The Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was formed on the 13 May 1912, just two years before WWI and not even ten years after the Wright Brothers’ first aircraft flight. During the First World War the RFC had many bases around the UK and controlled a varied selection of different types of aeroplanes and also observation balloons. The Royal Flying Corps played a key part in modern warfare of the air, but suffered terrible losses. 9,378 RFC pilots were wounded or missing by the end of the war.
The image shows a Bristol F2b. Fighter plane from 1916. It had a 190 HP Rolls Royce engine and often had a Lewis gun mounted on the rear.
On 3 August 1916, Lord Desborough, Imperial Air Command and Leicester Aero Club presented a B.E.12 aircraft, christened ‘The City of Leicester’ to the Canadian High Commissioner. A crowd of 30,000 watched the event at Leicester’s Western Park. In the “Aircraft for the Dominions” fundraising initiative Leicester was the first city to buy an aircraft for the Empire war effort.
The image shows Lord Desborough (middle), Lady Perley (left) and the Canadian High Commissioner (right). Captain Richardson of the RFC sits in The City of Leicester B.E.12.
Charles Ivan Carryer
Charles Ivan Carryer was born 15 September 1897 and was the youngest son of the Leicester hosiery manufacturer, Charles Barrowdale Carryer and his wife Mary Ann Moore. At the outbreak of war Ivan, as he was known, was 17 and attending Wyggeston Grammar School. He was among the first volunteers for military service and enlisted with the 2/4 Leicestershire Regiment and later transferred to the East Yorkshire Regiment.
On 11 October 1915, Ivan was enrolled in the Royal Flying Corps and stationed at the RFC base at Castle Bromwich with No.5 Reserve Squadron where he trained junior officers to fly. Ivan was an accomplished flyer and had the use of the new Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12 when he wished. On Sunday 13 August 1916, the then 19 year old Ivan flew the aircraft in the direction of Western Park, Leicester where he was to meet his brother, Nigel Rupert Carryer who was home on leave from the Royal Marine Artillery. On losing his direction, Ivan crashed near Gunthorpe, Nottinghamshire. Ivan was rushed to Nottingham General Hospital where he died of his wounds that same afternoon.
Ivan was given a funeral with full military honours and he was laid to rest in Welford Road Cemetery to the sound of a three volleyed gun salute and The Last Post.
Ivan’s heroic story highlights the acute danger RFC pilots faced in flying such light aircraft before they had even reached the front lines of the war.
The image shows Charles Ivan Carryer’s funeral procession on 17 August 1916. Six junior officers trained by Carryer walk alongside the gun carriage and employees of Charles Barrowdale line the pavements.