49 Squadron and Martinsydes

A Martinsyde "Elephant" at an unknown airfield.

RFC records show the following airmen as "Flying Officers for Martinsydes and based with 49Sqn at Dover.

John March Burd
Maxwell Henry Coote
William Francis Dodson
John Edgar Edgar
Hugh Henry MacLeod Fraser
Francis Henry Humphreys
Melville Johnstone
Edward Robert Pennell
Arthur Valleau Price
Henry Phillip Rushforth
William Oswald Russell
Alfred Locksley Sinclair

It is thought that these Officers were flying instructors.

The following details come courtesy of the Worcestershire Regiment website and concern the training of Lt W H S Chance.

No. 49 was equipped with Martinsyde Scouts and commanded by Major Barratt - later to end a notable career as Chief of the Air Staff and an Air Chief Marshal. I remember him with thick dark hair and a large black moustache, but my log book only records his signature.

The Martinsyde - known in the Service as the "Elephant" - was a single-seater biplane with a 120 horse-power four-cylinder-in-line water cooled Beardmore engine. It was rather Germanic in design and, while not difficult to fly, had a nasty habit of "floating" when one levelled off to land. So long as one held back "the stick", all was well and the wheels settled down into the grass. But it was fatal to attempt to hurry the process of landing, which only resulted in protests from the "Elephant" in the form of bumps and bounces.

Being a single seater, no "dual" was possible, so after appropriate words of advice from an instructor I taxied out and took to the air. Log book reports; "1 hour 5 minutes, 3500 ft: bad landing." But the undercarriage was sturdy and no damage was done. I only stayed a week at Dover and put in just over five hours flying time. I had now completed my training - gained my "Wings" and flown solo for 26 hours and 37 minutes.

The first thought on "graduating" was to acquire a R.F.C. "maternity jacket", as the double-breasted, high-collared uniform was colloquially known. Rounded off with a pale coloured pair of Cavalry breeches, brown field boots, Sam Browne belt, and a forage cap, one felt highly superior to the infantry subaltern.