Walter Southey

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Walter Alfred Southey
Nickname(s) Peter
Born (1897-04-29)29 April 1897
Bermondsey, London, England
Died 17 April 1920(1920-04-17) (aged 22)
Lewisham, London, England
Buried at Plot 103J, Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service c. 1915–1919
Rank Captain
Unit Royal Fusiliers
No. 48 Squadron RFC
No. 84 Squadron RFC/RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross & Bar

Captain Walter Alfred Southey DFC* (29 April 1897 – 17 April 1920) was a British First World War flying ace, credited with twenty aerial victories, including five balloons,[1] making him the second highest scoring ace in No. 84 Squadron, behind Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Bermondsey, he was familiarly known as Peter Southey. His family later lived in Brockley and New Cross. His father, Walter, was a warehouseman in the lace trade; his mother's name was Emma Susan (née Stacey). It is understood that Walter may have been a pupil at Christ's Hospital – the Bluecoat school.[3][4]

Military service[edit]

Southey enlisted as a private in the 19th (Service) Battalion (2nd Public Schools), Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, with regimental number 6741.[5] On 26 June 1915 the 19th Battalion became part of the 98th Brigade in the 33rd Division,[6] and Southey was with them when they were sent to France in November 1915.[5] 19th Battalion were disbanded on 24 April 1916,[6] and Southey then joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant (on probation) on 5 August 1916,[7] and after completing his flight training was appointed a flying officer and confirmed in his rank on 12 February 1917.[8] Southey flew the Bristol F.2 two-seater fighter with No. 48 Squadron through early 1917, making no victory claims, and was wounded when shot down on 4 June.[3][9]

He was promoted to lieutenant on 5 February 1918,[10] before returning to action in March when he joined No. 84 Squadron to fly the S.E.5a single-seat fighter.[11] He was credited with twenty aerial victories between May and October 1918,[11] and was appointed a flight commander with the acting-rank of captain on 14 July 1918.[12]

Southey was awarded his first Distinguished Flying Cross on 2 November 1918. His citation read:

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Walter Alfred Southey.
"A gallant and skilful officer. On the 9th August, observing a large body of enemy troops and artillery on a road, he descended to 50 feet and bombed them, causing heavy casualties; he then engaged them with machine-gun fire, inflicting further loss and scattering them in all directions. He displays great courage in the air, having accounted for seven enemy aircraft."[13]

Southey's Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross was gazetted on 7 February 1919. His citation read:

Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Walter Alfred Southey, DFC.
"An officer of ready resource whose skilful leadership is of the greatest value to his squadron. Since 23rd August Captain Southey has destroyed five enemy kite balloons and three machines, while he has also driven down two aircraft completely out of control."[14]

After the end of the war Southey was discharged from RAF service,[11] being transferred to the RAF's unemployed list on 9 March 1919.[15] His tally of 20 victories was made up of five observation balloons destroyed, eight aircraft destroyed (two shared), and seven driven down out of control (one shared).[16]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Combat record[1]
No. Date
Time
Aircraft
(Serial No.)
Opponent Result Location Notes
1 2 May 1918
@ 1450
S.E.5a
(D5399)
Albatros D.V Out of control East of Abancourt
2 16 May 1918
@ 1620
S.E.5a
(D5399)
Fokker Dr.I Destroyed North-north-west of Abancourt
3 5 June 1918
@ 1235
S.E.5a
(D5399)
Rumpler C Destroyed 200 yds west of Moreuil Shared with Captain Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor.
4 18 June 1918
@ 1055
S.E.5a
(B8399)
Fokker D.VII Out of control Abancourt
5 1 August 1918
@ 1005
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Fokker D.VII Destroyed Suzanne aerodrome
6 7 August 1918
@ 0955
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Rumpler C Destroyed East of Arvillers
7 10 August 1918
@ 1800
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Fokker D.VII Out of control PéronneBrie
8 17 August 1918
@ 0900
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Fokker D.VII Out of control Estrées
9 25 August 1918
@ 0945
S.E.5a
(C1834)
LVG C Out of control North of Foucaucourt Shared with Second Lieutenant Cecil Wilson.
10 29 August 1918
@ 1445
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Fokker D.VII Out of control West of Athies
11 3 September 1918
@ 0615
S.E.5a
(C1834)
C Destroyed in flames South of ManancourtNurlu Road Shared with Lieutenants A. E. Hill and E. R. W. Miller, & Second Lieutenants Cecil Wilson and Francis Ricardo Cristiani.
12 3 September 1918
@ 0645
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Balloon Destroyed Fins
13 3 September 1918
@ 1530
S.E.5a
(C1834)
Balloon Destroyed North of Fins
14 14 September 1918
@ 1030
S.E.5a
(E6008)
Balloon Destroyed Gonnelieu
15 14 October 1918
@ 0700-0900
S.E.5a
(E4071)
Balloon Destroyed East of Mont-d'Origny
16 22 October 1918
@ 0915
S.E.5a
(F5625)
Balloon Destroyed Prisches
17 23 October 1918
@ 1115
S.E.5a
(F5625)
Fokker D.VII Destroyed South of Fontaine
18 27 October 1918
@ 0910
S.E.5a
(E4071)
Fokker D.VII Out of control Esquéhéries
19 28 October 1918
@ 0750
S.E.5a
(E5963)
LVG C Destroyed La Queue-de-Boué
20 30 October 1918
@ 0930
S.E.5a
(H685)
Fokker D.VII Destroyed Forêt de Nouvion

Death[edit]

Southey died on 17 April 1920 as a result of a skull fracture following a motorcycling accident, suffered while he was riding to work. He is buried at Ladywell Cemetery, near Brockley, London, England, in Plot 103J.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b "Walter Alfred Southey". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  2. ^ "No. 84 Squadron". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "The story of WW1 Ace Walter Southey". Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries. 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Ladywell & Brockley Cemetery Memorial Inscriptions". North West Kent Family History Society. 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Adams, Kelvin (2016). "Walter Southey, World War One fighter ace". Hampton Wick. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment". The Long, Long Trail. 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "No. 29727". The London Gazette. 29 August 1916. p. 8503. 
  8. ^ "No. 29969". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 March 1917. pp. 2208–2210. 
  9. ^ "The Roll of Honour: Wounded". Flight. IX (443): 614. 21 June 1917. Retrieved 3 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "No. 30580". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 March 1918. p. 3376. 
  11. ^ a b c Franks (2007), pp. 22–23.
  12. ^ "No. 30808". The London Gazette. 23 July 1918. p. 8627. 
  13. ^ "No. 30989". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 November 1918. p. 12973. 
  14. ^ "No. 31170". The London Gazette. 7 February 1919. p. 2034. 
  15. ^ "No. 31271". The London Gazette. 4 April 1919. p. 4422. 
  16. ^ Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 346.
Bibliography