Mick Mannock

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Edward Mannock
VC DSO** MC*
EdwardMannock2.jpg
Nickname(s) "Mick"
Born (1887-05-24)24 May 1887
probably Ballincollig
Died 26 July 1918(1918-07-26) (aged 31)
Lillers, France
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Air Force
Years of service 1915–1918
Rank Major
Unit No. 40 Squadron RFC, No. 74 Squadron RAF, No. 85 Squadron RAF
Commands held No. 74 Squadron RAF, No. 85 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Distinguished Service Order and Two Bars
Military Cross and Bar

Major Edward Corringham "Mick" Mannock VC DSO** MC* (24 May 1887 – 26 July 1918) was a British First World War flying ace. Mannock was born in Ireland, but was of English and Scottish parentage.

Mannock went into combat on the Western Front on three separate combat tours. Although initially a social misfit suspected of cowardice in his first assignment to 40 Squadron, he began to accumulate victories. He took on the highly hazardous task of balloon busting for his first aerial victory, and by dogged concentration on his gunnery skills, tallied 15 victories by the end of his first combat tour.

After two months back in England, he returned to France as a Flight Commander in the fledgling 74 Squadron. He amassed 36 more victories between 12 April and 17 June 1918. He also gained a reputation for ruthless hatred of his German adversaries, delighting in burning them to death. He became phobic about burning to death in midair. The stresses of combat began to tell on him. He also became ill with a lingering case of influenza. When ordered home on leave in June, he wept.

He returned as Officer Commanding of 85 Squadron in July 1918; he would score nine more victories that month. By now, his phobias had spread to include excessive tidiness. He also had presentiments of his coming end. Just days after warning fellow ace George McElroy about the deadly hazards of flying low into ground fire, Mannock did just that on 26 July 1918. His fighter plane was set on fire, and he was killed in action.

He was one of the world's first theorists of aviation tactics, and was renowned for his prudent but aggressive leadership in the air. By the time he rose to command of 85 Squadron, his subordinates boasted that he never lost a wingman.

Mannock won the Military Cross twice, was one of the rare three-time winners of the Distinguished Service Order, and would be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He is regarded as one of the greatest fighter pilots of the war.

Youth[edit]

Edward Mannock was born on 24 May 1887, in Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland, although Aldershot and Preston Barracks in Brighton have also been claimed.[1] His father was a Scottish corporal in the British Army and his mother was English.[2] The family moved to India early in Mick's life, before postings brought the family back to England. In 1897, Mannock developed amoebic infestation which rendered him temporarily blind. Legend has it that it left him with permanently impaired vision; however accounts written by former comrades discount any such impairment. His father, a hard-drinking, brutal man, abandoned his family when Mick was twelve.

He had to leave school for a series of jobs including, in 1911, one with the National Telephone Company in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England. In 1913 he became the Secretary of the Wellingborough Independent Labour Party.

The outbreak of the war found him working as a telephone engineer in Turkey. The Turks interned him and his health rapidly declined in prison. Near death, he was repatriated and, in 1915, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. By 1916, he had become an officer in the Royal Engineers and in August 1916 transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.

Career[edit]

Training[edit]

Airco DH.2 "pusher" biplane

In February 1917, he joined the Joyce Green Reserve Squadron for flying training. During his first solo in an Airco DH.2 pusher biplane, he got into a spin at 1,000 feet (300 m), and recovered, but got in trouble with his commanding officer, Major Keith Caldwell, who suspected Mick of showboating. But he soon got on well with the major, before transferring to France with the RFC's Nieuport-equipped 40 Squadron. The Nieuport 17 was a French-built scout that by 1917 was outclassed in most respects by the latest German fighters. Caldwell described Mick as "very reserved, inclined towards a strong temper, but very patient and somewhat difficult to arouse".

