Monday, 17 March 2014

War in the Air

"Brought down in flames", by British artist C.T. Howard.
Postcard no.1749, printed and published by J. Salmon, Sevenoaks, England. 

Whilst many young New Zealand men served in infantry and mounted regiments during the First World War, some saw active service in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

William and Rainsford Balcombe-Brown are the sons of Edward and Eliza Mary Balcombe-Brown, of Upper Hutt. Lieutenant William Balcombe-Brown of 68th Battery Royal Field Artillery was killed in shell fire in Belgium on 29 June 1915, age 22 years. His brother, Rainsford Balcombe-Brown became an airman and served in the Royal Flying Corps. Rainsford was promoted to Major and given command of 56 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. He was decorated with the Military Cross for shooting down a German observation balloon in 1916.

In 1918 he was last sighted in the air in combat against four German triplanes. Sadly, he was reported missing on 2nd May and declared killed in action in France at the age of 23. Major Balcombe-Brown was the highest ranking New Zealand airman to be killed during the war. He is buried at Carnoy Military Cemetery located at the Somme in France.

Source: Otago Daily Times, 8 June 1918

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