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12 Feb 1916. Imbros


Searching for submarines between Kephalos and Tenedos. None seen. I went straight to Tenedos, then turned left, then left again and followed line to west of Asia to the straits then left again, crossing my previous line and searched water between I. and T. Then back to Helles, 5000 ft, got rid of my bombs and so home. In starting there was a very slight N.E. air, but I got off with it. Near Tenedos it was blowing hard from the south, nearly 40 knots, and there were thin clouds down to 1000 ft. Very bumpy, otherwise not bad. When I landed it was about dead calm. Good landing, but rather fast as I expected a bit of wind. No sign of any life on Helles or of shipping in straits.

It had been established very early on that an aeroplane was a fabulous place to spot the newest threat to the surface navy – the submarine.  In those days, they spent little time below the surface, and they couldn’t dive very deep. From the high vantage point of an aircraft, the submerged submarine’s hull was very easily visible, particularly in calm waters.

Bunnie flew due south for about twenty miles to Tenedos (Kephalos was another name for the airfield), then crossed the short distance to the Turkish coast on the Asian shore, and back north again, forming a sort of grid pattern.

Today’s flight was very long – an hour and three quarters – and virtually all of it over water. No doubt this was partly due to the astonishing strength of the wind – 40 knots – near Tenedos. This would have reduced his speed over the ground on the way down to Tenedos from around 80kt to only 40kt. The flight was conducted at low level (less than 1000ft), so that he would have had no chance of gliding to safety if the engine stopped – and the limit of its endurance was about two hours. It’s interesting that he was armed with bombs – presumably to drop on any submarines he saw – and that he was happy to drop them on Helles before returning home. He doesn’t say whether he dropped them on a specific target, or just dumped them.

And when he landed the wind was calm! No wonder he fluffed his landing a bit; he certainly wouldn’t have been expecting that.

And what of Dickinson?

12th. Rainstorms occasionally. Kinkead smashed Nieuport on landing. Concussion. Soccer match versus servants. Won 2-0.

I can’t trace which Nieuport Kinkead smashed – though it was likely a single-seat Nieuport 11. Sam Kinkead was a colourful character who went on to serve on the Western Front before taking charge of a Squadron of Sopwith Camels in southern Russia in 1919. they were packed into railway carriages and moved to wherever they were needed.

He later commanded the High Speed Flight which was set up specifically to retain the Schneider Trophy, and was killed in 1928 flying one of the Supermarine S5 seaplanes. These machines were flown at very low level at very high speeds, and it’s thought in the hazy conditions he may have lost sight of the horizon and flown into the water. The force of the impact was so great that his body was found compressed into the tail of the aircraft.

Incidentally, one follower has asked whether our Dickinson might be the grandfather of Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of heavy metal rock band Iron Maiden. Indeed Bruce, like so many rock musicians, is a pilot, and has flown a Boeing 757. Currently he runs an aircraft maintenance business in Cardiff. Bruce was indeed brought up by his grandparents, but Paschalis Palavouzis assures me that Dickinson senior died in 1935, so it seems unlikely there’s any family connection.

  1. Oh…! In that case what an amazing coincidence.
    Anyway, thank you so much for answering my question.
    Just in case you want to know, he also flies in The Great War Display Team (a Fokker Dr1) and has a company selling small cheap jets Eclipse 550 model.

    • Ah! In that case I may have met him. I know various other members of the team… Small world.

      • A small grey haired guy who talks a lot and smiles like a child. That’s Bruce. 😀
        I remember him saying someone in his family was a pilot… that’s why I asked but… who knows now!
        Thank you very much!

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