Norman Sholto Douglas

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floatplane No.922 folder No.922 folder No.922 HMS Ark Royal   

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Flight Sub-Lt. Norman Sholto Douglas, RNAS was the first to qualify at the new Military School at Brooklands on 11 August 1914 (?certificate number 867).

He joined ARK ROYAL as a Flight Sub Lieutenant at Blyth on 26 December 1914. He left ARK as a Flight Lieutenant on 20 May 1916 and took passage to England.

Birth registration - Scarborough 1895

Flight Lieutenant to be Flight Commander — 28 JULY, 1916

Extracts from: A diary of Sopwith Aviation Company activities through 1915

On 19th February Flt Lts N S Douglas and E H Dunning take Ark Royal’s third “Type 807” folder floatplane No.922 on a first Sopwith mission against Turkish land forces defending the Dardanelles. Their orders are to reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question ‘Are two guns of No.1 battery nearer to barracks than cliff?’, then spot onto No.1 Fort for HMS Inflexible at 4,00ft if possible but 3,00ft further off if necessary. The mission is not a success as the wireless telegraphy set short-circuits probably due to spray getting into the set during the take-off.

Out in the Aegean on 1st March the bottom of a float on Sopwith folder No.922 is carried away before take-off. Repaired by the 3rd March, Fl Lt N Sholto Douglas and PO B J Brady are able to locate a minefield, guns in forts and a gun battery and on 4th March they are able to report Turkish troop movements by wireless.

In the Aegean on 5th March Folder No.922 is hit six times by ground fire and Fl Lt N Sholto Douglas is wounded in the leg. No.808 is also out to spot for the guns of HMS Queen Elizabeth but at 3,000ft the propeller bursts breaking the starboard wingtip causing the machine to spiral down into the sea three miles west of the ship. Rescued by HMS Usk, Fl Cmdr H A Williamson is seriously injured and Flt Lt W H S Garnett slightly. The machine is wrecked and written-off, only the engine is saved. Meanwhile searches of Tenedos Island by air and on foot fail to find a suitable landing ground for the four crated “SS3” Scout landplanes stranded on Ark Royal.

23rd May - New floatplanes are sorely needed in the Aegean as Fl Lt Sholto-Douglas testing their “Type 807” folder floatplane No.922 after its latest repairs fails to coax it above 800 ft. The “carbonised” engine is changed but the performance is even worse.

Too valuable and too slow to be risked against enemy submarines, HMS Ark Royal is now permanently moored in Kephalo Bay on the island of Imbros in the Aegean Sea 15 miles west of the Gallipoli peninsula. On 18th June Fl Lt Sholto Douglas and CPO Brady suffer an engine failure and a forced landing in “Type 807” folder No.922. Taken in tow by trawler HMT Yarmouth the undercarriage collapses. With wings folded it is dangled from a derrick over her stern and taken back to HMS Ark Royal to be repaired.

On 28th June repaired “Type 807” folder No.922 yet again suffers an undercarriage collapse piloted by Fl Lt Sholto Douglas. This time it is landing in Kephalo Bay and is retrieved, floats dangling, to Ark Royal by one of her steam cranes.

HMS Ark Royal’s Commander Clark-Hall reports that Sopwith “Folders” are satisfactory but not recommended as the spring of the floats makes them bounce and the floats break too easily. He adds that Sopwith and Short 225hp machines are bedevilled with Sunbeam engine troubles whilst single-seat Schneiders are “fine weather machines” useful only when there is no need to report detailed information.







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Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018