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Oakham School Archives

Explore the history of the school through the documents and objects that have been left behind...


The Royal Flying Corps

The Royal Flying Corps was formed on 13th April 1912 by Royal Warrant and came into being in May 1912. It consisted of a Military wing, a Naval wing and a Central Flying School, for training pilots of both wings. The Military wing was administered by the War Office and was under the command of Major F. Sykes. It was composed of three squadrons in 1912. The Naval wing was administered by the Admiralty and commanded by Commander C.R. Samson. The naval aviators were based at Eastchurch.

When the war broke out, the RFC had 113 aircraft, the French Aviation Service had 160 aircraft and the German Air Service had 246 aircraft. The RFC also had a balloon section for static observation of enemy defences. The Germans had superior aircraft and a better flying training system. On the Western Front, winds favoured the German aircraft, and their aggressive flying caused heavy losses on the Allies side. The ratio of British losses to German was at around 4 to 1.

The RFC deployed four squadrons to France in 1914. By the Battle of Loos (September 1915), it had 12 squadrons and 161 aircraft, and by the Battle of the Somme (July 1916), it had sent 27 squadrons and 421 aircraft.

During the war, the objectives of the RFC were artillery spotting and photographic reconnaissance. Then, gradually, pilots were engaged into aerial battles. As a consequence, fighter squadrons were formed to protect observation aircraft. Later in the war, pilots were ordered to strafe enemy trenches and bomb airfields, transport networks and industrial facilities. The RFC also deployed squadrons to the Middle East, Balkans and Italy. 1,200 aircraft were deployed to France and took part in the German offensive of 21st March 1918. The RFC served in nearly all the major battles of the war.

The RFC Home Establishment was in charge of the training of air and ground crews. By the end of the war, squadrons were created for home defence against German Zeppelin raids and bomber raids. Pilot pupils were expected to fly 15 hours’ solo in early 1916. However, as the war progressed, the demand for more pilots at the front increased swiftly. Pilots received insufficient training and were unprepared for combat. The casualties were high and the life expectancy of a pilot was estimated in a matter of weeks. It prompted the creation of a Training Brigade and the establishment of specialist schools where veterans taught air combat, bomb dropping, and night flying. When a soldier or officer was wounded on the front and sent home, some were posted in training schools and redeployed as pilots.

Old Oakhamians who served in the Royal Flying Corps

Claude Peregrine Bertie

13th July 1890 – 19th March 1917


Claude was born to Lieutenant-Colonel George Aubrey and Harriet Blanche Elizabeth Bertie of 36, Eccleston Square, London and of Maresfield, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.


Life at Oakham School

Claude attended Oakham School between 1902 and 1907. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:

  • Rugby 2nd lot: a back – Winter 1905.
  • Fives Senior Competition: final (against Pickering-Clarke) – Spring 1907.


  • German prize: Summer 1906.

Oakham School Magazine Reviews

In his sporting career, the Oakhamian Magazine made comments upon his rugby prowess.

Winter 1905 Rugby review: ‘Has some off days, but as a general rule he collars soundly and runs well.’


After Oakham and the War

After school, Claude joined the 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery in 1909 and volunteered for overseas service when the war broke out. He was promoted Captain. He served at the front from February to September 1915 but he was invalided home after an attack of diphtheria.

Royal Field Artillery badge.

He was transferred to 59 Squadron Royal Flying Corps as a pilot in September 1916 and returned to the front in February 1917.

Royal Flying Corps badge.

On the 19th March 1917, two RE8s of 59 Squadron were on a photo mission when they were attacked hit by AA fire. Jasta 2 then swooped in and finished two of them off. Lieutenant Werner Voss did for Captain Eldred Wolferstan Bowyer-Bower and Second Lieutenant Edwin Elgey in RE8 A4165. The aircraft crashed and burst into flames. Lieutenant Fritz Otto Bernert took down Captain Claude Peregrine Bertie and Lieutenant Frederick Henry Wilson in RE8 A4168. Bertie was killed in the cockpit and the plane crashed. All four were killed.

Claude was killed in action on 19th November 1916. He was 26.

Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Summer term 1917, Vol.33, no.2

Claude is buried in grave I.C.8 at Mory Abbey Military Cemetery. He is remembered on a plaque in Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, Chelsea and in the Oakham School chapel.



David Rhys Cadwgan Lloyd

20th January 1897 – 16th June 1917


David was born at Tendring, Essex, to Llewellyn and Annie Gertrude Lloyd, of The Yew Trees, Kirby-le-Soken, Essex.


Life at Oakham

David attended Oakham School between 1911 and 1913. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:

  • Royal Drawing Society Annual Examination: passed Division III with Honours – June 1912.


