John Aidan Liddell

John Aidan Liddell, VC, MC (3 August 1888 – 31 August 1915) was a British military pilot and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

John Aidan Liddell
John Aidan Liddell VC IWM Q 56193.jpg
Liddell, front, while serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the Western Front
Born(1888-08-03)3 August 1888
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died31 August 1915(1915-08-31) (aged 27)
De Panne, Belgium
Buried
Basingstoke (South View or Old) Cemetery
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Years of service1912–1915
RankCaptain
UnitThe Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
No. 7 Squadron RFC
Battles/warsFirst World War
AwardsVictoria Cross
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Early lifeEdit

Liddell was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 3 August 1888. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire and Balliol College, Oxford, where he took the Honours Course in Zoology.

Military careerEdit

Liddell, not wishing himself "to be a slacker", joined the Officers' Special Reserve of the 3rd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) of the British Army in 1912. He obtained his pilot's certificate in May 1914 and, following the outbreak of the First World War, the now-Captain Liddell embarked with his battalion on 28 August for service in France. He spent 43 consecutive days in the trenches in command of the machine gun section and was awarded the Military Cross at Le Maisnil, France, before training as a pilot and joining No. 7 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.

On 31 July 1915, while flying reconnaissance over Ostend-Bruges-Ghent, Belgium, Liddell's aircraft was raked by machine gun fire and Liddell was severely wounded in his right thigh. This caused momentary unconsciousness, but by great effort he recovered partial control of his machine when it had dropped nearly 3,000 feet and succeeded, although fired on, in completing the course and brought the plane back into the Allied lines. The control wheel and throttle control were smashed, as was part of the undercarriage and cockpit, but the machine and life of the observer were saved. In recognition of his feat, Liddell was awarded the Victoria Cross.[1]

Death and legacyEdit

 
Plaque to Captain John Aidan Liddell, Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling

After having his leg removed and septic poisoning setting in, Liddell died of his wounds a month later at De Panne, Flanders, Belgium, on 31 August 1915, aged 27.[2] He is buried in The Holy Ghost Cemetery in Basingstoke with his sister Dorothy Liddell who went out to serve in the hospital where he died for the remainder of the war.[3]

A brass "In Memoriam" tablet was erected to Aidan Liddell in the Scottish Naval and Military Residence, Edinburgh. The inscription on the brass tablet runs as follows:[4]

IN MEMORY OF

CAPTAIN J. AIDAN LIDDELL, V.C., M.C.
3rd (RESERVE) BATTALION
ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS
MORTALLY WOUNDED WHEN SERVING WITH
THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS
NEAR OSTEND, BELGIUM
AUGUST 1915

PRESENTED BY HIS BROTHER OFFICERS OF THE

3rd (RESERVE) BATTALION.

A memorial to him was also erected at Balliol College, on the west wall of the Chapel passage.[5] His VC is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London.

A plaque also exists in the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling, close to Stirling Castle, home of his regiment.[6]

On 29 August 2017 a memorial was unveiled outside the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, where Liddell and Privates Edward Lawson and Adam Wakenshaw are commemorated.[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "No. 29272". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 August 1915. pp. 8373–8374.
  2. ^ "Captain Liddell, John Aidan". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  3. ^ Peter Daybell (1 January 2005). With a Smile and a Wave. Pen and Sword. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-4738-2083-8.
  4. ^ "Capt J. Aidan Liddell VC MC". War Memorials Register. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  5. ^ Jones, John (1999). "Memorial inscriptions". Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts. Balliol College, Oxford. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Capt J. Aidan Liddell VC MC". War Memorials Register. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  7. ^ Kelly, Mike (31 August 2017). "Three Newcastle war heroes who were awarded the Victoria Cross get new memorial". The Chronicle. Retrieved 9 June 2018.

External linksEdit