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Arthur James Giles

61924 Sergeant, 70th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps


Arthur James Giles was born in Newbury on 17 Feb 1896, the son of Frederick Giles and his wife Jane née Porter. His birth took place at 3 Woodbine Cottages in what was then known as East Fields, Newbury. The ‘cottage’ was one of a small terrace of three in what is now Stanley Road. Frederick, who worked for the Greater Western Railway as a packer (1901) and labourer (1911), was from Hampstead Norris (now spelt Norreys) and the family had returned to the village by 1901.

Arthur Giles in RAMC uniform

Arthur Giles in RAMC uniform

(© Brian Giles)


Young Arthur attended the local village school, and was commemorated on the school war memorial, now lost. After his schooling, which would probably have ended when he was fourteen, possibly earlier, Arthur went to work on a local farm. At the outbreak of war in 1914, possibly earlier, Arthur joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, where he had the regimental number, 54050. He arrived in France on 31 May 1915. At some stage he transferred from the RAMC to the Royal Flying Corps, an Army Corps that combined with the Royal Navy Air Service on 1 Apr 1918 to form the Royal Air Force.

Arthur served with 70 Squadron, RFC, which was formed in April 1916 and transferred to France from May to August the same year. His role was that of observer/gunner in the two-man crew of a Sopwith 1½ Strutter aircraft (no A981). The other member of the crew was his pilot, Lt Arthur Stanley Bourinot, a Canadian who achieved renown after the war as a poet, author and editor. 


On 3 Jul 1917 they were shot down near Rollagem, in Belgium, now a suburb of Kortijk (Courtrai) - at that time about 10 miles behind the German lines. The German pilot who shot them down was Vizefeldwebel (vice staff sergeant) Francke of Jasta (Jagdstaffel) 8 flying a single-seater fighter (Albatross).


Arthur Giles' Grave in Mouscron Cemetery (Brian Giles)

Arthur Giles' Grave in

Mouscron Cemetery

(Brian Giles)

Bourinot survived to be photographed by his German captors alongside the wreckage of their plane before being taken off to spend the rest of the war as a POW.


Arthur died, either during the action / crash or soon after. His body was buried in a nearby communal cemetery at Mouscron (Moeskroen).


He was commemoriated on three war memorials in Hampstead Norris. [1,2,3]

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Find a memorial :

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 Died this day:
13 July 1916
C Gibbs

British Legion

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