Captain Robert Reeder - 6 Squadron Royal Air Force
Lieutenant Robert Reeder Robert Reeder was the eldest son of Captain and Mrs R J Reeder of 19a Emmanuel Road, Balham, though Mrs Lilian Maude Reeder had resided at Malmains Road, Dover prior to WW1 when her husband was on foreign service. Robert matriculated from the County School, Dover, on the 25th November 1910, having excelled during his time at school at sports, especially cricket.
After leaving school he attended college Joined the Barton Road School, Dover, as a teacher. Whilst there he became attached to the Officers’ Training Corps, soon after the outbreak of war in August 1914. Leaving his life as a teacher, Robert joined the Artists’ Rifles and served in Ireland during the Sinn Fein Rebellion.
On the 11th July 1916, Robert Reeder gained a commission as a 2nd Lt in the Artists’ Rifles and transferred to the 10th Battalion, Manchester Regiment of the Territorial Force (Army Reserve). Two months later, he became attached to the Royal Flying Corps where he undertook flight training and after a few months received his pilot’s brevets.
On the 5th May 1917, Robert Reeder was gazetted as a Flying Officer and posted to the No 2 Aircraft Depot in France.
After two weeks, Robert was posted to 52 Squadron RFC as a pilot. 52 Squadron was based at Longavesnes, France and flew various types of BE2 which were later replaced by the RE8.
Whilst on leave in August 1917, Lt Robert Reeder married Mabel Gertrude Nowers (only daughter of Mr and Mrs F G Nowers). The ceremony was at St Bartholomew’s Church, Dover, after which the couple moved to 13 de Burgh Street, Dover. Robert returned to 52 Squadron on the 6th September 1917.
On the 3rd November 1917, after being promoted to Flight Commander and (acting) Captain, Robert was posted to 6 Squadron RFC, based at Abeele, only two weeks before the squadron moved south to Bertangles, near Amiens.
On the 30th November 1917, 6 Squadron received a brand new presentation aircraft from the Government of Johore No: 13 - RE8 Serial Number B6493.
On the 7th December 1917, Captain Reeder went on leave (whilst 6 Squadron was re-organising for its new and temporary role of training Army staff officers in the effectiveness of the Royal Air Force), returning from leave on the 21st December. Since he had gone on leave, all the 6 Squadron observers had been sent away to other squadrons, as they would not be needed until the squadron became operational again in March 1918.
Two weeks later, on the 6th January 1918, whilst taking an army staff officer Captain H J Scales on a flight to demonstrate the effectiveness of aircraft in bombing, ground attack and contact work with allied infantry, Reeder's RE8 B6493 (less than a week old!) was in collision with another RE8 B5035 of 6 Squadron whose pilot was carrying out a similar instructional flight with another army staff officer, Major R N Ford of the Royal Fusiliers. Both aircraft and all four men were killed in the subsequent crash. Though never confirmed, it was thought that the attention of the crew of one of the aircraft were concentrating on using the gunsight whilst aiming at a ground target and lost sight of the second aircraft until it was too late (more in my book, Over the Western Front). Captain Reeder was buried at the Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No 1, plot IV. A. 12.
On the 30th March 1918, Captain Robert Reeder’s younger brother Charles Edward (sole surviving son of Captain R J Reeder, ex Royal Engineers before WW1 and later working at the Foreign Office) married Clara Hoskins of 7 Avenue Road, Dover, at St James’ Church, Dover