James Anderson Slater

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James Anderson Slater
Nickname(s) Jimmy
Born (1896-11-27)27 November 1896
Worthing, Sussex, England
Died 26 November 1925(1925-11-26) (aged 28)
Pewsey, Wiltshire, England
Buried St. Mary the Virgin, Upavon, Wiltshire, England (51°17′43″N 1°48′44″W / 51.29528°N 1.81222°W / 51.29528; -1.81222Coordinates: 51°17′43″N 1°48′44″W / 51.29528°N 1.81222°W / 51.29528; -1.81222)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 1914–1925
Rank Flight Lieutenant
Unit Royal Sussex Regiment
No. 18 Squadron RFC
No. 1 Squadron RFC
No. 64 Squadron RFC/RAF
No. 3 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Military Cross & Bar
Distinguished Flying Cross

Flight Lieutenant James Anderson Slater MC*, DFC (27 November 1896 – 26 November 1925) was a British First World War flying ace, credited with 24 aerial victories.[1] He served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an instructor after the war until killed in a flying accident.

World War I service[edit]

Slater joined the British Army's Royal Sussex Regiment as a private in 1914, and was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant on 29 September.[2] In 1915 he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps to serve as an observer and flew in France with No. 18 Squadron RFC from November 1915 to March 1916. He then trained as a pilot, and on 30 June 1916 was appointed a flying officer.[3]

Slater was posted to No. 1 Squadron RFC in August 1916, to fly the Nieuport 17 single-seat fighter, and gained his first two aerial victories in February and March 1917. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 April 1917.[4] In May he returned to England to serve as an instructor until 27 July 1917, when he was appointed a flight commander with the acting-rank of captain[5] in the newly formed No. 64 Squadron RFC. The squadron was based at Sedgeford, Norfolk, where Slater was reported to have "beat up Hunstanton at 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings, buzzing his girlfriend's house at chimney pot height", and to have been in the habit of flying his aircraft through the aerodrome's hangars.[6]

Slater's squadron moved to France in October 1917, where on 30 November he shot down the squadron's first enemy aircraft, flying an Airco DH.5 fighter. On 4 February 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross,[7] for several successful ground attack missions. His citation read:

Temporary Second Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) James Anderson Slater, General List and RFC.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When returning from a patrol he attacked enemy infantry, silenced a field gun and fired on transport. On another occasion he silenced a battery in very difficult weather conditions, fired on ammunition wagons and enemy infantry, and brought back his patrol safely. He also led a patrol of twelve machines in very bad weather to attack a wood held by the enemy. His patrol dropped over thirty bombs, fired 3,000 rounds and drove the enemy from the wood with heavy casualties. In the course of this flight six enemy scouts were engaged and driven off. Later, he led a similar patrol with great success. He showed splendid courage and determination."[8]

The squadron was then re-equipped with the S.E.5a fighter, in which Slater achieved the majority of his victories, being credited with 20 enemy aircraft shot down between 8 March and 31 May 1918.

Slater received a bar to his Military Cross, gazetted on 21 June 1918. His citation read:

Temporary Captain James Anderson Slater, MC, General List and RFC.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On one occasion during the recent, operations he attacked a large formation of hostile scouts, one of which he drove down in flames. Later, during the same flight, he took part in a general engagement, in which he drove down another enemy machine completely out of control. Two days later he attacked two enemy scouts, causing one of them to crash to earth. In eighteen days he has engaged in twenty-five combats at close quarters, shooting down eight hostile machines. His great gallantry and fine offensive spirit have inspired all ranks to a very high degree."[9]

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 28 June 1918 "in recognition of acts of gallantry and distinguished service".[10] His citation read:

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) James Anderson Slater, MC.
"This officer has led numerous offensive patrols with the utmost skill and determination, and it is entirely due to his fine leadership that many enemy aircraft have been destroyed with the minimum of casualties to his formation."[11]

Slater returned to the Home Establishment in England in July 1918, to serve as an instructor until the end of the war. His final tally consisted of eleven enemy aircraft destroyed (one shared), and nine driven down "out of control" (three shared).

