Soon after he arrived in London aboard the Malwa on 7 September 1915, Robert Alexander Little, Australia's highest scoring ace, joined the Royal Naval Air Service. He received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 1958 on an L. & P. biplane at London & Provincial School, Hendon on 27 October 1915. Posted to Dunkirk in late June 1916, he flew the Bristol Scout and the Sopwith 1½ Strutter and participated in several bombing missions before joining 8 Naval Squadron after its arrival in France on 26 October 1916. Scoring his first four victories flying the Sopwith Pup, his squadron was re-equipped with Sopwith Triplanes in the spring of 1917. With this aircraft, Little scored 24 victories before his Triplane was replaced with a Sopwith Camel. By March 1918, Little joined Raymond Collishaw's 3 Naval Squadron (later 203 Squadron) as a flight commander. On 21 April 1918, he was shot down by Friedrich Ehmann but managed to land safely behind British lines. The following month, he was shot down and killed in combat with a Gotha bomber on a night raid.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
Flight Sub-Lieut. Robert Alexander Little, R.N.A.S.
For conspicuous bravery in successfully attacking and bringing down hostile machines on several occasions. On 11th November, 1916, he attacked and brought down a hostile machine in flames. On 12th December, 1916, he attacked a German machine at a range of 50 yards; this machine was brought down in a nose-dive. On 20th December, 1916, he dived at a hostile machine, and opened fire at 25 yards range; the observer was seen to fall down inside the machine, which went down in a spinning nose-dive. On 1st January, 1917, he attacked an enemy scout, which turned over on its back and came down completely out of control.
Flt.-Lieut. Robert Alexander Little, D.S.C., R.N.A.S.
For exceptional daring and skill in aerial fighting on many occasions, of which the following are examples:—
On the 28th April, 1917, he destroyed an Aviatik; on the 29th April he shot down a hostile scout, which crashed. On the 30th April, with three other machines he went up after hostile machines and saw a big fight going on between fighter escorts and hostile aircraft. Flt.-Lieut. Little attacked one at fifty yards range, and brought it down out of control. A few minutes later he attacked a red scout with a larger machine than the rest. This machine was handled with great skill, but by clever manoeuvring Flt. Lieut. Little got into a good position and shot it down out of control.
For gallantry in action and for exceptional skill and daring in aerial combats. Since the 9th May, 1917, besides having driven off numerous artillery aeroplanes and damaged six hostile machines, he has destroyed six others. On the 26th June, 1917, an Aviatik being seen from the aerodrome he went up to attack it. He engaged it and fired a burst at close range, and the enemy machine stalled and went down in flames.
Flt. Lieut. (Act. Flt. Cdr.) Robert Alexander Little, D.S.O., D.S.C., R.N.A.S.
For exceptional gallantry and skill in aerial fighting.
On 16th July, 1917, he observed two Aviatiks flying low over the lines. He dived on the nearest one, firing a long, burst at very close range. The enemy machine dived straight away, and Flt. Lieut. Little followed him closely down to 500 ft., the enemy machine falling out of control.
On 20th July, 1917, he attacked a D.F.W. After a short fight, the enemy machine dived vertically. Its tail plane seemed to crumple up, and it was completely wrecked.
On 22nd July, 1917, he attacked a D.F.W. Aviatik, and brought it down completely out of control.
On 27th July, 1917, in company with another pilot, he attacked an Aviatik. After each had fired about twenty rounds, the enemy machine began to spin downwards. Flt. Lieut. Little got close to it, and observed both the occupants lying back in the cock-pits, as if dead. The machine fell behind the enemy's lines, and was wrecked.
Flt. Lieut. Little has shown remarkable courage and boldness in attacking enemy machines.