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Today in History

Name: James Martin Child
Military Cross (MC)
Order of Leopold, Chevalier [Belgium]
Croix de Guerre [Belgium]
James Child
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 4, 19, 84
Victories: 8
Born: 20 October 1894
Place of Birth: Leytonstone, Essex, England
Died: 23 August 1918
Place of Death: Turnberry, Ayreshire, Scotland
Cemetery: Chingford Mount Cemetery, London, England Image
James Martin Child, brother of Jack Escott Child, was the son of Tylney Harris and Constance Octavio (Oxley) Child. He moved to Canada where he worked in banking and mining. When the war began, he enlisted in the Canadian militia but was unable to deploy with the Canadian contigents and returned to England at his own expense. He served with the Manchester Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. 2nd Lieutenant Child received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 2377 on 31 January 1916. After serving with 4 Squadron, he was posted to 19 Squadron in July 1916. With this unit Child scored three victories flying SPADs in 1917. Later that year, he joined 84 Squadron as a captain and downed five more enemy aircraft flying the S.E.5a. In February 1918, he returned to England and whilst serving as an instructor at Turnberry.

When death finally claimed James Child, it was in somewhat bizarre circumstances. At about 5.30 p.m. on 23 August 1918, a DH9 flown by 2nd Lieutenant Archibald McFarlan, with Flight Cadet Andrew Anderson Hepburn acting as observer, collided in mid-air with another aircraft over Drakemyre, causing both aircraft to crash and killing the pair outright. A report in the Daily Record (Glasgow) on 29 August 1918 stated: "Their machine collided at a considerable height with another one, the occupant of which had a miraculous escape." The pilot of the second aircraft survived the impact and Child was on hand to help rescue him from the wreckage. A good deed done, he then set off on his motorcycle to return to Turnberry, but while riding along the Kirkoswald Road at a little after 6.20 p.m. he had an accident. The Court of Enquiry that followed recorded that “the cause of the accident was due to the Pilot being blinded by dust by a passing lorry, thus preventing him from seeing the tender.” A fractured skull killed him instantly.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Military Cross (MC)
Lt. (T./Capt.) James Martin Child, Manch. R. and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While leading a patrol he encountered four enemy scouts, one of which he destroyed. On another occasion he attacked one of two enemy two-seater machines which he encountered over the enemy's lines. He disabled the machine, and skilfully turned it towards our lines, where the enemy pilot was forced to land and he and his observer were taken prisoner. On another occasion he attacked five enemy scouts, one of which he destroyed. He showed the greatest judgment and determination.
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 23 Apr 1917 1520 19 SPAD VII (B1537) Albatros C (DES) NW of Douai
2 25 May 1917 0645 19 SPAD VII (B1537) Albatros D.III (OOC) W of Douai
3 07 Jun 1917 0915 19 SPAD (B3502) DFW C (DES) SW of Menin
4 21 Oct 1917 0825 84 S.E.5a (B562) Albatros D.III (OOC) Gheluvelt
5 08 Nov 1917 1415 84 S.E.5a (B562) Albatros D.V (OOC) 1 E of Poelcapelle
6 22 Nov 1917 1145 84 S.E.5a (B562) Albatros D.V (DES) NE of Bourlon Wood
7 22 Nov 1917 1150 84 S.E.5a (B562) DFW C (CAP) Flesquires
8 30 Nov 1917 1230 84 S.E.5a (B562) Albatros D.V (DES) Malincourt

1 Shared with Lt Frederic Brown
Guttman, Jon. SPAD VII Aces of World War 1. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2001
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