Jack Malone...First Ace Page 1

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Page 1

Jack Malone was of Irish descent. His grandparents sailed to Canada in the mid-1800's to escape the famines caused by continuous crop failures. They chose to settle just south of Georgian Bay near Stayner, Ontario, where pickets of Irish immigrants, survivors of previous such famines, had settled. Shortly after his grandparents began their life in Canada, Jack Malone's father, Edmund, was born. At the age of twenty, Edmund, then employed both as telegrapher and station-master for the Grand Trunk Railway in Inglewood, Ontario, married his childhood sweetheart. Their firstborn, a daughter, later became a prominent Sister in the Roman Catholic Church: next came John Joseph, always known as Jack, who was born on 21 December 1893. Following the birth of two more children, the rapidly expanding Malone family bought a farm near Streetsville, Ontario, in the rich farmland just west of Toronto.

Jack was 16 when his father, caught up in the western migration fever, took a trip out to Saskatchewan to check the prospects. On his return he enthusiastically informed his family that he had purchased a farm five miles north of Regina, where they moved the following year. In Saskatchewan Jack became totally fascinated with cars and, in fact, he earned money as an automobile demonstrator with one of the local franchises. His knowledge and persuasiveness helped the company's sales and in turn enabled Jack Malone, now the second eldest of eight children, to assist with the family's expenses and still have a little left to save.

While he was spinning around the capitol city of Saskatchewan, a fever was gripping the country. War was declared in Europe, and the spirit of patriotism was awash, especially among those with close blood-ties to Britain. Seven months after the first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrived in England, the 28th Battalion, composed of the first enlistments from Regina left the port of Montreal. On board were several of Malone's closest chums. His brother Cyril, who was two years younger, was about to enlist, and another brother, Charlie, just 17 years of age, had been accepted as a gunner in the 38th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery. Jack applied to the Curtiss Aviation School in Toronto and was informed that all vacancies had been filled for 1915. He was told that if he wished, he could re-apply for the following year. Jack's sole ambition in life was to fly. He had mastered the intricacies of automobiles and now he "just had to be an aviator." Hundreds of other young men in Canada shared the same dream and so there was an overwhelming number of hopeful volunteers, far more than the fledgling Curtiss Flying School could handle. Its popularity was due to the fact that it was the only flying school in Canada that had an arrangement with the British Admiralty whereby all pupils, if accepted for training, immediately received a commission in the Royal Naval Air Service. Some volunteers who were unable to enroll due to overcrowding, traveled to England at their own expense in order to join the RNAS more quickly. Jack did not take that option, instead he re-applied to the School on 4 November 1915. In his exuberance, he dramatically overstated his qualifications, and although the recruiting officers must have recognized this fact, they were nonetheless impressed enough with his eagerness to accept the application thus qualifying him to join the first class of 1916.

The winter of 1915/16 was one of great impatience for Malone. He sought alternate flight training in either or the United States in order to justify some of the unwarranted claims listed on his application. The private schools he checked on were all filled to capacity but, undaunted, he took the train to Toronto in the hope that something would turn up. He felt his prayers were answered when he learned of a flying school that was due to open in North Toronto in the spring. It was to be run by Ernest Lloyd "Tony" Janney from Galt, Ontario, who turned out to be a huckster! Janney bought a used Maurice-Farman biplane in New York, transported it back to Canada, repaired it, and found a suitable flying field on a plot of land in North Toronto. He was ready to operate a full two months before the Curtiss School and had leaflets printed announcing the opening of his one-aircraft, one-man aviation school in the hope of luring as many surplus candidates as possible from the Curtiss School. He did entice a few zealous pupils, the first of whom might well have been Jack Malone, for about this time Jack was photographed sitting proudly in the front nacelle of the French built Maurice-Farman, wearing full flying gear. He is the only known pupil to have had his photo taken in this aircraft. The Janney Aviation School operated after a fashion throughout the month of May. There is a strong belief among historians that none of Janney's pupils ever flew the aircraft. In early June 1916, Janney cracked up his only machine. At his point the school, which had never graduated a pilot, was disbanded. Jack, sensing that all was not as it should be, kept in close contact with the Curtiss establishment.

When the school opened on 10 May 1916, he was in the first class of 12 pupils. Four hundred minutes was set as the minimum time for taking the required tests. Malone's first instructor, Bill DaCosta, must have been amazed at his natural flying ability for in spite of his lack of experience, Malone handled the clumsy controls of the JN-3 with surprising facility. His first 14-minute circuit consisted of a rudimentary flight pattern: take off, one circuit of the field including a brief hands on experience, and landing. When he repeated the same pattern the following day, he did so with ease and confidence. The JN-3 was a stodgy and underpowered machine which would undoubtedly have been relegated to the ash heap provided the RNAS had the craftsmen to manufacture the rotary-engined Avro 504B in Canada.

The month of June 1916, was cold and wet and flying was washed out for 12 consecutive days. July began with more of the same, yet Jack continued to improve and to impress his instructors. Before the kid from Regina got his chance to pass the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale examination and thus to acquire his Royal Aero Club Certificate, his total time in the air stood at an even 385 minutes. This time included two solo flights. In the first of these, he flew a series of figures-of-eight around the two marker posts 500 meters apart ending in a dead-stick landing with his wheels coming to rest less than 50 meters from a chalk mark on the field. In the second, he had to climb to 100 meters, cut power, glide down, land, and stop his wheels from rolling at another predetermined marker. When informed by his instructor on 3 July 1916, that the next test would be a solo for his certificate, he sported a wide grin and without the slightest hesitation climbed into the back seat of the JN-3, adjusted his safety strap and goggles, slowly opened the throttle, and, bouncing over the slightly spongy ground, gathered speed and gently lifted off. Fifteen minutes later, in an errorless display, he passed his test and was the first pupil in the Curtiss School in 1916 to do so. The other 11 pupils still under instruction took an additional four days and 114 minutes of air time to finish their flight training. The day Jack passed his test, he was taken on strength by the RNAS and given the rank of Probationary Flying Sub-Lieutenant. He was also granted a two week graduation leave and was told to report for overseas transport no later than 4 August 1916.

He spent his leave in Regina with his friends and family after which he boarded the train for the three day ride back east. When he arrived, he found to his chagrin that he had missed his scheduled 4 August sailing from Montreal, so his passage had to be changed by the RNAS authorities who needless to say, did not take kindly to unpunctual behavior from a raw recruit. Sid Ellis, another Curtiss School graduate, experienced the same embarrassment. Both sailed on the Corinthian on 6 August 1916. They were the only RNAS personnel on board as the remainder of the passengers were mainly soldiers and nurses.

In England, Jack joined the large number of Canadian RNAS Probationary Flying Sub-Lieutenants who had been arriving throughout the winter and spring. He realized that with such stiff competition he would have to excel if he was going to become a member of the elite Senior Service and to achieve his greatest ambition "to become the best damned pilot in the RNAS".

As ordered, Jack Malone reported to HMS Crystal Palace on the morning of 27 August 1916, to begin what proved to be a three week course of lectures on Naval protocol, punctuated by a steady diet of daily physical workouts. Everyone was relieved when the course came to an end at which time half of the students, including Jack, were sent to Chingford to commence flight training, while the other half went to Eastchurch.

The first week at Chingford was reserved for lectures and as there had been no ground instruction of any kind in Canada, exposure to academic lessons on flight and other related subjects. In the evenings after the last machine had landed, Malone and the rest of the class were required to help stow the well worn Maurice-Farmans and Grahame-White Type XV dual-control box-kites. It was on the Grahame-White that Malone experienced his first flight in England on 5 October 1916. He had drawn straws with Ross Blythe to see who would go up first and had lost, so when Blythe climbed out of the dual nacelle after a 14-minute circuit of the aerodrome, Malone enthusiastically took his place. These training flights, like those in Canada, were of short duration thus allowing the maximum number of pupils to receive their daily quota of instruction. When he was safely aboard, his instructor, Warren Merriam, took off. He leveled out at 500 feet and, as was customary, allowed Malone to take control of the machine. When they landed ten minutes later Malone outwardly showed little emotion, but inwardly he was bursting with excitement. His second flight, a 25 minute affair, must have shown Merriam just how capable Malone was for when fully in control of the aircraft, he effortlessly executed every required maneuver and for good measure threw in a few extra moves. Following this impressive display of flying, Merriam after consulting with Ben Travers who was in charge of the Maurice-Longhorn flight, the next step on the agenda, decided to advance Malone directly into the tutelage of Flight Lieutenant C.H. Hayward, C.O. of the Avro flight.