40 Squadron[edit]

Nieuport 17 Scout
Se5a

At 40 Squadron, the reserved, working class manner of Mannock did not fit in with the well-heeled upper-middle-class, ex-public schoolboys who made up the majority of his comrades. On his first night, he inadvertently sat down in an empty chair, a chair which a newly fallen flier had occupied until that day. At first, Mick held back in the air too, to the extent that some pilots thought he was cowardly. He admitted that he was very frightened. Finally, on 7 May, he shot down an observation balloon and thought this would gain him the acceptance of the squadron. By the end of July, Mannock had been awarded the Military Cross (MC) and was a flight commander. On 12 August 1917, he shot down and captured Leutnant Joachim von Bertrab of Jasta 30 for his "sixth Credit" of 1 balloon and five enemy aircraft. By ironic coincidence Bertrab had shot down five enemy aircraft and was trying to shoot down a balloon for his sixth credit[3]

He kept flying and conquered his fears, working tirelessly at gunnery practice and forcing himself to get close to the German aeroplanes. After one kill, he coldly described it. "I was only ten yards away from him - on top so I couldn't miss. A beautifully coloured insect he was - red, blue, green and yellow. I let him have 60 rounds, so there wasn't much left of him." His determination, flying skill and sense of teamwork earned him a promotion to captain and a bar to his MC in October 1917.[4] At the end of the year, the squadron re-equipped with the SE5a, one of the best British fighter aircraft of the war. Though not as maneuverable as the Sopwith Camel, it was faster than most of the German machines and could out-climb and out-dive them.[5] He returned to Home Establishment, tour-expired, in January 1918, with 23 claims to his credit.

74 Squadron[edit]

No 74 Squadron

In February 1918, Mannock was appointed flight commander of the newly formed No. 74 Squadron. The squadron was posted to France in March 1918. He continued shooting down Germans, but never hogging credit, letting newer pilots get credit for kills. In three months, he claimed 36 more, bringing his total to 59. He was an excellent patrol leader; he took a very protective attitude toward his fliers and lectured them on survival and success. "Sight your own guns," he told them, "The armourer doesn't have to do the fighting."

His hatred of the Germans grew; "I sent one of them to Hell in flames today ... I wish Kaiser Bill could have seen him sizzle." Once, he forced a German two-seater to crash. Most pilots would have been satisfied with that, but not Mick. He repeatedly machine-gunned the helpless crew. When his squadron mate questioned this behaviour, Mannock explained "The swines are better dead - no prisoners.".[6] Another time, he pursued a silver Pfalz scout; the two planes rolled, dived, looped and fired their guns. Eventually Mick got the better of his opponent and the German started twisting and turning as it fell toward a certain crash. Mick stayed on it, firing away, "a really remarkable exhibition of cruel, calculated Hun-strafing" another pilot called it. On this day, Mannock shot down four planes. He delightedly announced to the mess hall, "Flamerinoes - four! Sizzle sizzle wonk!" Van Ira, a South African flier in 74 commented on Mannock's success:

Four in one day! What is the secret? Undoubtedly the gift of accurate shooting, combined with the determination to get to close quarters before firing. It's an amazing gift, for no pilot in France goes nearer to a Hun before firing than Caldwell, but he only gets one down here and there, in spite of the fact that his tracer bullets appear to be going through his opponent's body.[citation needed]

Mannock was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in May 1918, not long after his four-in-a-day feat, and the award of a bar just two weeks later.

Dealing with war[edit]

Mannock was deeply affected by the number of men he was killing. In his diary, he recorded visiting the site where one of his victims had crashed near the front-line:

The journey to the trenches was rather nauseating - dead men's legs sticking through the sides with puttees and boots still on - bits of bones and skulls with the hair peeling off, and tons of equipment and clothing lying about. This sort of thing, together with the strong graveyard stench and the dead and mangled body of the pilot combined to upset me for a few days.

Mannock became especially upset when he saw one of his victims catch fire on its way to the ground. His fear of "flamerinoes" meant that from that date on, he always carried a revolver with him in his cockpit. As he told his friend Lieutenant MacLanachan,

The other fellows all laugh at me for carrying a revolver. They think I'm going to shoot down a machine with it, but they're wrong. The reason I bought it was to finish myself as soon as I see the first signs of flames. They'll never burn me.

Mid 1918[edit]

By this time, the strain of combat flying and the fear of his own fiery death got to Mannock. But he kept flying, repeatedly scoring multiple kills. He fell sick with influenza, aggravated by tension. By June 1918, he had made 59 kills, and had also earned a home leave. When he left 74 Squadron, he wept publicly.

On starting his third tour of duty in July, as CO of 85 Squadron, he confided his mortal fears to a friend, worried that three was an unlucky number. He became obsessed with neatness and order; his hair, his medals, his boots, everything had to be 'just so.'

