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Gilbert William Mapplebeck

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Gilbert William Mapplebeck (1892-1915), early aviator

1892 Born in Liverpool

1915 August 24th. Killed. Joyce Green, near Dartford.

1915 Obituary.

The funeral took place Streatham Cemetery on Saturday of Captain Gilbert William Mapplebeck, D.S.O., of the Royal Flying Corps, the first of our flying men to fight the enemy in Flanders.

The young officer, who would have been twenty-three had he lived until last Thursday, met his death while trying a new French monoplane at Dartford. Captain Mapplebeck flew to France on August 13, last year, and was the first British airman to carry out a reconnaissance over tho enemy’s lines, and the first to drop bombs on an enemy aeroplane. He rendered valuable aid during tho retreat from Mons, and on September 29 was shot in a duel with German airmen at height of 6,000ft., but managed to reach the British lines, though he was unconscious on landing.

He was awarded the D.S.O. in the New Year Honours, and was one of three daring airmen who made a raid over the German lines on the night of March 11, the first raid attempted in the dark. Captain Mapplebeck's machine was brought down just outside Lille. Having fired and destroyed his machine, he lived for three days in a wood on the chocolate he had carried with him. After a thrilling experience, during which made his way through Holland, reading on the way the proclamation issued by the enemy to assist in his capture he reached London on April 4, and shortly afterwards returned to the front as the youngest acting flight commander.

In a message conveying the Royal sympathy to the bereaved mother. Lord Stamfordham wrote: “His Majesty knows what gallant and distinguished services he has rendered during the war, and deeply regrets that a young life of such promise should have been thus cut short."

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