Operating the reliable 80hp Gn?me 504B posed no problems and after his second landing, Malone was told "it's yours, go ahead, take 'er up alone and do a few circuits". Progress slowed somewhat later in October as inclement weather kept the machines on the ground most of the time. However when flying resumed Jack was moved forward to master the station's BE2c's, the latest and most advanced type of aircraft then on strength at Chingford. He continued to show the same degree of skill as on the other aircraft. Not even an untimely engine failure, which caused him to execute a forced landing, could dampen his spirits.

On 13 November 1916, while Ross Blythe and the rest of Malone's class at Chingford were still doing their straights and circuits in the ungainly Longhorns, J.J. Malone was posted on to Cranwell, which had just opened, to complete his flight training. At Cranwell an interlude of unusually fine late fall weather allowed him to establish a few extra insurance hours in the Avro. He also took a nostalgic flight in one of the station's American built Curtiss JN-3s, basically the same type of aircraft he had first flown at the Curtiss School six months before. After completing his time on the Avro, Malone was advanced to the BE2c, a real workhorse of an aircraft. Every day while aloft in this stable but boring machine, he enviously eyed the trim little Bristol Scouts sitting on the field. They were always lined up in a row looking like little butterflies. Upon dutiful completion of the cross-country exercise plus the compass and map reading courses, he was pronounced ready for another milestone, his first time at the controls of an 80hp Gn?me Bristol Scout, the machine he so much admired.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Donald briefly explained the aircraft's idiosyncracies to Malone before his first flight. No sooner had he left the ground under the watchful eyes of a few instructors who were by now well acquainted with his remarkable progress, than he began to throw her around. The controls, as he had been told, were exceptionally light and their response immediate. At 10,000 feet he put her into a steep spirallying descent, spun down for 6,000 feet then upon pulling out completed a series of loops. Had the day not become heavily overcast and begun to rain, he would have stayed in the air until the tank ran dry, so much was he enthralled with this spritely little single-seater. A few days later, after completing his cecond flight in the same aircraft, he was informed that his flight training was finished. Now he had only to pass his final written exams at Cranwell before receiving his "wings". This he did, and after a short course at Freiston, the bombing and gunnery school annex of Cranwell, he was posted to No. 3 (Naval) Wing at Luxeuil in the south of France. No. 3 (Naval) Wing was both a training and operational unit and was considered to be England's first long-range strategic bombing force.

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Page 2

A bombing outfit was not what Malone really wanted, an opinion which was shared by Mel Alexander, Don Masson, and Sport Murton, who were also posted to Luxeuil. They accompanied him from Waterloo Station on 4 December and across the channel on the Viper , an all night trip to Le Havre. There were no cabins onboard this ex-naval torpedo-boat destroyer so the officers, a motley collection representing every military unit imaginable, played cards throughout the night. Either Murton or Masson had the presence of mind to bring along a bottle of Scotch which proved to be a life-saver, as it was bitterly cold.

Upon their arrival in Paris, the four Canadians hired a taxi. Jack Malone persuaded the reticent driver to allow him to operate the cab and no sooner had they left the curb with Malone and Alexander in the the front seat, and the excited driver helplessly sandwiched in the back between Masson and Murton, than a sudden clashing of gears brought the cab to a grinding halt. The four Canadians had to physically restrain the cab owner who cursed them wildly, and a nearby Gendarme was hurriedly summoned to intervene. Murton, who was the linguist of the group, parleyvood with both Frenchmen and, pulling out a bundle of recently purchased French bank notes, offered to pay for the suspected damage to the cab. When the money appeared, the taxi driver's face broke into a leering grin and after making a settlement both parties parted amicably.

While on the train Le Havre to Paris, the Canadians had met a classy middle-aged Femme who was, according to Alexander, "quite a girl" She became their self-appointed guide to the lures of Paris, and she took them on a tour of the French capitol making sure that "her boys" were not ripped off by the many unscrupulous cafe and cinema owners. As it was they still ran short of money and had to charge for their meals while on the train from Paris to Luxeuil.

At Luxeuil, the training and administrative headquarters of No.3 (Naval) Wing, the four Canadians settled in, and on 7 December 1916, they were officially taken on strength. Malone stated in a letter to his brother Cyril:"It (Luxeuil) is about 30 kilometers from the lines and so far I have not been over as our flight is just being organized." However, Malone, as well as Alexander, Murton, and Masson had been busy flying a few of the Wing's Curtiss JN-4s just to keep in practice. Malone did not get a real chance to impress his buddies until 11 December when he took A.W. Nick Carter for a 17-minute aerial tour above the aerodrome in Carter's Sopwith bomber 9408. What the more experienced Carter did not, realize was the fact that Malone had never before flown a 1½ Strutter. Nick Carter was so impressed by Jack Malone's flying that he wrote: "FSL Malone, wonderful pilot" in his personal logbook.

Had Malone not been so dissatisfied with his posting and with the unappealing image of himself as a bomber pilot, he wouldn't have been as captivated by the Wing's only single-seat scout, Sopwith Pup 9496 which had been tucked away in the corner of one hanger the day he arrived at the Wing. This machine was the second of three Pup prototypes built by the Sopwith factory and had been on strength of No. 3 (Naval) Wing since early September 1916. It had only been flown by a few of the more enterprising pilots including Stearne Edwards and John Sharman.

The practice and test flights that Jack had made in this 1½ Strutter fighter which he had flown on a regular basis since his first flight in Carter's bus, did not impress him. The English-built 130-hp Clerget engines in these aircraft were not wearing well; the obdurator rings having developed excessive play kept most of the aircraft in the shops. Every short hop he made seemed fraught with engine problems and the prospect of carrying extra ballast in the form of a gunlayer in the rear cockpit really cramped his style. He could think of nothing more rewarding than flying that Pup, then the hottest British Fighter at the front. He had to tell someone other than his fellow pilots of his burning ambition, and who better than his brother Cyril. In the flush of passion he decribed his feelings in a letter written on 28 December 1916:

There is a beautiful little scout here which I've just fixed up and flown for the first time today (27 Dec.). She is so sensitive you can fly her with one finger. but rather dangerous on that account. To be heavy-handed with her would be fatal. I'm glad of this because it puts the 'wind up' everybody and I'll have her all to myself.

Jack Malone and Sharman were the only two pilots who gave the Pup a workout that day. Some of the more senior pilots had returned from Ochey that morning because the weather had brought the Wing's day bombing almost to a standstill, although a few had remained to take one last crack at the enemy before winter made flying impossible. These seniors showed little interest in flying the Pup so Sharman took her up first. On his return he climbed out of the machine, vest pocket camera in hand and he snapped a shot of Malone as the impatient Canadian took his place at the controls. After a short pre-flight briefing from Sharman and a warning not to indulge in any unusual antics, Malone blipped her, tested rudder and aileron, then skillfully adjusted the air and petrol before lifting gracefully into a grey December sky. The ceiling was low, as it had been for several days, so Malone knew that the aircraft would be silhouetted against the clouds setting the perfect stage for his show: a few off-the-deck low passes, a climbing turn, then a stall, and a short dive, finishing with the Grande tour de force, a perfect landing. What exhilarating thoughts must have come to Malone's mind as he gave this exhibition in full view of the other pilots and gunlayers. At the end of the day Malone's Pup had to be overhauled. The stress and strain of the flying display was keep Pup 9496 in the repair shop for several days.