On 20 July, at a farewell luncheon for his friend "Noisy" Lewis, Mannock took their mutual friend George McElroy aside to counsel him on the hazards of following a German victim down within range of ground fire.[7] When he shot down an aircraft on 22 July, a friend congratulated Mannock. "They'll have the red carpet out for you after the war, Mick." But Mannock glumly replied, "There won't be any 'after the war' for me."

Final Sortie[edit]

On 26 July, Major Mannock offered to help a new arrival, Lt. D.C. Inglis, obtain his first victory. After shooting down an enemy LVG two-seater behind the German front-line, Mannock is believed to have dived to the crash site to view the wreckage, seemingly breaking one of the unwritten rules of fellow pilots. However, while crossing the trenches, the fighters were met with a massive volley of ground-fire. The engine of Mannock's aircraft was hit and immediately caught fire, and shortly after the plane crashed behind German lines. Mannock's body is believed to have been found, though this is unproven, about 250 yards from the wreck of his machine, perhaps thrown, perhaps jumped. The body showed no gunshot wounds; Mannock always promised to shoot himself if he was ever going down. The BBC Timewatch programme 'WW1 aces falling' details the search to prove whether or not that this body was that of Mannock. Inglis described what happened:

Falling in behind Mick again we made a couple of circles around the burning wreck and then made for home. I saw Mick start to kick his rudder, then I saw a flame come out of his machine; it grew bigger and bigger. Mick was no longer kicking his rudder. His nose dropped slightly and he went into a slow right-hand turn, and hit the ground in a burst of flame. I circled at about twenty feet but could not see him, and as things were getting hot, made for home and managed to reach our outposts with a punctured fuel tank. Poor Mick ...the bloody bastards had shot my Major down in flames.

Memorials and tributes[edit]

The exact cause of Mannock's death remains uncertain. A year later, after intensive lobbying by Ira Jones and many of Mannock's former comrades, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Mannock's body was not subsequently recovered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) so officially he has no known grave. His name is commemorated on the Royal Flying Corps Memorial to the Missing at the Faubourg d'Amiens CWGC Cemetery in Arras. There is also a memorial plaque in honour of Mannock in Canterbury Cathedral.

Mick Mannock's name is listed on the Wellingborough War Memorial with the other fallen men from the town and the local Air Training Corps unit bears his name - 378 (Mannock) Squadron. Additionally, a residential street in Wellingborough is named after Major Mannock; Mannock Road. Wellingborough's Waendel Walk Beer Festival will, in 2014, be featuring "Flyer" Pale Ale, with a pump clip reading "Brewed to commemorate Major Mick Mannock VC, Wellingborough's Own Flying Ace".

Ed Mannock has his name on a Vickers VC-10. The plane is based at 101 Squadron RAF Brize Norton. The VC-10 was once an East African Airways Civil airliner but was bought by the RAF then repainted and then put into service.

On 26 July 2008, a wreath was laid in Wellingborough to mark the 90th anniversary of his death. In addition, officers and cadets of 378 (Mannock) Squadron laid a wreath at the Arras War Memorial.

In 2009, one of the last photographs ever taken of Mannock was discovered in Northern France. The photograph was found in an old album belonging to a French farmer whose land had been used by the Royal Air Force during the summer of 1918. The photograph shows Mannock in RAF uniform. He is standing on a farm track holding a walking stick and gloves with his right hand. His left hand rests on the shoulder of a dark-haired young girl.[8]

In a BBC Timewatch Programme entitled "WWI Aces Falling", broadcast on 21 March 2009, researchers suggested that the unidentified remains of a British airman (recovered soon after the war from a temporary grave near Mannock's crash site and reburied in Plot III, Row F, Grave 12 of Laventie CWGC war cemetery as "An Unknown British Airman Of The Great War") could be those of Mannock.[9]

Mannock's score[edit]

Mannock is officially credited with 61 victories: 1 balloon destroyed, 3 (and 2 shared) captured, 30 (and 5 shared) destroyed, 17 (and 3 shared) "out of control" in an itemised list of his approved claims (as seen below).[10] This is the total used in the photo-gallery of World War I aces of all nations at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north west London. He frequently did not claim a share in kills to which he had contributed[citation needed] — official policy treated a shared victory as a kill for each pilot involved. Mannock himself did not appear particularly motivated to accumulate a score, though he is known to have said, "If I have any luck, I think I may beat old Mac's (James McCudden) 57 victories. Then I shall try and oust old Richthofen..."

