Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Major Edward Corringham "Mick" Mannock (VC, DSO and 2 bars, MC and bar) (24 May, 1887–26 July, 1918) was an English First World War flying ace and posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross. Mannock was a ruthless pilot who is regarded as one of the finest patrol leaders and mentors of novice pilots of the war.
Mannock is accepted as the leading British ace during the First World War and is often claimed to be the "ace of aces" of the British Empire, scoring 73 victories which was seven behind the leading pilot of the war, the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and one ahead of Canadian ace Billy Bishop. However, Mannock's position as the leading British Empire ace is disputed and various tallies are associated with him. Mannock's official tally was only 47 though he personally claimed 51 kills and his VC citation states he had 50 victories. He scored 24 kills in May 1918 alone however he frequently did not claim a share in kills that he had contributed to — official policy treated a shared victory as a kill for each pilot involved. The score of 73 was promoted after the war and gained wide acceptance. Recent analysis of combat records arrived at the figure of 61 when unclaimed shared victories were included (Above the Trenches, C. Shores, 1990).
The origin of Mannock's tally of 73 is believed to be author Captain Ira "Taffy" Jones who had been a student of Mannock's and supposedly harboured a dislike for Bishop. Jones sought to promote his dead friend's reputation at the expense of Bishop and in 1935 publishing a biography King of the Air Fighters: The Biography of Major "Mick" Mannock, V.C., D.S.O., M.C.. Mannock himself did not appear particularly motivated by accumulating a score though he is known to have said:
- "If I have any luck, I think I may beat old Mac's 57 victories. Then I shall try and oust old Richthofen..."
Edward Mannock was born in Ballincollig, County Cork, Ireland on 24 May, 1887, the son of a corporal in the Royal Scots Regiment, British Army. His family moved to Dublin, London and then, in 1893, to India. In 1897 Mannock developed amoebic infestation which rendered him temporarily blind and left him with permanently impaired vision. Having returned to England following the Boer War, Mannock's father deserted the family, leaving them in poverty.
Mannock, now living in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, began working for a telephone company and, in 1907, he joined the Labour Party. In February 1914, eager for a change in scene, he travelled to Constantinople, Turkey to work on a cable-laying operation and was still there when the United Kingdom declared war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, at which time he was made a prisoner of war. His health deteriorated during his incarceration and he was repatriated in July 1915 for medical reasons.
Mannock enlisted first with the Royal Army Medical Corps and, in March 1916, given his background in communications, he transferred to the Signals Section of the Royal Engineers. Inspired by the exploits of British ace Albert Ball, Mannock transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and, despite his weak eyesight, passed his medical and flying tests. He joined Ball's No. 40 Squadron RFC on the Western Front on 31 March, 1917, flying the Nieuport 17.
With his intense manner and working-class background, Mannock was not well received within the generally middle-class ranks of the RFC. Lieutenant Blaxland said of Mannock:
- "He seemed a boorish know-all and we all felt that the quicker he got amongst the Huns, the better, that would show him how little he knew."
His first contact with the enemy was not promising, panicking due to ground fire and loosing formation. Mannock overcame his fear and developed into a superb fighter pilot. His first victory was an observation balloon on 7 May, 1917 and his first aircraft victory came on 7 June, 1917 when he shot down an Albatros. He was promoted to temporary Captain on 22 July, 1917, taking command of A Flight, 40 Squadron. In September he was awarded the Military Cross and received a bar to his MC in October.
By January 1918 Mannock, now flying the S.E.5a, had 20 kills and was given 30 days leave and two months home service but was eager to return to the front. He was given command of London-based No. 74 Squadron RFC , then a training unit, and proved an excellent teacher. On one occasion he led his squadron on a training raid against a neighbouring squadron, bombarding them with 200 oranges. Days later this squadron retaliated with a bombardment of bananas for Mannock and his men.
