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Remembering World War I
WWI Veterans Yarmouth Town and County
Name: Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Residence at Enlistment: Age at Enlistment: Height: Eye Colour: Hair Colour: Martial Status: Trade/Occupation: Religion: Next of Kin: Service Number: Rank: Date of Enlistment: Place of Enlistment: Enlistment Battalion: Service Battalion: Served In: Wounded/Illness Date and Place of Discharge: Additional Information: Date of Death: Burial:
James Cornelius Uhlman
James Cornelius Uhlman July 12, 1896 Carleton, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia Carleton, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia 19 6 feet, 1 inch Light Blue Brown Single Electrical Engineer Baptist Thomas Uhlman (Father) Carlton, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia 283533 Private May 3, 1916 Yarmouth, NS 219th Battalion 85th Battalion England, France GSW (right leg) April 9, 1917 Vimy December 12, 1917 (London, England) Commissioned in Royal Flying Corps at Canadian Army Discharge Rank of Second Lieutenant Wounded August 13, 1918 December 18, 1983 Royal Oak Burial Park Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia The following is his written story of his life as an aviator “My hometown is Carleton, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. I was the first person from that area to fly. As no openings were apparent at that time, in either the Royal Flying Corps or with the Motor-cycle Dispatch Riders, I enlisted in the infantry in May, 1916. I went to France with the 85th Battalion, 4th Division, C.E.F., and was wounded at Vimy Ridge on April 9th , 1917, and was returned to England. After recovery, I applied to the Royal Flying Corps, and was accepted for cadet-ship. I was commissioned as a Second Lt. In the R.F.C. in December, 1917, had my first flight on December 26 th, did my first solo flight on January 6 th, and got my wings later in that month. During the next several months, I was shifted to a number of different Air Stations in the Salisbury area, all connected with the manning of the newly formed Independent Air Force. With coalescence of the R.N.A.S. and the R.F.C. into the Royal Air Force on April 1st , 1918, I received promotion to Flying Officer. During my several moves to different Air Stations, I had the opportunity of flying several types of two-seater aircraft. These included the B.E. 2B, a 90- HP air-cooled RAF-engined Artillery Observation machine, with warp-wing lateral control instead of ailerons; the B.E. 2C, the same type with ailerons; the so-called "Big Ack-W", (Armstrong-Whitmore) with 160 HP Beardmore water-cooled engine, what seemed like a massive fuselage, and very considerable wing area; the R.E. 8, the then-standard Artillery Observation (Art-Ops) type; the D.H. 4 with Rolls Eagle-8 engine; and the D.H. 9, with the 240 HP 6 cylinder B.H.P. Puma engine. I did my training on the D.H. 6 (Clutching Hand) with a 90 HP air-cooled RAF engine, and with a wing camber just like it’s nick-name. I think top speed was about 45-50 m.p.h. I flew this type quite a bit, and I recall once when I took off in a very strong wind on a dare, and had some difficulty in getting back to the landing area, landing at practically zero ground speed with full engine. While at the various Stations, I flew as much as possible, and this accumulated considerably more flight time and experience in map reading and yes, forced landings, than most pilots had before going to France. Early in June, I took one of the first Could-Flying courses at Stonehenge, with practice in formation flying, head-in-bag navigation, and actual cloud penetration. Instrumentation consisted only of an Air Speed Indicator; a Ball turn-and-Bank Indicator; and a compass. On June 22nd , 1918, I arrived at a Pilot’s Pool in France, and on June 28 th, reported to 104 Squadron. The C.O. was an Irishman named Quigg, and he seemingly had a thing against Canadians. I was then the only Canadian in the Squadron, and there were times when I felt somewhat unfairly treated. Squadron 104 was one of several Long Distance Daylight Bombing Units, which with several Night Bombing Squadrons, made up the Independent Air Force under General Trenchard, all working from a huge aerodrome complex some 30 miles southeast of Nancy. The main job was to bomb enemy industrial complexes in the Saar and Rhine areas, both day and night, but there were also raids on enemy aerodromes. There were no fighter escorts then, so stress had to be upon close formation in day bombing, for mutual safety and increased fire-power and field of fire. The Daylight Bombers, all with D.H. 9 engines, tried to make their raids at 16,000 feet, in open cockpits with no heat, oxygen, radio, or indeed parachutes, One raid I was on lasted 5 ¼ hours. Perfect physical condition was required, but practically everyone had headaches after a long raid, probably due to oxygen starvation. The D.H. 9 had a 240 HP 6 cylinder, water cooled B.H.P. Siddeley-Puma, well stream-lined into the fuselage, making a fine looking aircraft. However, this engine gave a lot of trouble such as broken valve springs, and caused many forced landings, frequently with some aircraft damage. The D.H. 9 handled very nicely, but was seriously under powered, with namy undercarriage failures. Consequently all Squadrons had high un-serviceability rates. The load limit, with full tanks for 5 hours and 20 minutes flying time, was a 500 pound bomb with pilot and observer, a Vickers gun up front, and a Lewis behind. The close seating arrangement in the 9 provided for much better coordination between pilot and gunner than with the 4, but of course with it’s Rolls Eagle 8 engine, the 4 was a much better performing aircraft. It took the 9 better than one hour to climb to 16,000 feet with full load, and indicated cruise speed that was about 80 m.p.h. For the next six weeks or so