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G. H. Rogers replaced Sqn Ldr Hope as CO on 15 January 1938, and the squadron continued its training regime. Although a stable aircraft to fly, the Gladiator could bite, and the squadron lost another aircraft and pilot when Plt Off Alfred Alexander Devany crashed his Gladiator on 7 February near Brough. Like all new types to service, the Gladiator had some teething troubles, and during firing practice in April 1938 the squadron had a few problems with holed propellers. Just prior to the arrival of the new CO the squadron had a new ground crew member, Bob ‘Lupino’ Lane, who recalls Church Fenton in those days: I arrived at Church Fenton on 13 December 1937.

It was in this expanded and still expanding RFC that No. 72 Squadron was formed on 28 June 1917. W. Von Poellnitz, the squadron was based at Upavon in Wiltshire and was equipped with Avro 504 trainers that it had brought with its nucleus of men and equipment from ‘A’ Flight of the Central Flying School. The squadron had a training role at this point, and soon added the highly regarded Sopwith Pup to its inventory, training scout pilots for the Western Front. The squadron moved to Netheravon and then to Sedgeford in Norfolk, where it began preparations to move to Mesopotamia for operations against the Turks.

Assumed gunner was wounded or dead. A few seconds later the aircraft crashed – it turned away, diving slowly, then in increasing steepness until it went into the sea. The aircraft on the left: rear gunner was a very young man, very inexperienced, slack and slow, and he hardly shot at all, so of course the Spitfires had great fun with him; they literally hung on to his tail before they tuned away – and only then would he shoot. This machine was going slowly, due to all the hits, and as the battle progressed they were gradually pushing down closer and closer to the sea until they were almost touching the waves.

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