This unassuming death notice marked the passing of military hero Richard Bell Davies. During World War 1, Davies was on a bombing mission with fellow British pilot Gilbert F. Smylie when Smylie’s craft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and he was forced to land behind enemy lines. Smylie dropped all but one of the bombs from his plane during the descent and managed to safely land, but he could not get the plane started again. To disable the plane, Smylie set it on fire.
The next part played out like a scene from a movie. Davies, having seen his fellow officer in trouble, immediately turned back to save him with little thought of his own safety. Smylie saw Davies coming as his own plane burned behind him. Knowing the last bomb might explode at the most inconvenient of times, Smylie took aim at his craft with a revolver and exploded the bomb himself. Under heavy fire from converging Turkish soldiers, Davies landed, pulled his comrade into the plane, and took off, leaving the Turks and the flaming wreckage of Smylie’s aircraft behind. Both men made it back to British lines unharmed.
For thinking on his feet, Gilbert Smylie received the Distinguished Service Cross. And, as the obituary above states, Richard Davies was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest of Britain’s military honors, for a skillful and daring rescue.
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