after I joined the Squadron, we did a number of bombing missions, the longest one lasting 5 hours and 15 minutes, getting home with just spoonfuls of fuel left. A number of planned shows had to be cancelled at the last minute because of weather conditions, mostly heavy cloud cover. I recall one abort when we loaded up with 500 pound containers of small Thermite bombs, to be dropped on a section of the Black Forest, which had become very dry through lack of rain. However, heavy rainstorms developed before morning all over the area and contiuned for several days, and I never did find out what became of those Thermite bombs. After several delays on August 13 th, a squadron mission got off about 1 P.M. My engine was nearing it’s overhaul time and would have been replaced after this flight. For a while it did OK but after getting to 10,000 feet or so, I found I could not maintain my flight station, and kept dropping further and further back. Finally the spare aircraft sent out with each such mission moved up to take my place, but as I had a semi-armed 500 pound bomb attached, I decided to go on just a bit further and look for the best available target. So I found what seemed to be a rather important railway junction, made my sighting run, dropped the bomb, and turned for home. Quite soon we were attacked by five German fighters, My observer-gunner, whose name was Paul Sutherland, and who had been posted to 104 Squadron from the U.S. Army Air Corps, kept on firing his Lewis gun, while I took evasive action, but heading for home. Soon the gravity fuel tank over my head was hit, spewing fuel, some of the controls were damaged, and eventually Sutherland was hit twice in each arm and each leg. I had always planned, if chased, to go into a slight side-slip. This I did, and I can still recall the sight of tracer bullets streaming past between me and the right inner wing struts. Then the engine seized up or at least stopped, and soon after I got hit with what turned out to be an explosive bullet, down the back of my right leg. Things were looking pretty grim when I spotted a cloud ahead and below, so I dived into it, throwing the pursuers off track. By then, we were apparently fairly close to the front lines, as they broke off completely. I was barely able to maintain control of the aircraft, what with damaged controls and my right leg barely moveable, but by using the left toe-strap on the rudder-bar, push-pull, so to speak, a fair landing was made in a field surrounded by the usual poplar trees, but with one end open. As the landing speed diminished, the left wing came down, then came to a cartwheel, ending in a nose down, tail up position. I was not too sure that we had indeed crossed over the Alied territory until I saw the blue uniforms of French police running toward us. (It was probably because of this crash that he was reported missing and buried in a French Cemetery!) We had come down in the Verdun (Metz) area, and were carried to a First Aid Station in the chalk cliffs, and later to a French hospital. I got good care there, but had lost a lot of blood, so was quite weak for awhile. Later, after being in American and British hospitals, I got back to England, and was on convalescent leave when the Armistice was signed. On November 19 th, I reported to the Air Ministry in London, determined to get posted to a Bristol Fighter Squadron if possible. However, I was sent to a training Squadron in Dublin, which used D.H. 9’s ostensibly for training, but actually we were part of British Forces in Ireland in case of rebellion. I had charge of a flight there, took and Advanced Piloting course at The Curragh, and was recommended for Flight Lieutenant, but my repatriation to Canada came through before the promotion did. On board ship I caught Scarlet Fever, so was in a Montreal hospital for several weeks and arrived home in June, 1919. As a further example of my good fortune on August 13th, I was later told that the spare aircraft which took my place sustained a direct hit by A.A. over the target area. He fell over onto another aircraft, so two crews were lost. For about a day, it was thought that I was one who had been hit, a Missing in Action wire was sent to my family. This of course was later rescinded. To complete my aviation experiences, I was able to get back into the R.C.A.F. in January 1928, and was assigned to the Winnipeg Air Station, on Civil Government Air Operations. In 1929, I was put in command of an experimental unit, No. 1 General Purpose Detachment, which had a motto – "Specialists in Everything." We supplied transportation for many varied Governmental purposes, as well as special aerial photographic services. We flew to a variety of areas of the country, such as St. John in Quebec, to the Liard and Nahanni Rivers, and north to Aklavic, Herschel Island, and Coppermine in the Arctic. This ended in 1932 when the entire Non- Permanent R.C.A.F. was disbanded by the Bennett Government. I was then given an opportunity to form an Air Service for the Province of Manitoba, with some obsolescent flying boats (Vedettes) handed over to Manitoba by the R.C.A.F., provided some ex-R.C.A.F. pilots were employed. This Air Service was originally intended solely for Forestry protective use, but demands from other Natural Resources, and general Governmental requirements made it possible to develop it into a genuine Provincial Air Service, Many unique transportation services were provided, and later, combined with a very extensive radio-telephone network. On my retirement as Director, Manitoba Government Air Service, in 1962, we had a fleet of D.H. Beavers and Otters, a fine workshop and hangar at Lac du Bonnet, and a staff of some forty people. It might be interesting to note that I had a long association with De Haviland aircraft, both in the beginning and later part of my aviation career.” (Source: The Story of James Cornelius Uhlman 1896-1983)
James Uhlman (1932)