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66 Squadron, RFC & RAF, 1916 to 1919


Gore, Frederick Dundas Corbet

Introduction

F.D.C. Gore served with 66 squadron in France and Italy during 1917-18, he is not one of the familiar names associated with the squadron, but represents the majority of squadron personnel who turned out day in and day out, for little reward. No chest of medals, and detailed debates in later years about his doings. But he was a highly competent and reliable officer, who was unusual due to his age when compared to his contemporaries.

Early Life

Dassie & his CamelFrederick Dundas Corbet Gore known by the family as "Dassie" was born on 1 December 1885 at "Pikedale" station Queensland. His father and mother were Frederick Dundas Corbet Gore and Margaretta Stenhouse Gunn, they had married in 1881. Fred Gore then became the manager of "Callendoon" station, which was West of Goondiwindi until he left in 1908 to start the family firm of Gore and Sons, a Stock and Station agency in Goondiwindi. They had three other children, St. George Richard, Ralph Thomas, and Emily Margaretta. Although Fred Gore was station manager at Callendoon, Maggie and the then growing family lived in the town of Glen Innes for part of the time, possibly whilst the children attended the Glenn Innes Public School, where Dassie was a member of the school Cadet Corps. Visits to the station during this time cannot have been too frequent, Maggie would drive the sulky the 150 miles with the boys riding their bicycles along a rough dirt track In 1898 Dassie left school at the age of 13 and joined Dalgety & Co in Sydney. Whilst living in Sydney he was a member of the Sydney Rowing Club up to at least 1905. Life in Sydney was not suitable for Dassie, he was advised to seek a drier climate due to asthma. A notable event happened on 10 November 1911 when he met Ella Maude Sydney Jones, they were to marry in 1919 when he returned from the war in Europe.

WW1

Dassie enlisted in the 2nd Australian Light Horse at Enoggera Queensland on 6 September 1914, becoming Private 412. He was quickly promoted to Lance Corporal on 20 October 1914, and following the death of Quartermaster Sergeant Carthwright he was again promoted by the commanding officer Colonel Stodart to Temp Quartermaster Sergeant on 6 June 1915. Three days later Dassie was sent by ship to join the Middle East Force. The 2nd Light Horse was due to join the Gallipoli campaign. By 10th July 1915 Dassie was in Egypt, where he was hospitalised at 21 General Hospital Alexandria with Enteric fever, unable to recover in Egypt he sailed for England on board the hospital ship Letitia on 2 October and was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital Netley on 12 October. He must have recovered sufficiently by 14 February 1916, when he was posted to Abbey Wood Depot. Then to Monte Video at Weymouth, but on the 28th July 1916 he was posted to the Machine Gun Gunnery school training Camp at Perham Downs near Andover as an instructor.

The Royal Flying Corps

Hugh in flying kit 1917It is not known why Dassie decided to transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. He was much older than most recruits of the time. His training commenced on 16 November 1916 at Denham. Flt Sgt Gore became a member of 9 flight, C squadron along with cadet Charles A. Christmas, C.G. Crane, David Deakin, Alan B. Hill, Lawrence N. Mitchell, Ashby W. Pritt, and Richard G. Turner, after cadet training they were sent to 2 SoMA Oxford, where aeronautical training commenced on 26 January 1917. George L. C. Clifton, W. B. Davies, H. T. Hammond, A. T. Lindsay, H. T. Lyles and J. M. Stewart joined the cadets from Denham, together they constituted 16 squadron. Flying training commenced at 8 Reserve Squadron Netheravon Wiltshire, on 23rd March 1917. The unit was equipped with Maurice Farman Shorthorns and he accomplished his first solo on 7 April 1917 in MFSH 7090 but broke the main skid on landing. The next stage of flying training was the move to Fort Grange near Gosport Hampshire and 1 Reserve Squadron. Dassie commenced instruction here on 17th April. All his flying was undertaken on Avro 504A aircraft, one of his instructors was the commanding officer Maj. Smith-Barry, Dassie graduated with his wings on 4th June with a total flying time of 30 hours. Advanced training was undertaken at 84 squadron Lilbourne, near Rugby Warwickshire. The squadron had the duel role of training pilots and also preparing for the move to France, during his time here he was also sent to Turnberry in August 1917 for a gunnery course. Because of its duel role 84 squadron was equipped with a mixed bag of aircraft and Dassie flew BE2d's, BE12a, Curtiss JN-4A, Sopwith Pup, Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter and a Nieuport 20.

