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Second Lieutenant Charles Edward Tudor-Jones, the East Lancashire Regiment, and Second Lieutenant Alan Victor Hobbs, the Royal Sussex Regiment, both attached to 3 Squadron, the Royal Flying Corps

December 15, 2019

 

Remembering the Fallen:  on this day in 1915, Second Lieutenant Charles Edward Tudor-Jones, the East Lancashire Regiment, and Second Lieutenant Alan Victor Hobbs, the Royal Sussex Regiment, both attached to 3 Squadron, the Royal Flying Corps, were killed during aerial combat over Raismes in France.  They were shot down by Oberleutnant Max Immelmann of the Imperial German Army Air Service, who would himself be killed in action six months later. 

On the day of their deaths they took off from 3 Squadron’s airbase in Auchel for a reconnaissance flight behind enemy lines, with Second Lieutenant Hobbs as pilot and Second Lieutenant Tudor-Jones as observer.  A French witness described what happened:  “At 8.30 in the morning, we witnessed a sad spectacle as an aerial combat took place at 200 metres altitude. A German plane armed with machine guns was pursuing a French aircraft which had been given to the army by the town of Beauvais, crewed by two English officers. The battle, which started over Douai, came to an end over Raismes since the German plane, which was very powerful, easily caught up with the French plane whose observer, shot several times, fell and landed in a tree on the boulevard near the level-crossing at Raismes station. The plane went into a spin and crashed between two properties, not far from the town square. As they fell, the Priest, who was watching this aerial combat, gave absolution to these brave men. The pilot was found in the wreck 500m from his comrade".

They were reported as missing, but a month later word of what happened reached their Squadron Commander, who wrote to their parents to inform them of their sons’ fate.  The letters included this information:  “That the Germans appreciated their bravery and noble self-sacrifice little less than we, who knew them both, is shown by the honours they accorded them at their funeral. The message states that the whole garrison of the town in which their machine fell attended the funeral, and that both officers were buried with full military honours. The German Flying Corps sent a few wreaths, which they laid on the graves."  A German man whose house was close to where the plane crashed was quoted in his local newspaper as saying that he had never seen a pluckier fight than that made by the two young English officers.  Both now lie buried in the Raismes Communal Cemetery in France

Second Lieutenant Tudor-Jones was educated at King William’s College on the Isle of Man, and at the time of the outbreak of the Great War was working as an articled clerk with Mr. W.H. Michelmore, an Exeter solicitor.  He joined the East Lancashire Regiment and was soon attached to the Royal Flying Corps.  From Swindon in Wiltshire, Charles was 19 years old.

Second Lieutenant Hobbs was the eldest of three sons, and attended The Skinners’ School in Tunbridge Wells (where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps) before receiving a scholarship to Tonbridge School.  He also won a scholarship to study mathematics at Cambridge where in his first year he won several academic prizes.  The outbreak of the Great War prevented him returning for his second year, as he joined the Special Reserve Battalion of the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, and was commissioned into the Sussex Regiment in October of 1914 before being attached to the Royal Flying Corps.  From Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Alan had just turned 21 years old.

 

 

 

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