The exceptional Great War British Highest Scoring Bristol Fighter Pilot Ace’s 30 victory Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross group, and his Observer’s 26 victory Distinguished Flying Medal group, the first to Captain S.F.H. Thompson, Royal Air Force, and the second to 2nd Lieutenant R.M. Fletcher, RAF, who when flying with 22 Squadron between then became the highest British Two-Seater combined Pilot / Observer ‘Aces’ of the war, scoring 26 kills between them.
Group of 4: Military Cross, GRI Cypher; Distinguished Flying Cross, GRI Cypher; British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CAPT S.F.H. THOMPSON. R.A.F.). Together with an original Great War period officer’s wire bullion set of pilot wings.
Group Condition: Good Very Fine or better.
Group of 3: Distinguished Flying Medal, GVR Coinage bust; (P/22398 SERGT. FLETCHER, R.M., R.A.F.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (2.LIEUT. R.M. FLETCHER. R.A.F.)
Condition: Good Very Fine.
Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson was born on 30th August 1890, and came from Blackheath, London, the son of Samuel Whitell and Florence Augusta Jane Thompson, being educated at the East London College, a part of the University of London located at Mile End, where he undertook a civil and mechanical engineering course, and was also a member of the University of London Officer Training Corps. Thompson then gained practical experience with the firm of Fraser & Chalmers of Erith over three and a half years in machine shop fitting and the erecting of a Turbine Foundry and Boiler Shop, before going on to work for two years in Northern Nigeria with the Foruin River Tin Company, and then with the outbreak of the Great War, Thompson who had already been a pre-war member of the Army Service Corps Territorial Force, then applied for a commission in the Mechanical Transport Section of the Army Service Corps at Kingsway in London on 15th January 1915.
Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 22nd March 1915, he was promoted to Lieutenant on 25th August 1915, and was initially employed with the 34th Reserve Park and Bourley from 10th May 1915, and the 22nd Reserve Park at Newbury from 20th October 1915 when a member of the 208th Heavy Transport Company, before being posted with this unit to Milford and then overseas to see service in Salonika from 7th August 1916, before being posted to Egypt on 3rd December 1916 in order to transfer into the Royal Flying Corps.
After his pilot training, Thompson, who was by then known as ‘Siffy’, was posted home to Cramlington to join 63 Squadron on 21st April 1917. At this stage the squadron was undergoing training as a day bomber unit destined for the Western Front, however Thompson then transferred to 58 Squadron on 30th May 1917, also based at Cramlington, which was at the time operating as an advanced training unit, putting pilot’s through their paces in fighter aircraft, and Thompson passed out as a Flying Officer on 7th June 1917. Thompson then received a posting to No.37 Training Squadron from 12th July 1917, and then to the 1st Auxiliary School of Aerial Gunnery on 27th July 1917. Thompson was then posted to 20 Squadron, where he got to fly the new Bristol F2 two seater fighter, known as the ‘Brisfit’ and it was in one of these on 27th October 1917 that had his first crash. Thompson was finally posted operational to join No.22 Squadron out on the Western Front on 26th March 1918, and in a little over five months, would go on to become the single highest scoring British two-seater fighter pilot of Great War with 30 aerial victories, 25 of which were with his observer, Sergeant R.M. Fletcher. Thompson would transfer into the Royal Air Force on its formation on 1st April 1918.
Ronald Malcolm Fletcher was born on 22nd February 1899, and during the Great War would become attached to the Royal Flying Corps from the 30th Training Reserve Battalion in November 1917, when he joined No.22 Squadron. Serving as a Sergeant Observer (No.P/22398) in Bristol F2b fighters, in May 1916 he found himself twined with his pilot, Lieutenant S.F.H. ‘Siffy’ Thompson, who by this stage already had three confirmed kills to his name.
Thompson had gained his first kill, an Albatros DV aircraft, on 22nd April 1918 to the east of Merville, when flying with Lieutenant Charles George Gass as his observer. Gass who would gain the Military Cross in May 1918, was the top scoring gunner / observer of the Great War, with 39 aerial victories in company with various pilots to his credit. On 22nd April 1918 both men were flying an offensive patrol, and as Thompson reported: ‘Whilst on patrol with my flight we observed a flight of about 4 Albatros Scouts. My leader dived on them and I chose the second from last and put a burst of about 50 rounds into it. It immediately dropped over on its back and eventually went into a nose dive completely out of control and most probably crashed. Owing to visibility being difficult this could not be ascertained.’ The engagement occurred at 12,000 feet.
