Archive Report: 1914 - 1918Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
Squadron Leader James Williamson MBE: Anti Zeppelin Pilot
James Colney Williamson was born at Oswestry on 17 April 1898. After education at Oswestry Grammar School. he joined the Artists’ Rifles in February 1916 and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in May. Following a course at No. 1 School of Aeronautics, Oxford, he went to Wyton Aerodrome in September 1916 for flying training. After conversion to FE2bs at Dover early in 1917 he joined his first squadron, 38 Squadron, at Buckminster for night anti-Zeppelin patrols.
He was posted to 100 Squadron at Ochey. France, in January 1918 and carried out 31 night raids until the night of 17/18 May when his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. By a combination of skill and good luck, 2/Lt Williamson landed the stricken FE2B safely in a forest clearing where an inspection revealed that its engine was beyond repair.
With his observer. Lt. I. F. Penruddocke. he set fire to the aircraft to prevent it falling into enemy hands - unfortunately the ﬁre revealed their position to enemy troops and they were captured. The remainder of the squadron, returning to Ochey, saw the fire and when Williamson 3 Penruddocke failed to return assumed that they had been killed in the crash - however, next morning a German aircraft dropped a message at Ochey aerodrome advising that the crew were safe.
Williamson and Penruddocke escaped twice during the next few weeks and were finally sent to Danholm. a camp for difficult prisoners, where they remained until repatriated in December 1918.
‘Willie ' Williamson remained in the RAF on flying duties until 1926 when he left due to family commitments. Rejoining in 1935 he was appointed to Balloon Command. Stanmore. In 1940 he went to Kenya for flying instruction duties and later to South Africa where he was promoted to Squadron Leader and made an MBE.
From 1944 he was on Air Attaches' Staffs in Cairo, Baghdad and Ankara. In 1947 he carried out Administrative duties at Lyneham and spent his last 4 years service in the Air Ministry before retiring in 1953.
Since leaving the RAF he has been a Parish, District and County Councillor in Essex. As of August 21017 he still lives in Essex with his wife Veronica and is an active member of the Magic Circle and the Maldon Operatic Society, and maintains contact with his old squadron.
SY 2017-08-23 Source: EBay listing
Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling WW1 material include:
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