Jack at Hendon in 1915
JOHN ARTHUR "Jack" Yonge (T67) was born on the 18th May 1893 at Ringstead Norfolk. He was the forth and last child of the Rev George Yonge
and Anne nee Norgate (S26).
His father George, George was born 10th
October 1850. He was educated Eton. Admitted pens (aged 18) at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, August 1869. Matriculated Michs.1869, scholar 1870. B.A 21st Wrangler and 2nd class (National Science Trip) 1873 and M.A. 1877. Ordained deacon (Winchester) 1875, priest
1876. Curate of Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight 1875-9. Curate of Yorktown, Surrey 1879-1882. Curate of Sparham, Nogate, Norfolk 1882-93. His father in law the Reverend Thomas Sparling was rector there 1840-1894. Vicar of Hullavington, Chippenham, Wiltshire, patron
Eton College, 1893-1905. Rector of Newtimber, Hassocks, Sussex 1905-18.. Married 17th July 1883 Ann Norgate. Retired to Cranleigh, Surrey where lived at Wanborough Lane. Jack’s mother died 30th May 1927 and his father 9th May 1929.
Nothing is known about Jack’s childhood including where he went to school. He does not appear
on the 1911 census. He may have been abroad by then. The 1911 census shows the family was a modest middle class household. The census shows the household consisting of his parents, two unmarried sisters and a cook and a housemaid.
The first reference we have of
him after the 1901 census is from the UK Passenger Returns which shows he arrived from Madeira on the Kenilworth Castle on the 7th April 1915. His place of permanent residence is given as Madeira. What he was doing there we do not know. Traditionally the English dominated the production of wine in Madeira but in the late 19th century the vines were all but wiped out by disease. Times were still desperate in
the early 20th century and it was hardly an industry where
a young man would make his fortune.
Very soon after arriving in England he must have started a flying course. The first reference in Flight Magazine of June 11th 1915 said he was ”progressing well.” On the 22nd August 1915, he received his Aviators Certificate, number 1664, from the Royal Aero
Club. How and why he got into flying we have no information.
to the outbreak of the First World War, 862 Royal Aero Cub certificates were awarded. The Royal Aero Club had been established shortly after the World's first manned flight, to promote ballooning as a sport.
The Magazine Flight for 1915 records in detail his progress
through flying school. The entry for September 3rd 1915 reads
Yonge took a very good ticket with well banked turns, climbing during tests to no less than 2,700 feet, a good performance for a pupil”
He took his test at Hendon in a Hall biplane. The Hall biplane was a one off plane which was an adaptation of Caudron biplane. A Caudron, possibly the same one had been acquired by J.
Lawrence Hall, a pre war exhibition and stunt pilot and aerial racing enthusiast, who opened a flying school at Hendon, north London in 1912 which was the same year that he acquired his certificate (number 291) at the Bleriot School at Hendon. An advertisement
for the Hall Company in 1914 gives the cost of a full course as 61 guineas.
was then the leading centre for British aviation. Planes were tested there, built there, pilots were trained there and there was a Royal Navy Air Service flight based there, for the defence of London. At the outbreak of war in 1914, no less than eight flying
schools were established at Hendon. The official training school for naval pilots was at Eastchurch but with the passing of the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, all of Hendon's civilian flying schools were contracted to train pilots for the services.
The last reference to the use of the Hall was in 1915, the year he qualified, by which time thirty
five pilots had gained their "wings" on it.
His service record states that he
was qualified to fly aircraft and sea planes. He probably gained his seaplane experience “on the job”.
The Royal Flying Corps with its army and navy wings was established in 1912 in response to a perception that we were lagging behind other countries in the development of air power. It was reported that Britain had eleven pilots in
the army and eight in the navy. France reputedly had over 260. The main if not the only role seen for the plane at this time was reconnaissance and the emphasis was very much on the needs of the army.
In July 1914 the Royal Navy Air Service was established as a force separate from the Royal Flying Corps. It remained a separate service until
the establishment of the Royal Air Force in 1918.
He joined the Royal Navy air Service on the 24th December 1915, together with five other officers and was given the temporary wartime rank of Temporary Probationary Flight Sub Lieutenant and appointed to
H.M.S. President. H.M.S. President was moored in London and it was the ship to which all London based naval officers were notionally attached. With this paper is a copy of a page from “The Aeroplane” of December 29th 1915, reporting this event. The same page also refers to R.H. Mulock – see below.
From the 24th
December 1915 until the 3rd April 1916, he was with the Northern Aircraft Company at Windermere in the Lake District. Hill of Oaks on Lake Windermere
was the birthplace of the seaplane as a weapon of war, and an important pilot training establishment for the Admiralty, because it was here in 1911 that the first plane in the Empire took off from water.
Float planes were built and developed on the Lakeside and without this technology the Royal
Navy Air Service would not have been distinguished from the Royal Flying Corp.
From the outbreak of war, hundreds of eager young men got their first taste of flying from water there. Probably he was still practicing
his flying skills.
He then spent a spell at the naval air station at Calshot, a seaplane training centre, which is at the entrance to Southampton water. This was from the 3rd April 1916 to the 1st June 1916
From June 1916 to June 1917 he served on H.M.S. Riviera. The Riviera was a cross Channel packet of 2400 tons, completed in 1911. In August 1914 she was requisitioned form the South East and Chatham Railway Company and by October, after a rapid conversion,
to carry four seaplanes, she was on active service. In February 1915 there as a more extensive refit and by April she was back in service as part of the Dover patrol. There she remained until October 1918. Her planes were principally used for gunfire spotting
and other duties off the Belgium coast , North Sea sweeps, anti Zeppelin patrols and anti submarine work.
In that period he flew Short Admiralty 184 type Tractor Biplane Seaplanes. There are the following accounts of these aircraft and the actions they were involved in.
Plane no. 8357
unsuccessful attacks on destroyer 4 miles off Belgian coast near Ostend, 18.6.1916, FL Woolner and FSL J.A. Yonge
This was just seventeen days after he joined the unit.
