Today is Day Eight of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge issued to family historians around the world by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber. We continue our participation with another extraction from BIFHSGO’s database of the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station.
Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Eight
Unexpected engine trouble ends pilot’s career
George Edward Ffrench was born in 1899, near Roscrea, Ireland. He enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in August 1917; the following March he obtained his “wings” and was sent to France. According to “Our Heroes”, published by Irish Life from 1914 to1918 and now digitized by the South Dublin Libraries, George had been “in several engagements, and was mentioned in the confidential report of the Air Force as having brought down a German machine.”
Unfortunately, like so many flyers in World War I, George’s time as a pilot was short-lived.
But it wasn’t the enemy that killed him. It was the plane.
In May 1918, a couple of months after he went to France, George was flying a de Havilland DH9, which had a history of poor performance and engine failures according to Wikipedia. Both George and his observer and gunner, Sergeant Francis Yate McLauchlan, were killed when their plane lost its engine – literally.
The account of George’s death is mentioned in a book on World War I pilots and their aircraft by Trevor Henshaw. In The Sky, Their Battlefield, Henshaw notes that the engine fell off the aircraft piloted by Ffrench shortly after takeoff from the field at Fourneuil, France in the early morning hours of May 23, 1918.
The airmen are buried side by side in the Pernes British Military Cemetery.
This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.
For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.
If YOU would like to help to make military ancestors go viral this November, please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just talk to someone you know. We’d love it if you shared this post with your friends and followers too.
Have you read our previous posts in this #MyMilitaryAncestor challange?
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four – God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six – The horror of gas attacks
Day Seven – Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88