Shortly afterwards, Thompson found himself pair up with another observer, Sergeant L. Kendrick, and on 8th May 1918 the two shot down a two seater enemy aircraft at 13,000 feet over Arras. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst on patrol with another Bristol Fighter, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Atkey, I observed an enemy aircraft beneath me. I immediately dived upon it and I saw the observer throw up his hands and collapse in the cockpit. I turned round on the climb to let my observer get a burst in and he fired, and the machine immediately burst into flames and crashed south east of Arras.’
The next day, 9th May, once again with Kendrick as his observer, Thompson claimed his third aerial victory, when they shot down a Pfalz DIII Scout at 11,000 feet over the north of Douai. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst on patrol we were attacked from above by five enemy aircraft scouts. My observer, Sergeant Kendrick, put two drums into the nearest which eventually stalled and nose-dived and was seen to go down out of control.’ During this engagement, his aircraft did however suffer some damage, being shot through the bottom left hand wingeron and tail planes, and his aircraft had to go in for repair on its return to base.
It was now that Thompson found himself paired with Sergeant Fletcher, and this pairing would go on to become the most successful of all pilot and observer pairings, with twenty-five aerial victories between then.
During their first ever engagement together on 16th May 1918, Thompson and Fletcher claimed three aerial victories during two separate dog fights, one with 9 Pfalz Scouts, and the second with 13 similar, at 15,000 feet over Douai. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst doing an offensive patrol over Douai with 2nd Lieutenant Bromley we met 9 Pfalz Scouts. I dived on one and his right wing tip collapsed and he crashed to the ground. On zooming and diving again on another enemy aircraft I saw machine go down out of control an crash to the ground. On returning to the area again some more machines had come up and collected with the remains of the others. We dived again, this time I put a burst in at another and he went flown out of control but I could not see if it crashed. I now had to break off the engagement owing to my fusee spring breaking. On circling round afterwards I saw two machine on fire on the ground. One of these must have been 2nd Lieutenant Umney’s but I do not know who got the other.’ Thompson was now an ace with six shared kills to his name.
On 21st May 1918 Thompson and Fletcher claimed two kills in one sortie during an offensive patrol at 12,000 feet over the south west of Vitry, claiming one crashed and one out of control. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst doing an offensive patrol over Lens and River Scarpe we came upon two lots of enemy aircraft, one batch composed of LVG two seaters new type and Pfalz Scouts. My leader dived upon one batch when I suddenly saw the other batch to the left of us preparing to outclimb us so I concentrated my attention on the last batch. I dived on one machine and put a good burst in at him and he immediately went out of control, went into a flat spin and eventually went into a nose dive and I saw it crash south west of Vitry. I then dived on the next highest which zoomed up at me and on my turning, my observer put a burst in at him and he then went out of control slowly rolling over and over. I could not follow him down to the ground as my attention was taken away by my ammunition belt breaking and I had to finish the engagement.’
The next day 22nd May, Thompson and Fletcher were involved in an offensive patrol at 14,000 feet over the south east of Arras and Hancourt when they shot down an Albatros Scout D.V Type. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst doing an Offensive Patrol over Hancourt, we dived on ten enemy aircraft scouts. I chose the one nearest me and put a long burst into his tail and this machine at one dived and never came out but went straight on down in a nose-dive and eventually crashed. Afterward I flew back again and enemy aircraft had crashed in a field near Hancourt.’
On 25th May Thompson, flying together with Fletcher, claimed his 10th aerial victory, and their 7th as a pilot and observer pairing, during an offensive and escort patrol at 15,000 feet over west Carvin. Thompson recorded: While returning from escort duty we were suddenly attacked by about 40 enemy aircraft one of which immediately dived on a D.H.4. we were escorting. I made three dives on the enemy aircraft, and finished up with a long burst. It dived to about a thousand feet and then burst into flames. I could not watch it crash as the fighting was so intense.’
It was about then that Thompson learnt of the award of his Military Cross, the award being eventually published in the London Gazette on 16th September 1916, the citation read as follows: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as a fighting pilot. During recent operations he destroyed five enemy machines. He showed great courage and skill, and by his keenness and dash set a fine example to all’.