Spotting for H.M.S. Terror
[A Monitor] (Zeebrugge) 24.9.16 FSL J.A. Yonge and S/L N.P. Playford
Plane no. 9060
H.M.S General Crauford 8.4.17 FSL J.A. Yonge
to HMS General Craufurd is to when he served at intervals from July 1916 to April 1917 on one of two Short 184’s which were embarked on this vessel for spotting shore targets. The Crauford was a monitor with 12inch main gunsstripped from obselete battleships. She was built to engage German shore artillery in occupied Belgium during the First
World War. General Craufurd—with her sisters—was regularly engaged in this service in the Dover Monitor Squadron and was present at the First Ostend Raid, providing cover for the Inshore Squadron.
this account is a schedule of the actions of a number of different seaplanes. In most cases the names of the crew are not given. They give however a very good indication of the types of actions and activities that he would have been involved in at this time.
His Confidential Report says of his service on the Riviera “Hard working and zealous. Shows promise.
Has makings of a good officer. Cheerful zealous and eager to learn. Should soon be well up to naval standards. Ha shown great keenness”
From June 1917 until he was posted to the Ark Royal, he was posted to the land base H.M.S. Westgate, a seaplane station right on the Kent coast near Margate. On the 1st of October he was made a Flight Lieutenant. This follows the note in his Confidential
Report of his time at Westgate “Recommended for promotion in due course”
His service record for this period states:
“Good keen reliable pilot, especially
on Baby seaplanes, should make a good fighter pilot – forwarding his application to be transferred to land machines on active service abroad.”
From the 18th October 1917 he was attached to the Ark Royal which as a depot ship moored at Mudros, in the Aegean. He was to fly land based planes out there .
Captain Augustine Francis Marlow RNAS was stationed at Redcar when in July 1916 he
received orders posting him to the Aegean. He arrived in August and described living conditions:
“Our cabins here are made from original packing cases used for crating aeroplanes from England. Each has a wooden bed (or are own canvas camp bed) and also a canvas table, chair and washstand....
Our mess is a rough stone building fitted with a mixed assortment of chairs, and settees and of course the inevitable gramophone. In the harbour a few miles from us, there are wooden dummy warships to kid the enemy. We use an old Ford for our journeys there
and back to collect mail etc”
The 7569 ton Ark Royal was originally designed as a tramp ship, to carry coal or grain, but during her building in 1913, the Admiralty took over the contract and the design was changed to carry aircraft.
Her engines and bridge were placed aft and she had a flying off deck of 130 feet, although there is no evidence it was ever used as a flight deck. Her hold was adapted as a hanger capable of holding up to ten seaplanes. The seaplanes were raised from the hold
and lowered into the sea by two steam cranes.
She was launched in September
1914 and commissioned in December of that year. In February 1915 she left England to take part in the ill fated Dardenelles expedition. When the Dardenelles operation was over the Ark Royal was from 1916 used as a depot ship for number 2 Wing R.N.A.S, moored
at Mudros on Lemnos island. Mudros was an important base for the allied forces and it was there that the armistice was signed by the Turks in October 1918. The Ark Royal there until April 1918 when she moved to Syria as a depot ship for numbers 62 and 63 Wings.
An examination of the log of the Ark Royal shows that there is no entry for Jack, although some
pilots are named. This must mean that although initially attached to the Ark Royal that he was in fact only flying land planes, for the Arc Royal was primarily a depot ship.
No 2 Wing, known as the Aegean Group flew land planes from aerodromes situated on various small islands in the Aegean Sea off the Turkish, Bulgarian and the Greek
coasts. This often involved flying for long distances over the sea and rugged enemy held territory in Thrace and Macedonia, bombing strategic targets in the eastern Mediterranean. The problems of flying in this area were compounded by heat and dust which often
meant overheated and clogged engines.
Although no specific reference to Jack can
be found he was almost certainly involved in the air attacks on the Goeben and Breslaw in January 19818. The records do refer to a number of pilots by name but the references seem to be to the bomber planes and not the escorting fighters.
These were the first ever aerial attacks on a capital ship. A number of pilots involved in the attacks
were awarded the DFC but these were all awarded to the bomber pilots who had the more dangerous task
Some seventeen tons of bombs were dropped in and around the Goeben. One report said a bomb had d gone down the ships funnel but the individual bombs at the time were too small to sink here.
In January 19818 the Goeben the Goeben having made a foray out into the Mediterranean hit a mine and was continually harried by RNAS machines from
nearby Imbros and Mudros which were only about five miles away which flew attack after attack. Both bombing runs and straffing with machine guns. Reports say that within ten minutes of being sited thee were up to ten British machines harrying the ships
The minefield was clearly visible but one pilot reported that in order to avoid the bombs the Goeben and
her sister ship the Breslaw started to zig zag violently and as a result hit a mine or in Breslaw's case four or five which sank her
Though going ever slower the Goeben in rounding Niagara Point ran aground, a perfect target for the RNAS. .
For six days she was under attack by RNAS planes from Mudros and Imbros and even some RFC planes from Palestine. They were also joined by seaplanes from the Ark Royal and empress..
There was a real mix of aircraft involved
with Camels as fighters and Strutters, DH4's dH9's BE2's and Farnhams as bombers. In all 270 sorties were flown with attacks every hour in daylight hours and every two hours at night. In the first day the 20th of January 62 flights were launched It was one of the largest and most intensive aerial engagements of the war.
There were some hits (possibly up to 16) but also many misses for with heavy anti aircraft fire the bombers
were forced to fly high.
German fighters were also present though most British losses
were caused by anti aircraft fire from the Goeben and neighbouring German Seaplane station.
Captain Graham Donald who was in charge of the Camels at Imbros, wrote.
air was stiff with German fighters. They were attacking our bombers and several got shot down. It was one long confused melee dogfight. The one thing that mattered was the Goeben. All the RNAS planes in the Aegean were attacking her, quite a lot of RFC planes
from Palestine - fully 70- aircraft.
Captain Marlowe, wrote on 5th January
After one of my trips, when we sank a small vessel lying alongside the warship [The German ship the Goeben] and also got a hit on the ship itself, I was ordered to fly to Mudros. Yonge in a Camel was supposed to escort me but he had engine trouble so I went alone.
Donald wrote again, giving a flavour of the action.
