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Today in History

Name: Oliver Campbell Bryson
Military Cross (MC)
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Oliver Campbell Bryson
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Unit: 19
Victories: 12
Born: 18 August 1896
Place of Birth: Barnt Green, Worcestershire, England
Died: 27 March 1977
Place of Death: Guildford, Surrey, England
Oliver Campbell Bryson was the second son of George Alexander Bryson, a hardware merchant from Birmingham, and his wife Edith Frances (Unite), who was the daughter of a silversmith.

Bryson was educated at Lickey Hills Preparatory School and Uppingham School before attending Trinity College, Cambridge. When the war began, Bryson joined the Dorset Yeomanry (Queen's Own), receiving a commission in April 1915. He was wounded in the cavalry charge against Turkish and Senussi forces in the Egyptian Western Desert at Agagia on 26 February 1916. After recovering from his wounds, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and began training in November 1916.

2nd Lieutenant Bryson received Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate 4284 on 26 December 1916 and was posted to 51 Reserve Squadron at Wye aerodrome. Whilst flying with a passenger on 15 March 1917, Bryson's Avro 504A (A417) sideslipped and crashed.  Having escaped the burning wreckage, he returned to pull 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Edmund Hillebrandt from the flames. For his actions that day, Bryson was awarded the Albert Medal* for lifesaving. A week after the crash, Hillebrandt died from his injuries on 22 March 1917.

In the summer of 1917, Bryson was posted to 19 Squadron in France. With this unit, he scored 12 victories and earned the Military Cross. For service in Russia in 1919, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Post-war, Bryson served on the North West Frontier of India as commander of 5 Squadron in 1930 and was awarded a Bar to his DFC in 1931. He served as commanding officer of 214 Squadron in 1937, and after his promotion to Group Captain, he was appointed Station Commander of RAF Scampton in 1939. He retired from the Royal Air Force in 1946.

* Awarding the Albert Medal was discontinued in 1971. Living recipients were invited to exchange their medals for the George Cross. Of 64 eligible recipients, 49 made the exchange.

See WO 374/10426
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Oliver Campbell Bryson with his American wife, Mildred Cecile (Allen)

Albert Medal (AM)
   The KING was pleased, at Buckingham Palace, on Wednesday, the 9th instant, to present to Captain Oliver Campbell Bryson, Flight Commander, Royal Flying Corps, the Albert Medal, which was awarded by His Majesty in recognition of his gallantry in endeavouring to save life in March last. The circumstances are as follows: —
   On the 15th March, 1917, Captain (then Lieutenant, Bryson, with Second Lieutenant Hillebrandt as passenger, was piloting an aeroplane at Wye Aerodrome when, owing to a sideslip, the machine crashed to the ground and burst into flames. On disentangling himself from the burning wreckage Captain Bryson at once went back into the flames, dragged Lieutenant Hillebrandt from the machine, and, notwithstanding his own injuries, which were undoubtedly aggravated by his gallant efforts to rescue his brother officer from the fire, endeavoured to extinguish the fire on Lieutenant Hillebrandt's clothing.
   Lieutenant Hillebrandt succumbed to his injuries a few days later.
Military Cross (MC)
Lt. (T./Capt.) Oliver Campbell Bryson, Yeo. and R.F.C.
   For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He made several difficult fligihts in most unfavourable weather, and destroyed several hostile machines. He proved himself a determined and undaunted leader, and set a splendid example of courage on all occasions.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Flight Lieutenant Oliver Campbell Bryson, M.C., A.M. (Dor. Yeo.).
   Has commanded a Squadron of heavy bombing machines in North Russia during the whole of the summer of 1919, during which period he carried out a large number of successful raids on the enemy's territory.
   During the operations on the Dwina in August, and on the Pinega in September, 1919, he flew a Snipe machine with exceptional skill and daring. A very gallant officer he has proved himself during these exceptionally difficult aerial operations.
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 25 Aug 1917 1835 19 SPAD (B3569) C (OOC) NW of Houthoulst Wood
2 25 Sep 1917 1815 19 SPAD (B3646) Albatros D.III (DES) SE of Houthem
3 24 Oct 1917 0850 19 SPAD (A6780) Albatros D.III (OOC) NNE of Menin
4 31 Oct 1917 0950 19 SPAD (A6780) Albatros D.V (OOC) S of Westroosebeke
5 12 Nov 1917 1020 19 SPAD (A6780) Albatros D.V (OOC) E of Gheluwe
6 29 Nov 1917 1245 19 SPAD (A6780) Albatros D.V (OOC) 1 E of Becelaere
7 06 Dec 1917 1542 19 SPAD (A6780) C (OOC) 2 E of Roulers
8 08 Dec 1917 1335 19 SPAD (A6780) Rumpler C (OOC) 3 Tenbrielen-Wervicq
9 18 Dec 1917 1035 19 SPAD (A6802) C (OOC) 4 Comines
10 19 Dec 1917 1130 19 SPAD (A6780) C (DES) 4 W of Passchendaele
11 22 Dec 1917 1420 19 SPAD (A6780) Albatros D.III (DESF) 5 S of Quesnoy
12 08 Mar 1918 1110 19 Sopwith Dolphin (C3837) Albatros D.V (DES) Gheluvelt

1 Shared with Lt Norman William Hustings (B1660), Capt G W Taylor (B6805)
2 Shared with Lt Arthur Fairclough (B6836), Lt R G Holt (B6802), Lt Eric Olivier (A6714)
3 Shared with Lt Arthur Fairclough (B3528), Capt G W Taylor (B6805)
4 Shared with Lt Arthur Fairclough (B3528)
5 Shared with Lt E J Blyth (B3563), Lt Eric Olivier (A6714), Lt Arthur Fairclough (B6802), Capt G W Taylor (B6805), Maj Albert Carter (A8836), Lt H E Galer (A8834)
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