LEST WE FORGET

Lieutenant Sydney Winton AYERS

Service No: 612
Born: Cootamundra NSW, May 1893
Enlisted in the Army: 14 September 1916
Unit: No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Died: Wounds, France, 24 November 1917, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Lebucquiere Communal Cemetery Extension, Lebucquiere, Arras, Nord Pas de Calais, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas Gabriel Ayers and Ellen Mary Ayers, of “Fernleigh,” Third St., Canterbury, New South Wales. Native of Cootamundra, New South Wales. His brother Charles Thomas Ayers also fell
Place of Association: Cootamundra NSW
Remembered: Panel 188, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cootamundra War Memorial, Cootamundra NSW
Remembered: Cootamundra Ex-Servicemen’s and Citizens’ Memorial Club Rolls of Honour

Brother of Private Charles Thomas Ayers 3002, killed in Ground Operations (Belgium) 26 September 1917.

Out of eighteen machines which took part in the low-flying battle on that day (22 November 1917), No. 2 Squadron lost in all one missing and six shot down, and of pilots one missing, one dead of wounds, and one wounded. The entire operation was a splendid performance for a new and untried squadron, under conditions of risk which portended, if not general disaster, at least considerable sacrifice. Whether the Battle of Cambrai would have finished differently if the cavalry had been more adventurously used is a debatable question, but the fact remains that the cavalry were hardly used at all that day, and for what success the army had, after the first piercing of the line by the tanks, it owed its thanks mainly to the “cavalry of the air.”

Extract from Cutlack, F.M. (Frederic Morley) The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-8, Angus and Robertson Ltd Sydney, 1941 – Page 188

Pratt (1) was rescued, but before being taken to hospital he reported the location of a German battalion headquarters at the north-west corner of Bourlon Wood, which he had bombed and attacked with his machine-gun. Two more pilots were lost that day- Lieutenants A. Griggs (2) and D. G. Clark (3) who were both shot down and mortally wounded by ground-fire over Bourlon Wood; and a third, Lieutenant S. W. Ayers (4) met with a like fate next morning in the same locality. Griggs on the 22nd had already carried out one successful and daring low-flying attack on the trenches and strong-posts beyond the wood, and he was on a second mission when he was brought down.  Holden (2) again brought his machine in wrecked, almost every part holed or broken-clear evidence of the dangers of the work and of his own good luck.

(1) Lieutenant Archibald James Pratt; 128 Born Melbourne VIC, 1893
(2) DH5 aircraft A9428
(3) DH5 aircraft A9477
(4) DH5 aircraft A9263
(5) Captain Leslie Hubert Holden MC AFC 25; Born Adelaide SA, 6 March 1895; Killed in an civil aircraft accident on 18 September 1932 (Puss Moth Registration VH-UPM at Byron Bay NSW with Ralph Virtue and George Hamilton)

Extract from Cutlack, F.M. (Frederic Morley) The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-8, Angus and Robertson Ltd Sydney, 1941 – Page 191

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record B2455, AYERS SW
National Archives UK RAF Casualty Book AIR 1/968 page 407, 9242
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Bennett, J. (John William) Highest Traditions: the history of No. 2 Squadron RAAF, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995

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