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66 Squadron, RFC & RAF, 1916 to 1919

Timmis, Thomas Henry

Introduction

Henry as he was know by the family and friends, joined 66 squadron on the same day as Harry Goode. he served most of his time with A flight under Peter Carpenter and they became great friends. Both families have remained in contact with each other for over 80 years, a very special bond.

Life Before 66

Cadet Thomas Henry TimmisThomas Henry Timmis was born in the family home, Shenstone House, Shenstone, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire in 1894. The son of Samuel Timmis. Born into a farming family, Thomas would retain a link with the land and the R.A.F. throughout out his lifetime. He attended King Charles Grammar School Kidderminster. Later enlisting in the Inns of Court O.T.C. serving for five months, undergoing basic army training. He then transferred to the RFC. Henry first posting was to School of Aeronautics at Reading in April 1916. After basic training in military duties, aircraft and engines, he was sent for flying training to 31 Reserve Squadron on 19 May 1917 at Wyton, which was equipped with a mixed fleet of Shorthorn and Longhorns. He then progressed to Advanced flying training with 63 Training Squadron at Joyce Green from February 1918 and a gunnery course at 2 School of Aerial Gunner and Fighting. This school which had recently arrived at Driffield, this was formed by amalgamation of 2 School of Aerial Fighting Driffield and 4 (Aux) School of Aerial Gunnery from Marske.

66 Squadron

Henry Timmis spring 1918He was posted to 66 squadron in Italy, arriving on 27 May 1918 along with Harry King Goode. Posted to A flight, which was under the command of Captain Peter Carpenter, one of the keenest pilots in the squadron. They appear to have become friendly very quickly and were to remain close friends for the rest of their lives. He under took the usual roster of patrols on a daily basis. On 24 June when on patrol with Peter Carpenter and H R Eycott-Martin. Henry who was quite a distance from the rest of the patrol as he had lost his colleague's, found two Albatross D111's and a two seater Albatross at 16000 over Feltre, he attacked the two seater from 50 to 100 yards range, firing 300 rounds, the aircraft descended to 1000 ft and disappeared into clouds smoking very badly, and thought to be on fire. But this claim was not allowed, as there were no witnesses to a crash. His next combat action was on the 20 July again Peter Carpenter was leading the patrol along with Alfred Baker and Henry. A lone enemy scout, who attacked the patrol from 14000 ft singling out Baker, attacked the patrol. Henry immediately attacked the scout firing good bursts into it. The Scout went down in a spin, but at 7000 ft., flattened out, Baker who had followed the scout down, go on its tail and eventually shot it down crashing into a field near Motta aerodrome. Baker and Henry followed the scout down to 50 ft of the ground.

On 29 July Henry was again involved in combat, he was part of a patrol acting as escort to the Western reconnaissance. The patrol leader was Lt. John S Lennox, and also Elijah D Salthouse. The patrol was being shadowed by a mixed formation of three scouts, the Camels rose to meet them, but could not climb fast enough to engage them properly. The enemy scouts remained 1000 ft above the Camels, but took to diving down for brief shots, whilst the Camels took stalling shots when they could. Later the enemy scouts dived down singling out one of the Bristol Fighters, who dived away to the allied lines landing at Nove, The enemy scouts remained above the Camels for a few minutes and then made for Belluna.

Henry's first confirmed victory came whilst on patrol on 1 August, Robert. G. Reid led the roving patrol; Henry and William J. Courtenay made up the compliment. They observed an enemy aircraft at 9.30 over Conegliano but could not engage the aircraft made off towards Belluno. Forty-five minutes later Reid was forced to leave the patrol and return owing to engine trouble. At 10.30 Henry found a kite balloon at about 400 ft over Cessalto, he attacked from above firing about 100 rounds into it, there was a large amount of smoke and no trace of the balloon. Fifteen minutes later a LVG two seater was observed coming from the direction of Mansue towards the Piave at 8000 ft. Henry attacked from out of the sun and fired a burst of fifty rounds at very close range, the LVG stalled and burst into flames, going down vertically and crashed south of Mansue. On 5 August Henry was part of an eastern offensive patrol led by Charles M Maud, accompanied by Sidney J. Osborne. They observed a LVG at 16000 ft over Feltre going in a northerly direction, the patrol gave chase and after fifteen minutes the LVG turned and dived to the south, Maud followed the aircraft down to 500 ft and fired 200 rounds at 50 yards range, the LVG crashed in a valley near Forca. Henry's last confirmed victory was on the 15 August, he led the patrol in Camel D8215, Courtenay and Osborne made up the flight. They found a balloon at 7000 ft near Ramera at 8.15 Henry attacked, following it down to 2000 ft, firing 450 rounds into it, again there was large amounts of smoke and no trace of the balloon, Osborne attempted to attack another balloon near by but they were pulled down and lost in the mist.

Civilian Life

Henry returned to civilian life when he was released from the R.A.F. in February 1919. He went back to the family farm. On 12 October 1920 he married Nora Vale, the daughter of a local Civil Engineer, builder and Kidderminster Town councillor at Lower Mitton Parish Church. The best man was Captain Peter Carpenter D.S.O., M.C., who journeyed up from Cardiff. The two were to remain life long friends. The first child of the marriage, Pamela was born in 1922 and Peter Carpenter became her godfather, in 1925 a son was born and named Peter strengthening the friendship between the two war time friends. When Peter Carpenter married and had a family the children used to visit each other for holidays. Henry and Nora were keen tennis players, helping to organise tennis parties. Henry was a life long country sports supporter, following shooting, hunting and point to point racing. He was active in the local Conservative association. The family farm at Hartlebury provided a continuing link with the R.A.F. when in the Second World War some of the land was requisitioned for the construction of a RAF maintenance unit, much of which can still be seen today. The link was further strengthened when Henry was made honorary mess president of 25 M.U. Later one of Henry's granddaughters met her future husband serving at the base.

Thomas Henry Timmis passed away on 11 March 1968 aged 73 at Podmore House, his home for many years.

My thanks to Peter Timmis for the use of his fathers photographs, and for defiantly identifying his father for me. The photographs on this page are the copyright © of Peter Timmis.

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