William Sidebottom (RAF officer)

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William Sidebottom
Born (1893-10-11)11 October 1893
Manchester, England
Died 8 December 1920(1920-12-08) (aged 27)
near Rostamabad, Persia
Commemorated at Tehran Memorial, Iran
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1917–1920
Rank Lieutenant
Unit No. 3 (Naval) Squadron RNAS
No. 203 Squadron RAF
No. 30 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross

Lieutenant William Sidebottom DFC (11 October 1893 – 8 December 1920) was a British World War I flying ace credited with fourteen aerial victories.[1][2]

Military service[edit]

Sidebottom joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 11 October 1917,[2] and after completing his flying training was posted the No. 3 (Naval) Squadron to fly the Sopwith Camel single-seat fighter. On 1 April 1918, the RNAS was merged with the Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force, and Sidebottom's unit was renamed No. 203 Squadron RAF.[2]

He scored his first win on 16 June 1918, sharing the destruction of a DFW two-seater reconnaissance aircraft with Lieutenant Edwin Hayne and three other pilots. He then accumulated a series of victories between then and 29 October 1918, sharing in the destruction of two reconnaissance aircraft with Captain Leonard Henry Rochford and the mid-air burning of another with Captain Arthur Whealy. Sidebottom's final toll was the destruction of seven enemy aircraft, with five of those shared; seven driven down out of control, including two shared.[1][2]

Post-war career and death[edit]

Sidebottom was transferred to the RAF's unemployed list on 1 February 1919,[3] and a week later, on 7 February, his Distinguished Flying Cross was gazetted. His citation read:

Lieutenant William Sidebottom, 203rd Squadron.
"This officer has carried out numerous offensive and low bombing patrols with courage, skill and judgment. He has also proved himself a bold and resolute fighter in aerial combats, having nine enemy machines to his credit."[4]

However, Sidebottom returned to RAF service on being granted a short service commission with the rank of flying officer on 24 October 1919.[5] On 8 December 1920 Sidebottom was serving in No. 30 Squadron, part of the North Persia Force. While flying an Airco DH.9A on a bombing mission on Enzeli, then part of the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic, he made a forced landing 15 miles (24 km) from Rostamabad, and was shot and killed by Bolsheviks while trying to escape. His observer escaped unhurt.[6][7] Having no known grave he is commemorated on the Tehran Memorial, Gholhak Garden, Iran.[8]


  1. ^ a b "William Sidebottom". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 338.
  3. ^ "No. 31624". The London Gazette. 31 October 1919. p. 13275. 
  4. ^ "No. 31170". The London Gazette. 7 February 1919. p. 2046. 
  5. ^ "No. 31616". The London Gazette. 24 October 1919. pp. 13032–13034. 
  6. ^ "Sidebottom, William: Casualty Card". RAF Museum Storyvault. 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Barrass, M. B. "RAF Casualties 1920 (K–Z)". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Casualty Details: Sidebottom, William". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2016. Retrieved 26 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.