Snow had fallen regularly between Christmas and New Year's Day 1917 and the mercury had taken a severe drop, nullifying most flying. To pass the idle hours groups of officers engaged in endless poker games, while others not so inclined wrote letters or improved their living quarters. Some hardy individuals even braved the elements and walked the mile to town seeking out camaraderie of the local estaminets such as the "Leon Vart" and the "Palme d'Or". Few officers fraternized on a regular basis with the civilian population.

As if on a pendulum, the weather temporarily moderated once or twice a week. All engines were run up and activity resumed throughout the abbreviated daylight hours of early January. With very few aircraft being kept in flying trim, the more energetic tried to get in as many brief flights as they could.

On 22 January, all operational pilots at Luxeuil were told to mobilize and return in their aircraft to Ochey to resume bombing raids. As Malone was still considered to be under training and hadn't been posted to either of the two squadrons that made the fighting force of the Wing, he and a few others were granted leave to England. Just before he left he and his fellow officers heard rumors suggesting that the Wing was to be reduced in size; however, little faith was placed in such gossip.

Malone spent most of his leave in Paris, only popping over to London for a few days to make some purchases. He had a lonely time in England, as most of the boys he knew from the old Curtiss School were still under quarantine with the measles at Chingford and Freiston. His return to Luxeuil coincided with some of the coldest weather ever experienced in that part of the country and the boys who participated in a raid to the Burbach blast furnaces near Saarbruecken on 12 January 1917 suffered intensely from the penetrating cold. Three pilots and two gunlayers had their hands, frozen in spite of the fact that the surgeon had greased all exposed skin before their departure. This raid was a disaster from the beginning due to the considerable number of engines that refused to start and a litany of engine failures enroute. Only 16 of the 25 machines that started out from Ochey reached their target.

There had been little relief from the cold in over a week and Malone, on his first flight since returning from leave, had his own hands and feet nearly frozen while acting as Duty Pilot during a two-hour morning patrol of Luxeuil and the surrounding area. The rumors which had been making rounds at Luxeuil and Ochey for 3 months or more now proved to be genuine. On the morning of 27 January, while Malone was still aloft, an announcement was posted on the notice board to the effect that eight pilots, Malone
among them, had been chosen to report for scout duty at Dunkirk. Those whose names did not appear became quite upset at the news. Sharman wrote in his diary:

Yesterday eight of the fellows left to go to another Wing. Collishaw was amongst them, a fact which made both of us quite sore for we have been together for a long time now. Still, we aren't the only ones. The whole eight seem to have been chosen at the Admiralty for apparently no reason, unless alphabetical. We are very sorry to lose them and are rather hoping to join them soon.

As Jack Malone was the only pilot chosen who had not flown operationally, it was highly probable that Wing Captain "Daddy" Elder, who had taken quite a liking to Malone, had countenanced the Admiralty's decision to include his name. The chosen pilots left Luxeuil on 31 January 1917. The trip was tedious and when the train eventually arrived in Paris in the early hours of the morning the men had to bribe a taxi driver to get accommodations at the Continental Hotel, a favourite RNAS and RFC hangout. While in Paris most of the officers purchased fur-lined combination flying suits after which they polished off the day with a meal at Maxim's. The ride to Dunkirk the next day is described by Art Whealy, one of the eight:

Caught the 07:55 for Boulogne. Had a wonderful passage. Seventeen of us. French and ourselves, were packed into a small corridor with our bags on the hot floor, heated by steam. We couldn't move and our feet were nearly blistered. This lasted for about two hours then we got seated. Arrived at Boulogne at 1700 hours, found a car to meet us and drove over to Dunkirk, 35 miles. It was a terrible, cold drive. When we got to Dunkirk we were told that we were to leave for the Somme in the morning. Slept on the floor, and believe me, it was mighty cold.

The pilots had thought that they would be sent to operational squadrons to fly Sopwith Triplanes after being trained on them at Dunkirk, but this was not the case. They found the idea of going to the Somme with a fighter squadron in the depth of winter not a very pleasant one.

When the pilots left for the Somme the following morning by motor car. Jack was not among them. He had been singled out by "Red" Mulock, commander of the newly formed No. 3 (Naval) Squadron as excellent material for his new squadron and as such he was given extra flying time and attention. Mulock was not entirely pleased with some of the 12 pilots from No. 1 (Naval) Wing who composed the nucleus of his squadron. so he was trying to upgrade the personnel on his roster. Naturally, he would have preferred that most of his pilots be fellow-countrymen like Malone, but this was certainly not his main criteria in selecting pilots. Quite coincidentally, it was the large proportion of Canadians just released from No. 3 (Naval) Wing that gave the impression that Mulock was out to create a truly Canadian squadron. In any event, Wing Commander Ennis T.R. Chambers, his superior at RNAS headquarters Dunkirk would never have allowed this to happen.

While the first group of pilots who had arrived at Vert Galant aerodrome were trying to adjust to their new quarters, Malone was busy flying a few of the 1½ Strutters, Nieuport Scouts, and Sopwith Pups left at St. Poi after No. 3 (Naval) Squadron left for the Somme. Jack rejoined the pilots at Vert Galant on 8 February, travelling in the company of Mulock and two of the commander's staff, but his reception was cool as several of the officers resented the favours that his flying skill and Irish personality seemed to elicit.

These pilots were already disgruntled as most of them were suffering from nagging colds and they were annoyed at having to try the old worn-out 80-hp Pups which had been left behind by the previous tenants from No. 8 (Naval) Squadron. Some of the machines had been with No. 8 (Naval) Squadron since October 1916, and were the survivors of some heavy scrapping experienced by that squadron. In addition most still had their original engines. Whealy wrote that he "couldn't understand why, in a show like this, which is supposed to be a pucker fighting squadron, they have such dud machines. Fighting from dud machines is poor work".

In his first conference, Squadron Commander Mulock did much to ease their fears when he announced that the squadron was due to receive 16 new Pups, six of them immediately. Also a top-notch crew of riggers and fitters that he had carefully assembled began to achieve an extraordinary rate of serviceability on the old Pups previously not thought possible. For instance, Pup N.5185 (Blinky) which had been looped by E. R. Grange of No. 8 (Naval) Squadron as far back as Christmas Eve 1916, was still going strong after a refit.

As "A" flight was shy one pilot, Jack Malone became the sixth and final member. Its leader, B.C. Bell, a somewhat abrasive Australian, had mobilized "A" flight first, and as senior leader had led the squadron's initial line patrol over the Lens Front on the afternoon of 10 February. It was on this occasion that Malone, flying a borrowed machine from "C" flight, had his first glimpse of the enemy's trenches. The next morning, Bell, while leading another line patrol with Travers, Malone, and Glen, spotted an enemy two-seater being harrassed by British anti-aircraft fire. When the enemy pilot became aware of the approaching Pups, he turned northward and led "A" flight almost to Arras. At 300 yards range they fired a few rounds which were seen to pass insignificantly around the enemy machine. Owing to a shortage of petrol, the Pups left their quarry and returned to Vert Galand thus ending their first meeting with the enemy. "C" flight, led by R.G. Mack, attempted a similar patrol that afternoon but Mack's machine, one of the new ones, developed engine problems and he was forced to return to 10 minutes after take-off. Embarrassingly, "B" flight was hurried off to an Army Gunnery School near Boulogne for seven extra days of gunnery practice.

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Page 2

A bombing outfit was not what Malone really wanted, an opinion which was shared by Mel Alexander, Don Masson, and Sport Murton, who were also posted to Luxeuil. They accompanied him from Waterloo Station on 4 December and across the channel on the Viper , an all night trip to Le Havre. There were no cabins onboard this ex-naval torpedo-boat destroyer so the officers, a motley collection representing every military unit imaginable, played cards throughout the night. Either Murton or Masson had the presence of mind to bring along a bottle of Scotch which proved to be a life-saver, as it was bitterly cold.