I reckon we shot down about six German fighters (Albatrosses D IV's and Halberstadts). On one occasion I saw a small Halberstadt fighter climbing
at an unbelievably steep angle to attack Ralph Sorety and Smithy in their DH4. He was right below me so I put my Camel into a vertical dive and practically fell on top of him with both Vickers going. He went down in a queer sort of tumbling spin but nobody
saw him crash. You can't leave escorted bombers to go down and confirm kills.
By the 28th of January the Goeben had fled, It made it to Constantinople but was effectively out of action for the rest of the war.
The shared problems of flying in this area led to an unusual camaraderie between the British and German pilots,
From 1915, the RNAS formed numbered wings,
which controlled their own lettered squadrons. No. 2 Wing RNAS, with its subordinate squadrons, was assigned to the Aegean area.
One of the squadrons was 'C' Squadron, comprising Nos. 475, 476 and 477 Flights. DH.4s were, in time,
joined by DH.9s and Sopwith Camels.
On the formation of the RAF, on 1 April 1918, the Wing was integrated as No. 62 Wing RAF. The flights kept their numbers, rather than the customary letters, as each Flight operated a different aircraft type and the squadron formed a self-contained bomber,
or reconnaissance, force with its own integral fighter cover. No. 475 Flight flew DH.4 day-bombers,
No. 476 Flight flew DH.9 day-bombers and the fighter-flight, No. 477 Flight, flew Sopwith Camels. It seems that
Jack was in C flight as he flew Camels.
What later became 222 Squadron Squadron was formally formed at Thasos on 1 April 1918 from "A" Squadron of the former No. 2 Wing, RNAS when
the Royal Air Force was formed. Later, on 6 April 1918, former "Z" Squadron of No. 2 Wing, RNAS
was added to the strength. Renumbered No. 62 Wing and consisting of Nos. 478, 479 and 480 Flights, the squadron was given the task of maintaining raids on Turkish targets in Macedonia and Thrace, operating from islands in the Northern Aegean,
was to become 220 Squadron was based on the island of Imbros and 222 Squadron at Thasos..
It seems that John was at first with what became 220 Squadron (Reconnaissance Squadron Aegean/C Squadron) which operated Camels before moving to what became 222 Squadron (number 1 Fighter Squadron Aegean/A Squadron) which had three flights each of
up to six machines and two reconnaissance flights 478 and 479 and one fighter wing which Jack would have flown in. In his advertisement book for the flying school that he later ran in America he says that he was in charge of a a Flight of planes.
and 222 squadron were not formally designated as such until the 9th
September 1918. Both were disbanded in February 1919.
That was the
plan but it seems that what happened on the ground was rather different in A and B were merged into F Squadron at Mudros which became the precursor of 222
What was to become 222 Squadron was made up of three flights of six planes each, 478 and 479 were reconnaissance flights and 489, Jacks flight, which was a fighter unit. The Squadron
was constantly on the move. The details are:
1918 to Thasos
6th May 1818 to Stravos
6th May 1918 to Thasos
1918 to Marian
14th May 1918 to Thasos
22nd May 1918 to Mudros
1918 to Imbros
7th July 1918 to Mudros
15th Nov 1918 to San Stephano, Corfu
23rd Nov 1918 to Mudros
222 initially had some DH4’s
on strength, followed by some DH9’s in June 1918 as well as Camels and Sopwith Strutters.
A Captain A.F. Marlowe kept a diary “The War Diary of a Naval airman” of his period in the Aegean, reporting on the activities of the unit, enemy activity, raids by the Group and the frequent engine failures. He makes a number of references
to John Yonge.
18th April 1918
A lot of enemy activity locally and I took Wright to
bomb Angista Junction (Yonge and Lister escorting). The guns
over there are too good to stay around there very long - big stuff and very close, crashes all around us .....The Camels were well out of all this, high up
above, but I was very glad to see them come down and join us , just after I had spotted two Albatross scouts closing in on us. I got my guns going and Wright was firing his in the back and as the Camels came in to join in the two enemy machines sheared off,
and after a few minutes maneuvering for position, the Camels sticking close by, they dived away and disappeared They could outclimb us easily.
A shark was seen whilst we were bathing - close in. Yonge tells us his grandfather was headmaster at Eton. [He was a master at Eton but not headmaster] There has been much artillery activity and reports say we have taken 1200 prisoners,
23 officers and some guns.
We now have
7 Camels (5 pilots) 5 DH4's (3 pilots) and 2 Sopwith fighters (1 pilot).
The usual recce and spotting trips go on. Today there is perfect calm
and everybody misjudges things and has to make at least two attempts at landing through over running. Yonge had to make 6 attempts and in the last one he smashed his machine in a ditch.
It is not known at which landing strip this occurred but conditions at the airstrips were not good. The field at Imbros nestled between a salt lake
on one side and a harbour on the other and at one end there were hills which funnelled the wind in unexpected directions and made each landing and takeoff a unique experience, and sand dunes which blew across the field., clogging up engines. Thasos field was
not much better. It was on a piece of land jutting out into the sea and was subject to downdrafts caused by the winds sweeping down from the nearby hills. At both fields there was just a bare earth surface which made it very difficult for the pilots to judge
height. In England grass landing strips enabled pilots to judge height for when they could see the blades of grass, they knew they were nearly at the height to touch down.
aircraft have been making bombing attacks on our ships in the harbour at Stavros lately. The noise has been waling me up in the morning. Sometimes they fly over us and we dive for our holes in the sand. With all the gunfire going on and bits of metal falling
out of the sky as shrapnel splinters come down, it can be very dangerous.
a mess meeting it was decided to go on to bare rations until things get sorted out. Yonge has retired as mess secretary and there is rather a mix up. A raid on Drama is down for tomorrow, with the R.F.C.
