Reginald Warneford was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the First World War
The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 29189, Page: 5635, reads:
“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Flight Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Alexander John Warneford, Royal Naval Air Service, for the conspicuous act of bravery specified below: —
For most conspicuous bravery on the 7th June, 1915, when he attacked and, singlehanded, completely destroyed a Zeppelin in mid-air. This brilliant achievement was accomplished after chasing the Zeppelin from the coast of Flanders to Ghent, where he succeeded in dropping his bombs on to it from a height of only one or two hundred feet. One of these bombs caused a terrific explosion which set the Zeppelin on fire from end to end, but at the same time overturned his Aeroplane and stopped the engine. In spite of this he succeeded in landing safely in hostile country, and after 15 minutes started his engine and returned to his base without damage.”
On 17 June 1915, Warneford received the award of the Légion d’honneur from the French Army Commander in Chief, General Joffre. Following a celebratory lunch, Warneford travelled to the aerodrome at Buc in order to ferry an aircraft for delivery to the RNAS at Veurne. Having made one short test flight, he then flew a second flight, carrying an American journalist, Henry Beach Newman, as passenger. During a climb to 200 feet, the right hand wings collapsed leading to a catastrophic failure of the airframe. Accounts suggest that neither occupant was harnessed and were both thrown out of the aircraft, suffering fatal injuries. In the case of Newman, death was instantaneous.
He is buried in Brompton Cemetery in London.
He is also commemorated on the main War Memorial in Stratford-upon-Avon
His name also appears on a brass plaque that commemorates the men from King Edward VI school that lost their lives in the First World War.
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