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66 Squadron, RFC & RAF, 1916 to 1919

Dunn, William Henry


Dunn was the squadron's only sergeant pilot.

There were quite a few squadrons in the RFC who had N.C.O. aircrew; two of the earliest were 1 and 3 squadrons. During early 1916 3 Squadron had two pilots who would later serve with 66 squadron, Sgt James T B McCudden and Sgt Tone P H Bayetto. McCudden and Bayetto only served a short while with 66 Squadron during the summer of 1917. On the January 24th 1917 the only flying officer on the books of the squadron was the C.O. Capt, soon to be Major Owen T Boyd. The next pilot to join the squadron on the 3 February flew in the squadron’s first Sopwith Scout A6151, the pilot was Sgt William Henry Dunn who collected the machine from the makers, Whitehead of Richmond and flew to Patchway via Kingston and Upavon arriving at 3pm local time.

Early Life

Dunn was born on 16 April 1897 at 103 Shepperton Road, Cannonbury, Islington to Beatrice Marion (neé Skinner) a sewing machinist and Compositor Henry William Dunn. They had seven children but only five survived, Beatrice Mary, William Henry, Alexander Charles, Eleanor Alice and Alice Madeline; a boy and girl did not survive. William’s AIR79 RAF record says he was born on 10 August 1894 and carries the caveat that William had noted his date of birth was 16 April 1897. The family had moved from Shepperton Road, to 159 Fulbourne Road Walthamstow.

Royal Flying Corps

WH DunnIt is not known where he was educated but on 10 August 1915 he enlisted in the RFC “aged 21” (which would have meant that he was born in 1894?) although he was only just turned 18 years old with the rank of 2/AM reporting to Farnborough the next day. He was promoted to 1/AM on 1 March 1916 and awarded his RAeC certificate No 3243 on 24 June 1916 after taking his test at Upavon with the CFS in a Be2C. Just to add further confusion about his date of birth, his RAeC record shows he was born on 16 April 1895. With his wings came further promotion to Sergeant and 1st class flyer on 25 October 1916. It is possible that after further training he was used as Ferry pilot by the Southern Aircraft Depot at Filton. His time with 66 was short and after a few flights he was posted away on the 19 March. He embarked for France on 24 April 1917 and joined 29 Squadron on 3 March. He flew his first Offensive patrol on 6 May, but on his 11th patrol on 13 May whilst flying Nieuport 17 A6665 the patrol was engaged by eight enemy Scouts from Jasta 11 and along with 2/Lt A M Sutherland were shot down and taken prisoners of war. He is known to have been interned in Berlin where he was run over by a lorry on the 5 September 1917 (official record gives date as 1915?) and also in Münster, Westphalia. He returned to Home Establishment on 26 December 1918 and was deemed discharged on 30 April 1920.

After the War

After the war he married Norah Ellen Quinn on 26 December 1921 and they had two daughters. It would appear that after the war he returned to army service in 1921 until 1924 with the Royal Tank Corps, serving in India. With the threat of war in 1939 he re-enlisted in the RAF on 10 January 1939 as a class E reserve for the duration; his family believe that he was at Dunkirk in 1940. After the war he moved to Wellingborough and was working for British Road Services, Croyland Road when on the 6 November 1963 he collapsed and died.


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