Herbert Hamilton

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Herbert James Hamilton
Born (1895-04-30)30 April 1895
Hornsey, Middlesex, England
Died 13 June 1918(1918-06-13) (aged 23)
Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England
Buried at Islington Cemetery, Middlesex, England (51°36′00″N 0°09′53″W / 51.60000°N 0.16472°W / 51.60000; -0.16472)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1913–1918
Rank Captain
Unit The London Regiment (Artists Rifles)
Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
No. 20 Squadron RFC
No. 1 Squadron RAF
No. 29 Squadron RFC
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Military Cross

Captain Herbert James Hamilton MC (30 April 1895 – 13 June 1918) was a World War I flying ace credited with seven aerial victories.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hamilton was born on 30 April 1895 in Hornsey, Middlesex, the second son of Arthur Ernest and Florence Jane Hamilton. He was educated at the Stationers' Company's School and entered the wholesale silk trade.[2]

World War I[edit]

Hamilton enlisted into the 28th (County of London) Battalion of The London Regiment (Artists Rifles) as a private on 30 September 1913, serving in France and Flanders from October 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force.[2] He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on 29 August 1915.[3]

In February 1916 he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer.[2][4] Posted to No. 20 Squadron, flying the F.E.2b, on 21 July 1916 Hamilton and pilot Captain Reginald Maxwell shot down a Rumpler C reconnaissance aircraft west of Lille.[1]

After six months Hamilton was sent to Montrose in Scotland to train as a pilot,[2] being appointed a flying officer on 27 November 1916.[5] He remained at Montrose for nine months as an instructor before returning to France in August 1917.[2] Posted to No. 1 Squadron, flying the Nieuport 27,[1] he was promoted to lieutenant on 1 October,[6] and gained his second victory by driving down a DFW C reconnaissance aircraft over Comines the next day.[1]

He was appointed a flight commander with the rank of acting-captain on 23 November,[7] and joined No. 29 Squadron. In his Nieuport 27 he drove down two more enemy aircraft on 5 December 1917 and 16 February 1918. Hamilton returned to No. 1 Squadron in March, and flying the S.E.5a destroyed a balloon on the 9th, and two aircraft on the 11th and 13th.[1] Hamilton was forced down by a Fokker Triplane on 26 March and injured.[1] He was sent back to England in April to recuperate, and then became a flight instructor in the 68th Training Squadron at Tadcaster Aerodrome in Yorkshire.[2]


Hamilton died in a flying accident at Tadcaster on 13 June 1918, when his aircraft shed a wing.[1][8] He is buried in Islington Cemetery, London.[9]

Honours and awards[edit]

Hamilton was awarded the Military Cross, which was gazetted posthumously on 26 July 1918. His citation read:

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Herbert James Hamilton, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, attached Royal Air Force.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has on many occasions displayed the utmost dash and fearlessness in engaging enemy aircraft at close range, and has succeeded in destroying a considerable number. He also attacked with machine-gun fire and from low altitudes enemy formations on the ground and dropped bombs on points of importance behind the hostile lines. He has invariably shown great determination and a fine offensive spirit."[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Herbert James Hamilton". The Aerodrome. 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f De Ruvigny (1922), p. 74.
  3. ^ "No. 29307". The London Gazette. 24 September 1915. p. 9443. 
  4. ^ "No. 29766". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 September 1916. p. 9450. 
  5. ^ "No. 29870". The London Gazette. 19 December 1916. p. 12344. 
  6. ^ "No. 30370". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 November 1917. p. 11533. 
  7. ^ "No. 30419". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 December 1917. p. 12874. 
  8. ^ Franks (2000), p.22.
  9. ^ "Casualty Details: Hamilton, Herbert James". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "No. 30813". The London Gazette (Supplement). 23 July 1918. p. 8805. 
  • de Ruvigny, Marquis (1918). The Roll of Honour: a biographical record of all members of His Majesty's naval and military forces who have fallen in the war. London: The Standard Art Book Co., Ltd. 
  • Franks, Norman (2000). Nieuport Aces of World War I. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85532-961-4.