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Author Topic: Major James McCudden  (Read 283 times)

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Offline babs

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2013, 10:47:54 »
Did you also know that James McCudden wrote a book about his adventures.  The original title was Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps, published in 1918. It was then re-issued in 1930 under the title Flying Fury (illustrated).  I have a copy of the 1930 version.

Offline alkhamhills

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2013, 22:03:46 »
More on James, courtesy of Ancestry.

James Byford McCudden

1911 Census. James, age 15, with 15th Company, Royal Engineers. His trade shown as Blacksmith. He is shown as being in “Arabia, Cyprus, Gibraltar”.

Probate shows home as 37 Burton Rd, Kingston upon Thames. Administration to William Henry McCudden, retired warrant officer RE.
£266.14s.3d.

Military Cross (Bar). 2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Thomas Byford McCudden, M.C., Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took part in many offensive patrols, over thirty of which he led. He destroyed five enemy machines and drove down three others out of control. He showed the greatest gallantry, dash and skill.

DSO & DSO(Bar)
2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Byford McCudden, M.C., M.M., Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He attacked and brought down an enemy two-seater machine inside our lines, both the occupants being taken prisoner. On another occasion he encountered an enemy two-seater machine at 2,000 feet. He continued the fight down to a height of 100 feet in very bad weather conditions and destroyed the enemy machine. He came down to within a few feet of the ground on the enemy's side of the lines, and finally crossed the lines at a very low altitude. He has recently destroyed seven enemy machines, two of which fell within our lines, and has set a splendid example of pluck and determination to his squadron.
2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Byford McCudden, D.S.O., M.C., Gen. List, and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He attacked enemy formations, both when leading his patrol and singlehanded. By his fearlessness and clever manoeuvring, he has brought down thirty-one enemy machines, ten, of which have fallen in our lines. His pluck and determination have had a marked effect on the efficiency of the squadron.

VC2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) James Byford McCudden, D.S.O., M.C., M.M., Gen. List and R.F.C.
   For most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, keenness, and very high devotion to duty.
   Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for 54 enemy aeroplanes. Of these 42 have been definitely destroyed, 19 of them on our side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 have been driven out of control.
   On two occasions, he has totally destroyed four two-seater enemy aeroplanes on the same day, and on the last occasion all four machines were destroyed in the space of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
   While in his present squadron he has participated in 78 offensive patrols, and in nearly every case has been the leader. On at least 30 other occasions, whilst with the same squadron, he has crossed the lines alone, either in pursuit or in quest of enemy aeroplanes.
   The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently: �
   On the 23rd December, 1917, when leading his patrol, eight enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 2.30 p.m. and 3.50 p.m. Of these two were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines. On the morning of the same day he left the ground at 10.50 and encountered four enemy aeroplanes; of these he shot two down.
   On the 30th January, 1918, he, single-handed, attacked five enemy scouts, as a result of which two were destroyed. On this occasion he only returned home when the enemy scouts had been driven far east; his Lewis gun ammunition was all finished and the belt of his Vickers gun had broken.
   As a patrol leader he has at all times shown the utmost gallantry and skill, not only in the manner in which he has attacked and destroyed the enemy, but in the way he has during several aerial fights protected the newer members of his flight, thus keeping down their casualties to a minimum.
   This officer is considered, by the record, which he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honour

Offline alkhamhills

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2013, 20:11:52 »
Copy of his flying Cert and his pic at the time(16.4.1916)
And record of his details

Offline grandarog

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2013, 17:50:24 »
Here`s the plaque at the address named after him.

petermilly

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2013, 15:04:16 »
Very interesting thank you!  :)

John38

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2013, 14:44:10 »
The white marble plaque inside the RC Church in Sheerness, commemorates not only the brothers but also their brother-in-law who died in the HMS Princess Irene, off Sheerness. (can't recall the detail now as it was over 60 years ago).

I used to see this plaque quite often as a boy. So you can imagine my surprise, many years later, when they began to name each VC10 in our Squadron (10 Squadron) after a VC. The Name painted on a deep blue scroll and was just forward of the forward port door.  I'm pretty sure it was airframe XV104 that was Major James McCudden VC.

Offline Leofwine

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2012, 18:21:32 »
I think that one of our nations greatest war heroes deserves to be commemorated by his home town somewhere better than a toilet wall, don't you?

He does and he is - he has a street named after him, complete with plaques commemorating him at both ends of it. http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=12666.msg103388#msg103388
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Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 16:05:26 »
Major James Thomas Byford McCudden, VC, DSO and Bar, MC and Bar, MM, Croix de Guerre was a leading British fighter ace during the First World War, who was born in Gillingham.

I decided to do a little research into McCudden because I saw an article about him in the local press, part of which was complaining that the only memorial to him in his home town was a fake bronze plaque on the side of a public toilet in the High Street.