There was a posthumous attempt by former 74 Squadron comrade and fellow ace Ira Jones to credit his old friend with 73 victories and therefore the top scoring British/Commonwealth ace.[11] As early as 9th August 1918, two weeks after his death, an obituary in the weekly Wellingborough News in Mannock's adopted home town in Northamptonshire, using information almost certainly supplied by his friend Jim Eyles, reported that his total score was 73.[12] However research suggests that assertion was unbacked by fact. Some of the 73 accredited by Jones to Mannock and published in full in "Mick", by James Dudgeon in 1981, appear duplicated in error, misdated, shared claims, or unconfirmed claims.[13]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Confirmed victories are numbered; unconfirmed victories are denoted by "u/c".

No. Date/time Aircraft Foe Result Location Notes
1 7 May 1917 @ 0935 hours Nieuport serial number A6733 Observation balloon Destroyed Quiéry-la-Motte Mannock's initial victory with 40 Squadron
2 7 June 1917 @ 0715 hours Nieuport 17 s/n B1552 Albatros D.III Driven down out of control North of Lille[14] Shared with FE-2 of Lts Lally/Williams, 25 Sqn.
u/c 9 June 1917 Albatros D.V Driven down
u/c 9 June 1917 Albatros D.V Driven down[15]
3 12 July 1917 @ 1010 hours Nieuport s/n B1682 DFW reconnaissance plane Captured Avion Vzfw.Reubelt KIA,Lt. Bottcher POW (Schlasta 2)
4 13 July 1917 @ 0920 hours Nieuport s/n B1682 DFW reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control Sallaumines[14] Observer Lt. Walkermann, wounded(FAA240)
u/c 13 July 1917 German reconnaissance plane Driven down
u/c 28 July 1917 Albatros D.V Driven down
u/c 28 July 1917 Two observation balloons[15]
5 5 August 1917 @ 1610 hours Nieuport s/n B3554 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Avion
6 12 August 1917 @ 1515 hours Nieuport s/n B3554 Albatros D.V Captured Southeast of Petit-Vimy 5-kill ace Lt. Joachim von Bertrab(Jasta 30)
7 15 August 1917 @ 1215 hours Nieuport s/n B3554 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Lens
8 15 August 1917 @ 1930 hours Nieuport s/n B3554 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control North of Lens prob. Lt. Brugmann,killed(Jasta 30)
9 17 August 1917 @ 1050 hours Nieuport s/n B3554 DFW reconnaissance plane Destroyed[14]
u/c 22 August 1917 Albatros D.V Driven down[15]
10 4 September 1917 @ 1130 hours Nieuport 23 s/n B3607 DFW reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control East of Lens-Lievin Shared with Sgt.Herbert;Vzfw.Eddelbuttel/Lt. Kuhn(FAA240)
11 4 September 1917 @ 1630 hours Nieuport 23 s/n B3607 DFW reconnaissance plane Captured Petit-Vimy Vzfw.Frischkorn/Lt. Frech KIA (FAA235)
12 11 September 1917 @ 1115 hours Nieuport 23 s/n B3607 DFW reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control Thélus-Oppy
13 20 September 1917 @ 1735 hours Nieuport 23 s/n B3607 DFW reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control Hulloch poss.Uzz.Halbreiter/Lt. Beauchamp (FAA240)
14 23 September 1917 @ 1645 hours Nieuport s/n B3541 Enemy reconnaissance plane Set afire; destroyed Oppy
15 25 September 1917 @ 1510 hours Nieuport 23 s/n B3607 Rumpler C reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control Sallaumines Vzfw.Meckes/Lt. Otto, wounded (FAA224)
16 1 January 1918 @ 1135 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n B665 DFW reconnaissance plane Captured Fampoux Shared with 8N;Robert J. O. Compston,GK.Cooper;Vzfw.Korbacher/Lt. Klein killed,(FAA258)
17 12 April 1918 @ 0900 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros D.V Destroyed East of Merville Mannock's first victory with 74 Squadron
18 12 April 1918 @ 1440 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros D.V Destroyed Bois de Phalempin shared with 4 other 74 Sqn pilots
19 23 April 1918 @ 1810 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Set afire; destroyed East of Merville
20 29 April 1918 @ 1140 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Fokker D.VI Set afire; destroyed South of Dickebusch Lake Lt. Vortmann killed (Jasta 2)
21 30 April 1918 @ 1140 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros reconnaissance plane Captured Southeast of Dickebusch Lake Shared with Henry Eric Dolan. Crew of Schlasta 28B POW. See [1]
22 3 May 1918 @ 1855 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 LVG reconnaissance plane Destroyed South of Merville Shared with AC. Kiddie, HE.Dolan, HG.Clements;Uzz.Schoning/Lt. Buettler killed (FA32)
23 6 May 1918 @ 0920 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Fokker Triplane Destroyed Gheluvelt Lt. Derlin killed (Jasta 20)
24 11 May 1918 @ 1740 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C1112 Pfalz D.III Set afire; destroyed Northeast of Armentières Lt. Aeckerle killed (Jasta 47)
25 12 May 1918 @ 1820 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C1112 Albatros D.V Destroyed North of Wulverghem
