Tom F. Hazell

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Thomas Falcon Hazell
Born 7 August 1892
Roundstone, County Galway, Ireland
Died 4 Sept 1946 (aged 54)
Ireland
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Flying Corps
Years of service 1914–192?
Rank Major
Unit No.1 & No.24 Squadrons
Commands held No. 203 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar

Thomas Falcon Hazell DSO, MC, DFC & Bar (7 August 1892 -4 Sept 1946) was a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, and later, the Royal Air Force during World War I. Falcon scored 43 victories between 1917-18 making him the fifth most successful British “flying ace” during the war, and the third most successful Irish-born pilot, behind Edward Mannock and George McElroy, as well the only pilot to survive the war from both groups.

Early life[edit]

Hazell was born in Roundstone, County Galway on the west coast of Ireland, to Thomas Hazell and Cecile Buckley. He attended Tonbridge school until 1911.

World War I[edit]

Upon the outbreak of War in 1914, Hazell volunteered for service as a private with the South Irish Horse. He soon took a commission with the 7th battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. Two years later in 1916, Hazell transferred from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to the Royal Flying Corps. Surviving a bad crash in June 1916, and after completing his training, Hazell joined No. 1 Squadron on the Western Front . Flying Nieuport 17 Scouts, he shot down 20 enemy machines and by August 1917 received the Military Cross.

After a period as instructor at the Central Flying School Hazell took command of 'A' flight in No. 24 Squadron, flying the SE-5a. On 22 August 1918, Hazell shot down an observation balloon despite its escort of seven Fokker DVIIs. The escort was led by German ace Ernst Udet, who attacked and riddled Hazell's petrol tank, propeller, and two longerons with bullets. In spite of this Hazell fought his way back, eyes full of petrol, and landed safely. Udet thought that he had forced the British pilot to crash, and actually claimed him as his 60th victory. Hazell finished the war with 43 confirmed kills, the top British surviving ace of the 1914-18 war (excluding Dominion airmen).

His claims tally consisted of one captured enemy airplane; ten enemy observation balloons destroyed (two of which were shared); 18 enemy aircraft destroyed (including one shared); fourteen aircraft driven down 'out of control' (including 3 shared).[1]

After the war and later years[edit]

After the war had concluded, Hazell was given a permanent commission by the Royal Air Force as well as being decorated with both a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). During the 1920s Hazell was a commander of a series of Squadrons in the Middle East, most notably Iraq. He retired a Squadron Leader 20 July 1927.[2]

In 1944, at the age of 52, Hazell became the commander of "D" Company, 24th (Tettenhall) Battalion, South Staffordshire Home Guard during the later part of the Second World War. Two years later in Ireland, Thomas Falcon Hazell died in 1946 at the age of 54.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Above the Trenches'; Shores, 1990, page 190
  2. ^ London Gazette 19 July 1927, p 4649