The original recommendation for his ‘immediate’ award made on 19th May 1918 read as follows: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has shown himself to be a brilliant fighting pilot, and by his keenness and dash has set a fine example to other pilots in his squadron. He has destroyed 5 enemy machines as under: -On 16th May 1918, when on Offensive Patrol, a formation of Pfalz Scouts were seen in the vicinity of Douai. He dived on one and fired a burst: the right wing of enemy aircraft folded up and the machine went down and crashed. Confirmed by another pilot. The same pilot then attacked another enemy machine which went down completely out of control and crashed. Another formation of Pfalz Scouts were then encountered. He dived on one and fired a long burst: enemy aircraft immediately fell completely out of control. On 8th May 1918, when on an offensive patrol, a two-seater was seen in the vicinity of Arras. He dived and attacked and after two bursts had been fired enemy aircraft burst into flames and crashed south east of Arras. On 22nd April 1918, when on offensive patrol, 4 Albatros Scouts were observed east of Merville. In the general engagement that ensued he singled out one into which he fired a burst of about 50 rounds. It dropped on its side and fell completely out of control.’
On 1st June, Thompson and Fletcher claimed another two kills on an offensive patrol at 12,000 feet in the Erquinhem to Lys area. Thompson recorded that he had personally shot down one, whilst Fletcher bagged the other. ‘Whilst doing an offensive patrol between Foret de Nieppe and Armentieres we came across eight enemy aircraft of various types. I dived on the nearest one which was an Albatros two-seater and put in a long burst at it. He immediately rolled over and over and eventually finished up in a nose dive and I saw it crash. I next dived on another, firing a good burst at it but he turned away, and seemed partially under control. I turned around in a bank and my observer, Sergeant Fletcher, emptied one drum into it and it immediately went down our of control and did not recover. My attention was next arrested by an Albatros Scout D.V. type, which were trying to outclimb us, I got a good burst in at it and it went down apparently out of control but I could not follow it down. On circling round afterwards I saw four machines crashed on the ground.’ Sergeant Fletcher recorded: ‘My pilot dived on an enemy aircraft and after firing a good burst the enemy aircraft stalled and then fell completely out of control. He then turned and allowed me to get a good burst into an enemy aircraft which was climbing below us. After firing a drum into enemy aircraft it dived steeply, fell sideways and then dived again completely out of control and I saw it crash.’
The next day, 2nd June, Thompson and Fletcher claimed two more aerial victories during an offensive patrol at 8,000 feet north east of Lens, one enemy aircraft going down in flames, the other out of control. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst doing an offensive patrol between Arras and the Foret de Nieppe we saw some Pfalz Scouts. I dived on one and put in a long burst at it and it immediately went into a side slip and nose dived down emitting clouds of black smoke then suddenly burst into flames. I next dived upon another and got a good burst in and it went down out of control, slowly rolling over and over. I now had to cease the engagement owing to engine control. Watching from above I saw two other machines go down completely out of control.’
On 5th June, Thompson and Fletcher again claimed two more kills, both Albatros Scouts, during an offensive patrol at 12,000 feet to the south of Laventie. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst on an offensive patrol south of Laventie we observed a Halberstadt two-seater. The leader of our formation dived upon it and it went down out of control and eventually crashed. Whilst this was going on, the escort attached to the two seater, about 4 Scouts, dived out of the sun, immediately from the south east. Some more enemy aircraft returning from the west, about 8 in number, proceeded to dive upon their own enemy aircraft escort, thinking them to be Allied machines. We then attacked them from above, I dived on the first Albatros Scout and put in a good burst and it immediately went down in a slow flat spin and I saw it crash near M12a (36). My observer then got in a good burst at an enemy aircraft on our tail and it immediately went down in a slow spin and crashed. On coming up after the dive I dived upon another enemy aircraft which went down apparently out of control but I could not see if it crashed as both my observer and myself had gun trouble. During the combat between the two enemy aircraft formations several enemy aircraft were seen to go down apparently out of control.’ Fletcher reported: ‘Whilst on an offensive patrol the leader of our formation dived on a two seater enemy aircraft, when a formation of enemy aircraft dived from the sun on some of their own machines. My pilot dived on an enemy aircraft and I saw this enemy aircraft crash near M11d (36). Our attention was then turned to another enemy aircraft and my pilot put a good burst into this and it was seen to go down apparently out of control. Owing to both guns having stoppages, we were unable to continue the fight.’