26 12 May 1918 @ 1820 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C1112 Albatros D.V Destroyed North of Wulverghem
27 12 May 1918 @ 1820 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C1112 Pfalz D.III Destroyed North of Wulverghem
28 16 May 1918 @ 1100 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C1112 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Southwest of Houthulst Forest
29 17 May 1918 @ 1120 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Set afire; destroyed South of Bailleul
30 17 May 1918 @ 1430 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros reconnaissance plane Set afire; destroyed Northeast of Ypres
31 18 May 1918 @ 0825 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros C reconnaissance plane Set afire; destroyed Steenwerck Lt. Fischer/Lt. Pietz killed (FA19)
32 21 May 1918 @ 0928 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Hannover reconnaissance plane Destroyed La Courenne Gef.Menzel/Lt. Steinmeyer killed (FA9)
33 21 May 1918 @ 1900 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Hollebeke
34 21 May 1918 @ 1900 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Hollebeke
35 21 May 1918 @ 1905 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Destroyed South of Hollebeke possibly Vzfw.Schorn, killed (Jasta 16)
36 22 May 1918 ca 1815 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Fromelles
37 26 May 1918 @ 1940 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Pfalz D.III Set afire; destroyed Half a mile south of Bailleul
38 26 May 1918 @ 1940 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n D278 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control South of Bailleul
39 29 May 1918 @ 1925 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Albatros D.V Set afire; destroyed Northeast of Armentières
40 29 May 1918 @ 2005 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Northeast of Armentières[10]
u/c 29 May 1918 Driven down[15]
41 31 May 1918 @ 1940 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control North of Wytschaete
42 1 June 1918 @ 1630 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Estaires
43 1 June 1918 @ 1630 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Estaires
44 1 June 1918 @ 1630 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Estaires
45 2 June 1918 @ 1540 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Two miles south of Mount Kemmel poss. Lt. Dunkelberg killed (Jasta 5)
46 6 June 1918 @ 1540 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Fokker D.VII Destroyed East of Ypres
47 6 June 1918 @ 1945 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C6468 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Two miles west of Roulers Victory shared with Wilfred Ernest Young, Andrew Kiddie, Harris Clements
48 9 June 1918 @ 0805 hours Albatros C reconnaissance plane Driven down out of control South of Mount Kemmel Victory shared with Andrew Kiddie, Harris Clements
49 9 June 1918 @ 0810 hours Albatros reconnaissance plane Destroyed South of Mount Kemmel Victory shared with Wilfred Young
50 16 June 1918 @ 0745 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C5845 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Three miles south of Zillebeke Lake
51 16 June 1918 @ 0745 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C5845 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Three miles south of Zillebeke Lake
52 17 June 1918 @ 0945 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n C5845 Hannover reconnaissance plane Destroyed Armentières
53 7 July 1918 @ 2020 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker D.VII Destroyed Doulieu Mannock's first victory as OC of 85 Squadron
54 7 July 1918 @ 2020 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker D.VII Driven down out of control Doulieu
55 14 July 1918 @ 0835 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker D.VII Destroyed North of Merville
56 19 July 1918 @ 0823 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Albatros reconnaissance plane Destroyed Merville Uzz.Hartmann/Lt. von Sydow, killed (FA7)
57 20 July 1918 @ 1117 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Reconnaissance plane Destroyed Northeast of La Bassée poss. Uzz Rath/Lt. Gros, Killed (FA7)
58 20 July 1918 @ 1215 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker D.VII Driven down out of control South of Steenwerck[10]
59 20 July 1918 @ 1215 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker D.VII Driven down out of control South of Steenwerck[15]
60 22 July 1918 @ 0952 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Fokker Triplane Destroyed Armentières
61 26 July 1918 @ 0530 hours Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a s/n E1295 Reconnaissance plane Destroyed Lestrem Shared with DC Inglis, ; Vzfw.Klein/Lt. Schopf killed (FAA292) [16]

