Friday, November 18, 2016

Major Wilfred Ashton McCloughry

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Major Wilfred Ashton McCloughry MC, Officer Commanding, No. 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC), in front of his Sopwith Camel aircraft, 6 June 1918.

McCloughry was born in Burnside, North Adelaide, South Australia., in 1894. Commissioned into the Australian Military Forces in 1913, he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in 1914 and went overseas with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. He served at Gallipoli from May to August 1915 and was twice wounded.

Seconded to the Royal Flying Corps in March 1916, after flying training he served in a home defence squadron operating against German airships. He joined No.100 Squadron, the RFC's first night bomber unit, on its formation and in March 1917 accompanied it to France as a flight commander. He was awarded the Military Cross in July.

One of the experienced Australians in the RFC selected to strengthen the expanding Australian Flying Corps, Wilfred joined the No. 2 Squadron and accompanied it to France as a flight commander in September 1917. In October he was recalled to England to command the No. 4 Squadron and took that overseas in December.

Quiet but firm, he led one of the most efficient Sopwith Camel squadrons on the Western Front in 1918. He flew frequent daylight missions and undertook several risky night sorties against enemy heavy bombers in Camels not equipped for night flying. Credited with three victories, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order and was mentioned in dispatches three times.

McCloughry continued with a long and distinguished career in the air force. Almost two decades later, during the Battle of Britain, he commanded No.9 Fighter Group and in 1942, appointed C.B. and air vice marshal, became Air Officer Commanding, Egypt.

On 4 January 1943 he died in an aircraft crash near Heliopolis, Egypt, and was buried in Cairo war cemetery.

Electric chimes in the Congregational Church, Brougham Place, Adelaide, were later dedicated to his memory and his portrait by artist Cuthbert Orde is held by the family.

Research and text courtesy of WW1 Colourised Photos
Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, E02656