James McKinley Hargreaves

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James McKinley Hargreaves
Born (1883-01-19)19 January 1883
Died Reading England
Buried Reading England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Rank Sergeant
Service number 1232
Unit 11 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Distinguished Conduct Medal

Sergeant James McKinley Hargreaves DCM was a Scottish World War I flying ace. Despite being an observer, he became one of the first flying aces in history while flying with Lionel Rees, VC.[1]

Military service[edit]

Hargreaves joined the Royal Flying Corps in early 1913, aged 30, receiving service number 1232.[2]

He was assigned No. 11 Squadron, the first British flying squadron to be equipped with a purpose-built fighter aircraft, the pusher Vickers Gunbus. The squadron arrived in France on 25 July 1915, at approximately the time Adolphe Pegoud became the first ace in history. Three days later, Hargreaves scored his first aerial victory while teamed with Rees in Gunbus Serial No. 1649, driving a Fokker Eindekker down out of control. On 31 August, they destroyed an LVG two-seater reconnaissance plane. Hargreaves' third victory came on 21 September, when he drove down an AGO reconnaissance aircraft over Herbecourt. The next day, he repeated the feat, driving down an Albatros two-seater south-east of Albert. On the 30th, they forced down another Albatros, this one from the German artillery cooperation squadron, Feld-Flieger-Abteilung 23. The dying crew crash-landed behind British lines, and the aircraft was captured.[3]

Hargreaves was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his valour, his citation reading:

1232 Flight-Serjeant J. Hargreaves, No. 11 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.
For conspicuous gallantry and skill on several occasions, notably the following:
On 21 September 1915, when in a machine armed with one machine-gun and piloted by Captain Rees, a large German Biplane armed with two machine-guns was sighted 2,000 feet below. Our machine spiralled down and engaged the enemy, who, being faster, manoeuvred to get broadside on and then opened fire. The attack, however, was pressed, and the engine of the enemy's biplane was apparently struck, for after a quick turn it glided down some distance and then fell just inside the German lines. On 31 August Captain Rees, with Flight-Serjeant Hargreaves, fought a powerful German machine for three-quarters of an hour. They then returned for more ammunition and went out again to the attack. Finally the enemy's machine was brought down apparently wrecked.[4]

Rees received the Military Cross.[5][6]

Hargreaves then trained a pilot, being granted Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificate No. 1887 after soloing in a Maurice Farman biplane at the British Flying School at Le Crotoy, France on 13 October 1915.[7]

List of aerial victories[edit]

No. Date/time Aircraft Foe Result Location Notes
1 28 July 1915 Vickers F.B.5
Serial number 1649
Fokker Eindecker Driven down With Lionel Rees VC
2 31 August 1915 Vickers F.B.5
s/n 1649
LVG two-seater Destroyed Achiet du Grande With Lionel Rees VC
3 21 September 1915
@ 11:00 hours
Vickers F.B.5 AGO two-seater Driven down Herbécourt With Lionel Rees VC
4 22 September 1915
@ 17:30 hours
Vickers F.B.5 Albatros two-seater Driven down Southeast of Albert With Lionel Rees VC
5 30 September 1915 Vickers F.B.5 Albatros two-seater Captured Gommecourt With Lionel Rees VC


  1. ^ Guttman & Dempsey (2009), pp.18–19.
  2. ^ "Royal Flying Corps: 1914 Roll". Graces Guide. 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "James McKinley Hargreaves". The Aerodrome. 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "No. 29369". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 November 1915. pp. 11420–11421. 
  5. ^ "No. 29344". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 October 1915. p. 10731. 
  6. ^ Guttman & Dempsey (2009), p.19.
  7. ^ "Aviators' Certificates". Flight. VII (356): 806. 22 October 1915. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  • Guttman, Jon & Dempsey, Harry (2009). Pusher Aces of World War I. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-417-6.