Herbert Travers

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Herbert Gardner Travers
Nickname(s) Tiny
Born (1891-04-01)1 April 1891
Kensington, London, England
Died 16 April 1958(1958-04-16) (aged 67)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Navy
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914–1919
Rank Squadron Leader
Unit Honourable Artillery Company
No. 1 Wing RNAS
No. 3 Squadron RNAS
No. 11 Squadron RNAS/No. 211 Squadron RAF
Commands held No. 11 Squadron RNAS/No. 211 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Other work Test pilot, flight instructor & airline pilot

Squadron Leader Herbert Gardner Travers DSC (1 April 1891 – 16 April 1958) was a World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories. Post-war, he worked in civil aviation. He returned to service during World War II.[1]

Early life and background[edit]

Travers was born in Kensington, London. In 1910 he joined the family firm of Joseph Travers and Sons Ltd., but left to enlist into the Army on the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

World War I[edit]

He served in France as a member of the Machine Gun Section of 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company,[2] before entering the Royal Navy in December 1915 as a probationary flight sub-lieutenant to serve in the Royal Naval Air Service.[3] He was confirmed in his rank on 14 December 1915,[4] and received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate No. 2556 on 23 January 1916.[1]

On 27 May 1916, he joined No. 1 Wing RNAS,[5] flying reconnaissance missions on the Western Front.[2] He was promoted to flight lieutenant on 1 October 1916,[6] and after a rest at the end of the year, was assigned to No. 3 (Naval) Squadron in early 1917,[5] flying a Sopwith Pup single-seat fighter. He gained his first victory on 11 March 1917 driving down an Albatros reconnaissance aircraft out of control over Bapaume. Three more enemy aircraft, all Albatros D.III fighters, were driven down on 17 March, 8 and 21 April, and finally on 24 April, Travers, John J. Malone and Francis D. Casey shared in the capture of DFW reconnaissance aircraft at Morchies.[1][5] On 7 May 1917 he was appointed an acting flight commander.[7]

His award of the Distinguished Service Cross was gazetted on 22 June 1917, his citation reading:

Flight Lieutenant (now Acting Flight Commander) H. G. Travers, RNAS.
"In recognition of his services with the Army in France. This officer has himself brought down three hostile aeroplanes completely out of control, and has taken part in two other combats in which enemy machines were forced to land in our lines. He has always shown the greatest determination in leading his flight on offensive patrols, and has on many occasions driven down superior numbers of hostile machines."[8]

By that time Travers was in a new assignment, based at Dunkirk,[5] flying anti-submarine patrols over the North Sea.[2] He was promoted to flight commander on 30 June 1917.[9] He served as the Commanding Officer of No. 11 (Naval) Squadron RNAS, a bomber squadron, from 11 March to 25 May 1918,[10] during which time (on 1 April 1918) the Royal Naval Air Service was merged with the Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, and his unit became No. 211 Squadron RAF.[2] On 1 May 1919 he was appointed an acting major,[11] and was transferred to the RAF unemployed list on 24 August 1919.[12]

Inter-war career[edit]

Travers returned to flying in 1926, being commissioned as a probationary flying officer (Class "A") in the General Duties Branch of the Reserve of Air Force Officers on 22 June,[13] and was confirmed in his rank on 22 December.[14] He was promoted to flight lieutenant on 31 July 1928,[15] but relinquished his commission on 22 June 1929, on completion of service.[16]

At the same time Travers was employed by the Blackburn Aeroplane and Manufacturing Company as a test pilot and seaplane pilot from 1926 until 1928. Between 1928 and 1933 he was a flying instructor, at the Bristol and Wessex Club, the Cinque Ports Flying Club, and the London Aeroplane Club. He was a pilot in Alan Cobham's National Air Display company in 1934, flying at air shows and exhibitions, then became a commercial pilot in 1935, working for Spartan Air Lines, Imperial Airways and British Airways, up until 1938.[2]

World War II[edit]

On 5 January 1939 Travers returned to the Royal Air Force Reserve, being commissioned as a flight lieutenant (Class "CC").[17] On 1 September 1939, just two days before the declaration of war with Germany, Travers relinquished his commission in the Reserves, entering the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.[18] By 1 January 1941, when he received a mention in despatches, Travers was an acting squadron leader,[19] and was promoted to that rank on 1 December 1941.[20]

After the war Travers remained on the Emergency List of the RAFVR, finally relinquishing his commission on 10 February 1954, retaining the rank of squadron leader.[21]

He died in 1958.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Travers married Hermia Fraser on 6 August 1919 at Ryton, Shropshire.[22]

His two brothers also had distinguished flying careers:

  • James Lindsay Travers (1883–1924) was an engineer and designer who worked for the Royal Engineers Balloon Factory and Short Brothers before serving in the RNAS during World War I as a test pilot, ending the war as a lieutenant-colonel in the RAF. Post-war he worked at the Air Ministry and as a technical adviser to Chilean Naval Air Service, until dying in an air crash in 1924.[2]
  • Charles Tindal Travers (1898–1968) joined the Worcestershire Regiment in 1916, then served the Royal Flying Corps, 1917–1918. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1928 to 1932 as an air engineer and pilot, and for the Manitoba Forestry Service, 1932–1934.[2]

In 1990 Travers' daughter wrote and published Cross Country, a biography of her father and uncles.[23]


  1. ^ a b c "Herbert Gardner Travers". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Travers Brothers". AIM25. 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "Royal Naval Air Service". Flight. VII (366): 1026. 31 December 1915. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "No. 29573". The London Gazette. 9 May 1916. p. 4551. 
  5. ^ a b c d Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 367.
  6. ^ "No. 29772". The London Gazette. 3 October 1916. p. 9558. 
  7. ^ "Royal Naval Air Service". Flight. IX (438): 490. 17 May 1917. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "No. 30147". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1917. pp. 6255–6256. 
  9. ^ "No. 30156". The London Gazette. 29 June 1917. p. 6414. 
  10. ^ "R.N.A.S. Combats in the Air Report of Capt. T.L. LeMesurier, 211 Squadron". Aeroconservancy.com. 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "Royal Air Force". Flight. XI (553): 1033. 31 July 1919. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "No. 31946". The London Gazette. 18 June 1920. p. 6704. 
  13. ^ "No. 33174". The London Gazette. 22 June 1926. p. 4045. 
  14. ^ "No. 33233". The London Gazette. 28 December 1926. p. 8497. 
  15. ^ "No. 33408". The London Gazette. 31 July 1928. p. 5138. 
  16. ^ "No. 33509". The London Gazette. 25 June 1929. p. 4195. 
  17. ^ "No. 34605". The London Gazette. 7 March 1939. p. 1552. 
  18. ^ "No. 34733". The London Gazette. 14 November 1939. pp. 7644–7645. 
  19. ^ "No. 35029". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1940. pp. 33–35. 
  20. ^ "No. 35383". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 December 1941. p. 7117. 
  21. ^ "No. 40271". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 September 1954. p. 5138. 
  22. ^ "Personals: Married". Flight. XI (555): 1085. 14 August 1919. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  23. ^ Travers, E. (1990). Cross Country : being extracts from the letters of J.L., H.G. and C.T. Travers and their family ; and from the log-books of H.G. Travers ; with background material, linking narrative and some pages of reminiscence by E. Travers. Sittingbourne: Hothersall & Travers. ISBN 9780951546109. 
  • 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.