On this day 100 years ago Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock was killed in action flying over the Western Front. Hear more about this extraordinary man as military aviation expert Guy Warner speaks at the 2018 WCHF about Mannock and other First World War airmen with Cork connections including Robert Smith-Barry and Lord Carbery.

Mannock was one of the most decorated Allied pilots of the First World War. He was also a complex and contradictory man. Born in 1889 to Irish parents he spent some of his childhood in India, where his father was serving in the British army. His father later abandoned Mannock’s mother and their children including Edward himself.

Mannock went out to work to help alleviate the family’s poverty and in 1914 was working in Turkey, overseeing cable-laying. When war broke out he was trapped and interned along with other Britons. After a harsh term in jail he was returned to Britain, sick and malnourished but eager to fight. Initially serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps he then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.

Coming from a poor background, and with socialist and nationalist views, Mannock was unlike most of the other, more privileged pilots and initially found it hard to fit in. However, as his confidence and flying skills improved he gained the respect of his squadron and quickly became an air ace.

Mannock’s last flight was on 26 July 1918. After attacking a German plane he was strafed by ground fire; the left wing of his plane detached and he spiralled out of control, crashing in a ball of fire. It is not known whether he jumped out or burned to death in the plane and neither his body nor his grave has ever been conclusively recovered.

Unlike some air aces, Mannock was little known in Britain. It took much lobbying by those who had served with him for Mannock to receive a posthumous VC, awarded for the nine German aircraft he shot down in June and July 1918.

 

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