Welcome to my website, designed to promote:
The original purpose of my website was to document the early years of 6 Squadron. This evolved from my first book, For God, England & Ethel, a factual novel of my grandfather who served with 6 Squadron on the Western Front. My intention was to display some of my research material. The website menu has grown a lot over the past twelve years but 6 Squadron still plays a major part, with sections on the 6 Squadron journal, the Tin-opener, the squadron's move to Mesopotamia after WW1, Facts & Figures on the squadron's early operations, the types of aircraft on charge, numerous WW1 photos, the 6 Squadron Roll of Honour and profiles of several 6 Squadron pioneers.
To date I have published five full-size books, For God, England and Ethel (factual account of the operations of a front-line Royal Flying Corps squadron on the Western Front), Seven Days in April, (a murder/mystery novel set on the Western Front during WW1), Leaning on a Lamp Post, (a biographical novel), A Man of Many Letters and Over the Western Front, in part an expansion of the diary my grandfather kept during the Great War when he served with 6 Squadron in France and Belgium. The second half of the book describes the operations of 6 Squadron Royal Air Force in detail, month by month, for the whole of WW1 when the squadron was in action on the Western Front and includes a complete list of aircraft on and off charge during that time as well as every 6 Squadron casualty between October 1914 and December 1918. A detailed Appendix provides a breakdown of aircraft type and aircraft movements, a casualty analysis and a profile on several 6 Squadon officers (pilots and observers) who died whilst in the service of 6 Squadron during WW1.
This website contains photographs contemporary with WW1 and the inter-World-War years, in the main associated with 6 Squadron Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force). There is also a section containing 43 pages of high definition aerial photographs (two to a page) taken by 6 Squadron aircraft before and after the Battle of Messines. A new section has recently been added, containing images of WW1 maps and photographs as well as copies of every page contained in my grandfather's WW1 wireless training document.
In November 2018 whilst researching an RAF officer who was killed in Iraq 'between the wars' and was buried at Baghdad, I became aware of a long-abandoned RAF Cemetery at Hinaidi, the final resting place of 299 service personnel and civilians who died whilst serving in Iraq during the nineteen-twenties and thirties. After a year of research and fruitless lobbying with various departments of the British Government, as a last resort I sought the help of the British High Commissioner to Iraq in Baghdad. Though my letter took five months to reach the British Embassy, I was contacted by the Defence Attache the very day it was received and we have worked together as a team since then (almost two years) on a project to secure the perimeter of the cemetery as a matter of urgency and thereby halt the progressive desecration of the 299 graves.
Under the guidance of British Embassy staff and with the co-operation of the British Ministry of Defence and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Stage 1 of the project was completed at the end of October 2021, with a brick perimeter wall erected around the cemetery and a steel security gate installed at the entrance with Commonwealth War Graves signage. A Remembrance Day service and re-dedication of the cemetery was held on site on November 11, Armistice Day, attended by Air Marshall Martin Sampson CDE, DSO, Defence Senior Advisor to the Middle East and also Brigadier Adam McRae MBE, at that time the UK Defence Attache to Iraq (seen saluting in photograph below). During the wall-building process, 69 headstones (partial or complete) were recovered and photographs of these can be seen by clicking HERE.
Stage 2, the restoration of the cemetery to its former glory by reinstating 299 new headstones, has already commenced, with the contractor tasked with Stage 1 asked to provide costings for the levelling and gravelling of the complete cemetery as well as for the erection of new headstones, once they have been re-made under the auspices of the CWGC. In the meantime, a maintenance contract has been set in place and a local caretaker employed. (see photo below) Click HERE for more photographs of the ceremony.
196 of the 299 graves are for Royal Air Force casualties from eight RAF squadrons (1, 6, 8, 30, 45, 55, 70 and 84) as well as a variety of other RAF Units. Forty-eight (48) were pilots who served with a combined total of more than forty Royal Air Force squadrons during their air force career, and half of this number were seasoned and decorated WW1 pilots, including 4 'Aces'.
Apart from Royal Air Force graves, there are 71 graves for British Army personnel (representing more than 20 Regiments, the RA/RFA and other British Army entities such as the Royal Signals and Army Services Corps) and 2 for Royal Navy men, a Chief Petty Officer from HMS Hastings and an Able Seaman from HMS Ormonde. There are also 29 graves for British civilian RAF contractors (24 men and 5 women) who were employed in various capacities in Baghdad and 1 grave for an 8-month-old baby girl, Phoebe Marks. However, the most significant grave at Hinaidi is for Brigadier-General Sir Gilbert Clayton KCMG KBE CB, British High Commissioner for Iraq, who died in September 1929 from a heart attack after a game of Polo.
The topics covered in the section on Ma'Asker include plans of the RAF cemetery, old and present-day photographs of the cemetery layout, maps of the original design, details and position of every grave and various searchable databases and statistics detailing the service records and honours (where applicable and/or available) for every man buried at Hinaidi.
If you need help researching anyone who served in the British Royal Flying Corps and the early years of the Royal Air Force, please contact me via the HELP page on this website. Though my website concentrates on 6 Squadron, I have received received dozens of queries over the past few months that were for other Royal Air Force squadrons.
Steve 'Buster' Johnson
Updated 14th June 2022