Sunday 7 January 1917 – We Lost 282
Sergeant Thomas Mottershead (Squadron Royal Flying Corps) will be awarded the Victoria Cross for landing his burning FE2 and saving the life of his observer Lieutenant W E Gower. Sergeant Mottershead is the first NCO to win the Victoria Cross for air operations during the Great War, though he will die of first degree burns on the 12th. Their aircraft is attacked at an altitude of 9,000 feet, the petrol tank is pierced and the machine set on fire. Enveloped in flames, which Lieutenant Gower is unable to subdue, Sergeant Mottershead succeeds in bringing his aircraft back to our lines, and though he makes a successful landing, the machine collapses on touching the ground, pinning him beneath the wreckage from which he will be subsequently rescued. Though suffering extreme torture from burns Sergeant Mottershead shows the most conspicuous presence of mind in the careful selection of a landing place, and his wonderful endurance and fortitude undoubtedly saved the life of Lieutenant Gower.
After having driven down one hostile machine, Flight Lieutenant Edward Rochfort Grange (Royal Naval Air Service) observes two other enemy aircraft attacking one of our scouts. He is on his way to its assistance when he is attacked by a third hostile scout. He is hit in the shoulder by a bullet from this machine, but lands his airplane safely at an aerodrome on our side of the line.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A man whose brother will be killed in September 1918
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Major Leonard Parker (Hussars attached Royal Flying Corps) dies of wounds at age 31 when he and his observer are shot down near Allaines while on a photo recon. He is the 1st casualty in action for 52nd squadron and the 1st involving an RE8 aircraft. He is the son of the Reverend and ‘Honorable’ Algernon R Parker.
- Lieutenant George Haire (Connaught Rangers) is killed at age 26. He is the son of the Reverend Canon W J Haire.
- Flight Observer William Basil Loxdale Jones (Royal Naval Air Service) drowns at age 28. He is the only son of the late Bishop of St David’s Gwynfryn Taliesin Cardiganshire.
- Lance Corporal Basil Bowen Harker-Thomas (British Columbia Regiment) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed in September 1918.