Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson

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Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson
Nickname(s) Siffy
Born (1890-08-30)30 August 1890
Bow, London, United Kingdom
Died 27 September 1918(1918-09-27) (aged 28)
near Cambrai, France
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1917 - 1918
Rank Captain
Unit Royal Army Service Corps,
No. 20 Squadron RAF,
No. 22 Squadron RAF
Awards Military Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross

Captain Samuel Frederick Henry "Siffy" Thompson MC DFC was a World War I two-seater fighter ace who, in conjunction with his observer-gunners, was credited with 30 victories ( 18 destroyed, 12 'out of control').[1] He was shot down and killed in action on 27 September 1918. Despite having an active fighter career of only five months,[1][2] he reached the rank of Captain and won two British military decorations.

Early life[edit]

Thompson was born to Samuel W. Thompson, a medical practitioner, and his wife Florence in Bow, London in 1890. Already a temporary second lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 7 June 1917 at the age of 27, and was appointed a flying officer.[3]


After joining No. 20 Squadron in late 1917, Thompson's career started somewhat awkwardly, as he crashed his aircraft on 27 October, after which he was transferred to No. 22 Squadron.[2]

His aircraft of choice was the Bristol F.2b, with which he scored his first victory, an Albatros D.V, east of Merville, France on 22 April 1918, as a member of No. 22 Squadron.[1]

An extremely aggressive pilot, in May 1918 he scored 9 victories, including three Pfalz D.III aircraft around 10am on 16 May, near Douai. Also notable was his downing of two more D.IIIs on 21 May, south-west of Vitry-en-Artois.

June 1918 was also fruitful for Thompson, as he scored 8 victories mostly in the aircraft C929 (a Bristol F.2b). At Erquinghem-le-Sec on 1 June, he downed an Albatros C.III in addition to an Albatros D.V, and the next day (2 June) he got another two victories near Lens, Pas-de-Calais, this time two Pfalz D.IIIs. He only scored one victory in July, a Fokker Dr.I near Laventie on 26 July.

In August he scored a further six victories at Dechy, the road connecting Arras and Cambrai, Douai and Senlemont. He shot down, amongst others, three Fokker D.VII aircraft. He was promoted to temporary captain on 24 August.[4]

September started off well for Thompson, with four victories against Fokker D.VIIs up until 24 September. He received the Military Cross on 16 September. On 27 September 1918, in aircraft E2243, he downed a Halberstadt C north of Noyelles before being shot down east of Cambrai by Oberleutnant Otto Schmidt of Jasta 5. Thompson was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 2 November. He is commemorated in Arras at the Arras Flying Services Memorial.[5]


Thompson claimed at least 18 of his victories with the front gun, the rest being claimed by his gunners.[6] He flew with Lieutenant Charles George Gass, the highest-scoring observer ace during the war, for two of his victories, on 22 April and 26 July 1918, as well as with Sergeant L Kendrick for two victories in May 1918. The observer on his final flight was Second Lieutenant Clifford Tolman, an 'ace' with 8 victories, who was also killed in the crash.

However, for most of his time of service he flew with Observer Sergeant Ronald Malcolm Fletcher DFM, who recorded 26 victories during the war, and was crewed with Thompson on no fewer than 25 of the pilot's 30 victories, claiming at least six victories in his own right.[6]


T./Lt. Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson, Gen. List., R.A.F.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as a fighting pilot. During recent operations he destroyed five enemy machines. He showed great courage and skill, and by his keenness and dash set a fine example to all.[7]

Lieut. (T./Capt.) Samuel Frederick Henry Thompson, M.C. (A.S.C.).

This officer has carried out numerous offensive patrols, displaying the most marked bravery and determination. His boldness in attack and utter disregard of personal danger affords a most inspiring example to his brother pilots. Since June last he has destroyed eleven enemy aeroplanes.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Aerodrome: Samuel Thompson". 1997. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  2. ^ a b Guttman, Jon (2007). Bristol F.2 Fighter Aces. Osprey Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 1-84603-201-6. 
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30218. p. 7996. 3 August 1917. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30887. p. 10551. 6 September 1918. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  5. ^ "Casualty details—Thompson, Samuel Frederick Henry". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  6. ^ a b 'Above the Trenches'; Shores, Franks & Guest (grub street 1990)
  7. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30901. p. 11024. 16 September 1918. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30989. p. 12974. 2 November 1918. Retrieved 2008-12-08.

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