Captain Joseph Joel Hammond

Joe Hammond and ‘Britannia’, a Bleriot XI-2 in New Zealand, January 1914

Joe Hammond was a pioneering aviator. Amongst his ‘firsts’ were: first New Zealander to gain a Royal Aero Club certificate (no. 32), pilot of the first aircraft to fly in Western Australia, and the first cross-country flight in Australia. At the time of his death he had reputedly accumulated (although unverified) about 6,000 flying hours.

Joseph Joel ‘Joe’ Hammond was born on 19 July 1886 at Feilding in the Manawatu district on North Island, New Zealand.[1] He attended Campbell Street School in Palmerston North and St Patrick’s College, Wellington. Prior to the start of his flying career, Hammond travelled and worked intermittently in Australia, Alaska, the United States, and Europe. While in Seaford in East Sussex, Hammond met Ethelwyn Wilkinson, the daughter of a well-to-do local builder, and they were married on 19 November 1909.[2] Shortly afterwards in France Hammond began to learn to fly and qualified for Aero Club de France Certificate No. 258[3] in a Sánchez Besa biplane on 4 October 1910. He qualified for Royal Aero Club Certificate No. 32 on 22 November 1910, flying a Bristol Boxkite on Salisbury Plain. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant Arnold Whittier Hill

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.

Arnold Whittier Hill

Arnold Whittier Hill was born in Malden, Massachusetts on 13 June 1897, the only son and eldest child of Arthur and Josephine Hill.[1] He attended school in Malden, where he demonstrated an early interest in flying.

He volunteered in Boston for service with the Royal Flying Corps and enlisted in Toronto on 4 January 1918. After attendance at No. 4 School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Toronto, he travelled to Texas where he learned to fly. Transferred to the Royal Air Force upon its formation on 1 April 1918, he was commissioned on 27 June. Hill was selected for training as an instructor and posted to the School of Special Flying at Armour Heights in Toronto. On 13 July 1918, he was flying Curtis JN4, registration C374, at Leaside Aerodrome, in southern Toronto, when he stalled in a turn and his aircraft fell from 800 feet. He was killed on impact and the aircraft was engulfed in flames. Continue reading

Cadet Frederick William Henderson

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.

The grave of Frederick William Henderson

Fred Henderson was another young flying cadet who fell ill and died at the early stages of his training in Toronto. He was born at Kendal Green, Massachusetts on 31 July 1898, the third child and second son of George and Maggie Henderson.[1] His father was a farm manager and both of his parents had immigrated to the United States from New Brunswick in Canada. Continue reading

Cadet William Becker Hagan

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.

William Becker Hagan

I had to put my hand on the Bible and swear in the King’s name, but this did not bother me when I thought that after all it was for the one big cause.’[1]

After graduating high school, William Becker Hagan decided that he would serve as soon as he was able with the American Field Service in France. On his return to United States, he went to Canada and joined the Royal Air Force.

He was born on 12 February 1898 at Brookline, Massachusetts, the second child and eldest son of Oliver and Josephine Hagan—his father was from Alabama and worked as a leather salesman.[2] Bill Hagan was educated at the Huntington School and the Stone’s School before attending Phillips Academy, the prestigious  private boarding school for boys.

Immediately following his graduation, Hagan joined the American Field Service. Continue reading

Second Lieutenant George Albert Ruffridge

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in New Jersey.

The grave of Albert Ruffridge

George Albert Ruffridge (known as Albert) was born on 21 December 1892 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was the second of the two sons of George and Hattie Ruffridge who moved with the family to Montclair, New Jersey sometime in the first decade of the new century.[1]

Second Lieutenant Albert Ruffridge

Like his father, Ruffridge worked as a salesman before he enlisted in Toronto on 21 November 1917 into the Royal Flying Corps for training as a pilot (152810 Cadet). After completing his initial training in Toronto and Texas, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 6 April 1918, five days after the formation of the Royal Air Force, and joined No. 80 Canadian Training Squadron at Camp Bordon to complete his gunnery training. Continue reading

Cadet James Austin Byrnes

Cadet James Byrnes was an American, living in New York, who enlisted in 1918 for service with the Royal Air Force. He was killed in a flying accident in Canada in June 1918.

The grave of Cadet James Byrnes
The grave of Cadet James Byrnes

James Austin Byrnes was born in Chicago, Illinois on 6 October 1893, the second of the six children of Robert and Margaret Byrnes.[1] His parents were English-born of Irish ancestry; they emigrated to the United States in 1889 and settled in Chicago. Early in the new century, the family moved to New York, where they lived on Eagle Avenue. His father was a machinery inspector for the railroad; James became a railroad linesman and worked for the Interborough Rapid Transit Company—the operator of the New York subway. Continue reading