Devon’s Men in the Air
Prior to, and for most of, the Great War, there was no Royal Air Force; instead the army and the navy had their own aerial branches, the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.
The RFC was formed in 1912, the RNAS in July 1914. They merged in April 1918 to form the RAF.
Budleigh Salterton’s Lawrence Alan Davis was a Second Lieutenant in No 4 Squadron of the RFC. He was the son of Mr H C Davis of Golf Road, and died on 23 June, 1917. He is registered as KIFA, Killed in Flight Accident. No 4 Squadron RFC was at the time on the Western Front, flying in support of army operations on the ground.
Originally in the RNAS, Albert Retter from Newton Poppleford died while serving in the RAF in February 1919, some months after the end of hostilities. It has been recorded that he died, aged 35, of pneumonia. He was an Air Mechanic, Second Class, and served as ground crew in both the RNAS and the RAF.