List of aerial victories[edit]

Combat record[1]
No. Date/Time Aircraft/
Serial No.
Opponent Result Location Notes
No. 1 Squadron RFC
1 15 February 1917
@ 1230
Nieuport 17
Albatros D.II Driven down out of control Warneton
2 17 March 1917
@ 1045
Nieuport 17
Albatros D.III Driven down out of control CourtraiMenen Shared with Second Lieutenant Cecil Clark.
No. 64 Squadron RFC
3 30 November 1917
@ 1045
DFW C Driven down out of control Bourlon Wood
4 8 March 1918
@ 1040
S.E.5a Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Cambrai
5 11 March 1918
@ 1130
Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control Cambrai
6 11 March 1918
@ 1157
Albatros D.V Destroyed in flames Douai
7 15 March 1918
@ 1120
Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Masnières
8 21 March 1918
@ 1205
Albatros D.V Destroyed Inchy-en-Artois
9 21 March 1918
@ 1335
Fokker Dr.I Driven down out of control Bourlon Wood Shared with Lieutenant V. W. Thompson.
10 Albatros D.V Driven down out of control
11 23 March 1918
@ 1040
S.E.5a Pfalz D.III Destroyed Pronville
12 23 March 1918
@ 1555
Fokker Dr.I Driven down out of control Graincourt
13 30 March 1918
@ 1150
Type C Destroyed Croiselles Shared with Lieutenant Philip Burge.
No. 64 Squadron RAF
14 1 April 1918
@ 0715
Pfalz D.III Destroyed in flames Maricourt
15 20 April 1918
@ 0945
Albatros D.V Driven down out of control Neuf-Berquin
16 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control
17 16 May 1918
@ 0940
Albatros D.V Destroyed in flames South-west of Brebières
18 19 May 1918
@ 1955–2000
Albatros D.V Destroyed East of Oppy
19 Pfalz D.III Destroyed Brebières
20 26 May 1918
@ 1930
Albatros D.V Destroyed in flames Erquinghem-Lys
21 27 May 1918
@ 1055
Albatros D.V Destroyed Cagnicourt
22 29 May 1918
@ 1940
Pfalz D.III Destroyed La BasséeBoyelles
23 31 May 1918
@ 1940–1942
S.E.5a Pfalz D.III Destroyed La Bassée
24 Pfalz D.III Driven down out of control

Post-war career[edit]

On 1 August 1919 Slater was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force with the rank of flight lieutenant.[13][14] He served as an instructor at No. 5 Flying Training School (Inland Area) at RAF Shotwick until transferred to No. 4 Flying Training School (Middle East Area) at Abu Sueir, Egypt, on 8 March 1922,[15] finally returning to Home Establishment on 18 October 1924, and being posted to the RAF Depot (Non-effective Pool).[16]

On 1 April 1925 Slater was posted to No. 3 Squadron, based at RAF Upavon,[17] home of the Central Flying School. On 26 November 1925 Slater and Pilot Officer W. J. R. Early were killed in a flying accident, when their dual control Sopwith Snipe trainer crashed at nearby Pewsey, soon after take-off. Both men are buried in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin, Upavon.[18][19][20]


  1. ^ a b "James Anderson Slater". The Aerodrome. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "No. 28926". The London Gazette. 6 October 1914. p. 7922. 
  3. ^ "No. 29671". The London Gazette. 18 July 1916. p. 7098. 
  4. ^ "No. 30458". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1918. p. 343. 
  5. ^ "No. 30247". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 August 1917. p. 8668. 
  6. ^ Simak, Evelyn (2016). "RAF Sedgeford". Geograph Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "No. 30507". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 February 1918. p. 1606. 
  8. ^ "No. 30780". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 July 1918. p. 7924. 
  9. ^ "No. 30761". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 June 1918. p. 7400. 
  10. ^ "No. 30775". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 June 1918. p. 7746. 
  11. ^ "No. 30827". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 August 1918. p. 9204. 
  12. ^ a b "Royal Flying Corps – Nieuport serials". Airhistory.org.uk. 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "No. 31620". The London Gazette. 28 October 1919. p. 13139. 
  14. ^ "Permanent Commissions". Flight. XII (605): 847. 29 July 1920. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  15. ^ "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XIV (692): 195. 30 March 1922. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  16. ^ "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XVI (831): 748. 27 November 1924. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  17. ^ "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XVII (847): 171. 19 March 1925. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  18. ^ "R.A.F. Flying Accidents". Flight. XVII (884): 797. 3 December 1925. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  19. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "Casualties 1925". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  20. ^ "James A. Slater". Find A Grave. 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  • 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.