Official citations[edit]

Military Cross citation[edit]

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In the course of many combats he has driven off a large number of enemy machines, and has forced down three balloons, showing a very fine offensive spirit and great fearlessness in attacking the enemy at close range and low altitudes under heavy fire from the ground.[17]

Distinguished Service Order citation[edit]

Distinguished Service Order

T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, M.C., R.E., attd. R.A.F.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during recent operations. In seven days, while leading patrols and in general engagements, he destroyed seven enemy machines, bringing his total in all to thirty. His leadership, dash and courage were of the highest order.[18]

Distinguished Service Order citation to First Bar[edit]

T./2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., R.E., and R.A.F.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In company with one other scout this officer attacked eight enemy aeroplanes, shooting down one in flames. The next day, when leading his flight, he engaged eight enemy aeroplanes, destroying three himself. The same week he led his patrol against six enemy aeroplanes, shooting down the rear machine, which broke in pieces in the air. The following day he shot down an Albatross two-seater in flames, but later, meeting five scouts, had great difficulty in getting back, his machine being much shot about, but he destroyed one. Two days later, he shot down another two-seater in flames. Eight machines in five days—a fine feat of marksmanship and determination to get to close quarters. As a patrol leader he is unequalled.

(D.S.O. gazetted in this Gazette.)[19]

Distinguished Service Order citation to Second Bar[edit]

Air Ministry, 3rd August, 1918.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the undermentioned rewards on Officers of the Royal Air Force, in recognition of gallantry in flying operations against the enemy:—

Awarded a Second Bar to The Distinguished Service Order.

Lt. (T./Capt.) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C. (formerly Royal Engineers).

This officer has now accounted for 48 enemy machines. His success is due to wonderful shooting and a determination to get to close quarters; to attain this he displays most skilful leadership and unfailing courage. These characteristics were markedly shown on a recent occasion when he attacked six hostile scouts, three of which he brought down. Later on the same day he attacked a two-seater, which crashed into a tree.

(The announcement of award of Distinguished Service Order, and First Bar thereto, will be published in a later Gazette.)[20]

Victoria Cross citation[edit]

Air Ministry, Hotel Cecil, Strand, W.C.2., 18th July, 1919.

Victoria Cross

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the late Captain (acting Major) Edward Mannock, D.S.O., M.C., 85th Squadron Royal Air Force, in recognition of bravery of the first order in Aerial Combat: —

On 17 June 1918, he attacked a Halberstadt machine near Armentieres and destroyed it from a height of 8,000 feet [2,400 m].

On 7 July 1918, near Doulieu, he attacked and destroyed one Fokker (red-bodied) machine, which went vertically into the ground from a height of 1,500 feet [460 m]. Shortly afterwards he ascended 1,000 feet [300 m] and attacked another Fokker biplane, firing 60 rounds into it, which produced an immediate spin, resulting, it is believed, in a crash.

On 14 July 1918, near Merville, he attacked and crashed a Fokker from 7,000 feet, and brought a two-seater down damaged.

On 19 July 1918, near Merville, he fired 80 rounds into an Albatross two-seater, which went to the ground in flames.

On 20 July 1918, East of La Bassee, he attacked and crashed an enemy two-seater from a height of 10,000 feet [3,000 m].

About an hour afterwards he attacked at 8,000 feet [2,400 m] a Fokker biplane near Steenwercke and drove it down out of control, emitting smoke.

On 22 July 1918, near Armentieres, he destroyed an enemy triplane from a height of 10,000 feet [3,000 m].