'a hostile Seaplane patrolling
the mouth of the Straits, was pursued by two camels Captain J.A. Yonge and Second Lieutenant J. Lynch)
which continued to engage until Nagara Seaplane Shed was reached. Tracers from both Camels had been seen
to enter fuselage of enemy machine which did not move after landing. Our machines were subjected to intense machine gunfire
when at a height of about 100 feet, but were only slightly damaged and were turning for home when two Halberstadt Scouts from behind
Chanak dived on them. An engagement which lasted 15-20 minutes took place over the Narrows and Chanak at an altitude of 50 to 1200 feet. The enemy machines eventually
drew off and the camels, subjected to severe A.A.
and machine gun fire from the land, did not follow,
as Captain Yonge had expended all his ammunition'
Arrived here at Mudros at about 7 a.m. and reported to the drafting officer. Met Yonge and he is in trouble - a weeks disciplinary course after getting into Feeney's bad books. He
objected to flying and others being ordered to fly, on dark nights in Camels. Everyone supported him. However he eventually flew but not before writing a letter to the Wing Captain. Feenny was very ungentlemanly about it, but when he was going on leave and
offered to shake hands, Yonge turned his back and walked away. Now all he wants is to be transferred to the Western Front..
Yonge asks me
for dinner over in his mess. Things are much better now than when I stayed here before. Everything organised and under control. In the evenings we sit by the fig tree outside our mess hut and Scott plays his mandolin and we softly sing sentimental songs. .........
. It seems that Bowhill is to ask all pilots what they have been doing out here as he is thinking of sending in recommendations for decorations. Everyone is getting ready to shoot a good line of bull.
Conditions at the landing strips were not good and that
is quite apart from the difficult landing and take off conditions. The Crew lived in tents, had earth latrines and were constantly surrounded by dust and insects. One pilot wrote if you were eating jam, you had to waive your hand over it all the way from your plate to your mouth, to make sure you were not eating flies. The only time to use the latrines as just before lunch. As soon as the gong sounded the flies left
the latrines and went over to the mess tent.
He was automatically in the Royal Air Force, when it took over the R.N.A.S and the R.F.C. from its establishment on April 1st 1918. He held from 1st April1918, the wartime rank of rank of Captain. A title which he used when promoting his flying school in Indiana in the early
The Confidential Report on his service in the Aegean states “VG officer and pilot”
Squadron came back to England to be disbanded on the 27th February
1919. His medical record shows that he had four weeks leave granted in July 1919 following fracturing his left fibula. It is not known whether this was the result of a flying accident. In August he was assessed as category A and told to report forthwith to
his unit. On the 22nd of August 1919 he was discharged.
In September 1919 he appears on the Air Force Register as unemployed. By June 1920 he was off the
On the formation of the Royal Air Force on the 1st April 1918, an interdepartmental/service
committee was set up to consider if inter alia the new service should have its own special decoration.
In March 1918, the committee advised that a decoration should be instituted for the Royal Air Force, corresponding to the Distinguished Service Cross for the Navy and the Military cross for the Army.
On the 6th May 1918 the King approved the creation of the Distinguished Flying Cross and three other lesser air force decorations. The Victoria
Cross would be the highest award for all three services.
Notice of the institution
of the decorations with notices of the first four awards appeared in the London Gazette on the 3rd June 1918.
However the formal Royal Warrant was not published until the 5th December 1919. It read in part:
"Whereas we are desirous of signifying our appreciation of acts of valour courage and devotion to duty performed by officers and men in our Air Force ...... We do hereby for Us, Our heirs and successors institute
and create ..... The Distinguished Flying Cross ...... . It is ordained that the Distinguished Flying Cross shall be granted only to such Officers and warrant Officers of Our said Forces as shall be recommended to Us for an act or acts of valour, courage or
devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy ."
His award of the D.F.C .was recorded in the 7th supplement of the London Gazette dated 31/12/1918 which was published Wednesday 1st January 1919. It states under the heading "Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross "Captain John Arthur Yonge" There were
several hundred such medals issued at this time.
His service record states "Service
considered for the grant of war medals" which would suggest that his D.F.C. was for general activities and not for one heroic act. With the aircraft of the time and the ferocious fighting it was rare for a pilot to survive for long. Probably a number of medals
were awarded just for surviving.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is the third-level
military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force and was instituted for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".
The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF.
During World War I, approximately 1,100 DFCs were awarded, with 70 first bars and 3 second bars. A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a
The medal is a cross flory and is 2⅛ inches wide.
The horizontal and bottom bars are terminated with bumps, the upper bar with a rose. The medal's face features aeroplane propellers superimposed on the vertical arms of the cross and wings on the horizontal arms. In the centre is a laurel wreath around the
RAF monogram surmounted by an Imperial Crown.
features the Royal Cypher in the centre and the year of issue engraved on the lower arm. The medal is issued named.
The ribbon was originally white with purple broad horizontal stripes, but changed in 1919 to the current white with purple broad diagonal stripes.
On the 18th of March 1919 he was elected as a member of the Royal Aero Club of the UK. It is not clear for how long he kept
up his membership.
It is not clear what g he did before going to England. One report states that he was engaged in barnstorming. Barnstorming was a form of entertainment in which stunt pilots performed tricks, either individually or in groups called flying circuses. Devised to "impress people with the skill of pilots and the sturdiness of planes", it became popular in the Britain after
the war with many ex military pilots taking part.
He arrived in Quebec from Glasgow on the 19th or 20h of June 1920 either from Glasgow or Liverpool and on different ships according to the index on Ancestry .com! June 1920. The immigration record shows that he was intending to settle in Canada in British
Columbia and that he intended to undertake fruit farming though what he knew about fruit farming is debatable unless he was involved briefly before the war. Probably like many young men who had only known war, he was unsettled and did not know what to do when
peace came. As his employer or business contact he has out down the British Columbia firm of A Rutherford who were wholesale dealers in fruit and vegetables. Immigration Form 30A which he completed gives much the same kind of information but including that
he was going to stay with a friend Major Watson in Victoria, British Columbia.
The UK Outward Passenger list states that he was going to Montreal and that his occupation was already that of fruit grower. Maybe this is what he had done in Madeira. This also shows him embarking at Liverpool.
So while there is some discrepancy in the records or how the records are described, the general tenor is clear.
In November 1920 he entered the USA, traveling on a ship of the White star Dominion Line. . He stated
that he was living in Vancouver British Columbia and that he was traveling to Chicago. The Ancestry.com index states he was traveling from landlocked Winnipeg, Manitoba!
