|Wing Commander Arthur Bruce GASKELL DSC|
30 (Bombing) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Date of birth: 11th September 1888
Date of death: 15th September 1927
Killed on active service aged 39
Commemorated at St Edmund's Church, Crickhowell, Breconshire
|Arthur Bruce Gaskell was born at Guestling, Hastings in Sussex on the 11th of September 1888 the only son of Charles Bruce Gaskell, a gentleman, and his second wife, Evelyn Frances Caroline (nee Davies) Gaskell of 6 Mortimer Road, Clifton in Gloucester.
He was educated at Lancing College where won an Exhibition and was in Olds House from September 1902 to April 1903.
On leaving school he entered the Royal Naval College Britannia on the 15th of May 1903 and passed out in July 1904. He was appointed as a Naval Cadet on the 15th of September 1904 and as a Midshipman on the 30th of October 1904. He was posted to the battleship HMS London from the 15th of September 1904 to the of April 1905 seeing service in the Mediterranean. He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on the 30th of December 1904. He served on Torpedo Boat 108 from the 7th of July 1908 and on the battleship HMS Africa from the 16th of November 1908 to the 1st of October 1910. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 30th of June 1910 and from the 4th of October 1910 to the 30th of January 1913 he served on the cruiser HMS Gloucester.
He attended the Central Flying School at Upavon in Wiltshire from the 17th of May 1913 where he obtained his Aero Club Certificate on the 2nd of June 1913 while flying a Maurice Farman Biplane. He served at the airship base on Isle of Grain Naval Air Station from the 13th of August 1913 with the rank of Flying Officer in the Royal Naval Air Service. He was posted to the Central Flying School as an Assistant Instructor on the 6th of May 1914 where the following was written of his time there: - "A very keen, able, reliable V.G. pilot. M. Farman and Avro. Hardworking, zealous and efficient in his duties both as a Flying Officer and an Executive Officer."
He was appointed as a Flight Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1914 and was posted to the seaplane tender HMS Engadine on the 26th of August 1914. He was promoted to Flight Commander on the 26th of September 1914. From the 8th of January 1915 he served at the Naval Flying School at Eastchurch and during February and March he flew on several raids on targets at Ostend, Zeebrugge and at Bruges. He was commended by the Admiralty in February 1915 for his work in these attacks, was mentioned in despatches, which was announced in the London Gazette of the 22nd of March 1915. Later in 1915 he commanded A Flight, 2 Squadron based at Westgate.
He was married at Crickhowell, Breconshire on the 21st of July 1915 to Dorothy Arlingham (nee Davies later Bowhill) and had two daughters. The family lived at 201 Richmond Road, Kingston-Upon-Thames in Surrey.
He was posted for service in the Dardanelles on the 31st of August 1915 and was promoted to Squadron Commander on the 1st of January 1916. While he was there the following report was written on him on the 1st of February 1916: - "It would be in the interests of the service that this officer should return to England before his point of view and demeanour affects the other officers. A pilot can be driven in the air, but once there, he must act on his own initiative and willingly face risks which he may consider unnecessary. This officer is affected in this way."
Instead of returning to England, he was transferred and was appointed to the command of the Royal Naval Air Station at Gibraltar on the 25th of February 1916, later commanding the Naval Air Station at Thermi-Mytilini on the Aegean island of Lesbos. From here he led attacks on German and Turkish shipping as well as becoming one of the first anti submarine aviators.
In October 1917 the airfield came under sustained attack and Arthur Gaskell was ordered to arrange its evacuation which he achieved without suffering any casualties among his men or loss of stores.
For his actions he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross which was announced in the London Gazette of the 26th of April 1918. The citation read:-
"In recognition of his services on the occasion of the evacuation of the Thermi aerodrome on the 9th to 15th October 1917, under continuous bombardment from the enemy."
He became a Major in the Royal Air Force on its formation on the 1st of April 1918 and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy on the 30th of June 1918. He served with No. 2 Wing, Royal Air Force from the 28th of February to the 31st of July 1919 and was granted a permanent commission in the Royal Air Force with the rank of Squadron Leader in August 1919. He was promoted to Wing Commander on the 1st of January 1924. In 1924 and 1925 he attended the Royal Air Force Staff College and in 1926 he was posted to the staff of Air Vice Marshall Sir Edward Ellington, Air Officer Commanding Iraq where he was involved in training duties.
On the 15th of September 1927 he took off from Hinaidi airfield in Iraq in Bristol F2B Fighter H1632 with Leading Aircraftsman William Ronald Kittow-Roberts, for a training flight. During the flight the aircraft crashed near the airfield at 7am, killing Arthur Gaskell instantly while his passenger later died of his injuries.
He is commemorated on a brass plaque at St Edmund's Church, Crickhowell in Breconshire.