Remembering the Fallen: On this day in 1918, Second Lieutenant John Anthony McCudden M.C., the Royal Flying Corps, was killed in action when his plane was shot down near Saint-Souplet, France.
One of five children, he followed his father into the Royal Engineers when he enlisted at Sheerness in 1912, serving at first as a bugler boy. By May of 1916 he was serving as a dispatch rider when he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps - it was in that month that his older brother William, serving with the R.F.C. was killed in a flying accident. One of his other brothers, James, would be killed in July of 1918, also in a flying accident, but not until he had distinguished himself by being awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order & Bar, Military Cross & Bar, and the Military Medal.
Second Lieutenant McCudden at first worked on engine repair, and then began pilot training in March of 1917. He served with 25 Squadron and 84 Squadron, achieving a total of eight victories. In February of 1918 he was shot down by Leutnant Ulrich Neckel of Jasta 12 and survived, but was killed in aerial combat a month later by Leutnant Hans Wolff of Jasta 11. Fellow air ace Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Saunders referred to him as an extremely gallant young pilot who always prepared to take on any odds, and was of course a great loss.
Flight Lieutenant McCudden was posthumously awarded the Military Cross, the citation for which reads: “While on patrol he attacked single-handed two enemy tri-planes, causing one to dive down steeply under control and the other to crash to the ground. On the day previous to this he destroyed a hostile two-seater, besides which he has driven down one other machine, which was observed to be destroyed, and four others completely out of control. He has always displayed great courage and determination.” He lies buried in the Saint-Souplet British Cemetery in France.
John, from Chatham in Kent, was 20 years old.