First World War – Royal Flying Corps

Formed on 13 May 1912, the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) superseded the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers. By the end of that year it had 12 manned balloons and 36 biplane fighter aircraft. The RFC originally had separate military and naval branches, however the Navy wished to retain greater control over its aircraft, so it formally separated the naval branch and renamed it the Royal Naval Air Service in 1914. The Royal Flying Corp’s motto was ‘Per ardua ad astra’ (Through Adversity to the Stars) and this remains the motto of the Royal Air Force today. It grew from just 4 squadrons to over 150 squadrons when it was amalgamated back with the Royal Naval Squadron to form the independent Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918. All those in the RFC at that time were transferred.

Alan Herbert Reffell – Pilot 759 Royal Flying Corps. Born 14 March 1895 Shere, Surrey. Enlisted 30 June 1913 Farnborough. Promoted: 1 March 1916 Corporal, 1 June 1916 Sergeant, 30 November 1915 (Flyer 2nd class), 30 May 1916 (Flyer 1st class). In France: 12 August 1914 to 18 June 1915 and from 7 June 1916 to 18 July 1916. Discharged: 29 June 1921. Awarded the 1914 (Mons) Star, the Victory Medal & the British War Medal. Also awarded the French Medaille Militaire.

Albert Edward Reffell – Private 180504 Royal Flying Corps. Born 22 February 1900 Rotherhithe. Enlisted on 15 September 1918 Discharged on 8 January 1919.

George Edward Reffell – Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps. Injured in Egypt. Awarded the Victory Medal & the British War Medal.

George Thomas Reffell – Sergeant Mechanic 10981 Royal Flying Corps. Enlisted 22 October 1915. In France from 9 March 1916 to 28 December 1916 and from 12 February 1917 to 29 June 1917. Discharged on 30 April 1920. Awarded the Victory Medal & the British War Medal.

Frank Mortimer Reffell – Corporal Mechanic 30367 Royal Flying Corps. Enlisted 6 June 1916. In France from 24 August 1916 to 18 January 1919. Discharged on 30 April 1920. Awarded the Victory Medal & the British War Medal.

Acknowledgement is made to the following National Archives files at Kew: Officer’s records: AIR76, Airmen records: AIR 78 (index) & AIR79 (records). Medal information from First World War Service (Campaign) Medals: WO329.