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Archive Report: 1914 - 1918
Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
63 Squadron crest
29.01.1918 63 Squadron, Lt. Sydney Esmond O’Hanlon Mid. MC

Operation: Training

Date: 29th January 1918 (Tuesday)

Unit: No. 63, 65, 4, Squadrons

Type: Possibly Sopwith Pup?

Serial: Not known

Code: Not known

Base: RFC Joyce Green, Dartford, Kent.

Location: Not known

Pilot: Lt. Sydney Esmond O’Hanlon MiD. MC. RFC Age 23. Killed

We are indebted to George Cogswell where the majority of this information has come from (see links). Are you able to assist with this page, perhaps providing further information and or any photographs?


Whilst instructing on the 29th January 1918, another aircraft, that had gone out of control, hit Lt O'Hanlon's machine and he was seriously injured. He died later on the 3rd February.

Memorial plaque (courtesy Mike Berrell) Also shown, WW1 Memorial (courtesy George Cogswell)

What is known about Lt. Sidney E. O’Hanlon: (information provided by George Cogswell - see acknowledgements)

Born on the 31st August 1894. Member of Hale Congregational Church. After leaving school, he studied wireless telegraphy.

Presumably, he enlisted at the outbreak of war, or very soon afterwards, as it is reported that at the end of 1914, he went the Morfa Camp at Conway for training as a machine gunner with the Lancashire Fusiliers, later transferring to the RFC. The first date on his RAF record is the 30th May 1916 when he was appointed as Flying Officer and detailed to 4 Squadron Home Establishment.

Communiqué No. 56 (29th September - 8th October 1916) - During the period 2nd - 6th October, the weather was continually unfavourable for aerial operations, strong westerly and south-westerly wind prevailing and on the majority of days heavy rain falling. In spite of this considerable amount of work was accomplished. 128 targets were dealt with by aeroplanes in co-operation with the artillery, more than 100 photographs were taken and nearly two tons of bombs were dropped on various points of importance in the enemy's lines.

On the 5th October, by means of the zone call, shrapnel fire was brought to bear on the enemy's trenches north of Thiepval within two minutes of the call being sent down by Lt. Dickie and Lt. O'Hanlon of 4 squadron. The 13th Seige Battery (RGA) employing 9.2 inch howitzers and co-operating with Captain Walsr of 4 squadron, in very difficult weather conditions, succeeded in destroying one pit and setting fire to ammunition.

Communiqué No. 58 (14th - 22nd October 1916) - In spite of unfavourable weather conditions on the 14th October, some bombing was carried out by the 4th and 5th Brigades and some successful contact patrol work was accomplished. Lt. Dickie and Lt. O'Hanlon of 4 squadron, reported accurately on the position of infantry at Schwaben and Stuff Redoubts.

Right: The memorial from Wadham House School (now owned privately by someone in the Isle Of Man)

Communiqué No. 60 (28th October - 5th November 1916) - There were very strong winds on the 3rd November which greatly handicapped aerial operations. 120 targets were engaged with aeroplane and kite balloon observation, many direct hits were obtained on emplacements and batteries were silenced. A considerable amount of wire cutting and trench registration was successfully accomplished.      The 65th Seige Battery (RGA), employing 12 inch howitzers, with observation by Lt. Gabell and Lt. Pemberton of 5 squadron, demolished all four pits and one hostile battery and damaged three pits in other batteries. Lt. Long and Lt. O'Hanlon of 4 squadron, sent zone call for an infantry target. 60 - pounder shrapnel fire caused many casualties. These two officers also informed 17th Divisional Artillery of a party of men working on a strong point. Again shrapnel fire was turned onto them and the party moved. The artillery was switched to the new point and many casualties were caused in the working party. 

The 08/09/1916 edition of the local newspaper reports on his award of the Military Cross. It also states that he is the son of the late W. O'Hanlon, West Thorpe, Bowdon. RAF record states that they resided at "Oak Dell", Hale.

From Reading, he moved to RAF Vendrome on the 25th March 1917 and Posted to 65 squadron.

He was involved in many sorties at the front and later returned to the UK. For some reason he was declared as unfit on the 13th June 1917 - injury perhaps? Transferred to 63 Training Squadron on the 15th July 1917 as an Assistant Instructor. On the 20th November 1917 he was declared as Fit for Artillery spotting work or Ferry but must not fly above 4,000 feet.                                                

Left: War Memorial at Manchester Crematorium (courtesy Mike Berrell)

Mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the Military Cross.

He attended Wadham House School, Hale after which he went to The Leys School, Cambridge where he started as a boarder in the autumn of 1908 and left in 1912. The Leys was established as a Methodist boarding school in 1875 and took most of its pupils from the Methodist commercial and manufacturing world of Yorkshire and the North-West. John Harding from The Leys School sent me this information and went on to say that he was described as being too small to be successful in team games. However, in 1911 he did shoot in the School VIII at Bisley, so must have been a good shot.

Burial details:

The local newspaper reported that he was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium - the service being conducted by the Headmaster of the Leys School - the Rev. W.T.A. Barber DD.

Lt. Sydney Esmond O’Hanlon. MiD. MC. Manchester Crematorium. Son of William Sydney and Isabel O'Hanlon (née Mills), of Windyridge Farm, Dean Row, Wilmslow, Cheshire. Born at Hale, Cheshire, England. Any further details, or relatives who would like to contact us, we would be very grateful.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this Pilot. With thanks to Mike Berrell for photographs of his memorial - taken at Altrincham (Hale) Cemetery, Cheshire in February 2014. We are indebted to George Cogswell where the majority of this information has come from. George runs the terrific websites Trafford War Dead, Hayfield War Dead and Greater Manchester Blitz Victims. Links available here and on our links pages. John Harding from ‘Leys School’ for additional information. Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling WW1 material include: Dunnigan, James F. (2003). How to Make War: A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Warfare in the Twenty-first Century. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-060090-12-8.Durkota, Allen; Darcey, Thomas; Kulikov, Victor (1995). The Imperial Russian Air Service: Famous Pilots and Aircraft of World War I. Mountain View: Flying Machines Press. ISBN 978-0-060090-12-8.Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W.; Guest, Russell (1993). Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914–1918. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1.Franks, Norman (2005). Sopwith Pup Aces of World War I. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-841768-86-1.Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell; Alegi, Gregory (1997). Above the War Fronts: The British Two-seater Bomber Pilot and Observer Aces, the British Two-seater Fighter Observer Aces, and the Belgian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Fighter Aces, 1914–1918. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-898697-56-5.Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W. (1992). Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914–1918. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-54-0.Guttman, Jon (2009). Pusher Aces of World War 1. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-846034-17-6.Guttman, Jon (2001). Spad VII Aces of World War I: Volume 39 of Aircraft of the Aces. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-841762-22-7.Kulikov, Victor (2013). Russian Aces of World War 1: Aircraft of the Aces. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-780960-61-6.Newton, Dennis (1996). Australian Air Aces: Australian Fighter Pilots in Combat. Motorbooks International. ISBN 978-1-875671-25-0.Pieters, Walter M. (1998). Above Flanders Fields: A Complete Record of the Belgian Fighter Pilots and Their Units During the Great War. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-898697-83-1.Shores, Christopher (2001). British and Empire Aces of World War I. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-377-4.Shores, Christopher; Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell (1990). Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.Shores, Christopher; Franks, Norman; Guest, Russell (1996). Above the Trenches Supplement: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces. Oxford: Grub Street. ISBN 978-1-898697-39-8., Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 24 May 2014, 19:56

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