Upon their arrival in Paris, the four Canadians hired a taxi. Jack Malone persuaded the reticent driver to allow him to operate the cab and no sooner had they left the curb with Malone and Alexander in the the front seat, and the excited driver helplessly sandwiched in the back between Masson and Murton, than a sudden clashing of gears brought the cab to a grinding halt. The four Canadians had to physically restrain the cab owner who cursed them wildly, and a nearby Gendarme was hurriedly summoned to intervene. Murton, who was the linguist of the group, parleyvood with both Frenchmen and, pulling out a bundle of recently purchased French bank notes, offered to pay for the suspected damage to the cab. When the money appeared, the taxi driver's face broke into a leering grin and after making a settlement both parties parted amicably.

While on the train Le Havre to Paris, the Canadians had met a classy middle-aged Femme who was, according to Alexander, "quite a girl" She became their self-appointed guide to the lures of Paris, and she took them on a tour of the French capitol making sure that "her boys" were not ripped off by the many unscrupulous cafe and cinema owners. As it was they still ran short of money and had to charge for their meals while on the train from Paris to Luxeuil.

At Luxeuil, the training and administrative headquarters of No.3 (Naval) Wing, the four Canadians settled in, and on 7 December 1916, they were officially taken on strength. Malone stated in a letter to his brother Cyril:"It (Luxeuil) is about 30 kilometers from the lines and so far I have not been over as our flight is just being organized." However, Malone, as well as Alexander, Murton, and Masson had been busy flying a few of the Wing's Curtiss JN-4s just to keep in practice. Malone did not get a real chance to impress his buddies until 11 December when he took A.W. Nick Carter for a 17-minute aerial tour above the aerodrome in Carter's Sopwith bomber 9408. What the more experienced Carter did not, realize was the fact that Malone had never before flown a 1½ Strutter. Nick Carter was so impressed by Jack Malone's flying that he wrote: "FSL Malone, wonderful pilot" in his personal logbook.

Had Malone not been so dissatisfied with his posting and with the unappealing image of himself as a bomber pilot, he wouldn't have been as captivated by the Wing's only single-seat scout, Sopwith Pup 9496 which had been tucked away in the corner of one hanger the day he arrived at the Wing. This machine was the second of three Pup prototypes built by the Sopwith factory and had been on strength of No. 3 (Naval) Wing since early September 1916. It had only been flown by a few of the more enterprising pilots including Stearne Edwards and John Sharman.

The practice and test flights that Jack had made in this 1½ Strutter fighter which he had flown on a regular basis since his first flight in Carter's bus, did not impress him. The English-built 130-hp Clerget engines in these aircraft were not wearing well; the obdurator rings having developed excessive play kept most of the aircraft in the shops. Every short hop he made seemed fraught with engine problems and the prospect of carrying extra ballast in the form of a gunlayer in the rear cockpit really cramped his style. He could think of nothing more rewarding than flying that Pup, then the hottest British Fighter at the front. He had to tell someone other than his fellow pilots of his burning ambition, and who better than his brother Cyril. In the flush of passion he decribed his feelings in a letter written on 28 December 1916:

There is a beautiful little scout here which I've just fixed up and flown for the first time today (27 Dec.). She is so sensitive you can fly her with one finger. but rather dangerous on that account. To be heavy-handed with her would be fatal. I'm glad of this because it puts the 'wind up' everybody and I'll have her all to myself.

Jack Malone and Sharman were the only two pilots who gave the Pup a workout that day. Some of the more senior pilots had returned from Ochey that morning because the weather had brought the Wing's day bombing almost to a standstill, although a few had remained to take one last crack at the enemy before winter made flying impossible. These seniors showed little interest in flying the Pup so Sharman took her up first. On his return he climbed out of the machine, vest pocket camera in hand and he snapped a shot of Malone as the impatient Canadian took his place at the controls. After a short pre-flight briefing from Sharman and a warning not to indulge in any unusual antics, Malone blipped her, tested rudder and aileron, then skillfully adjusted the air and petrol before lifting gracefully into a grey December sky. The ceiling was low, as it had been for several days, so Malone knew that the aircraft would be silhouetted against the clouds setting the perfect stage for his show: a few off-the-deck low passes, a climbing turn, then a stall, and a short dive, finishing with the Grande tour de force, a perfect landing. What exhilarating thoughts must have come to Malone's mind as he gave this exhibition in full view of the other pilots and gunlayers. At the end of the day Malone's Pup had to be overhauled. The stress and strain of the flying display was keep Pup 9496 in the repair shop for several days.

Snow had fallen regularly between Christmas and New Year's Day 1917 and the mercury had taken a severe drop, nullifying most flying. To pass the idle hours groups of officers engaged in endless poker games, while others not so inclined wrote letters or improved their living quarters. Some hardy individuals even braved the elements and walked the mile to town seeking out camaraderie of the local estaminets such as the "Leon Vart" and the "Palme d'Or". Few officers fraternized on a regular basis with the civilian population.

As if on a pendulum, the weather temporarily moderated once or twice a week. All engines were run up and activity resumed throughout the abbreviated daylight hours of early January. With very few aircraft being kept in flying trim, the more energetic tried to get in as many brief flights as they could.

On 22 January, all operational pilots at Luxeuil were told to mobilize and return in their aircraft to Ochey to resume bombing raids. As Malone was still considered to be under training and hadn't been posted to either of the two squadrons that made the fighting force of the Wing, he and a few others were granted leave to England. Just before he left he and his fellow officers heard rumors suggesting that the Wing was to be reduced in size; however, little faith was placed in such gossip.

Malone spent most of his leave in Paris, only popping over to London for a few days to make some purchases. He had a lonely time in England, as most of the boys he knew from the old Curtiss School were still under quarantine with the measles at Chingford and Freiston. His return to Luxeuil coincided with some of the coldest weather ever experienced in that part of the country and the boys who participated in a raid to the Burbach blast furnaces near Saarbruecken on 12 January 1917 suffered intensely from the penetrating cold. Three pilots and two gunlayers had their hands, frozen in spite of the fact that the surgeon had greased all exposed skin before their departure. This raid was a disaster from the beginning due to the considerable number of engines that refused to start and a litany of engine failures enroute. Only 16 of the 25 machines that started out from Ochey reached their target.

There had been little relief from the cold in over a week and Malone, on his first flight since returning from leave, had his own hands and feet nearly frozen while acting as Duty Pilot during a two-hour morning patrol of Luxeuil and the surrounding area. The rumors which had been making rounds at Luxeuil and Ochey for 3 months or more now proved to be genuine. On the morning of 27 January, while Malone was still aloft, an announcement was posted on the notice board to the effect that eight pilots, Malone
among them, had been chosen to report for scout duty at Dunkirk. Those whose names did not appear became quite upset at the news. Sharman wrote in his diary:

Yesterday eight of the fellows left to go to another Wing. Collishaw was amongst them, a fact which made both of us quite sore for we have been together for a long time now. Still, we aren't the only ones. The whole eight seem to have been chosen at the Admiralty for apparently no reason, unless alphabetical. We are very sorry to lose them and are rather hoping to join them soon.

As Jack Malone was the only pilot chosen who had not flown operationally, it was highly probable that Wing Captain "Daddy" Elder, who had taken quite a liking to Malone, had countenanced the Admiralty's decision to include his name. The chosen pilots left Luxeuil on 31 January 1917. The trip was tedious and when the train eventually arrived in Paris in the early hours of the morning the men had to bribe a taxi driver to get accommodations at the Continental Hotel, a favourite RNAS and RFC hangout. While in Paris most of the officers purchased fur-lined combination flying suits after which they polished off the day with a meal at Maxim's. The ride to Dunkirk the next day is described by Art Whealy, one of the eight:

Caught the 07:55 for Boulogne. Had a wonderful passage. Seventeen of us. French and ourselves, were packed into a small corridor with our bags on the hot floor, heated by steam. We couldn't move and our feet were nearly blistered. This lasted for about two hours then we got seated. Arrived at Boulogne at 1700 hours, found a car to meet us and drove over to Dunkirk, 35 miles. It was a terrible, cold drive. When we got to Dunkirk we were told that we were to leave for the Somme in the morning. Slept on the floor, and believe me, it was mighty cold.

