Flt-Lt George Hancock Reid

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Flt-Lt George Hancock Reid DFC


St Saviour resident George Hancock Reid was one of the first recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross after it was introduced for acts of bravery by flyers in the Great War. These are his medals

Flt-Lt Reid after receiving the DFC at Buckingham Palace

The story of a Jersey Great War hero who valiantly tried to rescue a fellow pilot and was captured by German troops did not emerge until more than 40 years after his death.

He was one of the first flywers to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross 'for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty while flying in active operations against the enemy' after it was introduced in 1918.

Flt-Lt Reid, who died in 1969 aged 80 and lived at Beauvoir, St Saviour, received his medal for his daring exploits during a raid on Zeppelin sheds in northern Germany on 25 March 1916, when he attempted an air-to-sea rescue of a pilot stranded in the North Sea.

He plucked the pilot from a stranded seaplane and strapped him to an outer part of his aircraft before heading back towards the seaplane carrier Vindex.

He was forced to land again, suffering engine trouble in a snowstorm, and began to taxi towards the Vindex.

He was captured when surrounded by a motor boat carrying soldiers and two German seaplanes which landed alongside him.

He was a prisoner of war until the Armistice, despite trying to escape several times, including jumping from a fast-moving train.

After the war he received his DFC at Bucking Palace and then opened a flying school at Desford Airfield, near Leicester, before retiring to Jersey.

Flt-Lt Reid

Further account[1]

Following the successful raid on Zeebrugge, the Royal Naval Air Service decided to carry out a raid on the airship sheds at Hoyer. The attacking force consisted of three Short 184 and two Sopwith ‘Baby’ seaplanes, carried in HMS Vindex, supported by the whole of the available Harwich force, in turn supported by the Battle Cruiser Fleet from Rosyth.

The raid turned into a bit of disaster as there were no airship sheds at Hoyer and three of the five aircraft were lost. Of those that did return, one pilot reported that the sheds were inland at Tondern, but his bombs had jammed in the racks.

A Short 184 similar to that being flown by Flt-Lt Reid

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Cyril Gradwick Knight and Midshipman Stanley Edwin Hoblyn were shot down in their Short 184 (8383) and captured.

Short 184 (8040), with Flt-Lt George Hancock Reid and Chief Petty Officer Richard Mullins, had dropped one of their three 65lb bombs on an unknown building and then followed the coastline to Hoyer. They then attempted to fly inland to Tondern, but were forced back by bad weather. Passing over Hoyer again they spotted one of the Sopwith Baby seaplanes (8153). They landed on the water to discover the pilot Flight Lieutenant John Findlay Hay trying to restart his engine

Reid attempted to take off in the Short with Hay on one of the wings. They reached the island of Sylt when the port side engine suddenly cut out. A broken magneto meant that the engine could not be fixed, and the seaplane attempted to taxi out to their ship on the remaining engine. [2]They attempted to capture a German sailboat, but the seaplane was almost unsteerable in the more choppy open sea. At that point a motor-boat filled with soldiers appeared and two German seaplanes landed on the water immediately behind the Short. All three men were captured.

Notes and references

  1. From the airwar19141918 website
  2. This is a strange description of the event because the Short 184 only had a single engine - Editor
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