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Today in History

Name: John Herbert Towne Letts
Military Cross (MC) John Herbert Towne Letts
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Units: 27, 48, 64, 87
Victories: 13
Born: 10 June 1897
Place of Birth: Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England
Died: 11 October 1918 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: Belle Vue aerodrome, France
Cemetery: Bac-Du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleulval, Pas de Calais, France
Plot VI Row A Grave 30
The only child of Walter John and Charlotte Helen (Robertson) Letts, John Herbert Towne Letts was educated at Aldeburgh Lodge, Suffolk, Roydon Hall, Norfolk and at Lancing College where he reached the Sixth Form and was a house captain and a member of school's football, track and swimming teams. After training at Sandhurst, Letts was gazetted to the Lincolnshire Regiment and commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant on 26 January 1916. The same day, he was sent to pilot training with No. 1 Reserve Squadron at Gosport. 2nd Lieutenant Letts received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 2618 on a Maurice Farman biplane at Military School, Farnborough on 24 March 1916. Promoted to Flying Officer and seconded to the Royal Flying Corps on 4 May 1916, he joined 27 Squadron in France on the 15 June 1916 where he gained experience flying the Martinsyde Elephant. Invalided home with knee trouble on 11 August, he was posted to 47 Reserve Squadron as an instructor at Waddington on 19 October 1916. He was found fit for active service on 17 January 1917 and joined 48 Squadron before it deployed to France in March 1917. With this unit he was promoted to Captain and Flight Commander after his second victory. In total, Captain Letts downed thirteen enemy machines flying the Bristol Fighter. Four days after scoring his final victory, he returned to England and was appointed Testing Instructor at the Aeroplane Experimental Station at Martlesham Heath. On 20 October 1917, he was posted to the School of Air Fighting as Group Commanding Instructor. Returning to France on 10 October 1918, Captain Letts was killed the following day when his plane crashed moments after take-off from the Belle Vue aerodrome.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Military Cross (MC)
2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) John Herbert Towne Letts, Linc. R. and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He attacked four large two-seaters, driving two down out of control and forcing the remaining two down. He has helped to destroy eight machines, and throughout has set a splendid example.
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 09 Apr 1917 p.m. 48 Bristol Fighter 1 Albatros D.III (OOC) 7 E of Arras
2 09 Apr 1917 p.m. 48 Bristol Fighter 1 Albatros D.III (OOC) 7 E of Arras
3 04 May 1917 1615 48 Bristol F.2b (A3350) 2 C (DES) 8 Pelves
4 11 May 1917 1245 48 Bristol F.2b (A7104) 3 Albatros D.III (OOC) 9 Biache-Dury
5 12 May 1917 0830 48 Bristol F.2b (A7106) 3 Albatros D.III (OOC) Beaumont
6 12 May 1917 1430 48 Bristol F.2b (A7106) 4 Albatros D.III (OOC) Izel
7 24 May 1917 1540 48 Bristol F.2b (A3350) 4 C (OOC) Vitry
8 26 May 1917 1945 48 Bristol F.2b (A7106) 5 Albatros D.III (OOC) 10 Cantin Palleul
9 05 Jun 1917 0725 48 Bristol F.2b (A7106) 3 C (OOC) Riencourt-Cagnicourt
10 17 Aug 1917 1100 48 Bristol F.2b (A7219) 3 Albatros D.V (DES) 11 E of Nieuport
11 04 Sep 1917 1900 48 Bristol F.2b (A7219) 6 Albatros D.V (DES) Ghistelles
12 04 Sep 1917 1900 48 Bristol F.2b (A7219) 6 Albatros D.V (DES) Ghistelles
13 15 Sep 1917 1915 48 Bristol F.2b (B1117) 6 C (DES) NE Dixmude

1 Observer Lt H G Collins
2 Observer 2Lt L Speller
3 Observer 2Lt J Jameson
4 Observer Lt Laurence Allen
5 Observer Lt C A Malcomson
6 Observer 2Lt J Frost
7 Shared with Capt Alan Wilkinson & 2Lt Laurence Allen
8 Shared with 2Lt H Smither & AM2 V Reed
9 Shared with 2Lt H Smither & AM2 Rutherford (A3350)
10 Shared with 2Lt H Smither & 2Lt J Jameson (A7109)
11 Shared with 2Lt A C Simpson & 2Lt L H Tanner (A7150)
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