|Victor Adolphus Fair. M.C.
|M.C. and Trio K.R.R.C & R.A.F
Victor Fair was born in the autumn 1894 at Weymouth, Dorset, the eldest son of George Fair and Clara Golding, who had
married at Portsea in the autumn of 1885. His father died while he was quite young and his mother had married again to
Charles Johnson in early 1899 at Portsea.
After leaving school he trained to become an apprentice Shipwright and then enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a Sapper
(Number 1025), arriving in France on the 21st January 1915. He was soon promoted to Lance Corporal and then to 2nd
Corporal. Later, he was selected to become an Officer Cadet and received his commission in the 6th Battalion Kings Royal
Rifle Corps. He was appointed as Temporary 2nd Lieutenant (Attached) on the 30th May 1917 and returned to France to
join “A” Company 7th (Service) Battalion K.R.R.C.
On New Year’s Day 1918 his company marched to St. Omer and entrained for Edge Hill and, after resting for two days,
marched to Vaux Sur Somme. There they spent three weeks training. On the 22nd January they marched south and
eventually reached Clastres, relieving French troops in the line south of St. Quentin. Three days later the Battalion moved
up to Essigny, its total strength consisting of 87 officers and 762 men. Following a general reorganisation, the Battalion
was transferred to the 14th Light Division, 43rd Infantry Brigade. On the 2nd February the Battalion relieved the 6th
King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Moy, having two companies in the front line, one in support and one in reserve.
The German line was 800 yards away but all remained quiet. They remained in the line for twenty days being relieved
on the night of the 26/27th and moved back to Clastres.
The first twelve days of March were spent in Brigade reserve at Remigny and on the 12th the Battalion relieved the 9th
Scottish Rifles at Cerisy. The ensuing tour of six days was noticeable for its extreme quietness. The Battalion then
went into Brigade support with Battalion Headquarters, one company at Montescourt and three at Benay.
On the 20th March, it was decided that the Battalion should occupy the battle zone in front of Benay. By midnight,
the Battalion was in position, with “B” “C” & “D” companies occupying a series of strongpoints, while “A” company occupied
three more strong points in close support. The night was moonlit and peaceful.
At 4.45 a.m. the German artillery started pounding the British positions. It was the start of the long awaited spring
offensive. A dense fog cut the visibility to below 50 yards. After an accurate bombardment of five hours duration, the
German storm troopers attacked. With the assistance of the dense fog, the positions of “A” and “C” companies were
attacked from the rear. Both of these companies, together with “D” company in the centre, were practically surrounded.
Only a few men from each of the companies managed to get back to Battalion headquarters. A line was taken up in a
sunken lane running about 600 yards behind Benay. Later in the day, when it became apparent that German troops were
again in the rear of the Battalion, the line was moved back to be in contact with the 42nd Brigade on the left. Victor
Fair was just one of six officers and about 130 men who remained with the Battalion. On the 22nd March the Battalion
retreated to a position in the rear of Jussy and proceeded to consolidate the line. On the 23rd, which once again
produced a dense fog, the German infantry attacked and by 11.30 a.m. enfiladed the line, which forced the Battalion
to fall back to avoid being surrounded. By now the fog had lifted and the manoeuvre attracted heavy machine gun fire,
which caused considerable casualties. The Colonel was captured and another officer was killed. The German infantry
advanced in force while this movement was taking place. A stand was made on the Frieres-Faillouel ridge by the Battalion,
which now numbered only about 70 men of all ranks. Of the officers, only Captain P. Lleweyn Davies and 2nd Lieutenants
Fair and Graham remained.
On the 24th the Battalion withdrew to a position about midway between Villeselves and Guivry. Towards evening the
Battalion were ordered to march to Crisolles where they rested. From here they fell back to Beaurains and later to
Thiescourt. The Battalion continued to fall back until the 31st March, when they reached Plachy and here they started to
reorganise. On the 1st April Lorries carried the Battalion to a position in front of Amiens and they were placed in reserve
to the 41st and 42nd Brigade. Relief took place on the 7th April and after much movement, the Battalion was finally
ordered home, arriving at Aldershot on the 18th June 1918, where it was disbanded.
For his actions during the German offensive, Victor Fair received the Military Cross. The award was announced in the
London Gazette on the 26th July 1918 and his citation was recorded as follows:-
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during recent operations.
As the only surviving officer of his company, he organised and assumed command of a composite company, consisting of his
own and other units, and commanded it with great ability. He held on to positions against heavy odds, and delayed the
enemy’s advance at a most important point”.
