Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Day in History November 19, 1915

I always like to bring positive stories when I can, and this is one I really like for today.  On this date in 1915, one of the most exciting episodes in WWI occurred.  I am not a WWI buff, but I think this story does sound pretty exciting.

British airman Richard Bell Davies was flying alongside Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gilbert F. Smylie.  They were on a bombing mission, and their target was Ferrijik (located near the Aegean Sea and the border of Bulgaria and Ottoman-controlled Europe).  The Turks fired on Smylie's plane, and he was forced to land.  Before landing, he released all his bombs but one.  Upon making a safe landing behind enemy lines, he was unable to restart his plane and immediately set fire to it.

Meanwhile, Davies saw his comrade's distress.  He landed nearby to help Smylie, and Smylie was only concerned about the the remaining bomb.  Smylie exploded the bomb with a revolver just moments before Davies came to Smylie's rescue.  Just before the Turkish soldiers could overtake them, Davies rescued Smylie and they took off.  They landed safely behind British lines.

For Davies bravery, he was awarded a Victoria Cross on January 1, 1916, and I believe strongly that he deserved it. As I think about what I know about WWI planes, this rescue is amazing.  From what I remember, WWI planes were not very trustworthy.  I seem to remember (from my time in London several years ago) that many people died in WWI planes because the planes did not work right.  To think that this rescue could occur the way it did is an amazing feat in history.

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