Archived Lot

Date of Auction: 27th June 2002

Sold for £3,800

Estimate: £1,200 - £1,500

Three: Second Lieutenant (Pilot) H. C. Farnes, No 48 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, formerly Royal Naval Air Service, killed in aerial combat on 6 July 1917, the first victim of the German ace, Fritz Jacobsen

1914-15 Star (F.2972 P.O.M., R.N.A.S.); British War and Victory Medals (2. Lieut.); together with memorial plaque (Henry Charles Farnes); Pilot’s Flying log Book, covering period 14.9.1916 to 3 July 1917; original Aviator’s Certificate (No.3985, issued 24.11.1916) this including photograph of recipient; pocket diary for the year 1917, with daily entries from beginning of year (excepting period 7 February to 14 March) giving brief summaries of his movements throughout each day, nearly extremely fine and the paperwork of exceptional interest (4) £1200-1500


Henry Charles Farnes, the son of a stockbroker, was born at Leyton, Essex, on 27 May 1893 and was educated at Merchant Taylors School. He worked as a clerk on the London Stock Exchange before enlisting into the R.N.A.S. and serving as a Petty Officer in 1915. Commissioned into the 11th King’s Royal Rifle Corps In February 1916, he transferred to the R.F.C. in August of the same year and gained his wings at No.1 A.& C.F.S. on 24 November 1916 becoming F.A.I. certificate holder No.3985. Assigned to Scout pilot duties, he crossed to France with 48 Squadron (Bristol F2B’s) on 17 March 1917 and fought his first combat on 5 April. Logbook records, ‘11.15 a.m. F2A 3318, Lt Davis, 13,000 ft, O/Patrol over Douai to Cambrai, attacked and drove down two Huns, drove off two others’. To his diary he added: ‘On O.P. at 4.15 ... no Huns & little Archie. Four machines are missing from ‘A’ Flight ...’ [all victims of the Richtofen Circus]. Operating from the squadron base at Belle View airfield, he flew on regular offensive patrols and notably was involved in a large scale dogfight on 8 April. His diary for Easter Day records: ‘... On O.P. again at 2 p.m. Plenty of H.A. Attacked a formation of 5 H.A. & sent down 1 & dispersed the others unfortunately other H.A. came on the scene & they were about 3 to 1 [against us], but all manoeuvered them off until we reached the lines but as luck would have it poor old Berry was sent to land in Hun land...’ On the evening of 23 April, St George’s Day, he flew a patrol with Halliday and ‘had 3 scraps & brought 1 down in flames’. Next day he wrote: ‘Had a scrap whilst on patrol at 8.40 & brought 1 Hun down. Went to the trenches in the afternoon ... & I brought back one or two souvenirs.’

Personal pocket diary entries for early May continue:
1.5.17 ‘... Drove 1 H.A. down to land ...’
2.5.17 ‘Led a formation. Brought down a two seater Albatros and drove another down to land. Davis and I went up to have a look at the Hun machine I sent down in the morning. There were 19 holes in my prop.’
4.5.17 ‘ Brought back from St Omer a new machine. It was so nose heavy that Davis [obs.] had to climb along the fuselage to enable me to land it. On C.O.P. during afternoon & drove 1 H.A. east & another down by Letts & self. My rudder was shot away by Archie. I managed to get back to aerodrome. Went to dine with the Oxford Hussars in the evening ... had to walk back about 4 miles.’
6.5.17 ‘Visited trenches during evening. Spent night in a upturned German officers’ dugout..’
7.5.17 ‘Saw a BE2 brought down also 1 Hun’
8.5.17 ‘ Motored back to Belle View in afternoon.’
10.5.17 ‘Cowling came off as I was taking off for the evening patrol. Nearly erased.’
11.5.17 ‘Patrol [6.10 p.m.]. Cull went down in flames, Winch[?]ler shot down in Hun land. Binney had his observer shot. I tackled 4 H.A. on 2FE2b’s. A bloody awful day.’

Further remarkable flying logbook entries for the same month include: ‘Shot 1 Albatros 2 seater off Middleton’s tail & 2 Albatros Scouts off Midddleton’s tail’ on the 19th, and on the 23rd, ‘7 H.A. engaged 1 downed by self’. On 13 June, he adds ‘9 H.A. seen 3 engaged 1 driven down’, and finally on the 24th, ‘9 E.A., 3 engaged, 1 sent down out of control’. At the end of June 1917 Farnes was sufffering from a broken tooth and soon afterwards a throat infection. He resumed flying duties on 2 July, but four days later in Bristol F2B A7109, WF, was killed in action with his observer Coporal J.T. Park over Sailly by the German ace Vizefeldwebel Fritz John Jacobsen of Jasta 31, his first out of eight victories.