At some point he came back to Canada before going back to the US. For according to his service record, and Flight Magazine he
married Marita MacMillan Kerr of Lochranza Arran, born 15th November 1891, in Toronto on the 4th October 1923. On his death
certificate and her death entry, her name is given as Mary Macmillan. They had no children.
For 1925 we have a number of references to him and his flying school in Gary, Indiana.
He advertised extensively in 1925 in the Magazine “Popular Mechanic”
He also published his own publicity booklet. In this booklet for his Flying School in Gary Indiana, probably published in 1925, he refers briefly
to his war record where he says he was in charge of a flight of Sopwith Camels. This cannot be confirmed from all the records that have been checked. He goes on to say that since the end of the war he has devoted himself to commercial flying – training,
passengers, aerial photography and surveying and that in 11 years he has flown 200,000 miles.
The same booklet refers to the planes he uses, an Eaglerock and a Standard J-1. He praises both planes for their flying qualities. Wikipedia has the following entries
The The Alexander Eaglerock was one of a number of airplanes built for civilian use to replace the dwindling
supplies of World War I surplus craft. Winging away from the Denver-based Alexander Aircraft Corporation at "mile-high" altitudes, equipped with a Curtiss OX-5, 90 horsepower engine, the Eaglerock cruised at heights and speeds that many old and weary warplanes
couldn't reach anymore.
In 1925, the first Eaglerock bristled with new innovations such as a tail wheel and wings that folded back for storage.
When buyers didn't seem ready for such "modern" gimmicks, a more conventional plane appeared in early 1926. The Eaglerock is considered one of the first significant certificated aircraft, with ATC (Approved Type Certificate) Barnstormers landed the Eaglerock
in farm fields across rural America in the 1920s and '30s, giving rides in these "new flying machines" to the brave souls willing to take the risk of flight. Ten-minuterides sold for 50 cents to a dollar.
Standard J was a substitute standard basic trainer aircraft produced in the USA from 1916 to 1918.
It was a two-seat tandem biplane constructed from wood with wire bracing and fabric covering. The J-1 was considered from the beginning as a stopgap to supplement the more favored Curtiss JN-4 production. Though the J-1 and its variants were produced in large
numbers, it was disliked by instructors and students alike because of its highly vibration-inducing and unreliable engine. Fatality records show while the JN-4 production outnumbered the Standards by only about two to one to June 1918, the number of fatalities in J-1s to JN4s was about one to seven, which is probably
indicative of the actual limited use of the available aircraft. Many of the later production J-1s were never taken out of their delivery crates. In June 1918, even while training was at a fever pitch, all Standard J-1s were grounded Many J-1s carried on with
civilian flying schools, joy-riding, and barnstorming operations until they wore out, or were forced to be retired by the nascent air transport legislation, introduced in 1927, which forbade the use of wooden aircraft for passenger transport.
So it seems he used one good plane though it should be noted that Jack was sole distributor for
the State of Indiana and one not so good but cheaper to buy. Probably a question of money.
During this period he was a member of the Gary Aeronautical society and of the American National Aeronautic Association.
Also the Aero Digest records in 1926, the same year that he was advertising the Gary Flying School that he was said to be of the “Great Lakes Aviation Co Lake Forrest. Other newspaper cuttings for 1923 and
19256 indicate he was the proprietor. It seems to have been a small airline co operating out of the Chicago area and charging 20 cents a mile. It was based at the town of Lake Forest in Illinois.
We do not know when he gave up his flying school in Indiana but his service record shows that from 1928-28 he was a Flying Officer [with a question
mark] with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The RCAF was responsible for civil tasks such as anti-smuggling patrols, forest fire watches, aerial forest spraying, mail delivery, mercy flights, law enforcement, and surveying/aerial photography,
and there was some training. A major undertaking by the RCAF during 1927–28 was the Hudson Strait Expedition whose purpose was to investigate ice movements and navigation conditions in the Hudson Strait in preparation
for the possible creation of a major shipping port on Hudson Bay at Churchill, Manitoba.
The RCAF replaced the Air Board and the CAF as the regulator of Canadian civil aviation. In 1927 the management of aviation in Canada was reorganized so that the RCAF, now considered to be a purely military body, did not control civil
flying. A new government branch, the Civil Government Air Operations (CGAO) Branch, was formed to manage air operations that supported civil departments. All RCAF operational flying units and their personnel were transferred to the new organisation The RCAF establishment was
reduced to a headquarters, two training stations and five training squadrons. So the short time he was with the RCAF was a time of transition.
At some point he joined International Airways, who were based at Hamilton Ontario. In May 1929 that Company and Fairchild Aviation
and Canadian Airways merged but the idea was that each company would keep its own identity. However by June he was on the payroll of Canadian Airways. The Company’s main business was the carrying of mail but many mail planes also carried passengers,
summer and winter. There was also aerial photography and surveying and charter trips for fishermen and game hunters and mining camp. With the primitive planes, rudimentary aids, basic landing grounds, which included frozen lakes and terrible winter weather,
the flying would have been challenging to say the least
The origin of Canadian Airways was
Western Canada Airways (WCA) which was established in 1926 In order to expand WCA at the national level, the Company convened a syndicate, which led to the formation of the Aviation Corporation of Canada in July 1929. The purpose of this formation was to help
in the acquisition of eastern Canadian aviation companies to facilitate the planned expansion. In 1930, Canadian Airways Limited was established after the acquisition of several aviation companies.
Air Mail was the backbone of aviation at the time as it underpinned regular services and helped cover costs. However in 1932, Government mail contracts were
cancelled and a host of new restrictions were introduced by the Federal Government. These actions would serve to gradually undermine Canadian Airways and was presumably why John set up his own Company in 1933.
The assistant to President of Canadian Airways in 1930 was Colonel R.H. Mulock. He was a pilot with the Canadian contingent of the Royal Naval Air Service in WW1 and it may well be that
at some point in their service careers John Yonge met him. He spoke at a Company dinner in 1930 at which John was present.
With this account are some copy flight records of Canadian airways. It shows that on 7/8th June 1930 he was involved in various flights to and from London, Brantford and Hamilton, linked to the
opening of Brantford Airport The records show that only small amounts of mail were carried on these inaugural flights. On the flight of the 7th of June there were just four cachets with 1189 pieces of mail. His address is shown at this time as being Vancouver British Columbia and England.
