Fighter ace left off roll call of First World War Victoria C Aug 15, 2013 20:22:14 GMT
Post by Focus on Aug 15, 2013 20:22:14 GMT
A national hero fighter pilot who was the first person to shoot down a Zeppelin will be left off a roll call of First World War Victoria Cross heroes because he was born in India.
Sub-Lieutenant Reginald 'Rex' Warneford was awarded the medal for outstanding valor when he was just 23 for the mission.
Reginald Warneford who became a national hero when he single-handedly destroyed a Zeppelin has been left off a commemorative list because he was born in India
Under government rules he will be excluded from a poignant commemoration next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
His solo mission was celebrated nationally and the country also fell into mourning when he was tragically killed two weeks later.
Despite the accolade, his name will not appear on commemorative stone slabs to be laid next year because the government ruled that only servicemen and women born in Britain are eligible.
Local politicians, historians and military campaigners have criticized the decision to exclude Sub-Lt Warneford, who moved to Exmouth in Devon when he was a boy.
Armed forced campaigner Lionel Howell, 74, has called for Mr Warneford's name to join that of Exmouth's only other VC winner, Lt Richard Sandford.
He said: 'It's disgusting to even think about leaving Rex out.
'He fought for his country; it shouldn't matter where he was born.
'If they are going to leave Rex out, they should scrub the whole thing.'
Mayor of Exmouth John Humphreys said the airman had made the town his home.
Mr Humphreys said: 'It's perverse that some bureaucrat has made a decision to exclude him from being recognized in his home town.'
Barbara Gilbert, archivist for the Fleet Air Arm Museum where Rex's VC is held, said: 'It is very saddening to learn of official discrimination against those born overseas.
'This means that no town in the UK can claim Rex Warneford as their own.'
She said eastern England had 'lived in fear' of the devastating Zeppelin bombing raids.
'Overnight, Warneford became a national hero and gave us hope,' said Mrs Gilbert.
'Killed in a crash only two weeks later, his death led to national mourning.
'Some 99 years on, it is fitting that we should remember him.'
Sub-Lt Warneford was born on October 15, 1891, in Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas, where his parents served in the colonial service at the height of the British Empire.
An artist's impression of the daring Zeppelin raid which was celebrated nationally and earned Warneford the Victoria Cross and France's Legion of Honor
They moved back to Exmouth and Rex joined the Royal Naval Air Service - the forerunner of the Navy's Fleet Air Arm - when war erupted in August 1914.
He had completed a dozen solo flights when on June 7, 1915, he was ordered to join a four-plane midnight attack on the Zeppelin sheds at Bercham in occupied Belgium.
Sub Lt Warneford had never flown in the dark before and quickly lost his fellow pilots.
Flying a tiny single-seater Morane Parasol, mostly made from just wood and canvas, he came across airship LZ-37 airship cruising at 7,000 ft.
The massive bomber was kept airborne by 953,000 cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen.
Rex was armed with just a revolver, carbine, and six 20-pound bombs.
He spotted the airship at Ostend and he followed it for 50 minutes over Bruges before Warneford shot at it.
After the Zeppelin dropped to 7,000 ft, Warneford was able to climb above it and dropped his bombs, which ripped the airship apart.
Warneford's plane was enveloped in flames and he crash-landed 35 miles behind German lines.
He found only his fuel line was broken and fixed the problem with a cigarette holder before coolly flying home.
By the time he returned to base at 10.30 am the next day, his exploits were being celebrated across the empire.
King George V awarded Rex the Victoria Cross that day, while France followed up with its prestigious Legion of Honor.
The Government plan to commemorate every British-born Great War VC winner
He won worldwide fame for becoming the first pilot to shoot down a feared Zeppelin.
But he was killed 10 days later after he returned from France after collecting the award in a new biplane that bucked moments after take-off and the pilot was thrown out and killed.
Speechless ... Once again this government show their utter contempt, ignorance and cruelty!!