Francis S. Symondson

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Francis Stanley Symondson
Born (1897-03-27)27 March 1897
Sutton, Surrey, England
Died 1 May 1975(1975-05-01) (aged 78)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914–1919
1921
1939–1943
Rank Captain
Unit Honourable Artillery Company
Glamorgan Yeomanry
No. 29 Squadron RFC
No. 66 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Sinai and Palestine Campaign
 • Western Front
 • Italian Front
World War II
Awards Military Cross
Silver Medal of Military Valor (Italy)

Captain Francis Stanley Symondson MC (27 March 1897 – 1 May 1975) was a British World War I flying ace credited with 13 confirmed aerial victories. He survived over three years of ground warfare and overcame early setbacks as a fighter pilot on the Western Front to become an ace in Italy.[1]

Early life[edit]

Symondson was born in Sutton, Surrey, the second of three sons born to Stanley Vernon Symondson, a ship broker, and his wife Jesse Kate (née Uridge). The census of March 1901 found him boarding in Margate, Kent.[2][3] Symondson first flew before the war in a Bleriot aircraft with Frank Goodden in June 1914.[4]

World War I service[edit]

Symondson served three and a half years in the infantry before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.[5] He first served as a trumpeter in the Honourable Artillery Company, before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 25th (County of London) Cyclist Battalion, The London Regiment, on 18 March 1915.[6] He later transferred to the Glamorgan Yeomanry (Welch Regiment), and was serving in Egypt[4] when he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps, in which he was appointed a flying officer on 23 May 1917.[7] He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 July.[8]

He was posted to No. 29 Squadron in France on 4 September 1917. He crashed three of the squadron's Nieuports in the next 16 days, and was sent back to England for further training. He was then posted to Italy to join No. 66 Squadron as a Sopwith Camel pilot. On 7 March 1918, he set fire to a kite balloon at Chiarano for his first victory. It was the beginning of a string of a dozen enemy losses, as Symondson destroyed another balloon and ten aircraft by 28 August 1918. On 15 September, he drove down an Austrian-Hungarian Berg D.I out of control for his thirteenth win.[9] The following day, his Military Cross was gazetted. The citation read:

Lieutenant Francis Stanley Symondson, Yeomanry and Royal Air Force.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In two months he destroyed five enemy machines and one enemy kite balloon."[10]

In November 1918 he was awarded the Silver Medal for Military Valour by the Italian government.[11]

Symondson's victories included an observation balloon set on fire, another destroyed, two Albatros D.V fighters shot down in flames, seven other opposing fighters destroyed, an enemy reconnaissance aircraft destroyed, and another driven down.[12]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Combat record[1]
No. Date/Time Aircraft/
Serial No.
Opponent Result Location
1 7 March 1918
@ 1015
Sopwith Camel
(B2445)
Balloon Destroyed in flames Chiarano
2 16 March 1918
@ 1200
Sopwith Camel
(B2445)
Berg D.I Destroyed Col la Parada
3 30 March 1918
@ 1315
Sopwith Camel
(B7353)
Albatros D.III Destroyed Mt. Maletto
4 4 April 1918
@ 0915
Sopwith Camel
(B7353)
Albatros D.V Destroyed Brenta River at Cismon
5 17 April 1918
@ 1415–1425
Sopwith Camel
(B7353)
Albatros D.III Destroyed in flames South of Giacomo
6 Albatros D.III Destroyed in flames
7 6 May 1918
@ 1040–1042
Sopwith Camel
(B7353)
Albatros D.III Destroyed Motta
8 Albatros D.III Destroyed
9 6 June 1918
@ 1225
Sopwith Camel
(D1912)
Albatros D.V Destroyed Zangetti
10 15 June 1918
@ 0810
Sopwith Camel
(D9406)
Albatros D.V Destroyed Val d'Assa
11 13 August 1918
@ 0935
Sopwith Camel
(D9390)
Balloon Destroyed West of Conegliano
12 28 August 1918
@ 1705
Sopwith Camel
(D9390)
Aviatik C Destroyed South of Feltre
13 15 September 1918
@ 0830
Sopwith Camel
(E1577)
Berg D.I Out of control North-east of Feltre

