56 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, 7 May 1917
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters was born in Annesley, Basford, Nottinghamshire on 23 March 1898 and baptised at the Annesley, All Saints Church on 27 May that year. He was educated at Bengeo School and Haileybury College (1912-15). He then attended the Royal Military College as a cadet.
From Military College he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Leicester Territorial Force, The Leicestershire Regiment on 26 January 1916. He was immediately attached to 25 Squadron Royal Flying Corps and was formally recorded in the Gazette as being an Observer with seniority from 21 March 1916. He was with 25 Squadron when he was wounded in a flying accident whilst flying a F.E.2b. By this time the Squadron were in France. He qualified as an Observer on 15 November 1916 and on 27 December was recorded as a Flying Officer seconded to the Royal Flying Corps. He was sent to a Lewis Gun course on 29 January 1917 and on 2 March was transferred to 56 Squadron.
The Squadron Roger was attached to, 56 Squadron, was rumoured to have been formed to take on Manfred von Richthofen and his Flying Circus, mainly because of the number of experienced pilots in its ranks. Its Commanding Officer, Major Richard Graham Blomfield was determined to make it a crack squadron and hand picked his pilots – one of whom was Captain Albert Ball (Note – who was later posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross). It therefore follows that Roger must have shown some promise to have been picked for the Squadron. The Squadron received new SE5 fighters while in England and on 7 April 1917 flew to St Omer, where they had lunch, and then flew to Vert Galand. On 1 May 1917, Roger was temporarily promoted to Lieutenant, whilst serving with the Royal Flying Corps.
On the evening of 7 May 1917, Roger took off from his airfield at Vert Galand, on an offensive patrol with Captain Albert Ball and nine other planes. The patrol attacked 6 German enemy aircraft and were themselves attacked by German reinforcements from Jasta 11 (Von Richthofen’s squadron). The Squadron Operations Book notes that there was “considerable fighting” and although a flight of Royal Naval Sopwith Triplanes joined the attack, the Squadron had to withdraw. Of the eleven planes that went on patrol only six returned to the aerodrome at Vert Galant. News came though that two planes had been forced down, shot in the engine and that two others had been wounded. Sadly there was no news of either Albert Ball or Roger. News eventually came through from the Germans that both had been killed.
The German Air Ace Leutnant Werner Voss was credited with shooting Roger down. He was Voss’ 25th victim.
The following family members have been identified:
- Father – Lancelot George Eden Michael Chaworth-Musters born c.1868 d.1932.
- Mother – Mabel Violet Chaworth-Musters born c.1867 died 1948.
- Brother – Richard Hammond Chaworth-Musters MC born, c.1895 d.31 Dec 1941.
- Sister – Joan Winifred Mary Chaworth-Musters born c.1907 died c.1998.
Roger had six cousins (through his uncle John Patricious Chaworth-Musters) who fought in the war, three of whom died while in service:
- Patricious George Chaworth-Musters MC (1888-1915) – King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
- Philip Mundy Chaworth-Musters MC (1895-1917) – Royal Field Artillery.
- Robert Chaworth-Musters MC (1896-1918) – King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
- The 1911 Census records Roger was a boarder at Bengeo College, Hertfordshire.
Roger Michael Chaworth-Munsters is honoured and remembered on the following memorials:-
- The Arras Flying Services Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
- St Andrews Church Plaque, Field Dalling, Norfolk.
- Haileybury College Cloister Wall.
Links to Additional Information
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters
- Lives of the First World War – 56th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps Community
- Lives of the First World War – Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters
- A Street Near You – Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters
- Find a Grave – Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters
- Nottingham Council Roll of Honour – Roger Michael Chaworth-Musters
- University of Nottingham: Biography of John Chaworth-Musters (1838-1887).
- 1911 Census of England and Wales.
- London Gazette dated 25 January 1916, issue 29450, page 1008
- London Gazette 9 March 1917 Issue 29976 page 2379.
- London Gazette dated 8 June 1917, supplement 30121, page 5693
- Leicester Daily Post 26 January 1916.
- National Archives reference AIR 27/527/1
- Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis
- Imperial War Museum
- Trevor Torkington