The emotive Great War Western Front May 1918 S.E.5a fighter pilot casualty group awarded to Lieutenant P.J. Stuart-Smith, Royal Air Force, late Royal Flying Corps and Lord Strathcona’s Horse, who as a dismounted cavalryman, was wounded in action at Ypres when shot in the buttock on 26th May 1915, and having then been commissioned and trained as a pilot, gained the nickname ‘Poet’ and flew with 74 Squadron alongside Major Mannock out on the Western Front from late March 1918, being then killed in action on 8th May 1918 when shot down durin
The emotive Great War Western Front May 1918 S.E.5a fighter pilot casualty group awarded to Lieutenant P.J. Stuart-Smith, Royal Air Force, late Royal Flying Corps and Lord Strathcona’s Horse, who as a dismounted cavalryman, was wounded in action at Ypres when shot in the buttock on 26th May 1915, and having then been commissioned and trained as a pilot, gained the nickname ‘Poet’ and flew with 74 Squadron alongside Major Mannock out on the Western Front from late March 1918, being then killed in action on 8th May 1918 when shot down during ‘a most hellish disastrous day for the Squadron’ as part of Captain Wilfred Young’s “B” Flight of six aircraft engaged against ten Fokker Dr.I triplanes, an incident from which only one pilot of 74 Squadron brought his plane back.
Trio, Plaque and Scroll: 1914-1915 Star; (2743 TPR: P.J. STUART-SMITH. LD: S’CONA’S H.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (LIEUT. P.J. STUART-SM|TH. R.A.F.); Memorial Plaque name to; (PHILIP JAMES STUART-SM|TH); Memorial Scroll inscribed to: ‘Lieut. Phillip James Stuart-Smith C.C.R., (Royal Air Force)’, the whole inset into an attractive fitted and hinged frame, both inner sides glazed, as intended for display on the mantlepiece or similar, the case is covered in leather. Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.
Together with an original copy of the magazine ‘Flying - The New Air Weekly’ Volume 1, No.10 from 4th June 1938. 32 pages, the inside back page in the section ‘Leaves from a War Pilot’s Scrapbook’ contains a number of images from the Great War, one of which, a group shot, depicts members of “B” Flight of 74 Squadron with ‘Lt. Stuart-Smith’ identified amongst them, next to three aces, Captain Young, Captain Glynn, and Captain Kiddie. Also shown are a Lieutenant Bright, Savage and Piggott.
Philip James Stuart-Smith was born on 26th February 1896 in Brighton, Sussex, being of Jewish denomination. After seeing two years service with the Royal Fusiliers, and then emigrating to Canada, where he worked as a bank clerk, with the outbreak of the Great War, he attested for service with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Valcartier Camp on 24th September 1914, and joining as a Trooper (No.2832 subsequently changed to No.2743 on 30th May 1915) the Lord Strathcona’s Horse - the Royal Canadians.
Stuart-Smith then embarked with his regiment for England on 3rd October 1914, and was with it when is disembarked in France on 5th May 1915. Having then fought as dismounted troops in an infantry role with Seeley's Detachment (really the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, part of the 2nd Indian Cavalry Division), 1st Canadian Division. Stuart-Smith was m very shortly afterwards slightly wounded in action on 26th May 1915, receiving a gunshot wound to his buttock, which necessitated his evacuation to England on 29th May, where he received treatment at the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool from 31st May. Transferred to Oakdene Hospital at Rainhill on 8th June 1915, he is noted as having been on leave from 5th to 12th August 1915, and was discharged to duty on 16th August 1915. Posted to Headquarters at Shornecliffe on 4th October 1915, he was appointed to Acting Sergeant on 8th April 1916, and was then commissioned as a temporary Lieutenant into the Canadian Expeditionary Force for service with the General List attached to Headquarters Canadian Troop Depot on 17th August 1916. Continuing to see home service in England, Stuart-Smith was attached to the Adjutant General’s Branch in London from 7th January 1917, but then returned to Shornecliffe on 7th May 1917, and on 12th May 1917 was awaiting instructions to report to the Royal Flying Corps in order to begin pilot training, he having opted for a more active role. Posted to the Royal Flying Corps at Reading on 24th May 1917, he was then posted to the Canadian Car Regiment Depot at Shornecliffe on 29th May 1917, but the next day reverted to the RFC at Reading. Having successfully undergone pilot training and gained his wings and been appointed as a flying officer on 5th October 1917, on the same day he was seconded for duty with the Royal Flying Corps, and after a period of home service, then travelled with No.74 Squadron out to the Western Front on 30th March 1918, for service with the squadron as an operational fighter unit, the squadron having been rushed to the front in the immediate aftermath of the German March Offensive. One 1st April 1918 Stuart-Smith transferred into the Royal Air Force on its formation. Flying operationally in S.E.5a aircraft, during its short period through to the end of the war, 74 Squadron would gain a distinguished reputation, being credited with destroying 140 enemy planes with a further 85 driven down out of control, for a total of 225 victories. Seventeen aces would serve with the squadron, including the Victoria Cross winner and fifth highest scoring pilot of the war, Major Edward Mannock. On 1 April 1918—the day the RAF came into being—the squadron was moved to Teteghem near Dunkirk. A week later they transferred to La Lovie, west of Ypres. On 11 April the unit flew to Clairmarias east of Saint Omer. Twenty-four hours later, Mannock downed two Albatros D.Vs for is 17th and 18th victories. It was possible that Jasta 29 were 74's opponents. Losses are difficult to determine as German sources recorded losses only in personnel, not aircraft. On this day six were killed, one captured and two wounded. Vizfeldwebel Gilbert Wagner was killed on 12 April in the vicinity of the battle.
Whilst Mannock commanded “A” Flight, Stuart-Smith flew with “B” Flight alongside some other notable pilots, under the command of Captain Wilfred Young, a future 11 kill ace. One of his fellow pilots, was Captain Andrew Kiddie, a future ace with 15 kills who on 3rd May 1918 scored his second victory, which he shared with Mannock, Henry Donald and Harris Clements. Five days later, Kiddie was the only survivor from his flight of six when they engaged ten Fokker Dr.I triplanes. The squadron history for the 8th May 1918 records the ‘8th May was a most hellish disastrous day for the Squadron. Lieutenant Skeddon, a priceless boy, burnt on the ‘drone, after having folded his wings at 2000 feet altitude. Captain Young led his flight into terrible odds and got trapped. He himself landed our side of the lines with engine shot through. Lieutenant’s Bright, Stuart-Smith and Piggott were missing. Lieutenant Piggott, who was shot down in No Man’s Land, returned after having spent leave in the frontline trenches.’ On this day Mannock also had to make a forced landing. Stuart-Smith who is mentioned on page 132 and 135 in the book ‘King of Air Fighter’s’, being about Mannock, was referred to by the nickname ‘Poet’, is confirmed as having been killed in action against ten Fokker Dr.I triplanes on 8th May 1915, he having been shot down. Having no known grave, he is commemorated by name on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.