Saturday 31 July 1915 – We Lost 260
While on his second operational sortie with the Royal Flying Corps in an RE5, Captain John Aiden Liddell (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) takes off from St. Omer with his observer Second Lieutenant. R H Peck for a routine reconnaissance patrol over the Ostend, Bruges and Ghent area. Near Bruges, over enemy territory they are suddenly fired at from above seriously wounding Lieutenant Liddell and taking away part of his hip. Lieutenant Peck returns the fire but as he is reloading Liddell loses consciousness, the plane goes out of control, loses some 3,000 feet and turns upside down. Liddell regains sufficient consciousness, realizes where he is and instinctively rights the machine. Being determined not to fall into enemy hands he writes a note (apart from hand signals the other method of communication between pilot and observer) to Peck and they agree to try to get back to the Allied lines. The aircraft is extensively damaged with the control wheel, the throttle and under-carriage all hit and the only way that the severely wounded pilot can fly the plane is to hold the damaged control wheel in one hand and to work the rudder control cables with the other. After half an hour flying they reach La Panne Belgian airfield and in spite of his wounds and the damage to the aircraft Lieutenant Liddell makes a perfect landing at full throttle and switches off the engine on touchdown. Lieutenant Liddell will be awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on this day, though he will die of his wounds one month later on 31st August.
Today’s losses include:
- A battalion commander
- The son of Lord Templemore
- A former 3 time Cambridge boxing champion
- A member of the clergy
- A Welsh International Rugby union wing
- A lawn tennis player
- The grandson of a Justice of the Peace
- Multiple men who are the sons of members of the clergy
- Multiple men who will have a brother also killed in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties are:
- Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Frederick Sargeaunt (Royal Engineers) is killed when shot through the jugular vein at age 44. He is a South African War veteran and his brother will be killed in June 1917. They are grandsons of Charles Sargaunt JP.
- Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Jennings Imrie Harris (commanding 5th Australian Light Horse) is killed at Harris Ridge southern Anzac at age 44. His half-brother will be killed serving in the South Africa Infantry in France 1916.
- Captain Noel Jardine Exell (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend Exell.
- Captain Richard Wilfred Braithwaite (Durham Light Infantry) is killed at age 38. He is a veteran of the South African War and the son of the late Reverend J M Braithwaite Vicar & Rural Deacon of Croydon who lost another son last May.
- Captain ‘the Honorable’ Richard Cecil Frederick Chichester (attached Serbian Army) dies of typhoid fever at age 26. He is the son of Lord Templemore and when he was pronounced medically unfit for active service he went to Serbia as Secretary to Lady Paget’s Hospital.
- Captain Richard Selby Durnford (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed. His brother will be killed in July 1918 and they are sons of the Bishop of Durnford.
- Lieutenant Frederick Edward Barwick Hulton-Sams (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) is killed while crawling from cover to fetch water for his wounded men at Hooge at age 33. He is the son of the late Reverend George Frederick Sams and his cousin (also son of a priest) will be killed in January 1916 in Mesopotamia. While at Cambridge he won the University Featherweight Boxing Cup in 1901, 1902, 1904, and represented Cambridge against Oxford in those years, winning each time. He was ordained in September 1905 to the curacy of St. Paul’, Balsall Heath, Birmingham and in 1908 joined the Bush Brotherhood, Queensland, where he worked till 1914, his skill in boxing earning him the sobriquet of “the Fighting Parson”. On the outbreak of the War Lieutenant Hulton-Sams applied for a Military Chaplaincy but failing to obtain one he enlisted in the Bedfordshire Regiment, in which he rose to the rank of Lance-Corporal. In November 1914, he received a Commission in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
- Second Lieutenant William Purdon Green (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 24. He is a Welsh international rugby union wing who played club rugby for Newport and county rugby for Monmouthshire and was selected for Wales on three occasions.
- Sergeant Stewart Charles Everett (Canterbury Mounted Rifles) dies on Gallipoli of enteric fever at age 21. He is a well known footballer and the district lawn tennis champion.
- Rifleman Arthur Sharman (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 21. His brother will die at home on service three days before the Armistice in 1918.