Ronald Sykes joined the Royal Naval Air Service in April 1917. In September 1917, he was assigned to Roy Brown's flight in 9 Naval Squadron. On 20 September 1917, he scored his first victory but was wounded when his Sopwith Camel was shot down near St. Pierre Capelle by Paul Bäumer of Jasta Boelcke. Sykes escaped capture by swimming the Yser River. Reassigned to 3 Naval Squadron in March 1918, he scored his second victory while serving under Raymond Collishaw. Joining 201 Squadron in August 1918, he scored four more victories by the end of the war. In 1919, while serving with the Royal Air Force in Russia, Sykes was captured when his Camel crashed in a lake near Archangel. He regained his freedom the following year in an exchange of prisoners.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
"Lieut. (A./Capt.) Ronald Sykes, 201
An excellent patrol leader, who displayed marked gallantry on 27th September. While engaged in dropping bombs on enemy infantry in a sunken road he was attacked by four enemy aeroplanes. Out-manoeuvring them, he retired west. As soon as the hostile aeroplanes had withdrawn, he returned and fired a number of rounds into the infantry at 200 feet, causing many casualties. He then dived on another party of fifteen, who became so demoralised that they surrendered to one of our men."