The pilots had thought that they would be sent to operational squadrons to fly Sopwith Triplanes after being trained on them at Dunkirk, but this was not the case. They found the idea of going to the Somme with a fighter squadron in the depth of winter not a very pleasant one.

When the pilots left for the Somme the following morning by motor car. Jack was not among them. He had been singled out by "Red" Mulock, commander of the newly formed No. 3 (Naval) Squadron as excellent material for his new squadron and as such he was given extra flying time and attention. Mulock was not entirely pleased with some of the 12 pilots from No. 1 (Naval) Wing who composed the nucleus of his squadron. so he was trying to upgrade the personnel on his roster. Naturally, he would have preferred that most of his pilots be fellow-countrymen like Malone, but this was certainly not his main criteria in selecting pilots. Quite coincidentally, it was the large proportion of Canadians just released from No. 3 (Naval) Wing that gave the impression that Mulock was out to create a truly Canadian squadron. In any event, Wing Commander Ennis T.R. Chambers, his superior at RNAS headquarters Dunkirk would never have allowed this to happen.

While the first group of pilots who had arrived at Vert Galant aerodrome were trying to adjust to their new quarters, Malone was busy flying a few of the 1½ Strutters, Nieuport Scouts, and Sopwith Pups left at St. Poi after No. 3 (Naval) Squadron left for the Somme. Jack rejoined the pilots at Vert Galant on 8 February, travelling in the company of Mulock and two of the commander's staff, but his reception was cool as several of the officers resented the favours that his flying skill and Irish personality seemed to elicit.

These pilots were already disgruntled as most of them were suffering from nagging colds and they were annoyed at having to try the old worn-out 80-hp Pups which had been left behind by the previous tenants from No. 8 (Naval) Squadron. Some of the machines had been with No. 8 (Naval) Squadron since October 1916, and were the survivors of some heavy scrapping experienced by that squadron. In addition most still had their original engines. Whealy wrote that he "couldn't understand why, in a show like this, which is supposed to be a pucker fighting squadron, they have such dud machines. Fighting from dud machines is poor work".

In his first conference, Squadron Commander Mulock did much to ease their fears when he announced that the squadron was due to receive 16 new Pups, six of them immediately. Also a top-notch crew of riggers and fitters that he had carefully assembled began to achieve an extraordinary rate of serviceability on the old Pups previously not thought possible. For instance, Pup N.5185 (Blinky) which had been looped by E. R. Grange of No. 8 (Naval) Squadron as far back as Christmas Eve 1916, was still going strong after a refit.

As "A" flight was shy one pilot, Jack Malone became the sixth and final member. Its leader, B.C. Bell, a somewhat abrasive Australian, had mobilized "A" flight first, and as senior leader had led the squadron's initial line patrol over the Lens Front on the afternoon of 10 February. It was on this occasion that Malone, flying a borrowed machine from "C" flight, had his first glimpse of the enemy's trenches. The next morning, Bell, while leading another line patrol with Travers, Malone, and Glen, spotted an enemy two-seater being harrassed by British anti-aircraft fire. When the enemy pilot became aware of the approaching Pups, he turned northward and led "A" flight almost to Arras. At 300 yards range they fired a few rounds which were seen to pass insignificantly around the enemy machine. Owing to a shortage of petrol, the Pups left their quarry and returned to Vert Galand thus ending their first meeting with the enemy. "C" flight, led by R.G. Mack, attempted a similar patrol that afternoon but Mack's machine, one of the new ones, developed engine problems and he was forced to return to 10 minutes after take-off. Embarrassingly, "B" flight was hurried off to an Army Gunnery School near Boulogne for seven extra days of gunnery practice.

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -

The war started up again on St. Patrick's Day morning for the squadrons of the RFC's 22nd Wing, to which No. 3 (Naval) Squadron belonged. Enemy aircraft, both scouts and reconnaissance two-seaters, were unusually active on the British fronts. All three flights of No. 3 (Naval) left Bertangles that morning at 15-minute intervals with orders to keep the skies clear of German aircraft above British Fifth Army front so the F.E.2bs of No. 18 Squadron, RFC, could photograph two particular sections of the front without interference. "C" flight, the first to become airborne, climbed to 17,000 feet. Next the four Pups of "A" flight led by Bell levelled off a few hundred feet above the F.E.s, while "B" flight closed the formation between "C" and "A" flights just as they were approaching the lines. Malone, ever alert, was the first pilot to break formation. He engaged a mottled red and green two- seater in a five-minute no-decision contest after which he rejoined his flight. Travers also fired at this machine. Malone's combat must have been witnessed by several flights of enemy fighters in the vicinity who were waiting for just the right moment to distract the escort of Pups so that they could attack the F.E.s. These probing skirmishes began northeast of Bapaume, featuring two or three main events which seemed to begin when Flight Commander Bell shot down out of control, a Halberstadt which he had surprised.

As the enemy fighter fell, another German, preoccupied by his friend's difficulty was hit by a burst from Travers' gun and he, too, spun down through the haze seemingly out of control. Then it was Malone's turn. He dove on another two-seater near Eroilliers and, while unsuccessfully trying to drum up interest in a fight, became the target of three more enemy machines. He shook one off, shot another into a tail spin, and then continued to fight with the remaining enemy machine until forced down to 7,000 ft.

Bursting enemy "archie" in the direction of Arras drew Malone's attention back to the F.E.2b formation, which was still unscathed. After seeing the F.E.s safely to their own side of the lines, he returned and picked up a two-seater. He fired on it from close range and it burst into flames and descended leaving a trail of oily black smoke in its wake. With little petrol left, Malone turned for home. He landed with the wind at his back and while taxiing in was overturned when a strong gust caught the aircraft. What the enemy failed to achieve, nature had accomplished. Pup 9898 now required new planes, prop, and motor. This had been a day to remember. Five Germans all credited to the Pilots of "A" flight. Three were later confirmed. "B" flight had been involved in one or two scraps, none decisive, and "C" flight cruising along at 17,000 feet didn't see a thing. Casey of "A" flight who thought he may have gotten one, had his engine cut out and had to land in a shell hole just behind allied lines. Breadner of "B" flight, participating in his first scrap with the enemy, lost his way coming home and landed at a French aerodrome about 30 miles south of Bertangles.

Many of "A" flight's combats had occurred at an altitude choked by a heavy pall of smoke as the German troops were systematically setting fire to all the villages within a ten-mile radius of Bapaume as they withdrew to the Hindenburg Line. The same day, the British Fourth and Fifth Armies began a general advance from Arras to Roye led by the Australian Light Horse and the Indian Cavalry.

South of the Somme the French Army brought up the right flank and, in conjunction with the British, they advanced a distance of 80 miles between Arras and Soissons in two days. The German command realized that the allies could not develop an advance from their new positions, so they offered little aerial resistance. A few extra Flieger-Abteilung machines were airborne, protected by small clusters of fighters above them, but this was the only noticeable change in the enemy's tactics north of the Somme. The real concentration of German airpower was centered behind Arras in order to meet the expected allied assault. This left the German I.Armée,which had nearly completed its withdrawal, without any substantial increase in air-cover. Jasta 12, which had reoccupied the aerodrome at Riencourt by Arras, was one of the few enemy fighter squadrons left to defend the Cambrai Front. Its regular beat would bring it into close contact with the F.E.s and B.E.s of the 22nd and 15th (RFC) Wings over which the Pups of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron provided a protective umbrella. This Jasta would later prove a real thorn in their side.

Another interlude of bad weather made patrols unfeasible so only a few practice flights were made. On one of these Nick Carter claimed to have bested Joe Fall in a short sham fight above the aerodrome. During their free time some of the pilots conferred with the Weapons Officer, "Guns" Nelson, about the possibility of arranging a firing lever on the throttle of their Pups. Nelson found this impossible, but after some thought, came up with the idea of fixing a firing lever in place of the "blip" switch.

