R.N.A.S. Combats in the Air Report 
of Capt. T.L. LeMesurier, 211 Squadron

Combat Report of 19 May 1918

This is a Royal Naval Air Service Form A.S.D.24. used for reporting Combats in the Air.  On April 1, 1918, the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were combined to form the Royal Air force.  The fact that the R.N.A.S. form was still used by R.A.F. Squadron No. 211 (formerly R.N.A.S. No. 11 Squadron) suggests that the former Naval pilots were either being frugal in still using their old, out-of-date forms or not yet willing to adopt all the new forms and regulations that came along with the April 1 amalgamation.

The form is dated 19th May 1918 and reports a German Albatros Scout "Driven down out of control."  The pilot was Flight Commander Captain Thomas Frederick LeMesurier and the observer was "A/Gunner" W.J.Atkinson.  The report states that they were flying DH. 9. B.7638 of Squadron No.211 equipped with "1 Lewis & 1 Vickers Guns" on a "Bombing Raid"  at 14,000 feet.  Giving the time of 12:15 p.m. and the location "Between Blankenburghe and Wenduyne." LeMesurier writes:

"When over Wenduyne five E.A. came up to attack, but we attacked first.  Pilot fired 50 rounds from front gun at one E.A. and it dived steeply away for 6,000 feet and then flattened out.  Pilot also fired 100 rounds at 2 other E.A. which also would not fight and dived away.  Observer fired 2 trays at one E.A. which went down in a spin for about 8,000 feet, then got out and after gliding erratically for a while spun again to very close to the ground, when it flattened out and landed on the beach.  Observer is not quite sure whether it crashed.  Observer engaged several other E.A. from long range with no results."  

LeMesurier's Airfield and where victim fell

The map bellow identifies 211's airfield at Petite-Synthe near Dunkerque as well as the approximate location 30 miles up the coast where the Albatros was seen to land on the beech, between Wenduyne and Blankenburghe, a few miles from Ostende.  The photograph on the lower right is captioned "A D.V. of a German naval unit which apparently had a rough landing on the beach at Ostende, Belgium."  Further information about this photograph is needed, such as the date it was taken.

 

LeMesurier

LeMesurier was an ace, having shot down seven enemy aircraft between June and October, 1917.  Just a week after the combat reported above, he would die mysteriously on 26 May 1918 while flying another DH 9 – No. D1693. The Sky Their Battlefield states   “ **test with extra drift wires, shot down? broke up 20' cr wr on Lines PERVYSE (Capt T.F. LeMesurier DoI/2LT R Lardner KIFA) KIA? left 10-10 am, a'c salvable ? "   This cryptic passage indicates that at 10:10 am in the morning LeMesurier and his observer took off in an aircraft which was equipped with extra drift wires which they were testing. The test was clearly of little concern because the aircraft crossed the front lines, something it surely would not have done if there was any problem with the rigging. The aircraft reportedlky broke up just twenty feet in the air as it crossed the front lines coming back from the German side onto the British side. The observer died at the scene of the crash and LeMesurier was found alive but died later.  

LeMesurier’s death on 26 May 1918

Mike Westrop kindly advised that Sturdivant and Page in their Air Britain book DH4/DH9 File states “Left 10.10 on test with extra driftwires, port wing folded up crossing over trenches at 20 feet Pervyse. Completely wrecked. Salvaged to No.8 Air Park on the 27th.”  Mike goes on to say about LeMesurier that “He must have been in some sort of trouble, you just did not cross the lines at 20 feet (or 200ft for that matter). Why did he cross the lines on a test flight? The DH9, whilst having a totally crap engine (the Siddely Deasy Puma) was a rugged machine that didn't break up on a whim. I would think that the machine must have been damaged by AA fire and was limping back when it fell apart at 20 feet. Le Mesurier was always making "unnofficial" flights - he once borrowed a Naval 12 Triplane for a test flight and used it to provide an escort for a Naval 5 bombing mission - he was shot down by AA fire on that occasion - I don't know how he explained the damaged triplane to the CO of No.12 RNAS! On another occasion, 9th March 1918, he flew two bombing missions with Naval 6, on the second mission, his Naval 6 gunlayer claimed a scout shot down - this was probably an MFJ2 Pfalz, the pilot of which was injured but probably not downed.”  

Soderbaum adds that “The German Marine Flak claimed to have shot down a DH* at Schoorbakke at 11:40 on 26 May 18. This might be the reason for the downing of LeMesurier...? I don't have my maps at hand so I don't knew the distance from Pervyse to Shoorbakke but the time roughly fits.” Pervyse is now spelled Pervijze and the nearby town of Schoorbakke is still spelled as it once was and is just a fifth of a mile away.  

Younger LeMesurier

The younger LeMesurier attended St. John's College Hurstpierpoint.  An Old Johnian, himself, Tom Moulton kindly provided this photo of his Old Johnian blazer and explains that it is in the OJ colors “those in which Le Mesurier is said to have painted his aircraft.” Le Mesurier was in Fleur De Ly House from 1912 to 1913 - the same house as Tom Moulton "some 80 years earlier!"   He Initailly joined the RNVR and then transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service. He was awarded the DSC and two bars and was Mentioned in Dispatches. He apparentlky was well known for painting the machines of his flight in OJ colours.  He is buried in Dunkirk Town Cemetery.    

Travers  

The report is signed H.G. Travers, Major, R.A.F., Commanding officer, No. 211 Squadron. A 1916 portrait of Herbert Gardner Travers is shown below.  He was known as “Tiny” and was the Commanding Officer of No. 11 squadron RNAS when it reformed as a bomber squadron from 11 March 1918 to 25 May 251918, at which point Major GRM Reid took over. According to Mike Westrop, Travers had actually run the squadron in an earlier incarnation when it was a "holding squadron" or "pilots pool" from 8 March 1917 until early June 1917.  

Travers’ daughter wrote and privately published Cross Country (Hothersall and Travers, Sittinbourne, 1990), a biography of three brothers, James Lindsay Travers (1883-1924), Herbert Gardner Travers (1891-1958), and Charles Tindal Travers (1898-1969). The book Includes extracts from their letters and from Herbert Gardner Travers' flying log-books.  

 

 

Travers went out looking for Le Mesurier when he did not return from patrol on 26 May 1918. On page 220 of Cross Country, Travers’ daughter would write about what she found in her father’s log:   “On the 26th May he reports: ‘To locate missing machine. Le Mesurier. Landed on old Furnes ‘drome and ‘phoned A.A. Battery.’ A couple of hours later, Le Mesurier now safe and sound, H. recorded: ‘Return to Squadron.’”   Travers apparently did not know that his flight commander would shortly die of his wounds.