'Flight Fantastic' page 59

Captain D'Urban Victor Armstrong, DFC, 1897-1918.

5 victories, mentioned in dispatches, test pilot, instructor, and greatest exponent of the Sopwith F.1 Camel.

In the group photo (taken at Hainault) DVA is standing at centre, wearing goggles. His Camel is having a new tail-skid fitted. 

The memorabilia shown below include a Parabellum from an enemy Gotha shot down by DVA.

Today, 13 November, marks the anniversary of Captain Armstrong's death. In collaboration with my colleague Rob Fletcher I am working on a fitting tribute to his skill and courage which we hope to produce to mark his centenary in 2018.

In 1917 DVA helped to pioneer home defence tactics hastily marshalled against the onslaughts of enemy bombers which had started to invade the South-East as far as London. In 1918 he was at the leading edge of the dangerous new art of offensive night fighting, flying intruder missions and intercepting German night-bombers in support of ground troops on the Western Front. His skills were such that he was several times deployed instructing other pilots including many newly arrived from the US.

But before that, his first introduction to the war in the air was with the famed No. 60 Squadron in 1916. It's astonishing to remember that they were initially equipped with Morane-Saulniers which manoeuvred by means of wing-warping. The squadron fought right through the Battle of the Somme, July to November 1916, a centenary that we commemorate this year. At the end of the Somme No. 60 Squadron was reduced to five operational pilots and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by a grateful French Government.

To be continued ...