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Beardie

Anyone know who Flight Sergeant W G Bennett was and his bio?

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A fascinating thread and as you say, very fitting that it comes to a conclusion (as far as details) this week, 100 years later!

My grandfather was a driver in East Africa, joining up in 1916. Nothing particularly outstanding about that, apart from the fact that both his parents were German immigrants to England in the 1890's. Recently my uncle found papers in the attic...... it turns out he was in Germany at the outbreak of the war and had to go to the US consulate to get an emergency passport so he could get back to England! We have his papers dated January 1915 in Stuttgart, which makes sense as the family were from Baden Wurtemburg! Amazing he was even accepted for service!

 

Ian

 

Sorry for the drift! 

Edited by limeypilot

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On 2/24/2017 at 8:14 AM, Folkbox1 said:

I suppose you've already done this but I looked up William Orpen on Wikipedia and found this (William Orpen was an Irish War Artist and painted about 138 pictures - many of which were donated to the nation).

 

"Following the success of his Haig and Trenchard portraits, Orpen was asked to paint portraits of several pilots in the Royal Flying Corps. He spent part of September 1917 visiting airfields and during October 1917 he was based with No. 56 Squadron near Cassel. His portrait of Lieutenant Reginald Hoidge, MC and Bar, was painted a few hours after the young pilot had been in a dogfight and Orpen was greatly impressed by his calmness. Orpen's portrait of Arthur Rhys-Davids, DSO MC, is also crisply drawn with rich colours and lush shadows.[2] Rhys-Davids was killed in combat within a week of sitting for Orpen and Orpen's portrait of him was used as the cover illustration of the next edition of War Pictorial magazine and widely reproduced elsewhere after that"

 

Darren

That picture of Rhys Davids:

Rhys Davids himself wrote, "Isn't it comic? He did me wearing my flying kit, a flying cap and burberry, sitting down in a chair and looking nowhere. I didn't think it was like me, but I'm no judge."

 

Upon viewing it after her brother's death, Rhys Davids' sister Vivian wrote: "It certainly grows on you.Painting him like that with his cap on has made his face look so absurdly long, but I was more reconciled when I discovered that quarter smile; an expression in which he seems to be just sucking in his cheeks, so as not to laugh, and saying, 'Lord , what futile rot this all is.'"

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On 08/11/2018 at 03:52, Beardie said:

The selection letter suggests that William Orpen had chosen your grandfather specifically rather than at random either because he thought he would make a great subject or he had something special about him that Orpen felt should be marked out with a portrait.

It sounds like he may not have wanted to sit for the portrait, as the letter is clearly an order from above. From reading between the lines, the department may have chosen him actually.

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On 09/11/2018 at 03:39, limeypilot said:

My grandfather was a driver in East Africa, joining up in 1916. Nothing particularly outstanding about that, apart from the fact that both his parents were German immigrants to England in the 1890's. Recently my uncle found papers in the attic...... it turns out he was in Germany at the outbreak of the war and had to go to the US consulate to get an emergency passport so he could get back to England! We have his papers dated January 1915 in Stuttgart, which makes sense as the family were from Baden Wurtemburg! Amazing he was even accepted for service!

Wow that's actually really interesting, you should make sure that's all documented somewhere for history, or certainly for your family.

 

The more I look into my grandfather, the more he and the men around him become real, and I'm sure it's the same with everyone who had a family member in the Great War. I can imagine myself in their shoes and I start wondering how I would have felt and how certain things played out at the time. Like with your grandfather, I can picture myself in Germany (wondering what he was doing there? visiting family? visiting his roots? working there?) and having to get to the consulate quickly, wondering if he'd be trapped at all. And if his papers are dated January 1915, then why the 6 months after the start of the war? Did he try to leave after waiting to see if the war would really play out? Or did he leave immediately and his papers were dated with a 6 month window? And how did he get out during wartime, especially being English/German? Train and boat possibly, but imagine that trip! By January 1915 the first battle Ypres at least would have begun and the stalemate on its way as well. Did he get out through the mediterranean (only a few months before Gallipoli), or the Baltic? There's a great movie in that!

 

I find this stuff so fascinating, and everyone in that war has an interesting story to tell. And they were so young. My grandfather was 25 years old when he was shot by a machine gun in the leg while flying low over enemy trenches trying to take photographs. Considering flying machines were only invented when he was 11 years old and the first production aircraft when he was around 17, that's just crazy. The world would have been completely surreal to all of them in that war, and no wonder they were all so scarred for the rest of their lives.

 

We owe them everything.

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