Sunday, 5 June 2016
Tomb of Flight Sub Lieut. Reginald Warneford, VC
Reginald Warneford was a pilot in the Royal Navy Air Service, having transferred from the Army soon after joining up. By May 1915 he was on active duty with 1 Wing at Veurne on the Belgian coast, which the Germans never managed to occupy. He rapidly made a name for himself with attacks upon German troops and aircraft, and was assigned his own aircraft - a French-built Morane-Saulnier Type L monoplane. On 7 June near Ghent he encountered the German Zeppelin LZ 37. He engaged the heavily-armed airship, managed to climb above it, and attacked it with bombs. His last bomb set the airship on fire and brought it down, but the explosion damaged his own aircraft. Forced to land behind enemy lines, Warneford managed to effect repairs and returned safely to base.
For this not inconsiderable act of bravery and cool-headed thinking,Warneford was awarded both the Victoria Cross and the French Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, but sadly he was dead just ten days later. On 17 June, after receiving the Légion d'honneur from the French Army Commander in Chief, Warneford travelled to Buc in order to fly an aircraft for delivery to the RNAS at Veurne. He made a short test flight alone, then a second flight with American journalist Henry Beach Newman as a passenger.The aircraft broke up in flight, and both men were fatally injured: Newman died at the scene and Warneford on his way to hospital.
He was buried at Brompton Cemetery on 21 June 1915 in a ceremony attended by thousands of mourners