and head in a South Westerly direction. I tried several times to find my whereabouts but was unable to do so, so I eventually landed and discovered I was at Cape Gris Nez, where I was given petrol by French soldiers. When the weather cleared I was able to proceed and arrived back at my Aerodrome about 10:30 am.
In todays' Daily Telegraph The fighting in the Dardanelles took centre stage, with the announcement that after fierce fighting 500 yards had been taken (page 9), whilst a special correspondent was able to report from the Turkish side on the same page; one wonders quite how he was able to accomplish this being a writer for an enemy power. One person who was confident that the Dardanelles campaign would end successfully was its chief mover Winston Churchill, in the course of a speech to his constituents at Dundee (page 10). This speech saw Churchill become the latest government member to be lionised in a leader (page 8) although considering the notorious anti-Socialist speech he would make almost exactly 30 years later (when he claimed the Labour Party would end up introducing some sort of Gestapo in Britain) it seems rather surprising to see him suggesting the nation should be “socialised.” - A wounded bandsman gives a sworn testimony that he witnesses dead soldiers who had been crucified by the Germans – page 6 - A week after the Zeppelin raid on London, or “the neighbourhood of London” was is claimed in the official announcement on page 9, the death toll is stated to be 6