Hidden away in the dungeons on the Osteopathic Clinic laid four Aircraft manuals dating back to 1918. They cover British and German Aircraft ans Seaplanes from the first world war.
Despite extensive searching, I have found no records of these books on the internet. Although I will keep looking I have to turn my attention to a piece of information that I found incredibly revealing. At the top of eack of these four publications is the name Colonel C R Finch-Noyes DSO. That gave me some information of where these books had been.
In 1918, Lt Col Finch-Noyes was stationed at RNAS/RAF Catfirth, Shetland. He was the Commanding Officer of 300 (Flying Boat) Flight, 28 Group. 28 (Orkney & Shetland Islands Group) was formed at Stenness, Orkney, in 1918 and was disbanded in 1919. It controlled the balloon base at Caldale, Catfirth, Houton (seaplanes & balloons), Lerwick (balloons), Scapa, Houton Bay, Smoogroo & Stenness itself.
Records show that, Colonel FInch-Noyes, although commanded 28 Group, he was also a navigator of Seaplanes. This I discovered through a report online with reference to another airman.
“On 26th July 1918 (his 21st birthday), Flight Lieutenant Arnold Massey flew a patrol to the waters south of Shetland with his commanding officer as his navigator. This man was Lt. Col. Charles R Finch Noyes DSO. He had been a career serviceman, joining the Navy in 1907 as an Assistant Paymaster, trained as a pilot in May 1913 and was a flying instructor by the end of the year. He then spent a while at Felixstowe, then Calshott near Southampton. He was next sent to Killingholme on the Humber, where he was appointed Commanding Officer and was then on the staff of the Rear-Admiral for the East Coast.
All seemed to be going well until the end of March 1918, when that Rear Admiral wrote on his service record that he was relieving Finch Noyes of his command but trusted he would be given a command elsewhere. He was, in April he was in the RAF as Lt. Colonel in command at Catfirth. This must have been a big step down, but there were all sorts of things going on at that time. As well as the former RNAS becoming the RAF, the base at Killingholme was being handed over to the US as a seaplane and flying boat station.
Charles Robert Finch-Noyes died in 1948 at the age of 62 in Rhodesia. This begs the question, how did these books get in to Ken’s hands. The mystery continues…
The books themselves are in remarkable condition considering their age and have detailed descriptions of almost every type of British and German aeroplane, seaplane and flying boat. I have no doubt these were used to identify enemy and friendly aircraft in much the same way as I did in Berlin during the Cold War. The same system was in place then, no doubt a more digital version is used these days to familiar our Armed Forces with things they can shoot at and things they can’t.
The fact still remains, I have in my hand a real piece of historic military aviation that has already revealed an amazing story about a real true British Hero.
Colonel Charles Robert Finch-Noyes DSO
Lest we forget.