LEST WE FORGET

Captain Thomas Charles Richmond BAKER DFC MM

Service No: 9470
Born: Smithfield SA, 25 April 1897
Enlisted in the Army: 29 July 1915
Unit: No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Awarded the Military Medal (MM)
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Died: Air Operations, Arth, Belgium, 4 November 1918, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Escanaffles Communal Cemetery, Wallonie, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Annie Martha Baker, of 55, Park Terrace, North Unley, South Australia, and the late Richmond Baker
Place of Association: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 188, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Captain Baker is an Australian Air Ace with 12 victories.

King (1), leading the Snipes, escorted the bombers back across the lines and then, seeing twelve Fokkers following his formation, turned back, climbed, and dived on the enemy’s leader.  He fired 150 rounds into this machine. which stalled, fell on its side, and dropped earthward on its back.  A general scrimmage ensued.  King fastened on to another Fokker which was shooting on the tail of a Snipe, and sent it down in flames after four rapid bursts of fire at 100-feet range.  G. Jones (2) attacked the rearmost German of the formation, which was attacking H. A. Wilkinson (3).  This Fokker also fell in flames. Wilkinson, delivered from it, dropped with a quick turn on two more Fokkers behind and below him, fired a close-range burst into the nearer one, and saw it fall out of control.  Such is the vignette of a short and willing encounter preserved in the laconic narratives of the Australian pilots.  The fight lasted but two or three minutes, and died out in the usual way, with machines spread over a wide area and making to regain formation. When the Snipes had re-formed it was found that three splendid pilots had been lost in the action – Baker (4) (a flight-commander), and Lieutenants Palliser (5) and P. W. Symons (6).

(1) Captain Elwyn Roy King DSO DFC; Born Bathurst NSW 13 May 1894, Died (Illness: 8 November 1941)
(2) Air Marshal Sir George Jones KBE CB DFC, Chief of the Air Staff May 1942 – 1952; Born Rushworth VIC, 22 November 1896; Died Melbourne VIC, 24 August 1992
(3) Lieutenant John Charles Foster Wilkinson MC RAF; Born Yorkshire 10 January 1898
(4) Sopwith Snipe E8062
(5) Sopwith Snipe E8064
(6) Sopwith Snipe E8038

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 – Pages 381-2

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, BAKER T C
National Archives UK RAF Casualty Book AIR 1/969 page 449, 11612

Bibliography:

Garrisson, A.D.J. (Arthur Dean John) (O350) Australian Fighter Aces 1914-1953, Air Power Studies Centre Fairbairn ACT 2600, 1999
Richards, E.J. (Edward John) Australian Airmen: History of the 4th Squadron, publisher unknown, c1919

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