Damp weather was playing havoc with the machines when "A" flight set out for Cambrai shortly before daybreak on 23 March. Just before crossing the lines, Jack tried his new gun switch, but the gum jammed after firing just one round. Annoyed he turned back and landed at No. 3 (RFC) Squadron's aerodrome to see if their gunnery officer could clear the problem. He received no satisfaction so, he was forced to fly back to his own aerodrome at Bertangles. On arriving he heard that Bell's engine had completely cut out on him two or three miles over the lines. Luckily Bell had enough height to glide back above the trenches, and he landed between several holes near Beaumetz.

The mechanics of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron worked throughout the night to complete the necessary repairs on the two machines and the next morning, under a bright blue sky and battling strong northeast winds, Bell led five "A" flight Pups to Douai. About four miles back of Arras, they intercepted one of four Halberstadts that was about to attack the three F.E.s they had been sent out protect. The unsuspecting enemy pilot could not have seen the oncoming machines as Bell was able to unload a long burst broadside into the pilot's cockpit. Both Malone and Travers saw the Halberstadt spin out of control to the ground. Earlier that morning "B" and "C" flights had engaged in combat with three enemy machines. During this exchange, Collishaw's "Black Maria" was badly hit and his goggles smashed, so he flung off the goggles taking with them his face mask, and by the time he returned to Bertangles his frostbitten face had swollen to the size of a small pumpkin. He was sent to a nearby hospital where he partially recuperated, then he was sent to England on sick leave. He never returned to No. 3 (Naval) Squadron because after his leave, he was posted to No. 10 (Naval) Squadron as a Flight Commander.

Late on Sunday night, 25 March, No. 3 (Naval) Squadron received orders to move to Marieux aerodrome, a few miles southeast of Doullens and much closer to the lines. Everyone was up and frantically packing by 04:45 hours the next morning but intermittent rain and hail prevented the machines from taking off. Snow laden clouds blanketed the area that night and throughout the following day interfering with a scheduled "C" flight escort. Malone and Casey managed to leave Bertangles and fly northeast through several snow squalls to Marieux aerodrome which was described by "Tich" Rochford as being: "a rotten aerodrome with three shell holes strategically located in the centre of the field and a gully taking up the major portion of what is left. The sheds are in a hollow in some woods. The quarters are very good but had been left in exceedingly dirty condition by the last squadron here (No. 5 Squadron. RFC)."

Before the squadron had settled in at Marieux, Bell had received word from his friend, Wing Commander Chambers, that he had been selected to take over the command of No. 10 (Naval) squadron now being formed at Dunkirk. His flight shed no tears at this departure as he had been soundly disliked. Instead, they celebrated with great revelry the arrival of their new flight leader, "Tiny" Travers, who had been promoted from within "A" flight to lead it.

There was little let-up in the rain that had been falling steadily since the squadron's move to Marieux. The pilots, although busily knocking down partitions and rebuilding their cabins, had time to reflect on the squadron's achievements and losses for the month of March. Twelve enemy aircraft had been credited to them. They were also preoccupied with thoughts of the impending British offensive, and the part they would play in it.

The first of April arrived and April Fool's Day jokes directed largely at the three flight leaders, Mack, Travers, and Vernon were the main order of the day. Malone was unable to join in the fun as he had been shipped off to the hospital with badly burned hands, the result of a freak explosion which had occurred while he was lighting the stove in his cabin. The doctors feared for a time that his hands would be useless due to nerve damage but, fortunately, this was not the case. As he convalesced, Malone filled in the time by dictating letters to his family, and to his brother Cecil, now stationed with the Canadian Army in front of Vimy. He also enjoyed visits with his friends from the squadron. The nursing sisters were quite attentive and one in particular became very fond of Jack; in fact, after he received his discharge from the hospital on 12 April, she promised to keep in touch.

As the days dragged on, the ward began to fill with casualties from the Battle of Arras. The allied air offensive opened on 4 April 1917, five days before the Canadian troops were to storm Vimy Ridge. During those five days, 75 British machines fell in action, but none from No. 3 (Naval) Squadron, flying quite a distance south of the main battle.

When Jack arrived back at Marieux he heard the depressing news that Robin Mack, the beloved but miscast leader of "C" flight had been shot down in a combat in which three enemy aircraft were claimed out of control by the members of his flight. One of these claims was shared with an F.E.2b crew from No. 18 Squadron RFC, while another machine, seen to fall with broken wings, was believed to have been shot down by Mack. Two F.E.s also did not return. They were the first losses suffered by No. 18 Squadron since No. 3 (Naval) Squadron had begun escort duty in February.

Happily, a few days later word came through that Mack was alive and had been taken prisoner of war. Jasta 12 had brought down three allied aircraft and Hauptmann Paul Hennig von Osterroth, the Jasta leader, had personally accounted for flight leader Mack. Squadron Commander Mulock wasted no time in appointing Fred Armstrong to take command of "C" flight. He was the unanimous choice of all of the pilots in "C" flight to succeed Mack.

For the three days after his return Jack Malone marked time while new Pup N.6208, was being fitted with the same custom modifications that his old Pup had received. On the 16th of April, Malone went on his first operational patrol since returning to Marieux. It proved uneventful and no sooner had "A" flight landed then the rain started again. To help drown their misery, the No. 3 (Naval) Squadron pilots invited a neighboring brass band and RFC chaps to dinner. Afterwards they partied long into the night. The rain continued unabated until 21 April, when the Pups of "A" and "C" flights were able to patrol the skies northeast of Bapaume. When five miles north of Queant, "A" flight picked out the forms of the enemy two-seaters, their wings glistening in the afternoon sun 2,000 feet below. As the Pups were approaching with the sun at their backs, they were spotted and the enemy formation suddenly scattered. One two-seater was slow to react, so Malone, sensing that he had a chance, half-rolled out of the formation and dove on the machine whose pilot automatically banked the two-seater allowing his gunner to fire at the attacking Pup which was now on a level with the enemy machine and approaching head on. Jack held his fire, then poured 50 rounds into the enemy's nose. Seconds later the two-seater careened out of control. The entire encounter was witnessed by Travers, sitting a thousand feet above with the rest of the flight. This was Malone's third confirmed victory.

"A" and "C" flights stood around most of Sunday, 12 April waiting for the low hanging clouds to clear. Toward evening the cover finally lifted allowing the five Pups of "A" flight to act as close escort for seven bomb-laden F.E.s of No.18 Squadron on a raid to Cambrai. The topside protection was flown by "C" flight. Also involved with the raid were ten SPADs from No. 23 Squadron RFC, now part of the 22nd Wing. At precisely 1850 hours the F.E.s dropped their load on Cambrai, then headed for home in the face of heavy and accurate AA fire with the Pups of No.3 (Naval) Squadron sticking to them like glue. Twenty minutes later, a flock of Albatros Scouts hell-bent to intercept the bombers, came into view and for a few significant minutes they had their flank exposed to the SPADs, which had the advantage of height and numbers. For some unexplained reason. Capt. Ken McCallum, the 23-year-old flight leader, did not attack, but allowed the Albatros to climb above them unhindered. When they had attained superior height, four or five Albatros peeled off and headed vertically into the Pups of "C" flight who managed to claim two of them. One escaped the Pup's fire and continued down, levelled out, and came at the F.E.s and "A" flight Pups directly from in front. Malone, quick to react, opened fire as the Albatros dropped its nose and flew under the bombing formation, then he turned to the right, allowing Casey to fire a few shots. The leader of the SPAD formation paid dearly for his lack of initiative as No. 23 Squadron lost two of their number in combat, probably toHauptmann von Osterroth of Jasta 12 and Offizierstellvertreter Edmund Nathanael of Jasta 11 (Note: it has since been learned that Nathanael served in Jasta 5 at this time). All of the Pups and F.E.s returned safely although one F.E. pilot received a flesh wound in the knee from AA fire. When informed of the SPAD's part in the day's action, Mulock contacted the Colonel of the Wing to complain. He requested in no uncertain terms that the SPADs, which he regarded as a nuisance, not he included in any future escort duties with No.3 (Naval) Squadron. Headquarters complied.

