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Biplane Tribute to the Fallen

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 Baron.

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 please visit the Airco DH.2 website