A.F.M. (GV – Corpl. Mech. R.A.F.), 1915/15 Star (A.M.1. R.N.A.S..), B.W.M. Victory (M.I.D.) (L.M. R.N.A.S.)
A.F.M. London Gazette 3/6/1919.
102 Air Force Medals awarded for the Great War.
M.I.D. London Gazette 1 October 1917:
M.I.D. between ‘18 March 1920 to 25 March 1920’. (According to service papers)
‘For services on patrol duties and submarine searching in home waters’
Recommendation from RNAS Pulham originally dated 7/1/1918 ‘ This rating was Gunlayer on Coastal Airship c.27 and carried out his duties in a very efficient manner. In the seven months ending 31/12/1917, he has been in the air 326 hours and 18 minutes, patrolling over the North Sea in every kind of weather and under many difficulties.’
The same recommendation lists the captain of C.27 (deceased) for a bar to the DSC, and three crew (deceased) of C.27 for ‘Medals’ and Baker for ‘Mention’ . This may probably be assumed to lead to the award of his AFM. Baker transferred from Eastchurch Airship Station, Norfolk to Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire. That transfer saved his life. A week later his former Airship C27 was shot down by German aircraft ON 11/12/1917. All the crew perished.
William Joseph Baker was born on 8 October 1894 in Bristol. A telegraphist by trade, he joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 22/6/1915, as Air Mechanic I W/T, . From 1/9/1915 until 30/9/1915, he served as a crew member of Sea Scout 16 (SS-16), flying from R.N.A.S. East Fortune. SS-16 was an early 1915 designed airship with a crew of two that used the modified fuselage of a BE.2c as its power and as its crew ‘car’. The Sea Scouts were, as their name suggests, used for anti submarine and sea patrols.
Still at R.N.A.S. East Fortune, between 1/2/1917 and 17/7/1917, Baker, who had now been promoted Leading Mechanic (Wireless Operator), served as a crew member of Coastal 15 (C-15). Coastal Class airships were a much larger class of airship than the Sea Scouts. carrying two machine guns, four 112lb bombs or two 230lb bombs. (Flight-Lieutenant Ronald Scott Sugden)
Between 30/7/1917 and April 1918, Baker would serve at R.N.A.S. Cranwell, East Fortune, Longside, Howden, and East Fortune again. On 1 April 1918, Baker was transferred to the Royal Air Force, service no. 205926, with the rank of Corporal Mechanic (Wireless Operator). He carried on serving at East Fortune until pretty much the end of the War, with a couple of brief periods at Barlow and Howden.
The recipient’s service papers note that he was Mentioned in Despatches a second time between ‘18 March 1920 to 25 March 1920’.
The Fleet Air Arm Museum at R.N.A.S. Yeovilton holds in its collection the photo album belonging to Flight-Lieutenant Ronald Scott Sugden, Baker’s Skipper when he served on C-15. Photocopies of the contents of the album, approximately 66 photos, are included.
Sold with the recipient’s original Admiralty Mentioned in Despatches Certificate, research, copy service papers, and copies of the photographs from Flight-Lieutenant Sugden’s album.
A fine airships group