2nd Lieutenant Thomas Hugo FRENCH
46 Reserve Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Date of birth: 21st June 1895
Date of death: 13th January 1917

Killed on active service aged 21
Buried at St Michael's Church, Woodham Walter, Essex
He was born at Roxwell in Essex on the 21st of June 1895 the fourth son of George Dennis French, farmer, and Alice (nee Snow) of Utling Hall near Maldon in Essex.

He was educated at the King’s School Canterbury from January 1904 to July 1911 where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. He played for the Cricket XI in 1911, holding one of the school records.

The Cantuarian said of his cricket season in 1911:-

"Fast and, at times erratic bowler but on his day bowled well. A batsman of the wild type who loves the high balloon. Good field."

On leaving school he joined the firm of Messrs Davey, Paxman Ltd. Engineers of Colchester on a five year apprenticeship where he was a member of the firm’s athletic club and was half mile champion.

Following the outbreak of war he enlisted at Westminster as Private PS/1498 in the 18th Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (1st Public Schools), University and Public School Corps, on the 15th of September 1914. At a medical examination, which was held on the same day, it was recorded that he was five feet eleven inches tall and that he weighed 161lbs, It was also noted that he had : - "Slight flat feet. States he can march without pain or fatigue."

He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 23rd of November 1914 and reverted to the rank of Private at his own request on the 28th of May 1915. He embarked for service in France with his battalion from Folkestone on board the SS "Princess Victoria" at 8.15am on the 14th of November 1915 bound for Boulogne but floating mines off the harbour meant they were diverted to Calais where they arrived at 11.15am the same day. He was promoted to unpaid Lance Corporal on the 4th of February 1916. While he was there he was commended for his shooting and was offered special leave for a very clever sniping feat. He applied for a commission on the 6th of March 1916 and returned from France on the 20th of March 1916. He was posted to No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion for officer training on the 24th of March 1916.

He was commissioned as a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps on the 5th of August 1916. He was appointed as a Flying Officer on the 15th of December 1916 and was posted to 46 Reserve Squadron based at RFC Bramham Moor the same day. He was confirmed in the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on the 24th of December 1916.

On the 10th of January 1917 he witnessed the crash of a FE2d aircraft from his base which killed Captain Rowland Burdon and his passenger, Lieutenant Frederick Harry Turner. He appeared as a witness at the inquest which followed the incident where he was recorded as saying: -

"Opening up the engine to go round again, and with the aircraft six to eight feet off the ground, the pilot appeared to leave his climb too late to clear a wood. A wing tip caught the top of the trees. The machine then rose above the trees until it lost all speed, and then nose dived into the ground, catching fire on impact."

On the 13th of January 1917 he took off from Bramham Moor in FE2d 1947 with a 250hp Rolls Royce engine when he was caught in a heavy snowstorm and was forced to descend. During his decent in poor visibility his machine crashed into some trees in Ringhay Wood at Aberford near Leeds and caught fire, killing him instantly.

A court of inquiry into his death was held on the 14th of January 1917.

He is commemorated on a plaque in the chapel at Lotherton Hall, Leeds in Yorkshire.