Wednesday 15 May 1918 We Lost 462

by greatwarliveslost

David Emmett Coyne

Eighteen members of the Royal Air Force are killed on the Western Front today.

  • Captain William Geoffrey Chambers (Lincolnshire Regiment attached) is killed along with his American observer, Lieutenant R J Burky when their DH9 is shot down this morning. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ Thomas Chambers MP and nephew of both Lady Southwark and Lady Roxburgh.
  • Captain Charles George Douglas Napier (Royal Air Force) a nine-victory ace is killed in an action near Lamotte.
  • Captain John Vincent Aspinall (Royal Air Force) is shot down and killed.
  • Lieutenant Frederick Vincent Hall (Lincolnshire Regiment attached Royal Air Force) a seven-victory ace is killed in a collision with another Camel at age 20. He was awarded a medal by the citizens of Dunkerque for bravery in defending the town from hostile aircraft on 2nd May 1917.
  • Lieutenant John Basil Robert Langley (Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed in England at age 29. He is the son in law of ‘Sir’ Oliver Lodge the son of the Reverend John Langley and leaves a three-week-old son.
  • Lieutenant Cecil Martin Sankey MC (East Kent Regiment attached Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed in England at age 21. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in leading his men at Loos on 27th January 1917.
  • Lieutenant Geoffrey Wilson (Royal Air Force) is killed at age 23. He is the son of Dr Henry Wilson JP.
  • Lieutenant Herbert Whiteley Sellars MC and his observer Lieutenant Charles Robson shoot down two enemy aircraft including 16-victory ace Ludwig Hanstein who is killed. Lieutenant Sellars an eight-victory ace is killed when their Bristol F2b is shot down over Bouchou later in the day at age 21. His brother will be killed later in the Great War

At Vaire-Sous-Corbie at 21:30 Sergeant David Emmett Coyne (Australian Infantry) is instructing a platoon post in the support line. Being doubtful as to the quality of some Mills Grenades in the trench, he decides to test some by throwing one over the parapet. He does this but by some mischance or other the grenade falls back into the trench among a Lewis Gun team. Coyne cries “Go for your lives boys, the bomb is in the trench” and endeavors to find the bomb in order to throw it out of the trench. Due to the darkness he cannot put his hand on the bomb, which has rolled some little distance away. Realizing the danger to those around him who have not gotten clear of the trench, he throws himself on top of the bomb which explodes, inflicting on him injuries from which he will die. His last words to the men around him are “I layed on the bomb. I thought you didn’t have time to get out.” For this act he will be awarded a posthumous Albert Medal in Gold the only award of its type presented to a member of the Australian Infantry in the war.

Today’s losses include:

  • 16, 9 and 7 victory aces
  • The grandson of a Member of Parliament
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
  • A man whose son was born three weeks previously
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • An Albert Medal winner
  • An Artillery Brigade commander
  • A man whose two sons were previously killed

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thesiger Frankland Hood DSO (commanding 38th Brigade Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 36. He is the middle of three brothers who will lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Private William Penrhyn Bodington Draper (Lancaster Regiment) dies of wounds at home at age 24. He is the last of all three sons of the Reverend William Henry Draper who lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Private George Alfred Smith (Royal Defence Corps) dies at home at age 54. His two sons have already been killed in the Great War.
  • Private James Wright (King’s Royal Rifle Corps attached London Regiment) dies of wounds. His brother will die of wounds in June.