Inter-war career[edit]

Symondson was transferred to the RAF unemployed list on 6 June 1919.[13] He was briefly restored to the active list as a flying officer for temporary duty between 9 April[14] and 5 June 1921.[15] On 26 June 1924 Symondson enlisted in the Territorial Army, losing his right to retain his RAF rank.[16]

By 1929, he was married to Betty Symondson; she was named to probate a will on 17 June 1929.[17]

He remained a recreational pilot throughout the 1930s. He was both entrant and pilot of the Gypsy Moth G-AARU during the King's Cup Race in June 1930,[18] but dropped out of the event en route.[19] He competed in the same event the following year, flying the same aircraft, sponsored by the Royal Aero Club.[20][21] He was placed as high as fifth place at one point.[22] A month later, in July 1931, at the opening of Plymouth airport, he also flew aerobatics for His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales.[23] Symondson flew in Jubilee Week during May 1935.[5] As late as 1938, he was still flying and stunting a Gypsy Moth at an altitude of only 200 feet (61 m).[24]

World War II[edit]

On 1 September 1939, two days before Britain's declaration of war on Germany, Symondson was commissioned into the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve,[25][26] serving as a flight lieutenant until finally resigning his commission on 21 June 1943.[27] He then served in the Air Transport Auxiliary into late 1945.[1]

Francis Stanley Symondson died in Bridport, Dorset, on 1 May 1975.[2]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c "Francis Stanley Symondson". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Euridge, Teresa Pask (2016). "Francis Stanley Symondson". Uridge, Euridge: One-Name Study Narratives. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Euridge, Teresa Pask (2016). "Stanley Vernon Symondson". Uridge, Euridge: One-Name Study Narratives. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "De Havilland "Gipsy Moth"". Flight. XXIII (1178): 719. 24 July 1931. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 356.
  6. ^ "No. 29103". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 March 1915. p. 2717. 
  7. ^ "No. 30221". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 August 1917. p. 8088. 
  8. ^ "No. 30425". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 December 1917. p. 13043. 
  9. ^ Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), pp. 356–357.
  10. ^ "No. 30901". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 September 1918. p. 11023. 
  11. ^ "No. 30989". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 November 1918. p. 12978. 
  12. ^ Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 357.
  13. ^ "No. 31463". The London Gazette. 18 July 1919. p. 9139. 
  14. ^ "No. 32311". The London Gazette. 3 May 1921. p. 3544. 
  15. ^ "No. 32368". The London Gazette. 24 June 1921. p. 5016. 
  16. ^ "No. 32970". The London Gazette. 2 September 1924. p. 6580. 
  17. ^ "No. 33544". The London Gazette. 18 October 1929. p. 6656. 
  18. ^ "Competitors in the King's Cup Air Race, 5 July 1930". Flight. XXII (1120): 627. 13 June 1930. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "The King's Cup". Flight. XXII (1124): 771. 11 July 1930. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  20. ^ "First Entries for the King's Cup". Flight. XXIII (1172): 521. 12 June 1931. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  21. ^ "List of Entries for King's Cup Air Race". Flight. XXIII (1178): 714. 24 July 1931. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  22. ^ "The King's Cup Race 1931". Flight. XXIII (1179): 750. 31 July 1931. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  23. ^ "Another Municipal Venture". Flight. XXIII (1178): 723. 24 July 1931. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  24. ^ "Devon Air Day". Flight. XXXIV (1545): 96–97. 4 August 1938. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  25. ^ "No. 34713". The London Gazette. 20 October 1939. p. 7045. 
  26. ^ "No. 34805". The London Gazette. 5 March 1940. p. 1320. 
  27. ^ "No. 36100". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 July 1943. p. 3284. 
Bibliography
  • 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.