In 1917, Patrick Sarsfield Manley, the son of Edward and Margaret Manley of Ontario, graduated from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York and joined the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. After flight training at Camp Rathbun, Deseranto, Ontario, he joined the 35th Training Squadron at Port Meadow, Oxford, England and was promoted to temporary 2nd Lieutenant (on probation) on 19 December 1917. Posted to France with 62 Squadron on 21 July 1918, he and his gunner, Sgt. George Frederick Hines, scored five victories in September 1918. They were shot down and captured by the Germans on 27 September. Both men were repatriated when the war ended.
Port Meadow Aerodrome
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, 2 November 1952, page 42
Letter to Niagara University - 22 February 1918
Dear Father and all the boys at N.U. -
Knowing that you are interested in all N.U. boys, I write for the last time on this side of the water. I am off for the war, as they say, and somehow feel singularly content, though a little sad from the parting from home and all that it means to me.
We are on board ship, ready to sail. My very chance to again touch the soil of North America is very uncertain. I am going over there as a soldier, a Catholic one, to fight for all I love and respect. Of course, I hope to return - who doesn't? - but if God wills, I am happy to die; for I am going to play the game as I learned to play other games at N.U., to win always, but never dishonorably. Also, the habits so well drilled into me at N.U. will never desert me, and how can I go wrong, having that training to back me up?
I want to thank you, Father, for all the kindness to me, for the help N.U. has given me in all things and which I have illy repaid. 'Tis true I have never realized what an education at a real Catholic school meant until now. The army is not a heaven of dreams by any means. I have received some severe jolts to my simple faith in the goodness of all men since I have been in it.
I fear I ramble. I want to say good-bye to all. If you would just remember me in your prayers occasionally, I will be thankful. I wish N.U., and that includes everybody, all success in all things.
May I say "Au Revoir."
Letter to Niagara University - 15 March 1918
35th Training Squadron, R.F.C.,
Port Meadow, Oxford, England
March 15, 1918
Dear Father -
Well, Father, it will interest you to know that if all goes well, I shall be in France very soon. I am anxious to see how I shall act in the "big show;" whether the Huns have anything to show me. I have a little to repay them for — a few sleepless nights during the air raids on London. I hope to repay them many times over. They come over here and kill our women and children; then they whine when we bomb their towns. They are not good sportsmen, do you think? They are not ready to take what they give.
I am feeling very well and, of course, am flying a lot. Have the very best plane there is, I guess. It is a two-seater fighter, very strong and fast, will stand a lot of throwing about. My confidence in this type would be jarred somewhat if I allowed myself to think — this is taboo. Was at the 'drome today, when one of the best pilots looped three times and on his third loop pulled the bally machine apart. Wings came off, the engine is sunken about four feet in the ground. It caught fire, of course; the pilot and the passenger didn't have a show. Tonight at the mess everything was as usual. A stranger would never guess that the most popular member of our mess had been done for, just two hours previous — the same old chatter, the same kidding and joking, and nothing sad or morbid. It wasn't heartlessness or carelessness - just a mere disregard for things like that. We can't think about them. Personally, it never bothered me. I guess I must be used to it all. I was shooting clay pigeons at the time, saw the loops and result, but went on shooting, and other machines kept ascending and flying about the same as always. My only thought was a little prayer that God might have pity on them and a greater resolve to be prepared. I never think of dying or being killed, but just try to be always prepared, and by that method I find that I never worry. Quite a change in me, for I never saw a person killed before joining the R.F.C., and I always fancied that I'd nearly be frozen with horror of it. God has been so good to me and has given my courage a big increase. If you ever hear of me "going west," Father, just say a little prayer for my soul and say, "that I gave my soul to God and my life for my country."
I wish you all success in your great work and also to N.U. I send my love to her and my regards to all the faculty. Do ask them to pray for me. Wasn't that a wonderful privilege of N.U.'s that one of her sons was the first to die for his country. He surely is in heaven.
Pardon the scrawl, just consider the spirit in which I write.
"Cheerio," goodnight Father.
Missing in Action Letter - 30 September 1918
62 Sqd. R.A.F.
It is with very deep regret that I inform you that your son, Lt. P.S. Manley was reported missing from an offensive patrol over the enemy's lines on Friday last the 27th inst.
He was flying one of a formation of machines from this squadron taking part in the patrol and during an engagement with enemy machines was last seen diving at one of them.
In the excitement of the fight his machine was lost sight of and not seen again. We have no idea therefore what caused him to go down.
We sincerely hope that only his machine was damaged and he landed unhurt.
We shall apply for permission to drop a message asking for news of him and if it is replied to I will let you know at once.
Lt. Manley was an extraordinary good pilot, one of the best and most reliable in the squadron.
He and his observer Sergt. G. F. Hines had already shot down five enemy machines.
His loss is keenly felt by us all, not only because of the excellent way he did his work but also because of the respect and liking everyone had for him, Officers and men alike.