Remembering airmen

The contrasting fortunes of two brothers from Edrington House, Mordington, who served with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, were recounted in a splendid talk to Berwick Rotary Club by Andy Stewart on Tuesday.

Friday, 9th September 2016, 12:00 pm

Second Lieutenant Edward Gray, who died in a training accident, is commemorated by a war grave in the local cemetery.

His brother William became an air ace, shooting down seven aircraft. He later became an aircraft designer.

The speaker gave a graphic account of the war in the air from 1914 when the R.F.C. went out to France with 50 aircraft.

Early on, a German aircraft designed by Fokker, a Dutchman, gave the Germans a huge advantage with a machine gun situated in the engine

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Gradually the British fought back and for a time during which technical progress developed from both sides, saw fortunes swing from one side to the other.

The arrival of the Sopwith Camel, a particularly agile aircraft, tipped the scales again.

Mr Stewart said casualties on both sides were very high and the pilots endured horrible conditions which tested their mental and physical strength.

By the end of the war Britain’s 50 aircraft had grown to 188 squadrons, 22,000 aircraft and 390,000 personnel.

The allies eventually launched an air offensive fought over enemy skies.

It was successful but also costly.