Thompson crashed in a Bristol fighter during a wireless test on 8th June, but walked away ok, despite the bottom main plane and centre section being smashed.
Then on 23th June, Thompson and Fletcher once again claimed two aerial victories, during an offensive patrol at 16,000 feet over La Bassee. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst doing an offensive patrol over La Bassee we met 8 various enemy aircraft who were above us, we went north west to get advantage of the sun and then returned to engage them. I first dived on an enemy aircraft which went down in a very slow spin and then turned over and over completely out of control, but I could not follow it down as the visibility was too bad. My observer then fired at a Pfalz which attacked our tail I turned to let him get a good burst in, and enemy aircraft stalled and side slipped vertically to the left and then commenced to turn over and over completely out of control, but we could not follow enemy aircraft down to the ground.’
During this engagement however Thompson and Fletcher had their aircraft’s left hand longeron shot through and centre section damaged by an enemy aircraft, but managed to land safely.
Then on 26th June, when taking off on an offensive patrol, Thompson together with Fletcher, ending up crashing when the machine crossed a rut in the airfield and smashed its prop.
On 26th July, Thompson, with Lieutenant C.G. Gass as his observer, when flying an offensive patrol at 14,000 feet claimed one enemy aircraft over Laventie. Thompson recorded: ‘While doing an offensive patrol in pairs over Laventie we were dived on by eight Fokker Triplanes, I fired about 100 rounds at nearest enemy aircraft which was about 100 yards away. The enemy aircraft glided west, in a side slipping motion and was last seen over Estaires still going west swinging from side to side and disappeared below the clouds. Enemy aircraft was certainly completely out of control.’ This was confirmed by a Lieutenant F.G. Gibbons. This was confirmed as Gass’s 34th kill.
On 31st July, Thompson performed an offensive patrol with Lieutenant J.H. Umney M.C. as his observer. The aircraft crashed on landing, but both men were unhurt, but the machine was badly damaged.
Then on 8th August 1918, Thompson was once again back with Fletcher and flew in an offensive patrol with escort duty, and Fletcher shot down an enemy aircraft at 14,000 feet over Dechy. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst returning from escorting some D.H.4’s, the latter were suddenly attacked from below by a group of enemy aircraft composed of Fokker Triplanes and Pfalz Scouts. I dived on the nearest triplane and fired a long burst. I then zoomed out of my dive and turned to allow my observer to fire, he fired about 50 rounds, at it when his tail seemed to crumple up and then the machine slowly went down in a spin.’ Fletcher recorded: ‘My pilot dived on enemy aircraft and on pulling out of the dive I fired a good burst into it. I observed enemy aircraft, and on pulling out of the dive I fired a good burst into it. I observed enemy aircraft’s tail plane to collapse and it fell in a series of stalls and sideslips and must have crashed.’ This kill was additionally confirmed by a Lieutenant T.H. Newsome. This was Thompson’s 20th kill as a pilot, and his 17th together with Fletcher as an observer.
On 13th August Thompson and Fletcher excelled themselves again when they claimed three victories in one sortie during an escort flight at 14,000 feet over the south east of Douai. Thompson recorded: ‘While escorting some D.H.4s we were attacked by a very large formation of Fokker triplanes, biplanes and Pfalz Scouts. I dived on a Fokker Triplane which was stalling under the tail of one of our machines and put a good burst into it, it recovered for a moment and then went down in a slow dive and commenced to spin eventually crashed to the ground near X.20 Neuve on the Arras-Cambrai road. After this I dived upon a Fokker biplane which tried to stall up at me, I put in a good burst and it went down in a dive and then stalled side-slipping and eventually went down in a vertical nose dive but I could not follow down, this machine was completely out of control. On recovering our formation we then noticed a Fokker Biplane following us, my observer put in a burst at it but his gun jammed he told me and I turned to dive upon it but it was now going down in a slow spin and eventually went into a nose dive. I gave it a burst near the ground and it eventually crashed near the Bois de Loison.’
