William Molesworth (aviator)

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William Earle Molesworth
Nickname(s) Moley
Born (1894-03-14)14 March 1894
Andaman Islands
Died 22 October 1955(1955-10-22) (aged 61)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Infantry; aviation
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Royal Munster Fusiliers, No. 60 Squadron RFC, No. 29 Squadron RFC, Royal Munster Fusiliers
Commands held No. 158 Squadron RAF
Awards Military Cross with Bar, Italian Medaglia d'oro al Valore Militare

Lieutenant Colonel William Earle Molesworth MC (14 March 1894 - 22 October 1955) was a First World War flying ace credited with eighteen aerial victories.

He was born 14 March 1894, the son of Lt-Col William Molesworth, C.B.E, C.I.E., Indian Medical Service.[1]

Molesworth attended Marlborough College from 1908 to 1912. He then trained for an army career at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, from 1912 to 1914. On 8 August 1914, he was commissioned second lieutenant into the Royal Munster Fusiliers. He went into combat on the Western Front in October 1914. He was wounded in December, but returned to duty and served with the Fusiliers until March 1916. Molesworth then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps with a temporary commission. He graduated pilot's training in February 1917 at Upavon's Central Flying School.

His first combat assignment with the RFC was No. 60 Squadron. By April, he was Flight Leader of A Flight. Flying a Nieuport 17, he scored his first victory on 22 April 1917. His next three triumphs were also scored flying a Nieuport; then he switched to an RAF SE.5a for his next two in early August. He then moved to Home Establishment back in England until October.[2] On 20 October 1917, he returned to Nieuports by being assigned to No. 29 Squadron as a captain.[3]

He notched his first wins with them on 8 November, setting an enemy reconnaissance two-seater and an Albatros D.V afire. He then scored at a steady rate until his last victory on 18 March 1918. He then returned to Central Flying School for a short spell as an instructor. In April 1918, he was appointed to form No. 158 Squadron and serve as its Commanding Officer. He held this post through October 1918. Following the armistice in November, he was transferred back to the Fusiliers.[4]

He was appointed a Captain in the Royal Sussex Regiment 13 September 1922 when the Royal Munster Fusiliers were disbanded, then transferred to the Royal Tank Corps, later Royal Tank Regiment, 13 February 1924.[5]

He was promoted Major 28 February 1931 and Lieutenant-Colonel 1 April 1940. He retired 13 September 1941.[6]

Molesworth died on 22 October 1955 in Reading and was buried at Henley Road Cemetery on 25 October.

Honors and awards[edit]

Military Cross (MC)

Capt. William Earle Molesworth, R. Muns. Fus. and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on offensive patrol. He has frequently led his patrol against superior numbers of the enemy, destroying some and dispersing others. He has also brought down two balloons and has proved himself to be a dashing and fearless pilot of great skill and determination.[7]

Military Cross (MC) Bar

Capt. William Earle Molesworth, M.C., R. Muns. Fus. and R.F.C.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has done excellent work as patrol leader, handling his formations with great skill and courage. He has destroyed four enemy machines and driven several down out of control.[8]

Sources of information[edit]

  1. ^ Marlborough College Register 1843-1933 & Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930
  2. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/ireland/molesworth.php Retrieved 25 December 2009.
  3. ^ Nieuport Aces of World War 1.. pp. 23, 30. 
  4. ^ http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/ireland/molesworth.php Retrieved 25 December 2009.
  5. ^ Half Yearly Army List January 1933
  6. ^ Half Yearly Army List February 1948
  7. ^ (Supplement to the London Gazette, 9 January 1918) http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/30466/supplements/631 Retrieved on 23 March 2010.
  8. ^ (Supplement to the London Gazette, 24 August 1918) http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/30862/supplements/9904 Retrieved on 23 March 2010.


Nieuport aces of World War 1. Author Norman Franks. Osprey Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-85532-961-1, ISBN 978-1-85532-961-4.