Plenty, Edward Pellew

Unit: 96 Squadron

AF Date of death: 21 November 1918

Age at death: 21

Place of burial / commemoration: Newbury (Newton Road) Cemetery

From Pauline Magazine: MAJOR EDWARD PELLEW PLENTY (1911-14), R.A.F., died of pneumonia following influenza on November 21, 1918. He was not fourteen when he entered St. Paul’s, coming as a boarder to the High House, and from his first day he had the affectionate regard of all his Housemates. Nothing seemed to disturb his equanimity and goodwill to all was shown by everything he did and everything he said. His code of honour was that of a fine gentleman, and to this code he rendered inflexible obedience: in the severest trial he thought of himself not at all. The writer has not met in a long experience a sounder, straighter, better boy and man. It was characteristic of him to walk up and down his dormitory on his hands, but never once was he out of bed at “lights out.” He undertook to do 20 minutes’ French translation each day — he did not like French — for some three months, and learn all the difficult words; he never missed a lesson, he never missed, a word.

He was in the 1st XV, and was a fine boxer. Plenty left school to become an engineer, but on the outbreak of war he joined the Public Schools Battalion. Before a week was gone he was made a corporal. He went to Sandhurst in November and became senior sergeant of his company. In April 1915 he joined the Flying Corps, and was given his wings in the following September. He immediately went to France, and in April 1916 was made flight commander with the rank of captain. He was then eighteen years old. In September 1917 he became Brigade Examining Officer to the Northern Brigade, and, before his twenty-first birthday, was given his majority. He had already been mentioned twice in dispatches. But his ambition was to go out to France again as squadron commander, and he worried the authorities till he was given the command of one of the special squadrons then being formed to give Germany the final blow.

Ten days before Armistice-day he went to France to take stock of the conditions, and on his return was suffering from influenza. But he was so keen on his squadron’s efficiency that he went straight to its head- quarters and stayed five days on the aerodrome, till in fact he was sent to hospital and stretcher with a temperature of 105′. Six days later he died. “Something I shall never forget,” writes an officer, ” and most certainly one of the finest things I have ever seen, was when the Major prevented the honour of one of his stations from sinking dangerously low by giving a wonderful exhibition on a certain type of machine, which had only a few hours before proved faulty in the air, and caused the death of the pilot. His courage and optimism on this occasion was only what one would expect of him, but from few others.” Many other letters bear similar testimony, testimony too of the trust and affection he inspired in all. In his own letters there is never a word of complaint of man or circumstance: his only thought is to allay the anxiety of those at home: there is little about his own work, much about the work of others. A German pilot drops a note to say two British pilots are safe though wounded: he pays him the tribute that one generous man pays to another.

He was a perfect son, a perfect brother, a perfect friend. The country lost much when it lost Edward Pellew Plenty.