It was about now that Thompson learnt of the award of his Distinguished Flying Cross, the award being published in the London Gazette for 2nd November 1918, with the following citation: ‘This officer has carried out numerous offensive patrols, displaying the most marked bravery and determination. His boldness in attack and utter disregard of personal danger affords a most inspiring example to his brother pilots. Since June last he has destroyed eleven enemy aeroplanes.’
The recommendation for Thompson’s ‘immediate’ award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, made on 17th August 1918, reads as follows: ‘For most exceptional gallantry and devotion to duty. He has carried out numerous offensive patrols and has consistently engaged the enemy with marked determination and with an entire disregard of personal danger. By his keenness and dash he has set a fine example to the other pilots in his Squadron and subsequent to the award of the Military Cross has personally accounted for enemy aircraft as follows: - On 13th August 1918, when escorting some D.H.4’s, a very large formation of enemy machines attacked south east of Douai. He fired a good burst into a Fokker Triplane which spun down and crashed on the Arras-Cambrai Road. On the same day he shot down a Fokker Biplane out of control in the vicinity of Douai. On 8th August 1918 when on escort duty with some D.H.4’s, the latter were attacked by a number of Fokker Triplanes and Pfalz Scouts. He dived on the nearest Triplane and fired a long burst; his observer then fired 50 rounds into it. The tail planes of the enemy machine then collapsed and it fell in a series of stalls and side-slips and was undoubtedly destroyed. Confirmed by another pilot on patrol. On 23rd June 1918 he shot down an enemy scout out of control in the vicinity of La Bassee. On 5th June 1918 when on an offensive patrol sourtt of Laventie, he attacked an Albatross Scout which was acting as one of an escort to a Halberstadt Two-Seater which was destroyed by the leader. He fired a good butst into this enemy machine which fell in a slow flat spin and was seen to crash. Confirmed by Observer. On 12th June 1918 when on Offensive Patrol about 10 Pfalz Scouts were attacked north east of Lens. He fired a long burst into one. The enemy Scout emitted much smoke and later burst into flames. On the same day he shot down another Pfalz Scout out of control north east of Lens. On 1st June 1918, when on offensive patrol between Foret de Nieppe and Armentieres, 8 enemy aircraft of various types were encountered/ He dived on the nearest, an Albatross two-seater, and fired a long burst into it. Enemy aircraft rolled over, nose dived, and was seen to crash. Confirmed by Observer. In addition to the adove and also since the award of the Military Cross, he has destroyed three other enemy machines.’
At this stage, Sergeant Fletcher also learnt of the award of his Distinguished Flying Medal, the award being published in the London Gazette for 2nd November 1918, the recommendation reads as follows: ‘For conspicuous gallant and devotion to duty. This NCO is a most efficient and keen observer, and when in combat with the enemy has show fearlessness and skill. He has carried out numerous offensive patrols and escorts, taking part in many encounters with enemy aircraft, and due to the confidence placed in him by his pilot has materially increased the fighting capabilities of his machine. He has personally accounted for aircraft as under: - On 13th August 1918 when escorting some D.H.4’s, the latter were attacked by a large number of enemy machines. He fired a burst into a Fokker Biplane which spun, nose dived and crashed near the Bois de Loison. 8th August 1918: When escorting some D.H.4’s, the latter were attacked by a formation of enemy scouts and triplanes. He fired a good burst into a triplane and observed the enemy aircraft’s tail plane collapse. The enemy machine fell out of control and was certainly destroyed. 23rd June 1918 – He shot down a Pfalz Scout out of control near La Bassee. 5th June 1918 – He shot down a Pfalz Scout out of control near La Bassee. 5th June 1918 – When on offensive patrol south of Laventie an enemy formation was engaged. He opened fire at an Albatross Scout which turned over, fell out of control and crashed. 1st June 1918 – When on offensive patrol between Foret de Nieppe and Armentiers, eight enemy machines of various types were engaged. He fired a full drum into an Albatross two-seater which dived steeply, fell out of control and crashed. 21st May 1918 – He shot down an L.V.G out of control south of Vitry.’
