|Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth|
27 March 1885|
|Died||24 February 1961
Great Dunmow, Essex
|Service/branch|| Royal Navy (1909–18)
Royal Air Force (1918–35)
|Years of service||1913–1935
|Commands held||No. 42 (Maintenance) Group (1939)
RAF Leuchars (1925–28)
No. 10 Group (1918–19; 1929–31)
|Battles/wars||First World War|
|Awards||Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Air Force Cross
Mentioned in Despatches
|Other work||British Directorate of Aeronautical Production|
Air Commodore Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth CMG, DSO & Bar, AFC (27 March 1885 – 24 February 1961) was a pioneer aviator who had a distinguished military career in the service of the British armed forces.
Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth was born on 27 March 1885, the son of Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth Sr and Kate Box.
Bigsworth received training as a Mercantile Marine officer, later joining the Royal Naval Reserve as a sub-lieutenant, being promoted to lieutenant on 19 January 1913. He attended the first course at the Central Flying School, gaining his Aviator's Certificate no. 396 on 21 January 1913. He transferred to the Royal Navy at this rank with effect from 1 April 1913, achieving the rank of wing commander in the Royal Naval Air Service on 31 December 1916. On 1 April 1918 he was appointed Officer Commanding No. 10 Group RAF; a year later he was awarded a permanent commission as a lieutenant colonel and was appointed Staff Officer First Class (Air) in Headquarters, Mediterranean District. At this point Bigsworth was awarded a Permanent Commission with the RAF and was removed from the Navy Lists while remaining in his post with HQ Mediterranean District, later HQ Mediterranean Group in 1920. After almost three years as Officer Commanding, Armament and Gunnery School at Eastchurch, he returned to the Mediterranean as Air Officer Commanding (AOC), HQ RAF Mediterranean, in which capacity he was appointed as a member of the Nominated Council of Malta. In 1925 he returned to the UK, first to RAF Leuchars (1925), then as Senior Air Staff Office (SASO), HQ Coastal Area (1928), AOC No. 10 Group and finally, until his retirement in September 1935, as Director of Equipment at the Air Ministry.
Immediately following his retirement from active service, Bigsworth was appointed to the Directorate of Aeronautical Production and in 1939 was for a short time AOC No 42 (Maintenance) Group.
Arthur Wellesley Bigsworth died on 24 February 1961.
Medals and Honours
Bigsworth had already experimented with night flying, using two 4V lamps attached to his aircraft and no doubt called on this experience on 17 May 1915, when he managed to climb his Avro 504 above Zeppelin LZ39 over Ostend and drop four 20 lb bombs on its envelope, causing considerable damage. LZ39 managed to return to its base, despite damage to five of its gasbags For this feat Bigsworth was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). This was the first night-time attack on a Zeppelin.
On 26 August 1915, Bigsworth was reconnoitering the sea off Ostend in his Farman F.27 when he spotted German submarine, U-14, on the surface and sank it. The citation for the Bar to his DSO stated: "Squadron-Commander Bigsworth was under heavy fire from the shore batteries and from the submarine whilst manoeuvring for position. Nevertheless, displaying great coolness, he descended to 500 feet, and after several attempts was able to get a good line for dropping the bombs with full effect." This was the first ever confirmed airborne 'kill' on a submarine.
Lieutenant Colonel (Acting Colonel) Bigsworth was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, followed on 5 June 1919 by the award of the Air Force Cross.
- Dunmow Registration District
- RAFweb Biographical details
- Link between 'Bigsworth' and 'Bigglesworth' suggested
- Navy News: Birth of Naval Aviation Supplement, July 2009, p.52
- West End ÜParish newsletter Archived 24 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Naval history: DSO bar
- RAF Kinloss, No. 201 Squadron website Archived 8 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Mentioned in Despatches, London Gazette, 3 June 1918
- CMG appointment in London Gazette, 1 January 1919
- Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, 5 June 1919 Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.