Alfred William Saunders

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Alfred William Saunders
Born 16 January 1888
Dublin, Ireland
Died 22 May 1930(1930-05-22) (aged 42)
Auckland, New Zealand
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Captain
Unit No. 60 Squadron RAF
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Captain Alfred William Saunders (16 January 1888 – 22 May 1930) was an Irish-born World War flying ace. While flying for the Royal Air Force, he was credited with 12 official aerial victories and won the DFC. He remained in the RAF postwar, serving until 1927.

World War I[edit]

Alfred William Saunders originally served in the Royal Field Artillery.[1] On 25 August 1916, second lieutenant A. W. Saunders was appointed a Flying Officer.[2] In October 1917, he was assigned to 60 Squadron as a Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a. He rose to command A Flight. He scored his first aerial victory on 10 May 1918, destroying a German Pfalz D.III fighter plane. Six days later, an Albatros D.V fell to his guns over Beaulencourt, France. On 23 May, he teamed with James Belgrave to destroy another Albatros D.V over Fricourt. On 9 June, they teamed again, accounting for two Hannover reconnaissance planes over Arras, setting one afire and driving the other down out of control, and Saunders was an ace.[1]

On 2 July 1918, Saunders fought his memorable action–one which would be cited as a reason for awarding him the DFC. He dove 8,000 feet, leading an attack by his flight of six upon six German fighters. Williams shot one Pfalz D.III down, and two others collided while evading his assault. Williams was credited for all three.[1]

On 1 August, Saunders vanquished one of the new Fokker D.VIIs, sending it out of control over Bapaume. A week later, it was the turn of a German reconnaissance two-seater to fall out of control over Chaulnes. The next day, 9 August 1918, Saunders shot down two Fokker D.VIIs.[1]

Post World War I[edit]

Saunders remained in the Royal Air Force after the armistice of 11 November 1918 caused massive changes in its structure. On 31 October 1919, he was appointed lieutenant.[3] Then, on 10 December 1919, he was appointed temporary lieutenant.[4] Two days later, on 12 December 1919, he was appointed a Flying Officer.[5]

On 5 February 1923, Saunders transferred to the Class A Reserve of the RAF.[6] On 16 December 1924, he then transferred to the Class C Reserve of the RAF.[7]

On 8 October 1926, he won a post as an attendant in the British Museum.[8] On 5 February 1927, he gave up his commission upon completion of service.[9]

Alfred William Saunders died in a flying accident; he crashed a de Havilland Gipsy Moth in Auckland, New Zealand on 22 May 1930.[1]

Honors and awards[edit]

Distinguished Flying Cross

Lt. Alfred William Saunders.

A gallant and determined officer whose fighting spirit and enthusiasm has been a splendid example to his squadron. On one occasion whilst leading his formation of six machines, he attacked six enemy aeroplanes. Diving from 11,000 to 3,000 feet, he singled out a group of three, and shot down one. He then engaged the other two, which in their endeavour to get away collided and crashed.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  2. ^ (Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 September 1916) Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  3. ^ (The London Gazette, 13 January 1920) Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  4. ^ (Supplement to the London Gazette, 30 December 1919) Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  5. ^ (The London Gazette, 12 December 1919) Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  6. ^ (The London Gazette, 6 February 1923) Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  7. ^ (The London Gazette, 16 December 1924) Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  8. ^ (The London Gazette, 5 November 1926) Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  9. ^ (The London Gazette, 25 February 1927 Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  10. ^ (Supplement to the London Gazette, 3 August 1918) Retrieved 18 February 2011.