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Captain William Lewis Wells MC* (1895 – 6 May 1918) was a British World War I flying ace credited with ten aerial victories. His exceptional valour twice won him the Military Cross.[1]

William Lewis Wells
Born1895
Hounslow, Middlesex, England
Died6 May 1918 (aged 22–23)
Buried
St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France
(49°24′34″N 1°03′54″E / 49.40944°N 1.06500°E / 49.40944; 1.06500Coordinates: 49°24′34″N 1°03′54″E / 49.40944°N 1.06500°E / 49.40944; 1.06500)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchBritish Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service1914–1918
RankCaptain
UnitLondon Regiment
Middlesex Regiment
No. 22 Squadron RFC
No. 48 Squadron RFC
AwardsMilitary Cross & bar

Early lifeEdit

Wells was born in Hounslow, Middlesex, England.[1] He was appointed a Temporary Boy Clerk in the General Post Office on 8 March 1911.[2]

World War IEdit

Wells served as a private in the 8th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Post Office Rifles), until commissioned a second lieutenant in the Middlesex Regiment on 25 March 1915.[3]

On 22 September 1916 he was appointed a flying officer, seconded to the Royal Flying Corps.[4][5] He was promoted to lieutenant in the RFC on 1 February 1917,[6] but had to wait until 23 June before receiving the same step up in his regiment.[7]

By early 1918, he had been posted to No. 22 Squadron to fly a Bristol F.2 Fighter two-seater. He scored his first aerial victory on 25 January 1918. By 16 March, he had run his score to six.[1] On 19 March 1918 he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain[8] in No. 48 Squadron, and he scored his seventh victory with them on 21 March 1918. Two days later, he rounded out his score list with a triple triumph.[1]

His exploits twice won him the Military Cross. On 13 May 1918, his first MC was gazetted:

"On four occasions during three months, he has been engaged with superior enemy formations, and has brought down completely out of control five hostile machines and sent down one other crashing to earth. He has displayed the greatest gallantry, courage, and determination in dealing with enemy aircraft."[9]

His second award came as a Bar to his MC, and was gazetted 22 June 1918. Note that it was not granted solely for his air-to-air combat:

"He frequently attacked enemy troops and transport with bombs and machine-gun fire during operations, often flying at a very low altitude under heavy fire. While attacking enemy troops from a height of 150 feet he was severely wounded, but succeeded in bringing his observer and machine back safely. He has destroyed five enemy machines and driven down five others out of control, and has always set an example of courage and determination to the flight which he has commanded."[10]

However, Wells never got to read the praise for his gallantry as he died from wounds sustained in action one week before his first award, on 6 May 1918. He was buried in the officers section, plot B. 4. 25, St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.[11]

List of aerial victoriesEdit

Combat record[1]
No. Date/Time Aircraft/
Serial No.
Opponent Result Location Notes
No. 22 Squadron RFC
1 25 January 1918
@ 1340 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(A2736)
Albatros D.III fighter Driven down out of control Southwest of Lille, France Observer/gunner: Hugh Fitzgerald Moore
2 18 February 1918
@ 1400 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(A7251)
German reconnaissance aircraft Driven down out of control Seclin, France Observer/gunner: Hugh Fitzgerald Moore
3 13 March 1918
@ 1630 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(A7286)
Albatros D.V fighter Destroyed West of Emmerin, France Observer/gunner: Edward George Herbert Caradoc Williams
4 16 March 1918
@ 1045–1115 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(C4808)
Pfalz D.III fighter Driven down out of control Oignies, France Observer/gunner: George S. L. Hayward
5 Pfalz D.III fighter Driven down out of control Oignies, France
6 Pfalz D.III fighter Destroyed Beaumont, France
No. 48 Squadron RFC
7 21 March 1918
@ 1420 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(C4707)
Pfalz D.III fighter Destroyed Southwest of Honnecourt Observer/gunner: Walter Beales
8 23 March 1918
@ 1124 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(C4707)
LVG reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed Northwest of Hem, France Observer/gunner: Walter Beales. Shared with Lieutenant Andrew Cowper.
9 23 March 1918
@ 1625 hours
Bristol F.2 Fighter
(C4707)
LVG reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed Matigny, France Observer/gunner: Walter Beales
10 Pfalz D.III fighter Destroyed

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e "William Lewis Wells". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  2. ^ "No. 28482". The London Gazette. 4 April 1911. p. 2710.
  3. ^ "No. 29111". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 March 1915. p. 2954.
  4. ^ "No. 29783". The London Gazette. 13 October 1916. p. 9863.
  5. ^ "No. 29787". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 October 1916. p. 10037. Note: Such appointment usually approximately coincides with completion of flight training.
  6. ^ "No. 30170". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 July 1917. p. 6781.
  7. ^ "No. 30293". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 September 1917. p. 9730.
  8. ^ "No. 30618". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 April 1918. p. 4283.
  9. ^ "No. 30681". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 May 1918. p. 5704.
  10. ^ "No. 30761". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1918. p. 7401.
  11. ^ "Casualty Details: Wells, William Lewis". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.