Major Lanoe Hawker VC DSO RFC

Just a few weeks later the RFC would lose one of their own great fighter pilots. Major Lanoe Hawker VC, commanding No.24 Squadron, was the first British ace and a national hero; more crucially he was an important asset to the corps, extracting the very best from those serving under him. When No.24 Squadron clashed over Bapaume with Jasta 11, Hawker entered a lengthy duel with rising star Manfred von Richtofen. The Albatros matched its firepower against the agility of the sprightly DH2 and for a time neither pilot could gain the advantage. Eventually, low on ammunition and too far over enemy territory for his liking, Hawker made a break for it, diving towards the British lines; seizing his chance von Richtofen followed him down. Having expended 900 rounds in the scrap, one of the Baron’s final bullets struck Hawker in the head killing him instantly. The Germans buried Hawker by his wrecked aeroplane and later one of the DH2’s serial numbers and its Lewis machine gun were acquired by the victorious German pilot and displayed in his room.