Squadron Commander Edwin Harris Dunning, DSC (17 July 1892 – 7 August 1917), of the British Royal Naval Air Service, was the first pilot to land an aircraft on a moving ship.

Edwin Harris Dunning
Dunning is congratulated after landing on HMS Furious in his Sopwith Pup on 2 August 1917
Born17 July 1892
South Africa
Died7 August 1917 (1917-08-08) (aged 25)
Scapa Flow, Orkney
Bradfield, Essex
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Naval Air Service
Years of service–1917
RankSquadron Commander
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross

Early life edit

Dunning was born in South Africa[1] on 17 July 1892, the second child of Sir Edwin Harris Dunning of Jacques Hall, Bradfield, Essex. He was educated at Royal Naval Colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth.[2]

First landing on a moving ship edit

Dunning's Sopwith Pup veering off the flight deck of HMS Furious during his fatal attempt to land on the carrier while underway, August 7, 1917

Dunning landed his Sopwith Pup on HMS Furious in Scapa Flow, Orkney on 2 August 1917. With the ship steaming at 26 knots into a 21 knot wind, his speed over the deck was a few miles per hour. After flying to the left of the bridge and funnel, he steered his plane to the right until it slid over the deck, before cutting the engine, letting it drop onto the ship's deck.[3]

He was killed five days later, during his third landing attempt of the day, when an updraft caught his port wing, throwing his plane overboard. Knocked unconscious, he drowned in the cockpit.[4]

He is buried at St Lawrence's Church, Bradfield, between his parents. A plaque in the church states:

The Admiralty wish you to know what great service he performed for the Navy. It was in fact a demonstration of landing an Aeroplane on the deck of a Man-of-War whilst the latter was under way. This had never been done before;and the data obtained was of the utmost value. It will make Aeroplanes indispensable to a fleet;& possibly, revolutionise Naval Warfare. The risk taken by Squadron Commander Dunning needed much courage. He had already made two successful landings;but expressed a wish to land again himself, before other Pilots did so;and in this last run he was killed. My Lords desire to place on record their sense of the loss to the Naval Service of this gallant Officer.

In memory of Dunning, the Dunning Cup or Dunning Memorial Cup is given annually to the officer who is considered to have done most to further aviation in connection with the Fleet for the year in question.[5] In the 1950s and 1960s it was awarded to Royal Air Force squadrons which achieve the highest standard on courses at the Joint Anti-Submarine School.[6]

The grave of Edwin Harris Dunning in the churchyard of St Lawrence, Bradfield, Essex
A memorial to Edwin Harris Dunning in St Lawrence's Church, Bradfield, Essex
A window memorial plaque to Edwin Harris Dunning in St Lawrence's Church, Bradfield, Essex

Honours and awards edit

  • 14 March 1916 – Flight Lieutenant Edwin Harris Dunning, RNAS is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross- "Has performed exceptionally good work as a seaplane flyer, making many long flights both for spotting and photographing."[7]
  • 14 March 1916 – mentioned in despatches for service at Gallipoli.
  • 1 October 1917 – The following Officers and Men have been mentioned in despatches – Sqdrn. Cdr. Edwin Harris Dunning, DSC., RNAS (since killed).[8]

Notes edit

  1. ^ 1901 Census of Eastbourne – RG13/880 Folio 34 Page 11 (10, Landsdowne Terrace, Eastbourne)
  2. ^ "Welcome to nginx eaa1a9e1db47ffcca16305566a6efba4!". Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  3. ^ Iredale, Will (2015). The Kamikaze Hunters. Macmillan.
  4. ^ The First World War: A Complete History by Sir Martin Gilbert [1]
  5. ^ "Dunning Cup – Award for 1920". Flight: 495. 21 July 1921.
  6. ^ "JASS Award". Flight International: 102. 18 January 1962.
  7. ^ "No. 29507". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 March 1916. p. 2870.
  8. ^ "No. 30316". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 October 1917. p. 10156.

References edit