Terrible casualties had been inflicted on the men and machines of the RFC who participated in the Battle of Arras. The German fighter units, including Jasta 11 led by Manfred von Richthofen, accounted almost single-handedly for half of the British losses. To compound matters, the accurate ground-fire of the enemy Flakbatteries had brought down at least 18 allied aircraft during the first two weeks on that month. The Albatros Scouts were equipped to deliver twice the firepower in less than half the time that it took their British opponents (including Pups and Nieuport Scouts) therefore the Albatros, which were also faster machines, could force or ignore combat at will. Despite their technical inferiority, the RFC and RNAS were not demoralized, in fact instead of capitulating mentally they became more and more anxious to overcome their disadvantage by pressing on the offensive. This spirit was no more evident than at Marieux.

April 23rd dawned perfectly clear and by the time "A" flight was over the lines shortly after sunrise, the sky southeast of Arras was speckled with aircraft. As the flight passed over Cagnicourt a group of Albatros were sighted higher up and to the southeast. In order to eliminate the problem of the morning sun shining directly in their eyes, Travers turned to the left, climbed, then slowly swept in for the attack in a semi-circular motion, still undetected. Having gained speed while executing the turn, Malone found himself positioned beside and slightly in advance of the lead enemy aircraft. He turned slightly and managed to unleash two 20-round bursts, the first entering the Mercedes engine, the second into the pilot's seat as he turned. The Albatros appeared to go into a dive, then it easily pulled away from Malone. During this combat and a few skirmishes that followed, a strong westerly wind, not so apparent earlier in the morning, had blown the Pups of "A " flight south beyond the Somme where they were forced to regroup and steer north, recrossing the lines at Croiselles. Soon more Albatros were seen and attacked, the Pup pilots began to fire while still in a right-hand turn, forcing the Albatros to break formation and head into the sun. One of the German machines broke well away from the others and was followed by Malone who kept blipping his engine for extra speed until he had climbed right under the Albatros' tail. He steadied his machine at 30 yards and proceeded to rake the fuselage from front to back several times. The Albatros pilot swerved many times in a vain attempt to shake him off, but Malone used his engine effectively and remained fastened to the enemy's tail into which he continued to fire short accurate bursts. Finally, according to Malone's combat report:

The EA stalled, fell over on one side and went down in a slow continuous tail-spin disappearing through the clouds. The clouds at the time were at 2,000 ft.

When this combat ended, Malone spotted the other Pups of his flight engaged with enemy fighters towards the southeast. He headed toward them and was so anxious to assist his mates that he almost missed seeing three Albatros that dived on him out of the sun. He was able to give them a few rounds when he realized that he had only five bullets left in his belt. Undeterred, he flat-turned towards his attackers every time they came within range. When two more came at Malone from his right side, he decided enough was enough and he dived down through a layer of cloud coming out 800 feet above the Cambrai-Bapaume road. The British lines were only a half mile ahead yet the rifle and machine-gun fire aimed at his Pup from the ground was so intense that he was forced to climb back into the clouds that now covered most of the Arras front. He put down on one of the advanced landing grounds where he promptly filled the tanks with petrol and the belt with ammunition. Fifteen minutes later Malone was off again to do battle.

As he climbed above the clouds he saw a lone Albatros preparing to attack one of the allied kite balloons. Before the enemy aircraft reached effective range, Malone fired from 500 feet then he climbed after it as it joined the formation of Albatros Scouts. This Scout formation dived on Malone who flew up through their ranks, stall turned, completed a half roll, and then came down behind firing a lone burst at the rear Albatros while remaining directly in the sun. After taking Malone's punishment, the Albatros fell out of control. Not content with one downed Albatros, Malone tried for a second but when he tripped the firing lever the Vickers did not respond. He was out of ammunition so he flew down through the clouds and home.

While the mess was still humming with the news of Malone's morning exploits, a lone Gotha GIV passed over Marieux aerodrome at 10,000 feet. Breadner, who was on his way to the aerodrome at the time, saw and heard the British AA pumping away at it. He arrived to find that his Pup ("Happy") was the only machine, on the field, and ready, so he initiated immediate chase. He caught up with his quarry a few miles south of Marieux, secured a comfortable position behind the tail where he couldn't be shot at, and proceeded systematically to direct his stream of bullets into both engines forcing the bomber to crash-land. It turned tail up in a field southeast of Vron, behind the allied lines. Breadner landed nearby and had the pleasure of seeing the three occupants, all members ofKampfstaffel 15, taken prisoner. Unfortunately he had not arrived in time to prevent the Germans from setting fire to the machine which exploded the bombs, practically destroying his trophy.

Later that afternoon the entire squadron went on a combined offensive patrol and escort duty with the F.E.s. Four Pups of "A" flight while crossing the lines at about 15,000 feet, sighted eleven Albatros Scouts towards Douai. They evaded this force but south of the Sensee Canal they noted several formations of Albatros stacked above Bourlon Wood presumably waiting for the F.E.s and their escort to pass by on their way to Cambrai. Without deviating from their course, the Pups and F.E.s continued on and were met by several probing attacks from the more determined enemy fighters. "B" flight stayed close to the F.E.s only straying far enough to open up on the Albatros that came within range of their guns. These thrust and parry maneuvers continued for half an hour. When the frustrated enemy pilots finally retired, Breadner, Fall and Carter had claimed four of their number out of control, one of these was seen to crash.

At 1800 hours "A" and "C" flights finally took up the challenge when they attacked some enemy aircraft north of the Cambrai-Arras road. Casey hit the pilot of one machine and Whealy saw the Albatros drop down, apparently out of control. Ten minutes later the same pair teamed up to dispatch another Albatros which fell to earth in a perpendicular spin. West of Boulon Wood. Fred Armstrong, leading "C" flight, attacked a Halberstadt Scout, the rear machine in a formation. He saw this machine stall and flutter from side to side totally out of control. George Anderson was the last pilot from No. 3 (Naval) Squadron to achieve success that day when one of the five Alhatros Scouts that dived on him had the tables reversed when he overshot the Pup. Anderson then unloaded a stream of tracer-laced lead into the enemy's seat. This Albatros rolled over and fell sideways through the clouds.

The final tally for the day's work stood at 15. There was a jubilant celebration in the mess that night and Mulock, as was his custom, joined in the festivities. At the enemv aerodrome at Riencourt, 25 miles to the east the mood was somber. Hauptmann Paul von Osterroth, the 29 year-old leader of Jasta 12 had fallen at 1800 hours over Ecoust St. Mein near Cambrai while in combat with "A" and "C" flights of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron. Von Osterroth had achieved seven confirmed victories at the time of his death.

The intensity of the allied Arras offensive continued unabated. On the ground, British and Canadian troops were inching forward in front of Lens, desperately trying to open up holes in the German 6. Army's Wotan Line. The first light of 24 April streaked across the eastern sky to find the Second Battle of the Scarpe still raging just north of Arras. Above them, aerial battles constantly in progress since spring rains had ceased, continued to extract a devastating toll on allied airmen. Before Lieutenant Commander F.V. Holt's 22nd Wing, led by No. 3 (Naval) Squadron, joined the action on the 24th, five British machines had already dropped from the sky. In the afternoon. No. 3 (Naval) Squadron became part of the action when Travers, Casey, and Malone combined to attack a two-seater Albatros, which thwarted their assault. Their next encounter however, would prove to be more profitable.

Led by Travers, the Pups headed southeast and were patrolling over the Cambrai-Bapaume road with Jack Malone who was hampered by a faulty engine in Pup N.6308, and was limping along 2,000 feet below them. Travers and Casey came swooping down on a D.F.W. C.V from Flieger-Abteilung 26 that was cruising along just ahead and on the same level as Malone, who adroitly stayed in the sun. Malone saw Casey and Travers both pull away with gun trouble and seeing his chance went in on the attack. At the sound of his first burst the enemy rear gunner dropped into the cockpit out of sight, then reappeared to fire at Malone when the Pup had closed the range to 30 yards. A third burst from Malone's Vickers badly wounded Ltn. Karl Helm, the observer.

