Group Captain Lionel Rees VC OBE MC AFC RAF 7-19

Lionel Rees had an amazing career fighting in both Wars and ending up in the Bahamas where he died in 1955.  He won an MC in 1915 flying a Vickers Gun bus (FB5) and became the first ace with 5 victories – one of only two pilots to achieve this distinction in an FB5 for which he was awarded the Military Cross.  Returning to N France in mid-1916 as OC 32 Squadron (nominally a non-flying appointment) when the DH2s were losing their sway as Albatros replaced the Eindeckrs, his combative spirit shone through again in the action for which he was awarded the VC

Military Cross London Gazette 29 October 1915


Captain Lionel Wilmot Brabazon Rees, Royal Artillery and Royal Flying Corps. For conspicuous gallantry and skill on several occasions, notably the following: — On 21st September 1915, when flying a machine with one machine gun, accompanied by Flight-Serjeant Hargreaves, he sighted a large German biplane with two machine guns 2,000 feet below him. He spiralled down and dived at the enemy, who, having the faster machine, manoeuvred to get him broadside on and then opened heavy fire. In spite of this Captain Rees pressed his attack and apparently succeeded in hitting the enemy’s engine, for the machine made a quick turn, glided some distance, and finally fell just inside the German lines near Herbecourt. On 28th July he attacked and drove down a hostile monoplane in spite of the fact that the main spar of his machine had been shot through and the rear spar shattered. On 31st August, accompanied by Flight Serjeant Hargreaves, he fought a German machine more powerful than his own for three-quarters of an hour, then returned for more ammunition and went out to the attack again, finally bringing the enemy’s machine down apparently wrecked

Victoria Cross London Gazette 5 August 1916

32 Squadron Doullens

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty Double Crassieurs, France. Whilst on flying duties (OC 32 Sqn – DH2) , Major Rees sighted what he thought to be a bombing party of our own machines returning home. He went up to escort them, but on getting nearer discovered they were a party of enemy machines, about ten in all. Major Rees was immediately attacked by one of the machines, and after a short encounter it disappeared behind the enemy lines, damaged. Five others then attacked him at long range, but these he dispersed on coming to close quarters, after seriously damaging two of the machines. Seeing two others going westwards, he gave chase to them, but on coming nearer he was wounded in the thigh, causing him to lose temporary control of his machine. He soon righted it, and immediately closed with the enemy, firing at a close-contact range of only a few yards, until all his ammunition was used up. He then returned home, landing his machine safely in our lines.

Lionel Rees was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 16th December 1916.