Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917 Captain the Honourable Eric Fox Pitt Lubbock, 45 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, was killed in action near Lijssenthoek in Belgium.
One of ten children of the first Baron Avebury, he was educated at Eton and Oxford, and joined the Army Service Corps at the outbreak of the Great War.
He was promoted to lance corporal a month later, and on the 23rd of September sailed for France with the Mechanical Transport Company as the personal driver of the supply officer of the Divisional Supply Column. In 1915, Captain Lubbock was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as a probationary observer, took pilot training and in October of that year he was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and skill when he brought down a German Albatross plane from a height of 9,000 feet. By mid-1916, as a flying officer, he was on active service at Fienvillers and Sainte-Marie-Cappell.
Captain Lubbock wrote to his mother: “My darling Mum, One is here confronted almost daily with the possibility of Death, and when one looks forward to the next few months this possibility becomes really a probability. As my object in life is to comfort and help you, so it is my last hope if I should be taken from you, that I may not cause you too great a grief. Also I know that if in my last hour, I am conscious, my chief consolation will be to feel that these thoughts may reach you.”
On the day of his death his A 1082 Sopwith Strutter was attacked and brought down by two German planes, both the the Albatross D.III, flown by Jasta pilots Leutnant Strahle and Leutnant Flink. His body was recovered and buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery at West-Vlaanderen in Belgium. Captain Lubbock’s brother, the Honourable Harold Fox Pitt Lubbock, would be killed in action just over a year later.
His friend Collingwood Ingram, the renowned ornithologist and plant collector, paid tribute to him: "There have been few finer characters than Lubbock – a man of more than ordinary intelligence, he devoted all his mental and physical energy to his work and during my stay with 45 Squadron no pilot was so frequently in air. Absolutely unaffected, he was as courteous as he was kind, and from the very first moment I saw him he treated me with a natural politeness that set me entirely at my ease and made me feel as though I had known him for years. This sincerity was unquestionable. With Lubbock’s death the Flying Corps has lost a valuable officer and England a gallant pure-minded gentleman that will be difficult to replace."
Eric, from Langham in Kent, was 23 years old.