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Amelie’s Boys – the flying McCuddens - write-u

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Topic: Amelie’s Boys – the flying McCuddens - write-u
Posted By: NickForder
Subject: Amelie’s Boys – the flying McCuddens - write-u
Date Posted: 13 May 2011 at 11:03
Amelie’s Boys – the flying McCuddens
Capt. David Rowland, FRAeS, FRIN, RAeS Past President, 2007-2008
Joint with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
avid’s lecture took us to
the Great War and
recounted the story of Jimmy
McCudden, the most
decorated pilot of the
conflict, and his pilot
brothers. Sometimes
poignant, often amusing, the
evening gave an insight into
the struggles and losses of
one family among many
whose menfolk fought and
Starting with a little
historical perspective, we
were reminded that it was
only six years after Cody
‘hopped’ to fame at
Farnborough that four
squadrons of the Royal Flying
Corps went to war in 1914.
William McCudden and his
wife Amelie (née Byford) had
seven children, and we
followed the fortunes of the
four sons, three of whom flew
as pilots in the war, the fourth
being too young to see active
Eldest brother Bill, like his
father, joined the Royal
Engineers, and was selected
for flying training to become
one of the earliest to gain a
flying licence (#269). A
certain Lord Trenchard was
#270. Bill was tragically
killed on a training flight in
May 1915 after engine
Second son James
(Jimmy) also joined the
Royal Engineers as a bugle
boy at 15, then the RFC as a
mechanic at 18 (in 1913).
With the British
Expeditionary Force in 1915,
he flew his first sortie as
observer in June of that year,
filing his first combat report
in December. In January
1916, after promotion to
sergeant and receiving the
Croix de Guerre, he returned
to the UK for flying training
and qualified in June. Then
to battle: first with 20 Sqn
and the Royal Aircraft
Factory F.E.2d, then 29 Sqn
flying the DH.2, scoring his
first victory on 6 September.
A Military Medal followed,
more kills, and a commission
in early 1917. After
instructing in the UK, Jimmy
returned to France to
command B Flight of the elite
56 Sqn, flying the Royal
Aircraft Factory S.E.5a. The
months that followed, to
February 1918, proved to be
very productive for him, with
52 victories. With a total of
57 victories he received a
hero’s welcome back home,
a Victoria Cross for
“conspicuous bravery and
exceptional perseverance”.
Sadly fate decreed that
Jimmy would not see out the
war – he was killed in a
takeoff accident at Auxi-le-
Chateau on 9 July 1918,
aged just 23.
Third son John (known as
Anthony) followed his
brothers into the RFC,
achieving the rank of Second
Lieutenant. He recorded
eight victories and was
awarded the Military Cross,
but was shot down and killed
in March 1918.
Needless to say, mother
Amelie was so proud of the
achievements of her boys,
particularly as they had all
started ‘in the ranks’. The
formidable Amelie became
something of a celebrity
herself, and was chosen to
represent the Empire
families at a ceremony at
the grave of the
Unknown Soldier at
Washington, DC.
A lively question and
answer session followed. For
example, did you know that
No. 3 Sqn was the first
“operational fighting
squadron”? Apparently No. 1
had airships, and No. 2 initially
had no aircraft at all!
Graham Roe gave the
vote of thanks, for an
evening’s entertainment well
appreciated by the
audience. w
John G. Proctor

Posted By: Jonathan Saunders
Date Posted: 16 May 2011 at 12:54
A small point to correct.  John Anthony McCudden was generally known as "Jack" by his siblings and peers.
Jonathan S

Remembering the McCudden family of Gillingham.

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