Biplane Tribute to the Fallen
01 January 2012
At 11 am on 11 November this year, Pilot Stewart Smith led an
extraordinary tribute to the fallen of the Great War in his replica
First World War biplane - a De Haviland DH2 open cockpit "pusher"
aircraft - as he overflew the Commission's largest memorial to the
missing at Thiepval in France.
Stewart had previously flown his plane across the English
Channel - the first time such a flight had been completed since
1918 - in order to pay tribute to Major Lanoe Hawker VC, who died
in 1916 during aerial combat with Manfred von Richtofen, the Red
Major Hawker was the first "ace" of the Royal Flying Corps
andone of the first airmen to be awarded the Victoria Cross,
the nation's highest gallantry award, in 1915. He is commemorated
on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
Stewart said, "If you make this journey by road you are struck
by the frequency of roadside cemeteries, memorials and the all too
sadly familiar names on villages and on signposts which now are
part of the chronicle of the Battle of the Somme. From the air the
impact is tenfold.
Almost every large wood, every significant defensive ridge,
appears to have its associated regular shaped area of open or
walled cemetery….it made words difficult to find."
For more information about Stewart and his remarkable aircraft
visit the Airco DH.2 website