Allan Hepburn

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Allan Hepburn
Born (1896-10-11)11 October 1896
Melbourne, Australia
Died 21 July 1975(1975-07-21) (aged 78)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Australia
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Rank Wing Commander
Commands held No. 1 Squadron RAAF
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Wing Commander Allan Hepburn, DFC, (11 October 1896 – 21 July 1975) was an Australian World War I flying ace, who was born in Melbourne, Victoria. He scored 16 victories during his flying career.[1][2]

Military service[edit]

Bristol F2B

Hepburn enlisted in the Artists Rifles on 4 August 1916 and served in the trenches of France in the same year. He joined the Royal Flying Corps at Denham on 6 September 1916, flying the Airco DH.5 in 24 Squadron of the RFC. He was slightly wounded in action in October 1917 and continued flying. In November he was posted to 40 Squadron of the RFC, but was injured in a crash and was sent to England to recuperate. In April 1918, Hepburn returned to duty flying a Bristol F.2 Fighter, commanding the "A" Flight of 88 Squadron of the RAF. 88 Squadron later joined 80 Wing RAF where Hepburn flew side by side with the two Australian Flying Corps scout squadrons.[2]

Hepburn and his observers achieved 16 victories before the Armistice was signed. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a flight in October, 1918:

"On 12 October this officer made a very fine flight, calling for courage and determination of a high order. Thick clouds were within 200 feet of the ground and the visibility was so bad that practically no flying was attempted. Despite these adverse conditions this officer volunteered to cross the lines. Climbing through the clouds, which were several thousand feet in depth, he flew above them, guided by compass, with no view of the ground. Continuing his flight until he estimated that he was in the vicinity of a certain objective, he descended, and found himself 150 feet over an enemy railway station. Dropping his bombs, he destroyed a passenger train, and afterwards engaged enemy troops and transport with machine-gun fire. Having caused considerable damage, Captain Hepburn climbed through the clouds and found his way home."[3]

Allan Hepburn features in two stories in Rothesay Stuart Wortley's book, Letters of a Flying Officer (paperback from Alan Sutton, 1982). One of Hepburn's opinions reported in the book regards the use of radio, or wireless telephone, in the plane. "His chief objection to it is that one cannot stunt a machine with 150 feet of aerial trailing underneath the fuselage; and that one might very well find oneself involved in a scrap before one has the time to wind it up, with a possible result that the wire might get entangled in the propeller and so wreck the machine in mid-air."[2]

After the war, Hepburn returned to Australia and joined the Royal Australian Air Force, becoming Commanding Officer of 1 Squadron in 1929; Wing Commander, 1934; Director of Works and Building RAAF about 1936, and Director of Works Department of Defence during the Second World War. He later became the Regional Director Civil Aviation in New South Wales and representative in Canada.[4]

World War I victories[edit]

Date Aircraft Location
1 17 May 1918 Albatros D.V (OOC) E. of Middelkerke
2 31 May 1918 Albatros D.V (OOC) Ostend
3 2 June 1918 Albatros D.V (DESF) Middelkerke-Ostend
4 29 July 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Bois-Grenier
5 31 July 1918 Fokker D.VII (DESF) Zelobes
6 29 August 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) E. of Lille
7 1 September 1918 Fokker D.VII (DESF) E. of Becelaere
8 5 September 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) N. of Douai
9 5 September 1918 Fokker D.VII (DESF) Armentières
10 6 September 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) N. of Douai
11 24 September 1918 Fokker D.VII (DESF) Haubourdin
12 8 October 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) SW. of Cambrai
13 9 October 1918 Fokker D.VII (DES) Seclin
14 28 October 1918 Fokker D.VII (OOC) Leuze-Ath
15 4 November 1918 Pfalz D.III (DES) Faucaumont
16 4 November 1918 Pfalz D.III (DES) W. of Mainvault-Faucaumont[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Allan Hepburn". theaerodrome.com. 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Aces of the Australian Flying Corps 1914-1919: Captain Allan Hepburn, D.F.C". Australian Flying Corps. 2009. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31170. p. 2040. 7 February 1919.
  4. ^ "Medal List". Chelsea Military Antiques. [dead link]
  5. ^ Shores, Christopher F.; Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell (1990). Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915-1920. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 0-948817-19-4.