Royal Air Force Flying Clothing & Equipment 1939-1945
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Gerard Crutchley RFC
The Memoirs of Humphrey Loch RFC
Gerard Gwyn Crutchley (Born August 8th 1893)
England for Russia in 1910 and worked in surveying and oilfield engineering,
mainly for Maikop Mutual Oil Transport Co Ltd. He quickly became fluent in
Russian and was appointed Assistant to the Chief Surveyor and Oilfields Manager.
the outbreak of war, he volunteered for military service and returned to
England. He completed officer training with the University of London OTC and
commissioned into the 15th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on April 9th 1915. He was
stationed at Ipswich East Coast Defence from May 17th to November 13th
(transferring to the 11th London Regiment on October 26th).
then shipped out to the Dardanelles and in December was evacuated and sent to
Egypt followed by (East of) the Suez Canal where he remained until October 30th
He then volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps and trained as a pilot with the
20th Reserve WIng in Aboukir
and Ismailia, qualifying on December 23rd 1916. A short spell at the Flying
School in Heliopolis and then back to the UK (Cramlington, Huntingdon and
finally at RAF Wyton with 65 Squadron).
Because of his fluent Russian, he went on to train Imperial Russian Flying Corps
officers in England from March to October 1917. Based at the No 1 School of
Military Aeronautics at Reading, he flew from various airfields such as Upavon,
Waddington and Northolt.
On July 10th 1917, he suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by a
propeller as he was starting his BE2E. His family were told it was unlikely that
he would recover. He remained in Hospital until August 15th, then back to
training Russian pilots in Reading.
In December 1917
he was posted to the Royal Flying Corps Mission in Russia (mainly Moscow and
Petrograd) and continued instructing until February 1918.
His flying coat and winter flying helmet have been on display at the Museum of
Army Flying in Middle Wallop, but after 25 years they are now being placed in
He married Helen Walton at the garrison church in Baku, Russia on 20th August
He ended the war attached to the Intelligence Corps on Special Service Duties
and remained with them until November 1921, relinquishing his commission on
Intelligence Officer with:
Col J "Klondyke" Boyle (Russia and Rumania)
Caucasas Military Agency (Baku and Caucasas) Dunsterforce (Persia and
Caucasas) Gen Mallisin's Mission (Transcaspia) Britforce (Baku and
Constantinople) Caspian Naval Force (Caspian Ports) North Persia Force
(Persia) Sir Percy Cox (Baghdad)
Between 1922 and 1928 he was the London representative for Edouard Jonas, the
French government art expert.
16th February 1928 he was re-commissioned in the Territorial Army. In 1938 he
relinquished his commission and transferred to the Territorial Army Reserve of
the 4th September 1939 he was working for the Air Ministry as a Production
Officer. Promoted to Senior Production Officer on the 15th October 1940. In 1943
he became Assistant Director, Spares Production, Ministry of Aircraft
Production. By 1949 his role was Assistant Director of Aircraft Production,
Ministry of Supply, Thames House. He left the Ministry on the 14th April 1950.
He had been ill for a long time and died in 1957.
1914-1915 Star War Medal Victory Medal General Service
Medal (N.W. Persia clasp) Mentioned in Dispatches January 20th 1921
(Mesopotamia) Order of St Vladimir 4th Class with Swords Order of St
Stanislas 3rd Class with Swords Order of St Stanislas 2nd Class with Swords
Extracts from service record:
'Assisted Col Joe Boyle in repatriating the
Rumanian National Treasure from Moscow to Jassy (Moldavia).' 'Served as a
Bolshevik commissar at Sebastopol, in which capacity he succeeded in sabotaging
to a considerable extent the supplies of crude oil being sent into the interior
for the use of the Red Army.' 'In co-operation with the British Vice-Consul
and General Denikin, he acquired the entire Caspian Fleet which was then sent
over to Persia to enable Dunsterforce to cross the Caspian and come to the
relief of Baku.' 'Located the Bolshevik armed vessels "Chasevoy" and "Van"
for the British Navy, which were hiding in the Caspian, and accompanied units of
our fleet which proceeded to capture them.' 'Located and apprehended in the
Caucasus the notorious Yuri Pacha who had for months eluded all our efforts to
capture him.' 'Discovered plot to assassinate the Persian Prime Minister and
his cabinet, and was instrumental in securing the arrest of the conspirators.'
'Conducted peace negotiations between the Bolshevik forces and the Persian
government on the occasion of the Bolshevik invasion of N.W. Persia.'
This was his lucky
mascot 'Sunny Jim' which he always carried in his aircraft. It was presented to
him by the famous actress Beatrice Lillie in 1917 - she wrote 'Good Luck' on it
together with her name. In a letter dated 19th April 1917 to his friend Humphrey
Loch, he mentions that he has met someone from the stage: 'I met a little Peach
in town about ten days ago and have had two glorious days with her already. She
is on the stage and unfortunately has just started touring. This week she is in
Folkestone. She is coming to London again soon though. Will tell you all about
it when I see you.'
Research into my
Grandfather's military career is ongoing - I will post further details soon.