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A History of 24 Squadron (1920)

Price £275.00 Sale

24 SQUADRON (1920)



by Captain A. E. ILLINGWORTH

With a Foreword by
Air Marshall Sir H. M. Trenchard

Privately Published by
As a Limited Edition of 275 copies for the Officers of 24 Squadron

A very rare original 1st edition of A History of 24 Squadron by Captain A. E Illingworth. This is one of a limited numbered edition of 275 copies, privately printed in 1920 for the members of the squadron. This copy is number 113, and It is particulalry special in that it is signed in ink on the half title page by ‘F. Greenhalgh’, one of the first members of the squadron

Flight Sergeant Frank Greenhalgh (1893-1981) joined the Royal Flying Corps in November 1914, was one of the original members of 24 Squadron, and is listed in this book in the roll of Warrant Officers and NCOs as having been with the squadron in England when it was formed. His service number was 2087, which confirms that he was one of the very earliest members of the Royal Flying Corps. His address, in Bury in Lancashire is also listed. As one of the first members of the squadron, he would undoubtedly have known Major Lanoe Hawker V.C., who was appointed as the commanding officer of 24 Squadron almost immediately after its formation.

Produced just after the end of the First World War, the book is a concise but vivid history of one of the most illustrious squadrons to serve over the Western Front in the Great War. One of the early commanders of the squadron was the great ace Major Lanoe Hawker V.C., who was shot down in single combat with the 'Red Baron', Manfred von Richthofen, in November 1916 at the end of the battle of the Somme. The squadron's other battle honours included the advance to the Hindenburg Line in the spring of 1917; the great retreat and the defence of Amiens in 1918; and the Allied counter-offensives and advances which led to the Armistice in the summer and autumn of 1918. As the squadron's final commander, Major V.A.H. Robeson M.C. proudly notes, in that year the squadron was never less than 10 men under strength, and at the end of the war were 26 men below. The book is illustrated with photographs of the DH2, DH5 and SE5A machines used by the squadron, line-ups of squadron personnel and by the superb colour paintings of aerial action executed by one of its own officers, Capt. R.H.M.S. Saundby M.C., author of Flying Colours. There is also a Roll of Honour, details of all combats fought by the squadron, the decorations which were awarded, and lists of Officers, warrant officers, ground crew and other ranks along with their addresses.

24 Squadron RFCThe squadron was the RFC’s first single seater fighter squadron, and was founded on 1 September 1915 at Hounslow Heath Aerodrome. It arrived in France equipped with D.H.2 fighters in February 1916. The DH.2 came with a reputation for spinning because it had a rotary engine "pushing" it, but after the squadron's commanding officer Major Lanoe Hawker demonstrated the recently discovered procedures for pulling out of a spin, the squadron's pilots came to appreciate the type's maneuverability. Major Hawker went on to win the V.C. and was killed in combat against Manfred Von Richthofen on 23rd November 1916. Lanoe Hawker was known as a superb fighter pilot and had seven credited victories. He was the third pilot to receive the Victoria Cross. After their epic combat, Richthofen ("The Red Baron”), described him as "the British Boelcke”. By early 1917 24 Squadron's DH.2s were outclassed by the latest German machines and they were replaced by the Airco DH.5. The DH.5 did not prove suitable as a fighter but the squadron used it in a ground-attack role. One of the first actions was during the Battle of Messines and later in the Battle of Cambrai. The DH.5 was phased out of operations and the squadron were given the SE.5a in December 1917. After a few months in the ground-attack role the squadron returned to air combat operations. By October 1918 the squadron had destroyed 200 enemy aircraft. With the armistice the squadron returned to England and was disbanded in February 1919. During the course of its wartime existence, it had 33 flying aces among its ranks.


In very good condition. The original boards show general signs of use, and a few marks. The original leather spine covering and label has been laid down on top of a new black cloth spine covering. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text, colour plates and photographs are in very good condition. With Imperial War Museum ‘withdrawn’ ink stamps to the endpapers and title page. The limited edition details (number 113) are on the last page of the book. Signed on the half title page by ‘F. Greenhalgh’ (F/Sgt Frank Greenhalgh, 24 Squadron, RFC).

Published: 1920
Blue boards, with gilt titling
Illustrated with colour plates, and b/w photographs
Dimensions: 220mm x 280mm
Pages: 104