ww1 ace

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merlin58 | 23:50 Sun 19th Aug 2007 | History
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Can anyone help with any information on the following.

While on a visit to St Peters churchyard in Tandridge, Surrey I came upon an old headstone on a very overgrown grave. It was a simple dark stone with the RAF eagle and motto. It was a civilian grave.

The inscription read F/L Robert Alexander Birkbeck DFC 8th October 1898 - 9th January 1938.

I think this might be the grave of a WW1 ace with 10 kills (possibly flying a Nieuport) and one of the first pilots to be awarded the DFC? I understand he might have been born in Bournmouth.

Can anyone tell me anymore about F/L Birkbeck. I would be most interested to learn if he was in service at the time of his passing and why he is buried in this churchyard.


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The first DFC, DFM, AFC and AFM recipients were announced in the LONDON GAZETTE dated 3 June 1918. The DFC recipients include:
Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Robert Alexander Birkbeck
(Source: The Aerodrome Forum)
The site also gives the following synopsis f his flight to Ace status:

Victories: (Date his aircraft and enemy aircraft downed and location)

1 22 Jul 1917 1900 1 Nieuport (B1582) Albatros D.V (OOC) Menin
2 10 Aug 1917 1430 1 Nieuport (B1582) Albatros D.V (OOC) Quesnoy
3 16 Aug 1917 0930 1 Nieuport (B1582) Albatros D.V (OOC) Passchendaele
4 01 Oct 1917 1110 1 Nieuport (B6753) DFW C (OOC) 1 Houthoulst
5 09 Oct 1917 1515 1 Nieuport (B6753) Albatros D.V (DESF) S of Polygon Wood
6 09 Oct 1917 1515 1 Nieuport (B6753) Albatros D.V (OOC) S of Polygon Wood
7 12 Oct 1917 1145 1 Nieuport (B6753) C (DES) Comines
8 21 Oct 1917 1145 1 Nieuport (B6753) DFW C (OOC) Nieppe
9 31 Oct 1917 1030 1 Nieuport (B6753) DFW C (DES) S of Houthem
10 09 Nov 1917 1600 1 Nieuport (B6826) DFW C (OOC) SE of Houthoulst Wood

Unfortunately, no other historical information is included...

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