Major Mannock was awarded the undermentioned distinctions for his previous combats in the air in France and Flanders: —

Military Cross. Gazetted 17 September 1917.
Bar to Military Cross. Gazetted 18 October 1917.
Distinguished Service Order. Gazetted 16 September 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (1st). Gazetted 16 September 1918.
Bar to Distinguished Service Order (2nd). Gazetted 3 August 1918.

This highly distinguished officer, during the whole of his career in the Royal Air Force, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice, which has never been surpassed.[21]

The total number of machines definitely accounted for by Major Mannock up to the date of his death in France (26 July 1918) is fifty—the total specified in the Gazette of 3 August 1918, was incorrectly given as 48, instead of 41.[22]

Mannock's Victoria Cross was presented to his father at Buckingham Palace in July 1919. Edward Mannock was also given his son's other medals, even though Mick had stipulated in his will that his father should receive nothing from his estate. Soon afterwards, Mannock's medals were sold for £5. They have since been recovered and can be seen at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon.

Mannock's rules[edit]

Mannock was highly regarded as a tactician, patrol leader and combat pilot and his oft-quoted cardinal rule was "Always above, seldom on the same level, never underneath," by which he meant never engage the enemy without holding the advantage, and the greatest advantage in air fighting was height. According to Mannock, tactics should be adjusted according to the situation. However the main principle remained:

The enemy must be surprised and attacked at a disadvantage, if possible with superior numbers so the initiative was with the patrol. ... The combat must continue until the enemy has admitted his inferiority, by being shot down or running away.

Mannock formulated a set of practical rules for air fighting on the Western Front that, like Oswald Boelcke's Dicta, were passed on to new pilots.

  1. Pilots must dive to attack with zest, and must hold their fire until they get within one hundred yards of their target.
  2. Achieve surprise by approaching from the East. (From the German side of the front.)
  3. Utilize the sun's glare and clouds to achieve surprise.
  4. Pilots must keep physically fit by exercise and the moderate use of stimulants.
  5. Pilots must sight their guns and practice as much as possible as targets are normally fleeting.
  6. Pilots must practice spotting machines in the air and recognizing them at long range, and every aeroplane is to be treated as an enemy until it is certain it is not.
  7. Pilots must learn where the enemy's blind spots are.
  8. Scouts must be attacked from above and two-seaters from beneath their tails.
  9. Pilots must practice quick turns, as this maneuver is more used than any other in a fight.
  10. Pilots must practice judging distances in the air as these are very deceptive.
  11. Decoys must be guarded against — a single enemy is often a decoy — therefore the air above should be searched before attacking.
  12. If the day is sunny, machines should be turned with as little bank as possible, otherwise the sun glistening on the wings will give away their presence at a long range.
  13. Pilots must keep turning in a dog fight and never fly straight except when firing.
  14. Pilots must never, under any circumstances, dive away from an enemy, as he gives his opponent a non-deflection shot — bullets are faster than aeroplanes.
  15. Pilots must keep their eye on their watches during patrols, and on the direction and strength of the wind.

Second World War aces, such as Bader and Johnson, acknowledge that Mannock's tactics served as inspiration to them.

Quotes about Mannock[edit]

(1) Jim Eyles first met Mick Mannock when he was 24.

I first met Mick at a cricket match in Wellingborough. I was impressed with him immediately. He was a clean-cut young man, although not what one would call well dressed; in fact, he was a bit threadbare. I asked him if he would like to move in with my wife and myself, and he was most happy about the idea. After he moved in, our home was never the same again, our normally quiet life gone forever. It was wonderful really. He would talk into the early hours of the morning if you let him - all sorts of subjects: politics, society, you name it and he was interested. It was clear from the outset he was a socialist. He was also deeply patriotic. A kinder, more thoughtful man you could never meet.

(2) Captain Chapman was one of Mick Mannock's teachers at the School of Military Aeronautics. He later described Mick Mannock's early training.

When he arrived he seemed not to have the slightest conception of an aeroplane. The first time we took off the ground, Mannock, unlike many pupils, instead of jamming the rudder and seizing the joystick in a herculean grip, looked over the side of the aeroplane at the earth, which was dropping rapidly away from him, with an expression which betrayed the mildest interest. He made his first solo flight with but a few hours' instruction, for he seemed to master the rudiments of flying with his first hour in the air and from then on threw the machine about how he pleased.