An examination of his salary
payments shows that with bonuses his salary on an annual basis was over $5000 in 1930 and for 1931 and1932 for nine months (he did not work January to March) he earned over £13000 ..A check on comparative salaries (far more meaningful than some astronomical
multiplier) taken from various sources and rounded up or down as convenient this shows pilots at the top of the tree. By comparison
Farm hand $150
College Teacher $2000
Coal miner $1000
Train conductor £1800
The reference in the salary details suggests he put in a lot of overtime and night and international flights but clearly he was doing very well.
at a time of general economic collapsehe was doing very well but the good times were not to last.
There is a note in the Company files which It states that he left
the Company in March 1931 but the payroll records shows him as still in receipt of his salary for 1932. 1932 was the year the Airline lost the airmail contract
The payroll records for Jan-March were missing and suggesting he might not be with the Company .Possibly he chose not to fly in the worst of the winter but perhaps he had to resign to
do that and then taken on again in the spring. But then again if he resigned to avoid winter flying that would have happened at the start not the end of winter and not the end. A mystery.
What is not a mystery is that his employer, Canadian Airways was in a bad way.
In 1932 the airmail contract cancellation which had been threatened in the previous year actually took place. This resulted in a further reduction in personnel and
strict economy measures to ensure the survival of the Company. The problem was made worse by the fact that the passenger services which were set up to provide a new source of revenue were not a success.. Cancellation took place throughout the year starting
on the 31st Match. even though the Company had four year contract and had invested in aircraft, facilities and personnel on this basis. While the Government sympathised the counties finances were in a dire straight. Cuts in aviation were to amount to over
10% of the total cut in government expenditure.
As soon as the cancellations were
announced in 1932 cut salaries of all employees save pilots by 10%, the pilots having had a 30% cut the previous September. However there were also lay off's including pilots . In January 1931 the Airline had 234 employees. With progressive reductions it was
down to 161 by May 1932.
A further 10% reduction in salaries did not take place
when it was pointed out that the cuts had led to many departments being understaffed with man men doing two men's jobs and thus that morale was bad.
In 1931 the Company made an operating profit before depreciation of $171,430 while in 1932 for the first half t of the year they made a loss of $51211. After depreciation they made a loss of $76928 in 1931
and $227973 in 1932. The options they could come up with was to increase the volume of business or suspend operations
The losses continued into 1933 and the only part of the business making money was bush flying but that needed capital which was not there, to be invested in it. . In 1933 bank overdraft was doubled to $4000000 and liquid assets dropped
$4500000 and two important surveying contracts were lost and the investments made for the now canceled air mail contracts still had to be paid for
The Company had to continual dilemma of bidding so low for contacts that they could not hope to make any money or letting rivals with lower costs take that business
During 1933 Government expressed concerns that unless the Government supported them that they could not last another year
The only reason the airline did not cease operations was that there would still be fixed costs to pay
on rentals and leases equipment would deteriorate and organisational skills lost
do not know if Jack was made redundant or if he left before he was pushed.
the middle to late 1930's Canadian Airways barely kept up its fleet and the only new craft purchased was to replace losses. Their new competitors which had sprung up were largely equipped with new aircraft.
From 1933, at which point he presumably left Canadian Airways, he was the proprietor of “Yonge
Letter Service.” According to his service record this continued up to 1940. Despite extensive inquiries it has not been possible to find out anything more about this firm.
We do not know if Jack was a Bush Pilot but even if he was only flying in the more settled parts of Canada conditions and problems would only have been better by
a matter of degrees.
The term "bush flying" has never been properly defined but
essentially it means flying in the sparsely settled territories in the Canadian north. In the summer sea or float planes were used while in winter skis were fitted. Only in time and in the more settled parts of the country were there more rough prepared strips
were wheeled planes used. .
Often there was no or limited competition with ground
transport so if the weather was especially bad pilots could simply put a flight on hold.. Also the abundance of lakes and rivers meant that in the event of engine trouble there was normally a place where a pilot could touch down..
However landing on water imposed different difficulties in both summer and winter. In summer landing on smooth glassy
water especially at dawn or dusk and in winter landing in a white out both meant that it could be very difficult to estimate exactly where the surface was.
With no radar, limited radio communication poor or non existent maps and compass deviation the more north one went, navigation could difficult
The term "bush aircraft" like "bush flying" has been used since the very early days of aviation in Canada. Obviously a bush aircraft is one that
has been used for bush flying but some types that were used were not really suited. Generally a bush aircraft should be thought of as one that could carry a payload for a reasonable distance together with enough equipment to take care of itself and its crew
under emergency conditions. Speed was not important but the plane must be capable of landing and taking off in a small area.
In the early days of bush flying the success of any base or operation was almost entirely due to the capability of the pilot, not only from the standpoint of his skill in operating the aircraft but from his initiative
in bringing in new business, making friends with the local people and sizing up the general business situation at the time. while these conditions changed somewhat with the development of the bush flying business and the establishment of a number of main bases
in which several aircraft were stationed with radio operators, agents and sometimes personnel to look after other phases of the business, nevertheless this characteristic was still very much needed in the establishment of new bases.
Overloading was a common feature of bush flying in Canada. It could have serious consequences. Take off distance would
become greater with no guidelines, climbing rates are slowed, engines could overheat and the plane was less stable in the air when buffeted by gusts. All foolish but the reality was equipment might have to be loaded in the bush with no scales available and
the weight would have to be estimated, Also unless a special trip was scheduled and that could cost money a long gap might elapse before there was another flight. The temptation for an operator already working close to the margins to fly overloaded was great.
All bush pilots were expected to carry a lot of emergency equipment with them so as to be self supporting
in the bush. Doubtless the rules were sometimes bent as all such equipment cut down on paying payloads
An expense that aviation had in Canada that other countries did not there were periods of about eight weeks when flying was difficult and impossible fro float planes which had to cope with the freezing and break up of water on the lakes. Skis could
be used in winter but were easily damaged.
