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Wilfred Henry Brinkworth

Surname

Christian Names

Service Number

Rank

Regiment

Brinkworth

Wilfred Henry   IILt 215 Sqn RAF

Born

Age

Enlisted at

Address

Corsham 29    

Date of Death

Where killed

Cause of Death

04/08/1918 France Killed

Cemetery

Plot

Country

Arras Flying Services Memorial   France

Next of Kin

Next of kin address

Town

Lily Mary Brinkworth (Wife)

13 Churchill Road Exeter

Notes

Formerly 27131 Army Service Corps, commissioned in the Royal Fusiliers then Observer, Royal Air Force.

Native of Bath

Airmen Died in the Great War

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Brinkworth, of Tyne View, Bloomfield Rd., Bath; husband of Lily Mary Brinkworth, of 13, Churchill Rd., Exeter.

1901 Census shows Wilfred Henry son of Henry and Agusta Briknworth resident at Stowell Farm, Corsham.

Had served in the Territorial Army prior to enlisting on 29 Oct 1908 in the Army Service Corps in the Clerical Branch. He was promoted to L/Cpl in June 1912 then to Cpl on the 5th Aug 1914. Brinkworth's service record shows he had served in Exeter for 3 years, Mauritius for 2 years and Ireland for 6 months. He was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914 and served at GHQ on the staff of General French and Sir Douglas Haig. He returned to Exeter in August 1915 where he married Lily Mary Hunt. He was promoted to Acting Sgt in Jan 1916. It was at this time he was Mentioned in Despatches. On the 26 September 1917, Brinkworth was commissioned into the 3rd Royal Fusiliers.   

215 Sqn were equipped with Handley Page O/400 aircraft based at Alquines taking part in night bombing raids.

Brinkworth is mentioned several time in Diary of a Night Bomber Pilot in Word War One by Clive Semple.

March 19th 1918 Have an observer — 2Lt Brinkworth appointed to me. He is quite old but I think he knows his job. I should really prefer somebody younger who could be more of a chum. Lecture on meteorology this afternoon.

Wilfred Brinkworth was a married man from Exeter and eleven years older than Leslie. He had joined the Royal Fusiliers in 1908 and had earned the Mons star in 1914 so he was 'an old contemptible'. He had also been mentioned in despatches so he probably was as reliable as 'I think he knows his job' implies. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in December 1917 as a gunner, navigator and observer. He had started life as a Post Office Savings Bank clerk and gaining a commission in the air force would perhaps make all the difference to his future life, as it did to Leslie's. Being so much older, he no doubt had a corresponding opinion of Leslie. Anyone who had been in the army for ten years and survived four years in the trenches must have had reservations about flying with a fresh-faced schoolboy as his pilot. Unlike pilots, who received their wings after completing the required number of hours of flying and performing specified manoeuvres, RFC observers did not receive their single wing brevet with an '0' on it until after they had joined their squadrons and proved, by their performance, that they were competent.60 Their responsibilities included finding the way, spotting approaching Hun fighters, using a Vickers or Lewis machine gun, bomb aiming, using the wireless telegraph and reading and firing Very light messages when approaching the home airfield. Some also had to learn aerial photography and reconnaissance. The squadron commander gave permission for the Flying Officer Observer to wear his wing which `by ancient custom shall be `wetted' at the earliest opportunity'.

 

April 5th 1918 With 2Lt Brinkworth as my observer I took an FE2b to Oxford on a cross country flight. We were in the air for two hours and it was most interesting as the landmarks were fairly easily distinguished. Unfortunately there was a layer of cloud between 1000 and 2000 feet and it was necessary to fly above this and to come down through it from time to time to check the course by landmarks. This afternoon I took Brinkworth to his home near Chippenham and he took a snapshot from the air.

Wilfred Brinkworth's wife Lily must have come up from her real home in Exeter to be near him while he was in training at Stonehenge. For these two, time together was precious.

 

"...on the night of 3 August, at Alquines where 215 Squadron was based and not far from where Binckes had been killed two weeks before. Wilfred Brinkworth, who had been Leslie's observer in training at Stonehenge, together with Lt Hammond and Sergeant Gunlayer Pheby were part of the Squadron sent to bomb railway sidings at Metz. They never returned. After the war it was confirmed that they were shot down at Fives, seven miles north west of Metz, and killed.

They are commemorated on the impressive Flying Services Memorial, designed, like so many, by Sir Edwin Lutyens, in the cemetery beside the ring road on the west side of Arras. Brinkworth's name appears on the western face of the obelisk devoted to British and Commonwealth airmen who have no known graves.

Wilfred Brinkworth's death is particularly poignant. He had survived as a front-line infantryman from the very beginning of the war at Mons until the end of 1917 and been mentioned in despatches. Then, for a few precious months he was a trainee observer and an officer at Stonehenge and was able to see his wife, who had moved to Chippenham to be near him. When Armistice Day came, just three months later, Lily's heart must have broken. So near and yet so far."

Crew were Lt Henry Lloyd Hammond, IILt Wilfred Henry Brinkworth and Sgt (Gunlayer) Henry Thomas Pheby. Handley Page 0/400 D4567. Took off from Alquines at 2350 on 3 Aug 1918.

 

Memorials Commemorated on:

Chippenham Town War Memorial

St Paul’s Church

St Andrew’s Church

Liberal Club

Hardenhuish Church

Causeway Methodist Church Yes
Pewsham Street
Boys School
Congregation Church

Photos courtesy of Peter Hastie

Last updated - 16/04/2017

 

 


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