Wings of War: Aubrey Beauclerk Ellwood

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Aubrey Beauclerk Ellwood was born on July 3rd, 1897 at Cottesmore, Rutland.

After studying at Marlborough College he enrolled in June 1916 and earned his pilot's license on December 6th of that same year.

He flew both the Sopwith Pup and, some time later, the Sopwith Camel. He served with the No. 3 Naval Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service, scoring ten victories between July 1917 and April 1918, for all of which he was given due credit. Seven of these he shared with other pilots.

Once the Royal Air Force was founded, the No. 3 Naval Squadron became No. 203 Squadron: Ellwood was entrusted with the post of commander on August 28th 1918. Meanwhile he was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, the following motivation being reported in the London Gazette on April 26th 1918: “For the determination and skill displayed by him as a pilot. On March 10th, 1918, he attacked three Albatross scouts. He drove two of the enemy aircraft down, and then dived on the third and fired a long burst. The enemy machine pulled up, fell over on its side, and fell straight down out of control until lost to sight. He has also destroyed or brought down out of control many other enemy machines.”

After World War I he remained with the R.A.F., serving for a long time in India. During World War II he took various posts in Coastal Command and Bomber Command.

He retired from active service on January 29th 1952 with the rank of Air Marshal. He died at Crewkerne, in Somerset, on December 20th, 1992, at the venerable age of 95.

The machine we show is the one with which he scored his first victory, against a seaplane which crashed into the sea twenty miles off Ostend on July 27th 1917 at 14.15 hours: Ellwood's plane was a Sopwith Camel bearing registration number B3781. The pilot also scored other victories while flying Camel planes, but used different models: he earned his second and third victories while flying a B6242, and others while flying a B7229.

The airplane bears the pilot's own distinctive painted heartlets, and was later flown by other pilots: on 27th August 1917 it was damaged near St.Pol, under the command of Flight Sub-Lieutenant J.W.P.Amos. After repairs it passed over to 9 Naval and finally 10 Naval: it was during a mission under the command of Flight Sub-Lieutenant G.T.Steeves, who served with 10 Naval, that the aircraft was shot down on 18th March 1918, the officer being taken prisoner by the enemy. This was therefore the aircraft's last mission.