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Wing Captain Elder

Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: General Discussion
Forum Name: General
Forum Discription: General Discussion
URL: http://www.crossandcockade.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=275
Printed Date: 08 Aug 2020 at 11:47
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Topic: Wing Captain Elder
Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Subject: Wing Captain Elder
Date Posted: 01 Aug 2010 at 01:50
In the article on J H Keens in the latest C&C Journal, Wing Captain "Daddy" Elder is mentioned as being the CO of 3 Wing RNAS.
 
Does anyone know anything about this officer? He is also mentioned in the autobiographies of Richard Bell Davies VC and Raymond Collishaw, who also served with 3 Wing at this time, but again little information is given. He seems to be a rather shadowy figure. He is not listed in the Air Officer Biographies on Rafweb.org, so presumably did not achieve Air Rank.
 
Could it be that he was not an airman at all, but a regular naval officer brought in to bring some discipline and staff support to the unit, who were mainly ? Bell Davies would have provided most of the air fighting experience and led the Oberndorf raid, but most of the others were young volunteers with little experience of naval life let alone of aerial warfare.
 
Keens describes him as the "Irish Landlord" - what is the significance of this epithet?



Replies:
Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 07:55
Irish landlords were well-known for being absent (as most lived in England).
 
I think that you are right about his lack of air experience. Just as there was a tendency to rotate RNAS officers through the Fleet (Longmore served a tour on Cruisers), the lack of higher ranking naval officers with air experience would have resulted in 'sailors' being posted in for duties other than flying. The assumption would have been that leadership is leadership, irrespective of the led. 


Posted By: David Seymour
Date Posted: 02 Aug 2010 at 17:50

Adrian,

I hope that the following is of assistance:

William Leslie Elder, RN (born 26/6/74) took his Royal Aero Club certificate on a Maurice Farman at RNAS Chingford on 31/8/15.  The promotion of Capt William Leslie Elder, R.N. from Wing Commander in the R.N.A.S. to Acting Wing Captain, wef 31/12/16, was announced in the London Gazette for 23/1/17.  He was mentioned in despatches in the Gazette of 6/4/18 as Captain William Leslie Elder, R.N.  His C.M.G. was gazetted on 3/6/18.  His Croix de Guerre avec Palme was gazetted on 23/8/19, where he was referred to as Captain William Leslie Elder, C.M.G., R.N. (formerly R.N.A.S.).  He retired as a Rear Admiral.

David 



Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 01:40
Thanks David and Nick,.
 
So he was a pilot, and gained his certificate at the age of 41. He must have been one of the oldest pilots in the RNAS. The autobiographies of Bell Davies and Collishaw both describe him as a Wing Captain in late 1916 at the time of the Oberndorf raid, but it appears that his promotion to this rank came later. Probably Bell Davies and Collishaw knew of his later rank and were relying on their memories as to his rank when they knew him.
 
Like Bell Davies, he appears to have been one of the few RNAS officers who elected to stay in the Navy rather than be transfered to the RAF.


Posted By: David Seymour
Date Posted: 03 Aug 2010 at 14:06
Adrian,
I neglected to mention that his Royal Aero Club index card records his rank as Captain RN.
David


Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 04 Aug 2010 at 01:54
Interesting but confusing .... perhaps he was so keen to serve in the RNAS that he took a drop in rank. But given his age, more likely he was posted to the RNAS to provide regular Naval discipline and organisation, and thought he ought to learn to fly to understand the job better, rather like Brigadier General Game of the RFC whom we discussed recently.
 
Could it be that designations such as Wing Commander and Wing Captain described appointments, rather than substantive ranks (which I think was true of the difference between a Flight Commander and a Squadron Commander, and indeed was originally the case with a Lt Cmdr in the regular Navy)?


Posted By: Colin
Date Posted: 05 Aug 2010 at 17:38
Here is Capt Elder, RAeC no 1681


Posted By: tartle
Date Posted: 06 Feb 2014 at 00:56
Researching the aviation activities of Maurice Egerton has unearthed correspondence with the Wrights Sept 30th 1915 about his arrival in New York  as an inspector of aircraft for the RN; he replaced Captain Elder, RN.


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Tartle


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 06 Feb 2014 at 10:36
Interesting to know Egerton went to the USA so early. Presumably he sought employment with the Admiralty quite soon after coming back from Kenya and being told that his squadron command in the Cheshire Yeomanry had been given to someone else, him being AWOL on mobilization ?

Were Egerton & Elder working for an Admiralty Purchasing Mission, as existed in France, or attached to a  manufacturer ? September 1915 seems a little early for the latter except, perhaps, Curtiss ?


Posted By: tartle
Date Posted: 06 Feb 2014 at 19:57
That is correct .... Curtiss Buffalo was the place; later he went to oversee Liberty engine production in Detroit. I am just finishing a book of his aviation career1909-1918 and have uncovered a few interesting morsels of information..

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Tartle


Posted By: tartle
Date Posted: 17 Sep 2014 at 21:31
 New research has revealed the story of Maurice Egerton being in Kenya is rubbish. His passport in the collection at Tatton has now been looked at carefully (Folded inside his blue passport book, which was mot introduced until 1920; a folded piece of paper stapled into a book form came in in 1915; this is a single sheet form predating both of those) shows he went into the Tian Shan mountains of China in June 1914 and did not emerge till October so he was not likely to have known about the war 'til then... he then came home via Finland and Newcastle. He went to USA in April 1914 to look after the H-series and Canada aircraft at Buffalo and in Canada, a duty he performed til the wars end. I had finished a book on ME's aviation decade when we discovered this so one chapter is being re-written!
Captain Leslie Elder was according to Canadian sources the Inspecting captain of Aicraft Building at Admiralty Air Department who signed a contract March 26 1915 for JN-3 Jennies to be produced in Canada and to set up Curtiss pilot training base there as well. He then handed over to ME the following month as an aircraft and Aero engine technically savvy person was needed to oversee manufacture at Buffalo and Toronto.



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