74 Squadron was operational from St. Omer in France from April 1918 and Mannock's score continued to mount, claiming a kill on his first patrol with the squadron. By this time Mannock had developed a profound attachment to the men of his command and a burning hatred of the Germans. He also was deeply afraid of becoming a "flamer" — being shot down in flames — and was severely affected when one of his promising students, Lieutenant Dolan, died in this manner in May 1918. Mannock always carried a loaded pistol when on patrol to use on himself if his aircraft started to burn. The sight of a German going down in flames however was a cause for celebration, describing one such victory, "Sizzle, sizzle - I sent one of the bastards to hell in flames today." When he heard of the death of the Red Baron, Mannock rejoiced, "I hope he roasted all the way down."
Mannock did not subscribe to any chivalrous code of air fighting like some aces; he would continue to shoot at a plane as it went down in order to make certain the crew were dead. He did not attend the funerals of German pilots, drop wreaths over their airfields or express anything other than delight at their deaths. His greatest single bag of kills came when he jumped a training flight of Aviatiks , shot down the instructor and then ruthlessly pursued the novice pilots.
In June 1918 Mannock was promoted to Major and transferred to the command of No. 85 Squadron RAF , taking over from this "rival", Captain Billy Bishop. Shortly afterwards, he learned of the death of his friend and fellow ace, Captain James McCudden in an accident, which drove him into a rage. On 26 July, 1918 near Lillers, France, Mannock and his wingman, Lieutenant Donald Inglis from New Zealand, shot down a German two-seater. Mannock then recklessly followed the German down to the ground and circled the burning wreck. His aircraft was struck by machine gun fire from the ground and crashed in flames behind German lines. Mannock was given a ceremonial burial by the Germans but the grave site was lost in subsequent fighting.
- "This highly distinguished officer, during the whole of his career in the RAF, was an outstanding example of fearless courage, remarkable skill, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice which has never been surpassed."
Mannock was highly regarded as a patrol leader and combat pilot and his oft-quoted cardinal rule was "Always above, seldom on the same level, never underneath," by which he meant never engage the enemy without holding the advantage and the greatest advantage in air fighting was height. According to Mannock, tactics should be adjusted according to the situation however, the main principle remained:
- "The enemy must be surprised and attacked at a disadvantage, if possible with superior numbers so the initiative was with the patrol. ... The combat must continue until the enemy has admitted his inferiority, by being shot down or running away."
- Pilots must dive to attack with zest, and must hold their fire until they get within one hundred yards of their target.
- Achieve surprise by approaching from the East. (From the German side of the front.)
- Utilise the sun's glare and clouds to achieve surprise.
- Pilots must keep physically fit by exercise and the moderate use of stimulants.
- Pilots must sight their guns and practise as much as possible as targets are normally fleeting.
- Pilots must practise spotting machines in the air and recognising them at long range, and every aeroplane is to be treated as an enemy until it is certain it is not.
- Pilots must learn where the enemy's blind spots are.
- Scouts must be attacked from above and two-seaters from beneath their tails.
- Pilots must practise quick turns, as this manoeuvre is more used than any other in a fight.
- Formation flying at 25 yards must be practised.
- Pilot must practise judging distances in the air as these are very deceptive.
- Decoys must be guarded against — a single enemy is often a decoy — therefore the air above should be searched before attacking.
- If the day is sunny, machines should be turned with as little bank as possible, otherwise the sun glistening on the wings will give away their presence at a long range.
- Pilots must keep turning in a dog fight and never fly straight except when firing.
- Pilots must never, under any circumstances, dive away from an enemy, as he gives his opponent a non-deflection shot — bullets are faster than aeroplanes.
- Pilots must keep their eye on their watches during patrols, and on the direction and strength of the wind.
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)
- King of the Air Fighters - The biography of Major Mick Mannock, V.C., D.S.O., M.C. (Ira Jones, 1935)
- (James M. Dudgeon, 1935)
- Monuments To Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- The Sapper VCs (Gerald Napier, 1998)
- SCOTLAND'S FORgotten VALOUR (Graham Ross, 1995)
- VCs of the First World War - Air VCs (P G Cooksley, 1999)
- The Aerodrome: Edward Mannock
- Major Mick Mannock (detailed biography)
- Western Front Association: Major 'Mick' Mannock, VC :Top Scoring British Flying Ace in the Great War
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details