  • Rugby 1st XV: a forward – Winter 1912 to Winter 1913.
  • Captain of the Wasps XI: Summer 1913.
  • Fives Senior Competition: first round (paired with Talbot Fitzroy Eden Stanhope) – Spring 1913.
  • Cross country Steeplechase: 2nd place – Spring 1913.
  • Mile (open): 3rd place – Spring 1913.
  • Swimming four lengths (open – handicap): 1st place (7sec) – Summer 1913.
  • Swimming two lengths (open): 2nd place – Summer 1913.
  • Swimming six lengths (open): 1st place – Summer 1913.
  • Diving (open): 2nd place equal – Summer 1913.


  • O.T.C.: promoted to Lance Corporal – Summer 1913.

Oakham School Magazine Reviews

In his sporting career, the Oakhamian Magazine made comments upon his rugby prowess.

Winter 1912 Rugby reviews: ‘Has come on a lot this season. Uses his weight in the scrum and dribbles well. Would be a better tackler, if he went for his man lower.’

Winter 1913 Rugby reviews: ‘Lloyd, Atter i and Bromhead have been our mainstay in the scrimmage; genuine hard workers and excellent dribblers.’ ; ‘A thoroughly good forward, uses his weight in the scrum, is an excellent dribbler and tackles well. A good place kick.’


After Oakham and the War

After school, David joined the Essex Yeomanry in 1914.

Essex Yeomanry badge.

He was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 10th Battalion the North Lancashire Regiment on 29th December 1914. He served in Belgium and France and was wounded at the Somme in Autumn 1916.

North Lancashire Regiment bagde.

He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and became a Lieutenant on 28th September 1916. He went back to France with 60 Squadron in April 1917.

Royal Flying Corps badge.

The Squadron Combat Claims give three “vistories” to David. He flew a Nieuport B1610 DD and on 11th March 1917 he destroyed an Albatros at Ecours-St Quentin. On 15th June 1917, he destroyed an Albatros D00C. On 16th June 1917, David was killed in a fight with two Albatros scouts east of Monchy-le-Preux. He was last seen following an enemy aircraft down to 2,000 ft over Marquion, near Cambrai, when his Nieuport collided with an Albatros (flown by Vfw Robert Riessinger of Jasta 12).

David's Commanding Officer wrote: “Everyone liked your son immensely; he was a fine and fearless pilot - almost the best in the squadron - and an undeniable fighter. I miss him dreadfully."

David was killed on 16th June 1917. He was 20.

Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Christmas term 1917, Vol.33, no.3

He received the 1914-15 star as a Private in the Essex Yeomanry and the British War medal and Victory medal as a Lieutenant.


The 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

David is buried in grave VIII.B.8 at H.A.C. Cemetery in Ecoust-St Mein. He is remembered on the war memorial at Kirby-le-Soken and in the Oakham School chapel.


Lambert Playfair

1893 – 6th July 1915

Lambert was born in Dibrugarah, India to Sir Harry and Lady Jessie Playfair of Gloucester Terrace, Hyde Park, London (previously of Assam, India).


Life at Oakham

Lambert attended Oakham School between 1905 and 1910. He was in School House. His school achievements are listed below:

  • Form 1 and 2 English prize: Summer 1905.
  • Trustees’ Form 3 prize: Summer 1907.


  • Rugby 2nd lot: a forward – Winter 1906; Winter 1907.
  • Cricket under 14: Summer 1907.
  • Shooting: Spring 1910.


  • Debating Society: Spring 1910.


After Oakham and the War

After school, Lambert gained a prize cadetship to RMC Sandhurst in 1912. He was gazetted to the 1st Battalion Royal Scots in January 1913.

Royal Scots bagde.

He joined the 1st Squadron Royal Flying Corps as a Lieutenant. He was killed in a dogfight near St Julien, Belgium.

Royal Flying Corps bagde.

Lambert was killed on 6th July 1915. He was 22.

Roll of honour in the Oakhamian Magazine, Christmas term 1915, Vol.31, no.3

Lambert is buried in grave B.9 at Hospital Farm Cemetery, near Ypres. He is remembered on a plaque in St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, North East Fife and in the Oakham School chapel.


Royal Flying Corps Images

A Royal Flying Corps workshop for assembling aircraft. © IWM Q 108849

A Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter of 78th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps at Suttons Farm. © IWM Q 113865

DH5s of 64th Squadron lined up prior to take off for France 14th October 1917. © IWM Q 111871

A German soldier examining a Breguet aeroplane of the Royal Flying Corps brought down behind the German lines. © IWM Q 54446