After completing his flying training and accumulating the grand total of 59 hours flying time he was posted to France and the pilot's pool at 1 Aircraft Depot, St Omer. He was then sent to 66 squadron on 22 August 1917 and undertook a practice flight the same day in Sopwith Pup 1733 over the Forèt de Nieppe. The next few days were much of the same with practice flying, gun practice, formation flying and familiarising himself with geography of the lines. On the 4th September Dassie flew a 1 hour 50 minute practice flight and then his first offensive patrol which lasted 2 hours thirty 35 minutes. The first time he flew a Camel was on 17th October 1917 when he had 40 minutes in 130 h.p. Clerget powered Camel B4605, which had been delivered to 66 squadron two days earlier. The only time Dassie was credited with a destroyed enemy Aircraft was on 12 October when he destroyed a two seater, whilst flying with 2/Lt G. L. Dore they attacked a body of troops and later attacked a two seater at 60 ft over its aerodrome. Dore saw the machine stall and crash, Dore was wounded in one of his feet during the engagement.

66 squadron flew no more patrols after this engagement until the 31st as they were in the process of receiving the new Sopwith Camel and returning the Pups to the Aircraft Depot, although there were many practice flights as the pilots adapted to their new mounts.

The squadron was one of three Camel squadrons chosen to deploy to Italy, as part of an allied plan to bolster the Italian front. On the 10th November 1917 66 squadron returned its aircraft to 2 Aircraft Depot for packing and onward transportation to Italy. Once the Camels had been re-erected in Italy, patrolling recommenced, Dassie first flight in Italy was on 30 November in Sopwith Camel B5204 a 30 minute test flight, the squadron then deployed first to Verona on 1 December and on 4 December to Grossa. Two days later in Camel B5204 Dassie undertook his first offensive patrol along the Italian front in B5204, which lasted 2 1/2 hrs. Whilst flying the same Camel on the 17 December, he crashed just outside the aerodrome, and was to crash the same aircraft on 28 January 1918 due to the fog, although this flight is not recorded in his log book. It was on the 27 December when he led the first of six patrols he would lead before the events of 2 February making a note in his log book against each. On 11 January 1918 whilst leading a patrol he was shot about, suffering damage to his right hand planes, centre section and some wires shot through. His last flight with the squadron was on 2 February, when he was shot down, his patrol mates saw him going down over the Austrian lines. Three Albatros D111’s attacked the patrol, Dassie was seen pulling out of a spin at 7000 ft, west of St. Vito. It was initially thought that he had been killed in the engagement or shortly after and had On his way back on a submarinedied of wounds and buried at Portobuffole. In fact he had been wounded in the engagement and taken to hospital. The Austrians dropped a message over the allied lines informing the Royal Flying Corps that he was alive. He was then interned at a Prisoner of war camp near Salzerbad in Austria.

When Austria collapsed in October 1918, Dassie made his way back to Italy crossing the Adriatic Sea on the casing of an Italian submarine, arriving back with 66 squadron on 18 November. He was hospitalised after the deprivations of his time in the POW camp.

Civilian Life

Dassie sailed on the S.S Ulysses for Australia on 18 January 1919. On his return to Goondiwindi he and Ella were married. They purchased a Citrus orchard at Mapleton, Queensland, and it was here that the first child was born in 1920. The following year (1921) there was a severe flood in Goondiwindi and whilst Fred Gore was involved in flood control with other residents, he suffered a heart attack and died. St. George had been running the firm with his father. Dassie sold the Orchard at Mapleton and returned to Goondiwindi to help his brother run the business. The business was sold in the late 1940's. During World War 2 Dassie joined the Australian Army, and was employed on local Liaison and recruiting duties, he may also have had some un-specified duties with the Directorate of Military Intelligence. He was a very active man in the local community, he was involved with the starting the Boy Scout Troop in Goondiwindi. Dassie also served on the Town and Church Councils, organised and led the Anzac Day march through Goondiwindi and continued to be interested in ex servicemen's affairs through the formation and continued interest in the local branch of the Returned Servicemen's League and later in the State Legacy. He was also very interested in horses and was an able horseman. He was one of the founders of the local Polo club, and also helped later to re-form it Dassie continued to work as a property valour in semi - retirement. He was known for his great sense of humour. Frederick Dundas Corbet Gore died on 22 October 1964.

"This brief biography has been written with the help of Hugh Gore, F. D. C. Gore's son. I thank him for his assistance and help over the last year. The photographs are the © copyright of Hugh Gore."

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