Cecil Marchant

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Cecil James Marchant
Born(1895-06-15)15 June 1895
Died30 May 1965(1965-05-30) (aged 69)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service1913–1919
UnitKing's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment)
No 46 Squadron RFC/No. 46 Squadron RAF
Battles/warsWorld War I
 • Western Front
AwardsMilitary Cross

Captain Cecil James Marchant MC (15 June 1895 – 30 May 1965) was an English flying ace during World War I. He was credited with nine aerial victories.[1]

Early life and military career[edit]

Cecil James Marchant was born in London, and enlisted into the Army in 1913, when he was 18 years old.[2] He served in the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and had achieved the rank of sergeant by 8 October 1914, when he received a mention in despatches from the Commander-in-Chief, Field-Marshal Sir John French.[3] He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 14th Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment) on 22 July 1915.[4]

Flying service[edit]

Marchant served about 18 months in the trenches, before being transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.[2] He was granted Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 3971 on 1 August 1916,[1] and was appointed a flying officer the same day, as was customary on completion of pilot training, and transferred to the General List.[5]

His first assignment was as a Sopwith Pup pilot in No. 46 Squadron in early 1917. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 March 1917.[6] That combat tour ended in June.[2]

On 1 January 1918, Marchant was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain.[7] He returned to No. 46 Squadron in February 1918, which had been re-equipped with the Sopwith Camel. He scored his first aerial victory on 22 March, and ran his tally to nine over the next 45 days.[2]

He was awarded the Military Cross, which was gazetted on 22 June 1918. His citation read:

Temporary Captain Cecil James Merchant, General List and Royal Flying Corps.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He, with two other pilots of his squadron, bombed a freight train from a height of 50 feet, three trucks being derailed. Again, on a later occasion he, with five other pilots, bombed and fired at a column of enemy transport with such good effect that three-quarters of the personnel became casualties and most of the vehicles were destroyed. Whilst on a low bombing reconnaissance during the recent operations he brought down two hostile two-seater machines out of control and shot down a third in flames. He has at all times displayed marked gallantry and resource."[8]

On 2 July 1918, Marchant was severely enough wounded to require removal from combat duty for hospitalization.[2] He was temporarily appointed a 3rd Class Staff Officer in the Air Ministry on 6 October 1918,[9] and again on 10 February 1919.[10] On 20 March 1919, he was appointed an adjutant; this time, he was an acting captain, though drawing the pay and allowances as a lieutenant.[11]

List of aerial victories[edit]

List of aerial victories[1]
No. Date/time Aircraft Foe Result Location Notes
1 22 March 1918
@1500 hours
Sopwith Camel
Serial number C1554
LVG reconnaissance aircraft Driven down out of control Bullecourt Victory shared with Donald Roderick MacLaren
2 23 March 1918
@1015 hours
Sopwith Camel
s/n B9211
Reconnaissance aircraft Driven down out of control Croisilles
3 23 March 1918
@1030 hours
Sopwith Camel
s/n B9211
Reconnaissance aircraft Set afire; destroyed Mory
4 23 March 1918
@1410 hours
Sopwith Camel Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Morchies
5 3 April 1918
@1245 hours
Sopwith Camel
s/n B9211
Albatros reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed Map grid 57 D L32 Victory shared with Maurice Freehill
6 20 April 1918
@1000 hours
Sopwith Camel
s/n B9211
Albatros reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed Harnes Victory shared with Maurice Freehill
7 25 April 1918 Sopwith Camel LVG reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed West of Lens Victory shared with Philip Tudhope
8 2 May 1918
@1700 hours
Sopwith Camel
s/n B9211
Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Estaires Victory shared with John Henry Smith
9 6 May 1918
@1800 hours
Sopwith Camel DFW reconnaissance aircraft Captured Saint-Venant Victory shared with Victor Yeates, John Henry Smith, Donald Roderick MacLaren, H T W Manwaring

Post World War I[edit]

Marchant worked in his family's business postwar. He was also a prime mover in organizing squadron reunions.[2][12][13]

Cecil James Marchant died on 30 May 1965.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Cecil James Marchant". The Aerodrome. 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Shores et.al. (1990), p.259.
  3. ^ "No. 28942". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 October 1914. p. 8355.
  4. ^ "No. 29242". The London Gazette. 27 July 1915. p. 7331.
  5. ^ "No. 29723". The London Gazette. 25 August 1916. p. 8399.
  6. ^ "No. 30314". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 September 1917. p. 10116.
  7. ^ "No. 30473". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 1918. p. 782.
  8. ^ "No. 30761". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 June 1918. p. 7418.
  9. ^ "No. 31147". The London Gazette. 28 January 1919. p. 1372.
  10. ^ "No. 31196". The London Gazette. 21 February 1919. p. 2616.
  11. ^ "No. 31399". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1919. p. 7517.
  12. ^ "46th Squadron Annual Dinner". Flight. XIII (639): 215. 24 March 1921. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Reunions". Flight. XXXV (1579): 320. 30 March 1939. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
  • Shores, Christopher F.; Franks, Norman & Guest, Russell F. (1990). Above the Trenches: a Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.