Flight Lieutenant Walter Edward Traynor, 3rd Squadron, the Royal Naval Air Service
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Flight Lieutenant Walter Edward Traynor, 3rd Squadron, the Royal Naval Air Service, was killed in action at Hermies in France.
Before the outbreak of the Great War he had been employed as a stores clerk for a builders’ merchant. He joined the 13th Battalion of the London Regiment in 1914 and served as a private, and by October of 1915 he had been commissioned into the Royal Naval Air Service.
On the day of his death he was scheduled to return home on leave and to get married – he had endured several months of what was described as “vicious aerial combat” over the north-west of France. That morning one of his fellow pilots suffered a severe breakdown and Flight Lieutenant Traynor volunteered to take his place. He was shot down by one of Germany’s first flying aces, Offizierstellvertreter Fritz Kosmahl of the Luftstreitkräfte, and crash-landed close to the German lines. Determined to not surrender, he used his pistol against advancing German soldiers until he was fatally shot. One of those soldiers took Flight Lieutenant Traynor’s engraved silver cigar case, and was discovered with it when he was captured by the British some time later; during questioning he owned up to how he came by it, and it was returned to Flight Lieutenant Traynor’s family. He is buried in the Achiet-le-Grand Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, which is on the road from Arras to Baupame in France.
Walter, from Wandsworth, had just turned 23 years old.