A portrait of McCudden



He was born on 28th March 1895 to Sergeant-Major William and Mrs Amelia McCudden in Gillingham. His father was in the Royal Engineers. He followed his father into the Royal Engineers and enlisted as a bugler in 1910 at the age of 15. In 1913, after a flight across Salisbury Plain with his brother Willie, he requested and was granted a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. After his transfer, he trained as an engine fitter, servicing aeroplanes.

Assigned to No 3 Squadron, he spent some time on defaulters in the Guardroom for inadvertently starting a Caudron which then ran out of control and smashed up another aeroplane. In April 1914, he was promoted to Aviation Mechanic First Class. In August, on the outbreak of the First World War, his unit was posted to France and the young McCudden was caught up in the retreat following the First Battle of Mons which continued until the trench lines were established and stabilised. Wile all the action was going on, McCudden was employed in repairing and replacing aeroplane engines. He was promoted to Corporal in November 1914. The RFC at the beginning of the war was operating a huge variety of types and McCudden was expected to be able to service the engines of most of them, including BE2a, Bleriot 50hp, Bleriot 80hp, BE4a and Henri Farmans.

In the first half of 1915, as aerial combat was starting, he began to go aloft as a gunner/observer, flying reconnaisance missions over the German lines. In this work, he encountered anti-aircraft fire and the first effective German fighters, the Fokker E1. This aircraft exacted a terrible toll by virtue of it's 'interrupter gear' which, for the first time, allowed aircraft to be fitted with machine guns firing through the propeller. In April 1915, he was promoted to Sergeant as was put in charge of servicing  the engines of all the planes in his Flight.

The dreaded Fokker E1, scourge of the RFC.



He continued flying as an Observer until January 1916, when he was selected for Pilot Training and was sent back to the UK. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant at this time. At the time, the 'Fokker Scourge' was in full swing and the average life expectancy for a newly qualified RFC pilot was about 2 weeks.

James McCudden qualified as a pilot in April 1916 and his instructors recognised at the time that he was a natural pilot. His first assignment as a pilot was as an instructor, which he continued with until June 1916, when he was posted back to the Western Front, to 20 Sqn, flying one of the first effective British fighters, the FE2b. This, in common with other early British and French fighters over came the problem of firing through the propeller by simply putting the engine and propeller at the back of the aircraft. The FE2b was a 2 seat aircraft, with the gunner in the front seat and the pilot sitting behind him.

The FE2b



In August 1916, he was transferred to 29 Sqn, flying the DH2, a single seat aircraft, which although smaller, was more agile than the FE2b. The downside was that the pilot was expected to both operate the machine gun and fly the machine.

The DH2



Flt/Sgt McCudden was credited with his first kill on 6th September 1916, when he shot down a German reconnaisance aircraft. On 27th December 1916, McCudden and his unit encountered Lt Manfred von Richtofen, the famous 'Red Baron' and his unit and engaged them in a prolonged dogfight. The Baron who claimed to have shot him down, but McCudden and his aircraft returned safely to their base without a scratch.

In January 1917, McCudden was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. In the February, he was posted to 66 Sqn in the UK, flying the Sopwith Pup. By this time, the British has solved the problem of firing through the propeller by simply copying the Interrupter Gear from a captured German aircraft and the Pup was fitted with it.

A Sopwith Pup



By the time he was transferred back to the UK, he had been credited with 5 kills and had been awarded the Military Cross and the Military Medal. During his assignment to 66 Sqn, McCudden was employed in attempting to intercept raids by the German Gotha bombers, which were making raids on London and Southern England. It was during one of these raids that a huge number of sailors were killed at HMS Pembroke when a bomb hit the Drill Hall they were sleeping in. On the second Gotha Raid, on 17th July 1917 on London, McCudden's was the only machine out of a force of 95 aircraft to reach the enemy formation, but by the time he got there, he didn't have enough ammunition to make any impact on the Germans.

In Mid-1917, he received an invitation to fly on a patrol with 56 Sqn, then flying the SE5a. This was a prestigious unit, at the time, THE top British Squadron. On this patrol, on July 21st, he shot down a German Albatross aircraft. His performance must have impressed them because his next assignment was as a Flight Commander with them.

McCudden's success thus far was as a result of his absolute mastery of tactics in air combat and attention to detail with regards to the maintenance of aircraft and equipment. His priority in combat was to get into a good position against the enemy and to gain advantage over them before actually opening fire rather than the gung-ho approach taken by many other pilots and commanders at the time. If he could not gain an advantageous position against the enemy, he would rather not engage them at all. He would study the enemy and get to learn their habits and procedures and discover and exploit weaknesses in them. By using his extensive mechanical knowledge, he was able to have his aircraft modified so it would fly higher and would stalk his enemy from above. He specialised in attacking German reconnaisance aircraft and gained an unsurpassed number of victories where the enemy was forced to the ground and captured.