(3) Keith Caldwell was Major Mick Mannock's commander in 74 Squadron during the First World War. In an interview he gave in 1981, Caldwell explained why Mannock was such a successful pilot.

Mannock was an extraordinarily good shot and a very good strategist, he could place his flight team high against the sun and lead them into a favourable position where they would have the maximum advantage. Then he would go quickly on the enemy, slowing down at the last possible moment to ensure that each of his followers got into a good firing position.

(4) H. G. Clements of 74 Squadron wrote an account of Major Mick Mannock in 1981.

The fact that I am still alive is due to Mick's high standard of leadership and the strict discipline on which he insisted. We were all expected to follow and cover him as far as possible during an engagement and then to rejoin the formation as soon as that engagement was over. None of Mick's pilots would have dreamed of chasing off alone after the retreating enemy or any other such foolhardy act. He moulded us into a team, and because of his skilled leadership we became a highly efficient team. Our squadron leader said that Mannock was the most skilful patrol leader in World War I, which would account for the relatively few casualties in his flight team compared with the high number of enemy aircraft destroyed.

(5) Lieutenant MacLanachan met Mick Mannock in May 1917. After the war MacLanachan wrote about his experiences in his book Fighter Pilot.

Mick was twenty-eight or twenty-nine when I met him for the first time. He had then been two months in France. Everything about him demonstrated his vitality, a strong, manly man. His alert brain was quick, and an unbroken courage and straightforward character forced him to take action where others would sit down uncomprehending. I was awed by his personality.

(6) Jim Eyles later recalled Mick Mannock's last leave before his death.

I well remember his last leave. Gone was the old sparkle we knew so well; gone was the incessant wit. I could see him wringing his hands together to conceal the shaking and twitching, and then he would leave the room when it became impossible for him to control it. On one occasion we were sitting in the front talking quietly when his eyes fell to the floor, and he started to tremble violently. He cried uncontrollably. His face, when he lifted it, was a terrible sight. Later he told me that it had just been a 'bit of nerves' and that he felt better for a good cry. He was in no condition to return to France, but in those days such things were not taken into account.

(7) An extract from Mick Mannock's last letter to Jim Eyles.

I feel that life is not worth hanging on to. I had hopes of getting married, but not now.

(8) Private Naulls was in the front trenches when he saw Mannock's aircraft brought down.

There was a lot of rifle-fire from the Jerry trenches, and a machine-gun near Robecq opened up, using tracers. I saw these strike Mannock's engine. A bluish-white flame appeared and spread rapidly; smoke and flames enveloped the engine and cockpit.

See also[edit]

Media related to Edward Mannock at Wikimedia Commons

Endnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Franks and Saunders state that there is no record of his birth in the English General Register Office, and according to the birth records at http://www.freebmd.org.uk there was no Edward Mannock born in England and Wales in the 1880s. However the 1911 census gives Brighton as his birthplace. He was probably born in Ireland, but until Irish birth records are checked this must be regarded as uncertain.
  2. ^ "WesternFrontAssociation.com". 30 November 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  3. ^ the aerodrome Joachim Von Bertrab
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30340. p. 10706. 16 October 1917. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  5. ^ Frédriksen, John C., p.275, International warbirds: an illustrated guide to world military aircraft Retrieved February 2011
  6. ^ This credit was 30 April 1918 see
  7. ^ Shores, p. 27
  8. ^ Fisher, John Hayes (20 March 2009). "The trembling ace". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  9. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00jj523/Timewatch_2008_2009_WWI_Aces_Falling/
  10. ^ a b c Above the Trenches, pp. 255-256.
  11. ^ King of Air Fighters, p. 1.
  12. ^ Wellingborough News, 'Great Tributes', 9th August 1918
  13. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 255-6.
  14. ^ a b c Above the Trenches, p. 255.
  15. ^ a b c d e Above the Lines, p. 257.
  16. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 25.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30287. p. 9577. 17 September 1917. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30901. p. 10869. 16 September 1918. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30901. p. 10858. 16 September 1918. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30827. p. 9197. 3 August 1918. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31463. p. 9136. 18 July 1919.
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31463. p. 9136. 18 July 1919. Retrieved 2009-03-20.

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