Another expense was fuel which in remote
locations often had to be propositioned and paid for up to a year in advance.
flying had its own special hazard including having to light a fire under an engine to unfreeze it an operation that normally had to be done in the darkness so that the engine was thawed out when it was light enough to fly. On landing the engine would be drained
as quickly as possible before it froze solid.
The cargo carried could be anything
and everything including canoes camping equipment food supplies generators drilling rigs etc etc
The operation of the few bush airmail contracts that were kept on in the depression years could have been of material assistance to operators. However the Post Office kept cutting the contract rates so that almost all routes were operated at a loss
by the airline companies.
The point was repeatedly made to no avail that other
countries encouraged their airline industry and especially through air mail contracts.
An industry insider, Thompson wrote in 1938:
"As you doubtless know commercial
aviation in this country is having an extremely difficult time never more so than in the past year due to falling revenues caused by the general conditions of business which might almost be termed a depression. Just what is going to happen I do not know but
if the government does not come tour our assistance in the very near future I am afraid there will not be very much northern air transportation left except of a fly by night nature"
"To any close student of aviation in Canada and those who have money invested in operating companies the whole outlook is depressing and unless some practical step
it taken to improve the situation what should be one of Canada foremost industries is actually heading for the rocks.
An article in the Winnipeg Free Press in the late 1930's read:
"The bush transport operators remain financially at the mercy of the Post Office Department. They are not blameless for their position. They have acted in the past like fighting cats and their inability to reconcile differences among themselves
prevented them from presenting a united front to a Post Office Department ready to grind them down on contract rates This does not however permit the public to be ungrateful for the national service provided by bush air transport. That service has been given
without drawing a cent of money from the national treasury. All that bush flying has asked is that the Post Office pay at a fair rate."
It seems that those wishing to carry mail had to have a Post Office contract and could not carry post on their own account. Mackenzie Air Service who shipped out newspapers direct to subscribers and Canadian
airways who flew newspapers for a pilot who was canvassing for an election to Parliament both had to reimburse the post office for lost revenue.
We do not know whether the "Yonge Letter Service" was a true bush flying operation or not but cleanly the attitude of the Post Office would have affected every air mail carrier.
According to his nephew Colin Eyre Yonge, in an account in the 1990's Jack told him on a visit of Colin’s to England
in the late 1950's that he, Jack was involved in the training of the Dambuster pilots of 617 Squadron..
His World War 11 service record shows that he returned to Britain in 1940 and re-enlisted in the RAF and was granted a commission, with the rank of probationary Pilot Officer on 12 July 1940, within the Administrative and Special Duties (A+SD) Branch,
"for the duration of hostilities". On this date he is recorded as being posted to Loughborough.
Loughborough was not strictly an
RAF airfield, but was a small airfield to the, north-west of the town with a grass runway of just under 2000 feet, used by Brush Electrical Engineering Company to test fly the de Havilland Domine (the military version of the Rapide) bi-plane navigation/radio
trainer which they built as part of the dispersal scheme. Jack Yonge would not have been involved with flying, (being A+SD).
In fact, the reference to "Stn" Loughborough while it may refer to the airfield; it could even refer to a non-airfield establishment in the town. There he attended No.19 Course; although the actual course discipline cannot be deciphered from his service
On 3 August 1940 he was posted to an " Air Ministry Unit" (Location not specified)
for a Link Trainer Instructor's Course. The link trainer provided a cheaper alternative for training pilots in instrument flying than flying actual aircraft. It basically consisted of a circular cubicle in the centre of which was a Link trainer. It was made
of curved sections covered with fibreboard on which was painted a landscape with various features as seen from an altitude of about 2,000 ft. The function of the painted landscape was to present, realistically, the various climatic and geographical features
which a pilot would encounter. Powerful bellows enabled the device to simulate basic flying movements similar to pitching, banking, and turning of a real aircraft. The cockpit closely resembled a typical single-engined aircraft with the usual six basic instruments
plus compass, radio, rudder pedals, and control column. The instruments and the relevant control surfaces indicated any changes in flight attitude. Placing a detachable hood over the cockpit could simulate night flying; stormy conditions could be created by
means of a 'rough air device'. Connections led from the trainer to an instructor's desk where a small three-wheeled trolley called a 'tracking crab' (automatic recorder) reacted to time and rate of movement of the fuselage.. The instructor had a duplicate
set of instruments, which enabled him to asses the pilots flying capabilities.
achieved the required standard on 30 August 1940 he was then posted to No.12 Service Flying Training School at Grantham (Spittlegate), a unit within No 21 Group. This was equipped with a mix of Hawker Harts, Fairey Battles and Avro Ansons. Here he had another
ground instructional role, as a Link Trainer Instructor (LTI). He remained At Grantham until 19 October 1942, though by 1 Apri1 1942, the unit had been re-designated No.12 (pilots) Advanced Flying Unit.
He was promoted to Flying Officer on 17 March 1941, Acting Flight Lieutenant on 17 June 1941 and Temporary F/Lt on 1 October 1942).
He attended a Medical
Board on the 16th April 1942 to assess his fitness to fly.
The report says yes but not operational flying.
He was then posted to
Bournemouth in October of that year, again as a Link Trainer Instructor. There was an airfield 4 miles N.E. of Bournemouth, although its official designation was Hurn, home in October 1942 to Nos. 296 and 297 Sqns which soon left for North Africa to take part
in Operation Torch (the Allied landings in N. Africa). At this time Hurn was used as a staging post for aircraft being sent to this theatre. The Squadrons were to return in 1943, equipped with the Albermarle prior to another detachment for glider towing duties
in the invasion of Sicily. During the time he was at Bournemoth/Hurn Airfield was also used by the USAAF, fighter squadrons and Army Cooperation planes. Also at the same time, it is believed that the town of Bournemouth itself was a processing centre for Commonwealth
aircrew (Australians and possibly New Zealanders -maybe even Canadians? and it is quite possible that there was a Link Trainer set up there. The use of the ambiguous. abbreviation "Stn" and the lack of any formal unit title might suggest that he was not actually
at Hurn airfield.
As for any connection with the tests carried out by Barnes Wallis
at Chesil Beach, whilst he was at Bournemouth, this seems highly unlikely as the tests were conducted from RAF Warmwell, not Bournemouth.