It was during his time with 56 Sqn, he gained a reputation for bravery in the face of the enemy and for protecting the less experienced pilots under his command and keeping casualties among them to the minimum. He exercised the utmost skill in the way in which he attacked the enemy. By March 1918, he had been credited with over 50 kills. An example of this is that on the morning of 16th February, he destroyed 3 German 2 seater aircraft and destroyed a 4th that afternoon. He participated in the action which led to the death of one of the top German aces, Werner Voss. On 2nd April 1918, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation, published in the London Gazette reads:

"For most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, and a very high devotion to duty. Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for 54 enemy aeroplanes. Of these, 42 have been destroyed, 19 of them on our side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 have been driven down out of control. On two occasions, he had totally destroyed 4 two-seater enemy aeroplanes on the same day, and on the last occasion all 4 machines were destroyed in the space of one hour and thirty minutes. While in his present squadron, he has participated in 78 offensive patrols, and in nearly every case has been the leader. On at least 30 occasions, whilst with the same squadron, he has crossed the lines alone, either in pursuit or in quest of enemy aeroplanes. The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently: on 23 December 1917, when leading his patrol, 8 enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 1430/1550 and of these 2 were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines; on the morning of the same day, he left the ground at 1050 and encountered 4 enemy aeroplanes and of these he shot 2 down; on 30 January 1918, he, single-handed, attacked 5 enemy scouts, as a result of which 2 were destroyed. On this occasion, he only returned home when the enemy scouts had been driven far east; his Lewis gun ammunition was all finished and the belt of his Vickers gun had broken. As a patrol leader he has at all times shown the utmost gallantry and skill, not only in the manner in which he has attacked and destroyed the enemy, but in the way he has, during several aerial fights, protected the newer members of his flight, thus keeping down their casualties to a minimum. This officer is considered, by the record he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honour."

The SE5a



The award to McCudden of the VC was seen as a propaganda opportunity by the government and his by now high public profile made the RFC reluctant to further risk him in combat. McCudden himself shied away from the publicity, not even telling his parents that he was going to Buckingham Palace to be awarded his medal by the King. At the same time, he was also awarded a bar to his Military Cross and his DSO. He was also promoted to Major and was celebrated in the papers at the time. The Air Ministry's reluctance to further risk him in combat led to his repeatedly being turned down for command of a squadron despite having the rank and experience to do so. Although he eventually won the discussion about whether or not to deploy him back to the front, he was reportedly turned down for command of 85 Sqn of the newly-formed RAF because of his lack of a Public Education.

He was eventually given command of 60 Sqn RAF and was ordered to pick up a new SE5a from the factory outside London and fly it to France. On 9th July 1918, he flew across the English Channel and landed at Auxi-le-Chateau to ask directions to his new unit. On taking off again, the engine in his aircraft failed and he crashed within sight of the airfield. Although alive at the crash site, he died from multiple injuries two hours after being taken to hospital without having regained consciousness. An investigation put the engine failure down to a faulty carbourettor which caused a fuel starvation shortly after takeoff.

James McCudden is buried in the British War Cemetry at Wavans, Pas-de-Calais.

McCudden's grave



James McCudden, the Gillingham lad who joined the Army as a boy bugler, rose to the rank of Major, became one of this nations top scoring fighter aces of the First World War and was awarded our country's highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy. He was only 23.

I think that one of our nations greatest war heroes deserves to be commemorated by his home town somewhere better than a toilet wall, don't you?


"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline CDP

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2010, 21:04:23 »
On the memorial is also Col.Dean, I believe his grandson ( or daughter ? ) is alive etc and owns a few shops and the post office  in Tenyham  High Street ( William  xxxxxxx)
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2010, 14:07:01 »
There is a list of Major McCuddens 57 victories @http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/england/mccudden1.php


Cloud9

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2010, 19:25:47 »
I don't know if it is still there, but there was a wooden propeller from one of McCudden's aircraft on the wall in the NCO's mess at Chatham 1404 Squadron in Boundary road. That was back in the sixties when I was a cadet.

Offline kyn

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 12:22:50 »
Article

Offline bromptonboy

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2009, 07:53:52 »
McCuddon VC is commemorated in Brompton through the naming of one of the little rows of houses after him. It's down Westcourt St close to where the family home was at the time of his birth. Other similar rows of houses are named after other RE VC's such as Lendrim Row, Perie Row and Leitch Row.

merc

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Re: Major James McCudden
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2009, 13:20:07 »
James McCuddens story is to be told in a new Timewatch documentary, "Aces Falling" next month on BBC2.
A French farmer digging in his field next to the Commonwealth War Graves in Beauvoir-Wavens recently discovered a round Brass plate,which when cleaned was found to be McCuddens original Grave marker.
The farmer has donated it to the Royal Engineers Museum,Gillingham,who also hold James McCudden's Victoria Cross.

Info from the Medway Newspaper "The News"

 

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