Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant Frederick John Ewart Stafford, 8 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, died of wounds received eleven days after being shot down while on dawn patrol during the Battle of Arras..
One of four children of the owner of a large fancy-goods shop, he was educated at Caldicott School in Hertfordshire and Mill House School in London. In August of 1916 he obtained a commission in the Royal Flying Corps and showed great aptitude for flying.
Heavy casualties were suffered by the Royal Flying Corps in April of 1917 after the Battle of Arras began – that month became known as Bloody April despite largely successful operations during the battle. Second Lieutenant Stafford was wounded on the 11th of April after being attacked while over the German lines at Wancourt. He suffered a broken leg and although fainting from loss of blood, he managed to crash-land on an area of land that had been taken from the Germans only a few hours before. His observer was unhurt and was able to leave the plane and take cover in a shell-hole. Second Lieutenant Stafford was attended to by a cavalry doctor, who was wounded by shell-fire while treating him.
Second Lieutenant Stafford was taken to the advance base hospital at Abbeville in France, and his parents were given permission to visit him, so critical was his condition. His broken leg had to be amputated, but he could not be saved and died eleven days later. He lies buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery. On his headstone are the words “A little white knight of Merrie England”.
Frederick, from Brighton, was 19 years old.