Despite suggestions to the contrary in some cases, there is no real evidence that Service Records were "fudged" to conceal secret work, but as is often the case, it can be shown that records of those who
are known (and can be proven) to have been involved in such work were not corrupted or deliberately altered. Usually the entry refers to some obscure unit or station, without defining the role. With hindsight and records it can be seen how these were linked
to the task in hand, although without knowing of the "secret project" one would not be suspicious. At the time
Of course, this could be the case in this instance. However, the role of a Link Trainer instructor in Bournemouth does not seem to tie in with the training of crews for dams raid. In any case, Scampton had its own Link Trainer Section
which would have been used had occasion demanded it. Two Dambuster pilots in their accounts of the Squadron refer to going on the Link trainer but this appears to have been at Scampton. to practice low level flying
The fact that the Dambuster crews were all highly skilled pilots and Jack was ground staff and as far as we know had no experience of modern operational
planes would make it very unlikely that he would have been required or able to give those pilots flying training. It is just possible that he could have made a visit to the Link unit at Scampton, even one visit could have technically justified the claim that
he helped train the dambusters.
So there is no evidence that he was involved with
the Dambusters and plenty of evidence to suggest he was not. In particular there is no indication that they were involved in any dual control training. He might just have been involved in the installation of the spotlight altimeter calibrator or with the “two
stage amber “ stimulated night flying system, but it seems most unlikely.
is an outside chance that during his Link Instruction period he may have had a pupil, possibly Canadian, who went on to serve with the “Dambusters” Squadron at some stage, or he may possibly when at Bournemouth have has some transitory and peripheral
involvement with the bouncing bomb or the squadron but there is no evidence to support this and plenty of evidence to suggest there was no link.
We are however left with the fact that he told his nephew, in the 1960’s that he flew mail planes in the Canadian North and helped train the Dambuster pilots. The reference to Canada was certainly
correct so possibly there was some kind of link but what.
The reference may have to
do with the fact that in the last months of the war Johnnie Fauquier commanded 627 Squadron. He was a Canadian who in the 1930’s flew in remote parts of Canada. Jack may have known him and perhaps trained him in Canada.
The "Special note" on his service record states; "In view of the representations made by the Ministry of Aircraft Production
for his release from Air Force Services, it was decided to approve his resignation of commission in the RAFVR with effect from 5 February 1944, and he was permitted to retain rank of F/Lt under an order from the Air Ministry.”
Under Kings Regulation Para 3647. An officer who resigns his commission will not retain any air force rank except by permission
of the Air Council under directions which H.M. the King may be pleased to give. It will be competent for the Air Council to give or withhold this privilege.
It would seem likely that, at the age of nearly 51 in February 1944 he would have been considered as reaching the limit of eligible
age for military war service. However, the request from the Ministry of Aircraft Production would seem to indicate that he had skills which were valued by that organisation and which they wanted to utilise. The record relating to him gaining his certificate
on the Miles Monarch states that he was “Pilot, service dept. Miles Aircraft. His home address was given as Reading.
The R.A.F Museum at Hendon has a photo of him at his time and the notes with the photo state that on the 8th of March 1944 he took a certificate on a Miles Monarch at the Miles aerodrome at
Woodley near Reading. The Monarch was a civilian three single engine communications plane. The five in Britain when war broke out were taken over by the RAF.
Woodley was the main site of the Miles Company but it also had a RAF repair and training facility.
After the war he lived, at least in his latter years, at Pen-Y-Rhos, Llangurig. Llangurgig is on the banks of the River Wyre among the hills of Plnlymon, Powys, North Wales. Here he farmed
in a small way and looked after the electricity supply for the small isolated community. It is not known if this is the same as hydro electric plant just down the road from the village.
In 1958 Grahame Yonge visited Jack with his parents. Grahame's grandfather
was Jack's brother George Ernest (T65) Below is Grahame,s recollection of that visit
" From memory in 1958, myself with my parents visited Uncle Jack on his farm in Wales.
One of the story's he told was his career in the war flying the Sopw ith Camel. This was a double winged single engine
d war plane.
In those days of course one did not have a parachute and Jack said he just hoped for the best.
The highlight of the story
was the machine gun which fired through the propeller. He thought this was a very clever feat of engineering.
I am not aware of the dam busting training but I understand there is definite link to New Zealand in that mission.
As to the farm that he ran , trying to remember
almost 60 years back is almost impossible.
The only item that I can remember is sheep going through a sheep dip and I recall a yellow mixture and vaguely sheep dogs.
Something about a water wheel
but no it is too far back to detail.From memory the farm was not large and a river ran close by.
When we returned to Fiji Uncle Jack sent money over to me.I used the cash to buy a fish tank.I kept all types of fish over the next 50 years thanks to his gift. "
He died on the 15th November 1973. His grave does not seem to be in or at least there is no marker, either in the churchyard or the village cemetery.
He left an estate valued at £21316. His wife, down in the records as Mary Mcmillan Yonge died in September 1980 in the Cardigan
registration district . There was no probate of her estate.
There are further photos of Jack in the Photo Library
R.A.F. and Royal Navy Service Record.
Cross and Cockade International Journal – Vol.21
Honours and Awards 1914-1920
Disposition of Officers of the Royal Navy Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service 1912-18 by Brad King
Imperial War Museum Book of War at Sea 1914-18
The DH 4/DH 9 File by Sturtivant and Page
Royal Navy Aircraft Service Units 1911-19 by Sturtivant
R.N. Squadrons and Aircraft 1912-31
Action stations by Bruce Halpenny
617 Squadron Aircrew Association
Royal Navy Museum
Magazine - Global Archive
National Archives Logs of HMS Riviera
Capt A.F. Marlowe – The War Diary of a Naval Airman
by C. G. Jefford
Montreal Gazette 22nd December 1930
The Dambusters by Arthur Max
Airmails of Canada and
Newfoundland ISBN 97-74087
Aero Digest 1926
The Gary Flying School by J.A. Yonge
Pioneering in Canadian Aviation
Whilst in the Royal Naval
Air Service/Royal Air Force he flew the following planes:
Nieuport Monoplane seaplane
F.B.A. Flying Boat