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6th JANUARY 1916, AGED 21


HANS ACWORTH BUSK was born on 9th January 1894 in Rudgwick, the son of Thomas Teshmaker Busk and Mary Busk (nee Acworth), and brother of Edward Teshmaker Busk (1886-1914), Mary Agnes Dorothea Busk (1888-1960) and Henry Gould Busk (1890-1956).

The Busk family had previously lived at Ford's Grove, Winchmore Hill, London, which had been the seat of the family since 1720. On 28th September 1889 the family acquired and moved to Hermongers in Rudgwick, but sadly Thomas Teshmaker Busk died less than five years later on 28th May 1894, aged 41, just prior to the birth of Hans, his youngest son.

Hans was educated at Gresham's School at Holt, attended Winchester College from 1907 to 1908, and then continued to King's College, Cambridge In December 1913 Hans followed in the footsteps of his elder brother Edward and started to learn to fly at the W. H. Ewen School, at Hendon. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1914 and completed his flying training, being awarded his Aviators Certificate, Number 739 on 17th February 1914 following a test flight on a Maurice Farman Biplane at the Central Flying School, Upavon. At this time he was noted as being a Sub Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. His naval record indicates that he was appointed to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval barracks at Chatham, on 29th April 1914, together with two other officers to attend an advanced course of instruction at the Isle of Grain Naval Air Station, in the Thames Estuary, from where the RNAS operated seaplanes.

Hans and his elder brother Edward, 1904

(Photo courtesy of Adrian Roberts)

Hans Acworth Busk's Royal Aero Club Certificate Card

Flt Lt Hans Busk (circled) pictured with a group of RNAS officers at Calshott, 1914

It is likely that whilst at the Isle of Grain Hans learnt to fly the Short Admiralty Type 74 Seaplane. The Navy had ordered seven of these two man aircraft . The first three airframes where sent to the Isle of Grain, the final four being stationed at Dundee.

On 5th November 1914 Han's elder brother, Edward Teshmaker Busk was killed whilst test flying a B.E.2c as part of his work at the Royal Aircraft Factory.

At the start of 1915 Hans was operating from Dundee, flying the Short Admiralty Type 74 Seaplane. On 1 January 1915 he was the pilot of Short Type 74 Seaplane No 79 when it broke up in heavy seas 2 miles north of Fifeness; he and his observer, Lt L H Strain RNVR, were rescued. Hans was involved in another accident on 24 February 1915 he was the pilot of Short Type 74 Seaplane No 76 when it side-slipped while turning and crashed.

On 29th July 1915 Hans was promoted Flight Lieutenant, probably having been posted to No. 2 Wing R.N.A.S, which had formed at Eastchurch (Isle of Sheppey, Kent) on 21st June 1915 from No.2 (Naval) Squadron. On 15th August 1915 Hans and the unit embarked for the Dardanelles to assist with the Gallipoli Campaign. The Wing comprised of 16 pilots and 200 ground crew and was commanded by Wing Commander E. L. Gerrard. They arrived in the warzone and established themselves on the island of Imbros (now Gökçeada) at Kephalo Point, which was just a short distance from the shoreline of the Gallipoli Peninsula, on 31st August 1915. From this position the aircraft could be used to support the beachhead which had been established at Suvla Bay earlier in the month. The unit combined with No 3 Squadron R.N.A.S, commanded by Wing Commander C. R. Samson, which had been in the area since the start of the Campaign, and flew a mixture of aircraft including Henri Farman, Morane Parasols, Caudrons, Bristol Scouts and B.E.2c's (designed by his late brother Edward).

The work of the R.N.A.S. pilots and observers over Gallipoli included spotting the fall of shells for naval and shore based artillery, reconnaissance, photography and mapping, bombing and even engaging enemy aircraft with armament as rudimentary as rifles. On 1st December 1915 flew with Keith-Jopp, and Australian. The flight was recorded by the commander of No3 Sqn RNAS, Wing Commander Samson, who commented that they "had a good scrap with a German aeroplane.... They were spotting for one of those monitors doing a bombardment when they sighted the German. They got close to him and opened fire before the German saw them. Jopp said that the German observer looked round and saw them right on his tail. He flung his arms around the pilot's head, shoving the stick forwards and the German dived nearly vertically. Busk followed down, but the German could dive quicker than the Henri Farman. They got the German right down to 20 feet or so off the ground, and chivvied him at that height, firing all the time until they got to Galata aerodrome. They failed to score a bulls eye unfortunately..."

