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James Stedman FE2b article

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Adrian Roberts View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Aug 2009 at 01:33
I found the first-hand account in this months C&C of Lt Stedman's experience as an FE2b night-bomber observer particularly interesting.
 
A few comments and questions:
 
What do the initials RL mean? The bombs, both 230lb and 112lb are described this way in the photo captions, and so is the flare chute.
 
Do we know anything of Stedman's later career and when he died? He says that he became a night-fighter [HD]  pilot later in WW1.
 
This article also cleared up something else for me. As a small boy, probably 40 years ago, I read "Biggles in the Baltic", which is set right at the beginning of WW2. Our hero is described as shooting out searchlights over the Kiel canal by diving down the searchlight beams while firing his guns, and apparently this had been done in the "previous war". As I got older, I dismissed this as a figment of W E Johns' imagination: flying down a beam sounded easier said than done especially when you were being dazzled, and it seemed very unlikely that they would have actually hit the searchlight or its crew. But Stedman says that he actually did this, and in an aircraft as ungainly as the Fe2b. "Sometimes Herb [his pilot] would fly straight down the beam so I could take a shot at the thing... I put several lights out". Of course they were only flying at a few hundred feet - any higher and the trajectory of the bullets would have made this early form of beam-guidance ineffective.
 
Adrian
 
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Rob View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2009 at 23:01
Hi Adrian, interestingly, through my research of Handley Page bombers over the western front, i've come across reference to gunners shooting out search lights, presumably from the standard operating height of at least 4000 feet - i've wondered about the trajectory myself
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John-G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 2009 at 23:19

Hi Adrian

I visited Kew today and had a look for his AIR76. There are two sets of records which I have amalgamated.

The only one I could find was for a James Edward Stedman, but he does not sound like your man.

 

James Edward Stedman

 

 

Born 07/09/1896

 

Address 1 Dale Street, Langley Park, Durham.

No PI number?

R Horse Guard, Highland Bttn?

 

11/03/18    5 CW

11/03/18    5 OCW.

24/05/18    5 SoA.

28/07/18    Armament School.

15/10/18     Northern General Hospital.

28/11/18    Found unsuitable for Flying Officer voluntarily reverts to his previous army rank of Private.

 

As this does not look like the right man, I have checked the RAeC records and he did not gain a certificate, but my 1921 AFL, has a Raymond de L Stedman, could this be the answer to your query about RL and it would also account for there not being an AIR76 record.

 

HuckJ

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adrian Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Aug 2009 at 01:21
Originally posted by Rob Rob wrote:

Hi Adrian, interestingly, through my research of Handley Page bombers over the western front, i've come across reference to gunners shooting out search lights, presumably from the standard operating height of at least 4000 feet - i've wondered about the trajectory myself
 
Rob - I wonder if in both cases, the searchlight operators were simply switching their lights off when they realised they were under fire, and neither they nor the lights were actually being hit!
 
Huck: Thanks for looking this up, but neither man sounds right. Our man was with the Connaught Rangers before joining the RFC. I don't see that the initials of the second man would be relevant to the context of those letters in the article. As to him not having an RAeC certificate: this is not necessarily significant. Pilots trained by the RFC/RAF could qualify as a military pilot without having to apply for an RAeC certificate. In the early days of flying, virtually all British pilots, civil and military, would have an RAeC cert, but as increasing numbers trained, by 1917-18, they often did not bother to apply to the RAeC.
 
 
 


Edited by Adrian Roberts - 23 Aug 2009 at 01:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Aug 2009 at 20:43
Yes, I wonder if the Cooper bombs carried for dropping on searchlights did a better job or just had the same effect? (I presume the Cooper's carried on FE2's were for the same purpose as the ones on HP's)
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