top of page
  • Admin

Ypres Salient Airmen

Updated: Oct 29, 2023


Over the many years I have visited the Ypres Salient and the many cemeteries, I have taken note of the graves of the men from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and after 1 April 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF), and also those of the German Army Air Service.

IWM Q 12018 Pilots and observers studying maps in front of an Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.8. Poperinghe Aerodrome, 12 April 1918
IWM Q 12018 Pilots and observers studying maps in front of an Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.8. Poperinghe Aerodrome, 12 April 1918

The air war between 1914 to 1918 claimed eight thousand casualties on the Allied side either shot down and killed, taken prisoner, or wounded in action. The accompanying Blogs ‘Airmen – RFC/RAF’, ‘Airmen - German’ and ‘Air Men – Balloonatics’ provide you with more information about the men buried in each cemetery as well as a history of the RFC and the German Air Service.

My research focuses on British casualties buried within the Ypres Salient as well as German. On the British side, I have not just focused on the pilots but I have also included some of the men who did the mundane tasks, including those from the Kite Balloon Wing of the RFC the ‘Balloonatics’. I have also included men who did not die as a result of enemy action but as a result of accidents in the air. The German casualties buried within the Salient are exclusively air crew killed in action.

I have not included all the British dead buried or commemorated in the Salient, that is an extensive task. The ‘Sources and Further Information’ at the end of this Blog will provide you with more detailed reading. Lijssenthoek Cemetery, for example, has over one hundred British RFC/RAF burials and I have only selected a sample of the men buried at that cemetery. I have also included high profile British casualties from the cemetery at Bailleul. Although not within the Salient, Bailleul was of importance to the RFC with three aerodromes located here that supported the British Second Army in defending the Ypres Salient and in the later offensives.

Air action was a constant partner of the ground war from the opening days of the war on the Western Front. From these early days the airman’s lot was different and this is reflected in the relatively small number of casualties versus those sustained in the ground war. We should not lose sight of the fact that the air services were relatively small, compact, full of highly trained men, for whom losses had an often devasting impact. This sense of loss was directed into greater comradeship and purpose, something that was prevalent on both sides of the conflict and resulted in the men rising above the daily fear of a sudden and painful death to focus on the job in hand.

Sources and Further Reading:

· Airmen Died in the Great War, 1914-1918, A Roll of Honour, Chris Hobson

· The Sky Their Battlefield, Trevor Henshaw

· Above The Lines, A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces of the German Air Service, Naval Aire Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914-1918, Norman L.R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey & Russell Guest

· Above The Trenches, A complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of The British Empire Air Forces 1915-1920, Christopher Shores, Norman Franks & Russell Guest

· Britain’s Forgotten Fighters of the First World War, Paul R. Hare

· The Royal Aircraft Factory, Paul R. Hare

· The Jasta Pilots: Detailed Listings and Histories, August 1916 – November 1918, Norman Franks, Frank Bailey, & Rick Duiven

· Pioneers of Aerial Combat, Air Battles of the First World War, Michael Foley

· Airfields & Airmen, Ypres, Mike O’Connor

· Memoirs of an Old Balloonatic, Goderic Hodges

· The Royal Flying Corps and The Royal Air Force, Western Front Association

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page