Faced with apparent Allied air superiority, the Turkish forces and their German allies endeavoured to create a fighter presence over the battlefield. To this aim, In September and December three Fokker Eindecker aircraft arrived at the Galata aerodrome on the Gallipoli Peninsula. These aircraft were all piloted by Germans, commanded by Pilot Lieutenant Hans Joachim Buddecke. These single seat aircraft, although rudimentary, were armed with the first forward firing machine gun to be synchronized to fire through the aircraft's propeller by way or an interrupter mechanism. They had proved extremely successful over the Western Front and continued that success in the skies of Gallipoi, scoring nine victories, four of which were credited to Hans Buddecke.

On 16th December 1915 Hans was flying a Bristol Scout C No. 1263 when the aircraft's 80 hp Gnôme Lambda engine failed. He effected a successful forced landing on the sea 4 miles north east of Kephalo. Trawler No. 83 endeavoured to salvage the aircraft but it sank while being hoisted aboard. Hans was rescued by a lighter.

Henri Farman F.27s and Nieuport Type 12 two-seaters belonging to
No.2 Wing, RNAS based at Imbros in 1915

The decision had been taken by the Allied High Command to end the Gallipoli Campaign with a withdrawal from the peninsula which began in the last days of 1915. The area of Suvla Bay and Anzac Beach were evacuated on 19th December 1915, with the remaining shore forces being evacuated from Cape Helles on 9th January 1916. Throughout this period No 2 Wing were tasked with covering the withdrawal in order to prevent the news of the operations from reaching the enemy.

On 6th January 1916 a multi national force including Hans Busk was tasked with bombing the Turkish Galata airfield. According to Hans' friend Flt Lt Theophilus Chater Vernon*: "Hans went out on Jan 6th in a Henry Farman biplane with a 130hp engine.....he started off at about 3pm carrying a 550lb bomb .... on account of the great weight he naturally went alone. As Hans carried no observer he therefore carried no gun, and was last seen about 5 miles by air from the Gelata Aerodrome (German)" (* Sqn Cdr T.C. Vernon died of wounds 15/09/1917 received whilst flying from RNAS Hawkshill Freedown, near Walmer, Kent.)

A Turkish book, "The Skies of Gallipoli" by Cenk Avci, mentions: "On January 6, the Allied aeroplanes raided Galata airbase but they failed to cause any damage to the camp. Air Lieutenant Buddecke responded promptly and took off from the airbase and shot down one French Farman aeroplane under the control of pilot Leconte. She crashed on the Asiatic side between the Ozbek and Karacaviran district. Leconte died in the crash. On the afternoon of the same day, Buddecke again shot down another Allied aeroplane in the Burhani area with his Fokker"

The British Official History 'The War in the Air' Vol.II says only that "Busk went off to bomb, but was never heard of again. He probably came down somewhere in the sea ". It is likely that had Hans Busk crashed on land, there would have been a record of this held by the Turkish forces. As we know that Hans took off at about 3pm, approached Galata aerodrome, and that Buddecke shot down an Allied aircraft that afternoon, it is entirely possible that Hans Busk was shot down into the sea by Lt Hans-Joachim Buddecke in a Fokker Eindecker on 6th January 1916, three days before his 22nd birthday.

Flt Cdr Hans Acworth Busk, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Rudgwick War Memorial and his father's grave in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick.

Further research resources:

ADM 273/3/45 Page 45: Hans Acworth Busk. RNAS Officers Service [record] 1914-1918

ADM 273/31/100 Page 100: Hans Ackworth Busk. RNAS Officers Service 1914-1915

AIR76/69 H A Busk