Accident Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d A39,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 142361
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Date:Sunday 7 January 1917
Type:Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d
Owner/operator:Royal Flying Corps (RFC)
Registration: A39
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Ploegsteert Wood, West Flanders -   Belgium
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:Clairmarais, Belgium
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
On 7 January 1917 near Ploegsteert Wood, Belgium, Sergeant Thomas Mottershead was on patrol in a Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d (serial number A39) with observer Lt. W E Gower when he was engaged in combat by two Albatros D.III of Jasta 8.

Lt Gower managed to hit one and put it out of the action, the second Albatros however, flown by German 'ace' Leutnant Walter Göttsch (20 victories), hit Mottershead's aircraft, with the petrol tank pierced and the machine was set on fire. Enveloped in flames which his observer was unable to subdue with a handheld fire extinguisher, the Sergeant was badly burned but nevertheless managed to take his aircraft back to the Allied lines and made a successful forced landing. The undercarriage collapsed on touching the ground however, throwing the observer clear but pinning Mottershead in his cockpit. He was subsequently rescued but died of his burns five days later.

Mottershead received the only V.C. ever awarded to a non-commissioned RFC officer during the First World War. The medal was presented to Mottershead's widow Lilian by King George V in a ceremony in Hyde Park, London on 2 June 1917.


1. Aeroplane Monthly, July 2011
2. Pusher Aces of World War 1" Jon Guttman, Harry Dempsey. Osprey Pub Co, 2009. ISBN 1-84603-417-5, ISBN 978-1-84603-417-6.

Revision history:

08-Feb-2012 06:49 harro Added
05-Sep-2017 21:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
26-Jun-2022 09:38 Ron Averes Updated [Location]

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