Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz

So, after two years I finally went on holiday.

It was a vacation with a mask and a vaccination certificate, but it was a vacation. My friends

and I agreed to do a tour of military museums in northern Germany and Poland. After

a week and 2,400 kilometers, I felt like I had

been run over by a steamroller, but I had had

many wonderful museum experiences.

The last stop, and for me the definite highlight of the whole trip, was the Polish Aviation

Museum in Krakow. It was my first time visiting, I had heard a lot about the WWI collections there and was really curious to see how

I would feel as a visitor. In addition, our Polish

illustrator Piotr Forkasiewicz accompanied

us, and his wife baked us a cake.

Long story short, I was thrilled. Krakow has

a really diverse collection of machines from

Polish and foreign production. It was possible to approach most of them without restrictions. The museum staff was unobtrusive but

attentive. Visitors were respectful, no one

touched what they shouldn't have, and I was

able to see aviation technology like I have in

no other museum I have visited so far. And

I touched what I was allowed to touch, so I got

to experience what it was like to fire an American half-inch machine gun in a B-17 bomber.

I was surprised by the "Polish" F-105 Thunderchief, and I was excited about the Finnish

Caudron C.714, which was to be flown by Polish pilots on the Finnish side in the Winter

War. I was amazed with the PZL M-15 Belphegor, which was a crop dusting biplane with

a fixed undercarriage and a jet engine. If you

haven't seen it yet, look up information on it,

you'll be amazed too! It had the same engine

as the Aero L-39 Albatros.

I was very excited to see the Sopwith Camel

B7280, which was restored and displayed few

years ago. I was a bit disappointed that the lighting in the hall was dim. Hopefully this will

be improved in the future. The Kraków machine is one of eight surviving Camels and the

INFO Eduard - September 2021

last time I saw one of these legendary fighters

was over twenty years ago in Brussels.

After returning home, I looked up what is

written about the B7280 on the internet and

there are a few things I would like to correct

and add. The machine is known to have been

built by Clayton & Shuttleworth Works in

Lincoln. From March 30, 1918, it served with

No. 1 Squadron RNAS and later with No. 210

Squadron RAF. It is reported to have achieved

11 victories and even helped to score to two

fighter aces.

The first one was Canadian James Henry Forman of Kirkfield, Ontario. He was born in 1896

to a father who was from near Lincolnshire,

England and a mother who was born in Canada. He became a teacher, but the First World

War made him a Captain who went on to serve

with four squadrons, winning nine victories

and being awarded the DFC. On Camel B7280,

he scored with No. 201 Sq. RAF two kills, a Fokker Dr.I on April 12, 1918, and added an Albatros fighter on May 9. Forman's luck deserted

him on September 4, 1918, when his formation

of twelve Camels from No. 70 Sq. RAF engaged with fighters from JG III led by Bruno

Loerzer. Only four British machines made it

back to base, and this was the highest combat

loss recorded by a Camel unit during the entire war. Among the captured airmen was Forman. He returned home after the war, continued his military service during World War II,

and died in 1972 in Santa Barbara, California.

The second pilot with ace status to score victories in the B7280 was Captain Herbert Andrew Patey. He was born in London in 1898

and, after serving in Egypt and fighting at Gallipoli, was sacked from the Royal Naval Division because it was discovered that he was

only sixteen years old! In March 1917 he was

back in service, this time with the Royal Naval

Air Service and after completing his training

was posted to No. 10 (Naval) Squadron in January 1918 which became No. 210 Squadron

RAF in April. He achieved a total of eleven victories, and it is stated that nine of these were

Photo: Piotr Forkasiewicz


fought on the B7280. In fact, there were only

six and, in all cases, they were the dangerous

Fokkers D.VII.

Edwin Swale, DFC (17 v.), also flew with Camel B7280 once and remembered Patey as

a tall, well-built man, a good formation leader

and a brave and attack-on-sight type. Swale

witnessed the end of Patey's flying career and

that of Camel B7280. This occurred in the early

evening of September 5, 1918, while escorting

DH.9 bombers near Roulers. Patey's formation swooped down on seven enemy fighters

and followed them up to an altitude of 1,000

ft above Courtrai. However, the Germans of

Jasta 56 emerged victorious from the battle.

Formation commander Lt. Ludwig Beckmann

shot down Patey and Uffz. Ludwig Jeckert

(4 v.) shot down New Zealander Lt. L. Yerex.

Both Camel pilots were captured and the

B7280 was subjected to a thorough inspection. It later found its way to a museum in Berlin

from where its journey led to Krakow where it

is on display in its September 1918 form.

Patey returned home on Christmas Day 1918,

but after some time contracted the Spanish

Flu and died on February 18, 1919. While in captivity, the London Gazette published a quote

from his DFC award on September 21, 1918.

Presumably this refers to his fight on August

6, 1918:

„Whilst leading his flight on an offensive

patrol eight enemy machines were encountered. Captain Patey was cut off from his patrol

by two of the enemy who got on his tail and

continued in that position until within 2,000

feet of the ground, at which point his machine was hit in the petrol tank. Notwithstanding

his serious handicap, he turned four times on

his pursuers, destroying one, and driving the

remainder away. On previous occasions this

officer has destroyed two enemy machines

and brought down two more out of control,

and, in company with other pilots, he has assisted in destroying or bringing down out of

control five additional enemy aircraft.“

Jan Bobek