Then on the 27th August, Thompson and Fletcher claimed two victories in a single sortie, during an offensive patrol at 12,000 feet over Senlemont. Thompson recorded: ‘While on an offensive patrol we met 9 enemy aircraft who were coming out of the clouds beneath us. I dived on a Fokker Biplane and put in a good burst, enemy aircraft seemed to stall for a moment then spun down completely out of control in a vertical nose dive. Enemy aircraft never seemed to recover, but I could not follow enemy aircraft down owing to the clouds. My observer then put in a good burst at a Pfalz Scout which was stalling up at us, enemy aircraft did a flat spin for a moment and then went into a vertical side slip and was lost in the clouds, but seemed obviously out of control.’ Fletcher recorded: ‘I fired a burst at a Fokker Biplane which stalled up at us. Enemy aircraft turned on its back and fell in a vertical side-slip and eventually spun completely out of control. Owing to clouds I was not able to confirm crash.’ This was Thompson’s 25 aerial victory, of which 22 had been shared with Fletcher.
On 2nd September, Thompson and Fletcher claimed another kill, this time during an offensive patrol over Haynecourt at 2,500 feet. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst escorting some S.E.5’s we came across two layers of enemy aircraft, about 14. The bottom layer were trench shooting and the layer above keeping guard. We drove the top layer off and then attacked the bottom layer. My observer shot down an Albatross Scout which was on the tail of Lieutenant Gibbons. It went down and crashed into the ground near Haynecourt.’ Fletcher wrote: ‘Whilst escorting some S.E.5’s we encountered enemy aircraft about 14 in number in two layers near Haynecourt. I put a long burst into an enemy aircraft which was on Lieutenant Gibbon’s tail and it went down in a vertical nose dive and crashed into the ground.’
Then on 5th September during an offensive patrol in the vicinity of Douai, Thompson by now a Captain, together with Flether claimed two further kills. ‘Thompson dived on a large group and fired a good burst into a Fokker Biplane. Enemy aircraft spun down for a while and then burst into flames. The observer then fired a long burst into a Fokker Biplane which was diving on the Bristols tail. Enemy aircraft immediately went into a flat spin, and then nose dived vertically, completely out of control.’
On 24th September, they gained another kill, when flying on an offensive patrol near Cambrai, encountering a large formation of enemy aircraft scouts comprising Pfalz Scouts, Fokker Biplanes and Triplanes at 16,000 feet. ‘Thompson dived on a Fokker Biplane and fired a short burst, enemy aircraft stalled and went beneath Bristol, and the observer fired a good burst into it. Enemy aircraft went down in a flat spin and nose dived completely out of control.’
On 27th September 1918 during the Battle of the Canel du Nord, Thompson, now flying with a 2nd Lieutenant C.J. Tolman as his observer, claimed his final aerial victory, his remarkable 30th aerial kill.
Flying on an offensive patrol at 3,000 feet over the Douai-Cambrai road, he shot down a Halberstadt two-seater. Thompson recorded: ‘Whilst on offensive patrol near the Douai to Cambrai Road I saw a Halberstadt 2 Seater at about 3,000 feet. I dived on the enemy aircraft, and fired a long burst and followed the enemy aircraft right down, it crashed into the ground just north of Noyelles.’
Flying once again with Tolman as his observer later that same day, 27th September 1918, his aircraft took off on an offensive patrol at 2.30 p.m ‘and was last seen over Cambrai going east’. Both Thompson and 2nd Lieutenant C.J. Tolman were posted as missing, and subsequently confirmed as killed in action.
At the time of his death, Thompson, with 30 kills, was the second most successful Bristol Fighter pilot of the war after Andrew McKeever with 31 kills, and as a pairing with Sergeant Fletcher, they were the single highest confirmed British two-seater claimants. Thompson was also obviously the highest scoring Bristol Ace of the war to be killed. It is believed that he was shot down by either Oberleutnant Otto Schmidt or Vizefeldwebel Oskar Hennrich of Jasta 46. If so he and Tolman were either Hennrich’s 18th kill or Schmidt’s 16th kill, both men ended with 20 kills respectively. Thompson, who has no known grave, is commemorated by name on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. Tolman at the time of his death had eight confirmed kills as an Observer.
The reason for 2nd Lieutenant C.J. Tolman having replaced Sergeant R.M. Fletcher as Thompson’s observer, is that Fletcher who had amassed a score of 26 aerial victories whilst flying in conjunction with Thompson, of which seven were directly accredited to him as having been personally shot down, had been then posted home to become an Officer Cadet, and he was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in October 1918, but left the service on 28th February 1919. During the Second World War he held a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve wartime commission, and saw service with the Air Training Corps from March 1941.