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Today in History

Name: Harold Leslie Satchell
Harold Leslie Satchell
Country: England
Rank: Captain
Service: Royal Flying Corps
Royal Air Force
Units: 20
Victories: 8
Born: 03 April 1896
Place of Birth: Rugby, Warwickshire, England
Died: 08 June 1983
Place of Death: Charmouth, West Dorset, England
Cemetery: Lyme Regis, West Dorset, England
Flying the F.E.2d on 5 June 1917, Harold Leslie Satchell and his observer, Thomas Lewis, shot down an Albatros D.III piloted by Karl Schäfer.
Notes by Dominic Gribbin (Capt H L Satchell's grandson)

Harold Leslie Satchell born 3rd April 1896.
Home town of Rugby, Warwickshire, Great Britain.
Son of a successful local house builder.
Educated at Rugby School. One of his more authoritarian school Prefects was Rupert Brooke.

Life long fascination with all matters of engineering.

'Volunteered' by his school headmaster in 1914. Starts military career with Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 1915 transferred to Royal Engineers. Promoted to Second Lieutenant.

His fascination with engineering logically takes him via a voluntary transfer to the newly formed Royal Flying Corps in 1916 to join British Expeditionary Forces in Northern France. Passes pilot flight training conducted at Netheravon and in Norfolk during which he narrowly escapes a Courts-Marshal after buzzing the sea front (without clearance) at Hunstanton (waving at the ladies he claimed) and flying straight through Royal Navy aerial antenna cables that he drags wrapped around the aircraft's tail back to his airfield. Immediately arrested and placed under guard, his C.O. offers him the 'escape option' of volunteering for B.E.F. ops in France. The same day he gets the first train to Dover before the Military Police can arrive to take him to a military prison.

Finds himself now officially posted to 20th R.F.C. Avro FE2d Squadron, Sainte-Marie-Cappel, France during the infamous 'Bloody April' of 1917. That month he records his 1st kill. During 5 months of operational sorties, totals 8 confirmed kills/enemy aircraft destructions. He was himself shot down at least once behind enemy lines. Escaped back to British lines uninjured. He claimed his leather flying overalls were holed by machine gun fire on a number of occasions. His only wounding that went unrecorded was being shot in the foot by a machine gun round and performing his own surgery with a penknife and iodine to remove the bullet!

On 5th June 1917, when flying with Observer Lieutenant Thomas Lewis, he attacked and shot down German ace Oblt. Karl Emil Schäfer (a protoge of Von Richthofen's and a member of his 'Flying Circus'). On this occasion Lt. T. Lewis was awarded the Military Cross and Capt H. L. Satchell was recommended for the M.C. A number of recommendations for the award of the Military Cross followed by various C.O.s on a number of occasions and he was mentioned in dispatches (medals were often awarded to the observers before that of the pilots). Promoted from Lieutenant to Captain. Served alongside his good friend Captain Frank Douglas 'Inky' Stevens (O.B.E.) and colleague Sergeant Thomas Mottershead (V.C.).

Accidentally not recalled from front line flying duties in late 1917 and only months later, whilst suffering from 'nervous exhaustion' (PTSD?), he is recalled back to England in the winter of early 1918 to recuperate with fellow fliers at Hillington Hall, Norfolk. Lots of bird shooting parties, visits from the Princess Royal, ice skating and officer pranks/shenanigans later, he is posted back to France as an instructor. Demobbed in 1919.

After a brief stint as a steam train driver on the Crewe to Victoria line during the National strike of 1919 (well he was a Pilot and engineer!) he returned to his beloved engineering culminating as works manager of British Thompson-Houston Engineering (a subsidiary of GEC), Rugby during WW2. Later ascended to Director of Associated Electrical Industries (BTH's final incarnation).

Retired in 1966 and moved to Charmouth, West Dorset. Following his wife's death in 1967 he undertook extensive worldwide travels alone.

Died 8th June 1983.

Buried in Lyme Regis Public Cemetery, West Dorset.
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
"You lucky blighter!" says C.O. Inky Stevens to H L Satchell
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
H L Satchell instructing junior fliers on a DH6 in June 1918 at Netheravon
"[H L Satchell]... Wood (side view with goggles)... Meakin (an instructor walking towards you)... Trotman talking to my tent-mate Tyley Norman" Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
"Lt William Charles Cambray and [H L Satchell] with our dog 'Lizzie.' Sainte-Marie-Cappel 1917."
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Officers billets, Sainte-Marie-Cappel airfield, France, 1917
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Aerodrome entrance, Sainte-Marie-Cappel airfield, France, 1917
"Pilots and Observers empty your pockets."
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Archie N Jenks and H L Satchell
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Flying Officers of 20 Squadron, possibly Sainte-Marie-Cappel in the summer of 1917
Third from right: Harold Leslie Satchell
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Capt Henry Eric Bagot (to right) and Capt H L Satchell (left) returning from church Christmas Day 1917. Huntington Hall, Norfolk, England.
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
Capt. Henry Eric Bagot with a .22 Winchester repeating rifle (16 RFC) shooting duck on Broadwater, Hillington Hall Estate near Sandringham, Norfolk 1917 with Capt H L Satchell (20 RFC)
Courtesy of Dominic Gribbin
#4 Karl SchäferGermany
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 26 Apr 1917 1915 20 F.E.2d (A5149) 1 Albatros D.III (OOC) SW of Roulers
2 26 May 1917 1030 20 F.E.2d (A6469) 2 Albatros D.III (DES) Comines
3 26 May 1917 1040 20 F.E.2d (A6469) 2 Albatros D.III (OOC) Comines
4 05 Jun 1917 1435 20 F.E.2d (A6469) 3 Albatros D.III (DES) Becelaere-Zandvoorde
5 29 Jun 1917 1610 20 F.E.2d (A6431) 2 Albatros D.III (DES) Becelaere
6 02 Jul 1917 1245 20 F.E.2d (A6431) 2 Albatros D.V (DESF) Comines-Houthem
7 22 Jul 1917 1900 20 F.E.2d (A6512) 2 Albatros D.V (OOC) Menin-Wervicq
8 28 Jul 1917 1830 20 F.E.2d (A3) 2 Albatros D.V (OOC) NE of Tourcoing

1 Observer AM2 M Todd
2 Observer Lt Archie Jenks
3 Observer Lt Thomas Lewis
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