All this time the D.F.W. was frantically trying to head east but Malone forced it to land when he cut between it and the German lines at Louverval. While the D.F.W.'s engine was still ticking over, Malone came down to 500 feet and fired a warning burst which forced the enemy pilot to abandon his aircraft. When he did so the Pup's engine refused to pick up, so Malone decided to land beside his victim. Both aircraft were exposed to the German Artillery which started to shell them and after removing the badly wounded observer, Malone was forced to take cover in a slight depression along wiith his captives.

With bursting German high explosive shells throwing up columns of earth all around them, the three airmen lay huddled together in the same shelter. The pilot, Unteroffizier Max Hasse, slightly wounded in the head, calmly discussed the combat with Malone and while they talked the German observer, Ltn. Karl Helm, silently succumbed to his mortal wounds. In halting English the German pilot claimed that he had not been wounded until quite near ground: he also admitted that he had not seen Malone sitting in the sun on his tail, thinking he was free when the first two Pups had flown away. Later when the shelling stopped and darkness approached, the two airmen were able to crawl and then run to safety.

In the morning Malone nervously confided to Nick Carter, his buddy, that he hadn't been able to sleep because he was haunted by the vision of the German observer he had killed, and his premonitions of his own impending death. Being a devout Roman Catholic, Jack also confessed his inner grief and fear to the local parish priest.

On the 26th, Malone resumed what seemed to be his one man war when the Pups of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron headed toward Cambrai on an offensive patrol. Seventeen thousand feet above the Cambrai-Arras road landmark, Travers saw a single Albatros, no doubt a decoy, 4,000 feet below. He led Casey and Malone, his trusted wingmen, in a diving attack firing intermittently as they descended. When their altimeters registered 7,000 feet, three Albatros came down on the Pups forcing them to continue diving to earth. Considering his chance of escape minimal, Malone decided to continue driving the first Albatros, now circling below, down to earth. At 60 yards Malone's tracers entered the pilot's back and head. The heavy Albatros dropped like a rock and broke up as it crashed head on into an open field. Malone had no time to watch his victim as he became the target for the combined fire of the three Albatros. He could not shake off the determined and more powerful machines, so he decided instead to feign a dead stick landing. As his wheels were about to touch the ground after an "S" turn over some tall trees, he looked back, and to his utter astonishment saw that the three pursuers had also reduced power and were intending to land with him. One of the German machines was almost on the ground while the two others were still spiraling down. With a roar that must have sounded like a heavenly chorus, Malone gave the 80-hp Clerget full power. The Pup leapt forward and climbed directly into the setting sun leaving three surprised German pilots behind. Travers and Casey had also managed to break free and head for home. The Albatros Scout crashed by Malone appears to have been flown by Vizefeldwebel Emil Eisenhuth of Jasta 3, killed in action over Haynecourt, seven kilometers northwest of Cambrai, He had flown with Jasta 3 since the beginning of April 1917, and had one allied aircraft, an F.E.2b on 3 April 1917, to his credit.

An Honour List was presented to Squadron Commander Mulock on 28 April containing the names of Breadner, Fall, and Malone. Jack learned that he had been awarded the D.S.O. but some of the other pilots in No. 3 (Naval) Squadron thought the award should have gone to either Casey or Travers. Travers requested a transfer to England at the end of the month and Casey was promoted to lead "A" flight with Malone serving as his deputy. Travers and Casey were each awarded the D.S.O. a short while later.

The pilots of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron were issued with some Buckingham tracer ammunition on 28 April which they freely expended at a target on the aerodrome. "B" flight, loaded with this ammunition, flew to an advanced landing ground and from there they did their best to bring down some hostile kite balloons. This venture met with only partial success when two balloons were driven to the ground smoking. In the evening, eight Pups of "A" and "C" flights headed east for another offensive, but Jack Malone was forced to creep home 15 minutes later with a balky engine.

That night Jack slept fitfully as he again experienced a chilling premonition of his death. He was exhausted on the morning of 30 April, and did not relish the thought of going on escort duty with No. 4 (RFC) Squadron's B.E.s who had been detailed to bomb the railway yards around Cambrai. An eyewitness recalled that Jack almost dragged himself to his aircraft, stoically lifting his tired frame into the cockpit. This raid was uncontested by the enemy, allowing the Pups to return their charges unscathed to Warloy. The normal good cheer was missing during the late lunch, as "A" flight required for another F.E. escort, this time a mid-afternoon sortie to Epinoy aerodrome. Meanwhile "B" flight was scheduled to go with another flight of B.E.s and after seeing them back to Bapaume had orders to meet "C" flight and together they were to shepherd the F.E.s to Epinoy. This plan worked well and the few enemy aircraft who dared to attack them were dealt with by Whealy and Armstrong of "C" flight who drove them away.

"B" and "C" flights were still in the air when the five Pups of "A" flight climbed into the bright spring sky led by Casey. It was his second trip across the lines as leader of "A" flight since Travers had left. Below and slightly ahead were the F.E.s of No.18 Squadron, old friends to both Casey and Malone, not so to Broad and Boliky Hayne, comparatively new members. Other than Casey's terse report--"To Epinoy, No HA attacked F.E.s. One HA attacked rear of the scout formation"--there is meager information relating to this flight of one hour 35 minutes from which Malone never returned.

Jack Malone was blessed with exceptional eyesight, and had a habit of leaving the formation to attack enemy aircraft unseen by others. He may have done this once too often, as there is little doubt that he fell victim toLeutnant Paul Billik of Jasta 12. The young German claimed a Sopwith Pup at 1745 hours near Rumancourt, Baralle, a location directly in the path of the Pup escort.

Malone's D.S.O. was formally announced on the evening of 30 April while a dim hope still remained for his survival.

Before his death, Jack Malone had made definite arrangements to meet his brother Charlie, now stationed with the Canadian Field Artillery near Vimy, in Mont St. Eloi, where they agreed upon an obvious location in the middle of town. Sometime during the morning of 1 May 1917, before the news of Malone's death had been anounced. Charlie Malone arrived at the predesignated spot. Also on hand to see Jack was the nursing sister he had met at the hospital just a month earlier. Both stood silently as the hours of waiting passed without any sign of Jack Malone, each become more and more anxious. Finally the young woman spoke and told Jack's brother she, too, was invited to be there. In fact, she continued, Jack had flown over her hospital and dropped a weighted message identifying the exact date and place. Both eventually gave up their vigil and it was not until several days later that they were informed of his loss.

Inspired by his brother's exploits, Charlie Malone left the Canadian Field Artillery and began training with the RNAS in February 1918. He later received flight instruction at Eastchurch and was flying Camels from this station when the war ended.

Cyril Malone sailed to Europe on his honeymoon shortly after World War I and visited many places where Jack was believed to have fallen in the desperate hope of uncovering some trace of information about his brother's crash site from the local inhabitants. Sadly, no one could help him.

John Joseph "Jack" Malone accounted for more enemy machines than any other RNAS pilot in such a short span of time. When he was killed he had fewer than 40 hours across the lines. He may just have been "the best damn pilot in the RNAS".

AWARD CITATION

Distinguished Service Order
Extract from London Gazette, 23 May 1917

For successfully attacking and bringing down hostile aircraft on numerous occasions. At about 6.30 a.m. on April 23while on patrol, he attacked a hostile scout and drove it down under control. He then attacked a second scout which, after the pilot had been hit, turned over on its back and went down through the clouds. A third scout attacked by him from a distance of about 20 yards descended completely out of control. While engaging a fourth machine he ran out of ammunition so returned to the advanced landing ground, replenishing his supply and at once returned to attack another hostile formation, one of which he forced down out of control. On the afternoon of April 24 he engaged a hostile two-seater machine and after badly wounding the observer forced it to land on our side of the lines.

Jack Malone...First Ace 
of Naval Three
by Stewart K. Taylor

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