Noel Webb (RFC officer)

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Noel William Ward Webb
Born (1896-12-12)12 December 1896
Margate, Kent, England
Died 16 August 1917(1917-08-16) (aged 20) (KIA)
Vicinity of Polygon Wood, France
Memorial Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1915–1917
Rank Captain
Unit Honourable Artillery Company
No. 25 Squadron RFC
No. 70 Squadron RFC
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Military Cross & Bar

Captain Noel William Ward Webb MC* (12 December 1896 – 16 August 1917) was a British World War I flying ace credited with fourteen aerial victories. He was the first pilot to use the Sopwith Camel to claim an enemy aircraft. He also claimed the life of German ace Leutnant Otto Brauneck for his ninth victory.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Noel William Webb (the form of name he used) was the youngest son of William Trego Webb and his wife Isabel Mary, of Kensington, London.[3] He was educated at St. Paul's School, where he played for the first Rugby team.[4]

Military service[edit]

Webb first served as a private in the Honourable Artillery Company before being commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps as a second lieutenant on 10 March 1916.[5] After completing pilot's training he was appointed a flying officer on 3 July 1916,[6] and was assigned to No. 25 Squadron in France on 4 July.[1] Piloting a Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b, he shot down one of the first fighters with a synchronized gun when he destroyed a Fokker Eindekker on 19 July. During the next two months, he became one of the few F.E.2 aces, winning four more times, with his fifth win on 15 September being another destruction of an Eindekker. Leslie Court was one of his observer gunners during these missions.[2] Webb was invalided home in September,[4] where he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain on 4 October,[7] and then posted to a squadron in England, where he acted as instructor, and for a time as a squadron commander.[4] He was also awarded the Military Cross on 1 January 1917.[8]

Webb was then reassigned to No. 70 Squadron as a Sopwith Camel pilot on 21 June 1917 for his return to combat. While test flying a new Camel on 12 July, he became the first pilot to score a victory in type by wounding the crew of a German two-seater and forcing it down onto a British airfield into captivity. On 17 July, he sent down two Albatros D.Vs out of control in separate actions; in one of these dogfights, he wounded German ace Oberflugmeister Karl Meyer. On 26 July, he killed Leutnant Otto Brauneck while destroying his Albatros D.V. Webb scored twice more on the 28th, and wrapped up his victory list with a triple win on 13 August 1917. Three days later, near Polygon Wood, he was last seen diving away from his patrol after two German aircraft. He fell under the guns of Werner Voss.[2]

As a Commonwealth flier of the Western Front with no known grave he is commemorated at the Arras Flying Services Memorial,[9] and also, alongside his brother Lieutenant Paul Frederic Hobson Webb, who was killed in action on 7 July 1918 while serving in No. 27 Squadron RAF,[10][11] on the War Memorial at Dunwich, Suffolk.[3]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Combat record[1]
No. Date/Time Aircraft/
Serial No.
Opponent Result Location Notes
No. 25 Squadron RFC
1 19 July 1916
@ 0645
Fokker E Destroyed East of Provin Observer: Second Lieutenant I. A. Mann.
2 9 August 1916
@ 1215
Albatros C Forced to land Beaumont Observer: Lieutenant C. S. Workman.
3 7 September 1916
@ 1750
Fokker E Out of control Pont-à-Vendin Observer: Corporal H. Brown. Shared with Captains Alwyne Loyd & C. H. Dixon, Second Lieutenant C. S. Workman, and Air Mechanic M. J. H. Booth.
4 9 September 1916
@ 1600
C Destroyed Pont-à-Vendin Observer: Sergeant Leslie Court.
5 15 September 1916
@ 1720
Fokker E Destroyed Fresnoy Observer: Lieutenant C. S. Workman.
No. 70 Squadron RFC
6 12 July 1917
@ 1215
Sopwith Camel
Albatros C.X Captured Bellevue From Flieger-Abteilung 18. Pilot: Leutnant Johannes Böhm (DOW). Observer: Leutnant Johannes Wollenhaupt (POW).[12]
7 17 July 1917
@ 2000–2055
Sopwith Camel
Albatros D.V Out of control South of Gheluvelt
8 Albatros D.V Out of control
9 26 July 1917
@ 1930
Sopwith Camel
Albatros D.V Destroyed East of Zonnebeke Leutnant Otto Brauneck (KIA).
10 28 July 1917
@ 1940–1950
Sopwith Camel
Albatros D.III Destroyed Roulers
11 Albatros D.III Out of control East of Polygon Wood
12 13 August 1917
@ 1930–1945
Sopwith Camel
DFW C Out of control North-east of Dixmude
13 DFW C Destroyed East of Dixmude
14 DFW C Out of control North-east of Dixmude Shared with Captain A. R. Hudson.

Honours and awards[edit]

Military Cross

Gazetted on 1 January 1917, without citation.[8]

Bar to Military Cross
Temporary Captain Noel William Webb, MC, General List and Royal Flying Corps.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in aerial combats. He has destroyed three hostile machines and driven down four others completely out of control. By his spirit and gallantry he has set a fine example which has inspired the pilots of his flight to successfully attack enemy formations many times more numerous than their own."[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Noel William Ward Webb". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 378.
  3. ^ a b Green, Stuart (2014). "Dunwich War Memorial". Roll of Honour. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "Casualties". Flight. IX (465): 1230. 22 November 1917. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "No. 29525". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 March 1916. p. 3391. 
  6. ^ "No. 29672". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 July 1916. p. 7172. 
  7. ^ "No. 29792". The London Gazette. 20 October 1916. p. 10081. 
  8. ^ a b "No. 29886". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 1917. p. 43. 
  9. ^ "Casualty Details: Webb, Noel William Ward". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  10. ^ "Casualties". Flight. X (500): 838. 25 July 1918. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  11. ^ "Casualty Details: Webb, Paul Frederic Hobson". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W. & Duiven, Rick (1999). Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 9781902304335. 
  13. ^ "No. 30466". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 January 1918. pp. 579–580. 
  • 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.