Following the disbandment of his battalion, Victor Fair transferred to the Royal Air Force as a honourary Lieutenant on
the 1st August and was assigned to train with 49 squadron, acting as an observer.
The squadron were equipped with the Airco D.H.9. which was being used as a bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. It was a
modified version of the D.H.4, which it had replaced, but it soon became evident that it had a much inferior performance.
The service ceiling of the aircraft was 14,000 feet which was 2,000 feet lower than the D.H.4. This meant that German
fighters could manage to reach the D.H.9 formations more easily than before. Its rate of climb took 45 minutes to reach
15,000 feet and it was then 30 m.p.h. slower than the D.H.4.
The engine was unreliable, resulting in aircraft crashing upon take-off, failing to reach their target or sometimes having
to perform a forced landing behind enemy lines. Its armament was a forward firing Vickers machine-gun and a rear
mounted Lewis gun.
Victor Fair’s pilot was William Holloway Stone, a twenty year old Lieutenant, who had joined the squadron on the 7th
August 1918. On the 5th September, the two men climbed into D 3198 and prepared to carry out a practice flight. The
aircraft took off but the engine suddenly failed and it crashed close by to the airfield. Fair was slightly injured and
admitted to hospital. William Stone was killed in the accident and was buried at Ligny-Sur-Canche British cemetery.
Following the crash, Victor Fair joined 211 squadron, which was based at Petit Synthe, near Dunkirk. The squadron, which
was also flying D.H.9’s, had been conducting bombing raids in the first half of 1918 to disrupt the German submarine
campaign, raiding bases at Bruges, Zeebrugge and Ostende. However, operations had now turned towards raids on
aerodromes, supply and ammunition dumps in support of the Belgian army. His pilot was Lieutenant William (Bill) Henley-
Mooney, who had been sent to 211 squadron by the United States Army Air Service, in order to gain more experience in
On the 26th September 1918, a new D.H.9. D.565 arrived at Petit Synthe aerodrome, and was assigned to Fair and Henley-
Mooney. There was barely time to familiarise themselves with the aircraft before another bombing raid was scheduled for
the 29th September. This was to be a bombing attack on Courtrai, but due to new regulations introduced on the previous
day, the bombers would not be escorted by fighters. At about 11.30 a.m. the aircraft involved in the raid started to take
off and gain altitude. They would fly south east, pass north of Ypres and continue in virtually a straight line to Courtrai.
Just after noon, the formation was attacked by between 40 to 50 enemy fighters. One D.H.9 D.3093 was involved in a
running fight with Leutnant Willi Rosenstein’s aircraft from Jasta 40 based at Roubaix, and was seen to slowly descend,
trailing smoke but apparently under control. It crash -landed near Dadizeele and its crew of Lieutenant Alan White and
2nd Lieutenant Jack Blundell were both killed in the attack.
One of the other German fighter aircraft involved was a Fokker D. VII piloted by Leutnant Kohlpoth from Jasta 56, which
was based at Rumbeke. His Jasta was part of Jagdgruppe 6, which also included Jastas 7, 16, 20, 40 and 51. He was an
inexperienced pilot, having attended Jasta flying school1in June 1918 before joining Jasta 56 on the 3rd July 1 918. For
two months he had been unable to destroy any enemy aircraft.
Within two miles of his airfield, which was just south of Beythem, he attacked Victor Fair’s aircraft and after a long
running battle, he eventually saw flames burst out from D. 565. At 12.30p.m. he watched as the aircraft slowly fell to
the ground north of Courtrai.
This was Leutnant Kohlpoth’s first victory and he later increased his score on the 8th October, when he destroyed a
Sopwith Camel. He also left Jasta 56 in this month.
W. Henley- Mooney was pulled from the wreckage badly wounded and became a prisoner of war. His uniform is now held
in a private collection.
Victor Fair was originally posted as wounded on the 29th September, then missing on the 22nd October and finally
notification was received that he had been killed.
His promotion to the rank of Lieutenant was announced on
the 30th November 1918.
After the war was over, his body was re-interred
in Harlebeke new British cemetery in plot number I.A.11.
|Left: 2nd Lieutenant|
Victor Adolphus Fair
Right: D.H. 9 with aircrew.
|Above: Ligny-Sur-Canche British cemetery|
Left: The grave of William Stone.
|211 Squadron in September 1918 on parade.|
|Airco D.H.9.s being attacked |
by Fokker D.VII.S
|Harlebeke New British Cemetery|
group of medals