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Today in History




Name: Francis John Williamson Mellersh
Air Force Cross (AFC) Francis Mellersh
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Air Force
Units: 9N (RNAS)
209 (RAF)
Victories: 5
Born: 22 September 1898
Place of Birth: Esher, Surrey
Died: 25 May 1955 Killed In Flying Accident
Place of Death: West Itchenor, West Sussex
 
 
In 1916, Francis John Williamson Mellersh joined the Royal Naval Air Service. He received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 4216 on a Grahame-White biplane at Royal Naval Air Station, Chingford on 8 February 1917. Posted to 9 Naval Squadron, he scored his first victory flying a Sopwith Triplane on 28 July 1917. Later that year, his squadron was re-equipped with Sopwith Camels and Mellersh scored four more victories by the end of the war. Downing a Fokker DR.I for his 4th victory on the morning of 21 April 1918, Mellersh was flying with Roy Brown's A Flight and witnessed the death of Manfred von Richthofen. When the war ended, Mellersh remained in the Royal Air Force, serving with distinction throughout World War II.

A member of the Itchenor Yacht Club, Mellersh arranged a cruise to Cherbourg with a friend on 25 May 1955. The helicopter that carried him to Itchenor hovered over a jetty as Mellersh stepped out to be greeted by his friend. As the helicopter ascended from the jetty, one of its rotors struck the mast of an adjacent yacht and it crashed. Mellersh was hit by the main rotor and his friend was hit by the tail rotor. Both men were killed instantly.

"Suddenly the Triplane did two extremely rapid flick rolls and crashed straight into the ground with full engine on... I flew right over it after it had crashed however, and saw that it was a complete wreck." Francis Mellersh, describing the crash of Manfred von Richthofen's Fokker DR.I

"Doctors reported that Richthofen had been hit by two bullets which had been fired from above and behind. They further said that in their opinion the shot could not have been fired from the ground." Francis Mellersh

Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
 
Victories
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 28 Jul 1917 1735 9N Sopwith Triplane (N5377) Aviatik C (OOC) 1 Middelkerke
2 15 Oct 1917 1230 9N Sopwith Camel (B3830) Albatros D.V (OOC) 2 S of Ostend
3 12 Apr 1918 0830 209 Sopwith Camel (D3326) Fokker DR.I (OOC) 3 Warfusée
4 21 Apr 1918 1100 209 Sopwith Camel (B6257) Fokker DR.I (DES) Cerisy
5 23 Apr 1918 1355 209 Sopwith Camel (D3329) DFW C (DES) SW of Cerisy

1 Shared with FCdr George Simpson (N5462)
2 Shared with FSL Oliver Redgate (B3818)
3 Shared with Capt Roy Brown (B7270)
 
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