Tackling the German’s flying aces

derbyshire history

In the final part of his ‘They Also Served’ series, Barry M Marsden looks at the Matlock pilot who was shot down by German ace Baron von Richthofen – and the Derbyshire airman who helped to shoot down the Baron’s younger brother.

Gilbert Sudbury Hall was another early Derbyshire aeronaut, who was born in Matlock in 1890. Educated at Wirksworth Grammar School and Mill Hill, London, he later qualified as a motor engineer. In his youth he developed a keen interest in motor cycles and won many speed and hill-climbing contests. He joined the East Kent Regiment before volunteering for the Royal Flying Corps and was commissioned in late 1915, gaining his ‘wings’ in January 1916 and a posting to France shortly afterwards. Gilbert served throughout the summer, though his first unit has not been identified. Nevertheless the High Peak News of July 29  recorded that he had recently downed his first Fokker and the Derbyshire Times subsequently noted that he ‘had accounted for more than one enemy aircraft.’…