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A Good Royal Flying Corps Military Cross, For an Engagement whilst Photographing Hill 70 (Battle of Loos 1917)


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A Good Royal Flying Corps Military Cross, For an Engagement whilst Photographing Hill 70 (Battle of Loos 1917)

Military Cross (GVR) privately engraved ‘W. LOUDON DOUGLAS AUGUST 1917’; 1914/15 Star (2747 PTE W. I. DOUGLAS. 14-LOND. R.); British War and Victory Medals (CAPT. W. L. DOUGLAS R.A.F.); WW2 Defence Medal; WW2 War Medal with MID Oakleaf.

Military Cross; 

Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 September, 1917; 2nd Lt. William Loudon Douglas, London Regiment, and R.F.C.

Military Cross Citation:Supplement to the London Gazette, 9 January, 1918; 

2nd Lt. William Loudon Douglas, London Regiment, and R.F.C.

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in carrying out a large number of very successful photographic reconnaissances. He has repeatedly displayed the greatest fearlessness and determination, attacking enemy troops from a low altitude, and disregarding the attacks of hostile machines in superior numbers and adverse weather conditions, in order to obtain satisfactory photographs”.

The Gazette Register confirms that these acts of gallantry took place in France during the months of July and August 1917.

The Original recommendation is:

“For consistent and Gallant work, particularly on photography.  On August 16th 1917, he engaged enemy troops in His Dixhuit from a low altitude.  On August 5th 1917, when photographs were most urgently required 2/ Lieut Douglas went out to take Hill 70 and the trenches in the vicinity.  He attacked and rove away a German Machine, and despite the presence of six more hostile machines, he secured many photographs, which completely covered the required are.

On July 19th 1917, he left the ground in a rainstorm on urgent photography, in order to seize any available opportunity over the lines of taking Hill 70. After a long flight, he availed himself of a gap in the clouds and took 30 photographs of the required area  under very heavy fire from the ground.  This officer has carried out a large number of very successful photographic reconnaissances.”

Combats in the Air form:

23rd December 1917, at Avion, Pilot Lt Douglas.

“At 2.50 pm one E.A. was seen being heavily engaged by A.A. Petit Vimy at about 4500 feet.  He proceeded in a North Easterly direction and was engaged over Avion with Lewis at 700 yards range until it jammed, and then with Vickers long range. About 50 rounds were fired”

Crash Landing 18th August 1917:

R.E.S No A/4177 Pilot Lieut Douglas.

“Crashed Aerodrome – Personnel uninjured. Machine left aerodrome at 7-45am and crashed on landing at 9-30am owing to undercarriage being shot away by A/A. Damage as follows:- Engine bearer cracked, Right and left hand ain planes and right and left hand body planes broken. Fuselage twisted. Engin: Carburettors smashed, camshaft believed bent, oil filter broken, pump damaged.”

Copies from Squadron Record book contain details of his flights, photographs taken, enemy engaged, fire from the ground etc.

William Loudon Douglas was born on the 11th November 1895 to John Douglas and Anne Douglas (nee Murray).  He lived at 6 St. Marys Grove, Barnes Common S.W. and was educated at Leinster House School, Putney S.W. Upon completion of his education he became a Merchant.

On the 1st September 1914 Douglas attested into the 14th Reserve, County of London Battalion, The London Regiment (London Scottish).

 2747 Private William Loudon Douglas was posted to the 13th Platoon, D Company, London Scottish. he embarked from Southampton on the 19th March 1915, being promoted to L.Cpl he joined the battalion on the 23rd March 1915

Leaving for England on the 29th July 1915 to be Commissioned  on the 17th August 1915 in the 2nd 17th London Regiment 

He came home on the 3rd December 1916, suffering from a rectal abscess, A Medical board on the 21st December 1916 declared him unfit for service.

On his recovery he joined the Royal Flying Corps:

First serving in 37 Squadron on the 22nd May 1917 he was appointed Flying Officer.

16th Squadron 26th May 1917, RE8 Aircraft

Recommended for promotion 22nd May 1917 for Flight Commander ” A Very Gallant and capable Officer, Would make an excellent Flight Commander”

Promoted to Lieutenant 2nd September 1917

4th Squadron (Home Establishment) 8th February 1918

2nd A.S of Air Gunnery 7th March 1918

During his service with the R.F.C. he flew M.F (S.H.), Avro small air and BE-RE8 (Artillery Photographic work, and overseas night bombing.

Squadron records show that he flew a total of 59 Operations during WW1.

Appointed Pilot Officer 28th May 1940 on probation. Flying Officer 27th November 1940, Flight Lieut July 1942.

Squadron Leader 4th March 1943

Mentioned in Despatches 1st January 1943 W.L. Douglas MC (79110) (Acting) R.A.F.V.R.

16th Squadron Royal Flying Corps

The Squadron was formed at Saint-Omer, France on 10 February 1915 from elements of Nos. 2, 6 and 9 Squadrons. It immediately began fighting in the First World War under Hugh Dowding. In September 1915 the author Duncan Grinell-Milne joined the squadron as a junior pilot. In 1933 he published an account of his time in the squadron. His portrait of Dowding (who when the book was originally published had not then attained his later fame) is by no means a flattering one. For the rest of the Great War, the ‘Saints’ were deployed throughout Northern France and operated a mixture of aircraft including Bleriot XI, Martinsyde S.1 and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c on offensive patrol and tactical reconnaissance duties. Disbandment occurred on New Year’s Eve 1919.

The squadron was reformed at Old Sarum in the tactical reconnaissance role on 1 April 1924. Initially it operated the Bristol Fighter but this was replaced by the Atlas in January 1931 and by the Audax in December 1933

Medals mounted for display, generally Vf, but have been lacquered.