A Rare W.W.1. Observer Ace Military Cross and successful Pilot Escapers’ Military Cross bar for second award to Captain Alan John Bott, 70 and 111 Squadron wounded and captured by the Turks escaping from a train and after six months arrived on the...

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A Rare W.W.1. Observer Ace Military Cross and successful Pilot Escapers’ Military Cross bar for second award to Captain Alan John Bott, 70 and 111 Squadron wounded and captured by the Turks escaping from a train and after six months arrived on the Salonika front just as the armistice was declared. A journalist, drama critic, editor, publisher of various articles and books.


Military Cross, Geo V, with bar for second award, unnamed as issued, British War Medal named Capt. A.J. Bott, R.A.F. and Victory Medal, this unfortunately name erased.

Served as an Observer in 70 Squadron and Pilot in 111 Squadron, a confirmed ace with 5 victories.

837 M.C.'s to the R.F.C. and only 23 M.C. Bars to the R.A.F.

Military Cross


Original M.C. citation 2.Lieut. Alan John Bott, R.G.A. Attd R.F.C. Joined No. 70 Squadron 2.8.1916. “ Since then has done regular long reconnaissance & offensive patrols, furnishing very good reports & having many encounters in which he has accounted for four H.A.

On 24/8/1916 while gliding back to the lines with failed engine he drove off attacking H.A. and extinguished a fire in the fuselage with his hands.

2/9/1916 when on offensive patrol he fought continuously throughout the patrol driving down one H.A. out of control.

14/9/1916 when returning alone with failing engine against high wind, he fought off first three then eight hostile aeroplanes forcing one to land.

15/9/1916 on offensive patrol he had many fights & drove one down to land just across the front line near Pozieres, while another, on his firing at it dropped on to a third which fell vertically”.

M.C. London Gazette 23 October 1916 2nd Lt. Alan John Bott, R.G.A. Spec. Res, (Attd. R.F.C.)

'For conspicuous gallantry and skill.As observer he has been in many fights, and furnished many good reports. On one occasion, when his pilot was gliding back to our lines after his engine had been hit and stopped, he drove off an attacking aeroplane and put out with his hands a fire started by anti-aircraft guns, On another occasion, after driving down one hostile aeroplane, he fired at another, which dived and collided with a third. This last one fell vertically'.

A further account of this is in Communique No. 50 and 'The War in the Air' page 267.

The following is an account of the experiences of Lieut. Vaucour and Lieut. Bott of No. 70 Squadron :-

'Whilst on an offensive patrol S.W. Of CAMBRAI on the 24th August, Lt. Bott discovered that the fuselage was on fire. A burning wad from an A.A. Shell had fallen inside the fuselage and was lying on top of a longeron. He immediately tore off the surrounding canvas and beat out the flames with his hands. Just previously the machine had been hit by machine-gun fire in a combat, and the engine was firing on 8 cylinders only, and the pressure pump propeller had one blade broken off. When near BAPAUME Lt. Vaucour fired a white light, and turned West as the engine was missing badly. East of Le SARS he saw and discovered that the petrol pressure piping had been shot through. He glided over the lines, crossing them at 1,500 feet and landed one mile South of CARNOY'.

Second Military Cross

M.C. bar London Gazette 16 December 1919 Captain Alan John Bott, M.C. Royal Garrison Artillery, Special Reserve. “…..in recognition of gallantry in escaping from captivity whilst a Prisoner of War”.

Alan John Bott born 14th January 1893, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Lived Golder's Green, London N.W.4. Moved to Switzerland and educated at The Institute Schmidt, St. Gall(en), Switzerland and Neuchâtel University and eventually spoke French and German fluently. Worked as a journalist pre World War One as a 'special correspondent' with the Daily Chronicle based in Basle, Switzerland. He reported on the British air raid on the Zeppelin Factory at Friedrichshafen 21 November 1914 and went to Romanshorn to watch the German response and once going into the middle of lake Constance to get a closer look !

Returning to the U.K. he joined the Cavalry Squadron Inns of Court Officers’ Training Corps, on 12.4.1915, promoted 2/Lieutenant R.G.A. 22 July 1915, transferred R.F.C. Lieutenant 1 September 1916, trained as an Observer, and joined 70 Squadron (9 Wing) in France July 1916. (founder squadron member) flying as Observer Gunner with 2nd Lieut. A.M. Vaucour in Sopwith 1.5 Strutters, on 24th August both were shot up by Leopold Reimann, Jasta 1, but went onto claim three Fokker Eindekker fighters in September. On one of these flights he put out a fire in the fuselage with his flying gloves, awarded the M.C. (Picture and write up in 'Deeds that Thrill the Empire' page 869) Trained as a Pilot, made Flying Officer 26 September 1916 and joined 111 Squadron flying Nieuport XVII's in the Middle East in the Sinai Desert (Palestine) 22 December 1917 appointed Flight Commander and as a Captain flying single seat Nieuport XVII & XXIII’s in which he shot down two enemy reconnaissance E.A. on 14th and 15th April 1918. On 22 April he was shot down wounded in Nieuport XVII and taken prisoner of war by the Turkish Forces.

Taken by train to Constantinople with Captain Thomas W. White, Australian Flying Corps (captured November 1915) they escaped on route and travelled by ship to Odessa, Ukraine, then to Varna, Bulgaria and overland to Salonika, Greece arriving just as the war ended Awarded a Bar to his M.C. for gallantry in escaping from captivity in the ‘Escapers’ London Gazette 16 December 1919. Left the R.A.F. 18 February 1919, re-joined 1923 as Flying Officer, relinquished commission on completion of service 23 May 1926.

Combat victories -

2.9.1916. 70 Squadron, 1.5 Strutter, Fokker E, Destroyed, Bourlon Wood.

2.9.1916. 70 Squadron, 1.5 Strutter, Fokker E, Out of Control, Ytres-Sailly.

15.9.1916. 70 Squadron, 1.5 Strutter, Fokker E, Destroyed, Hendicourt. (Capt. A.M. Vaucour's M.C. Citation says 'On the 15th September 1916, he and his observer shot down two German aeroplanes')

14.4.1918 Nieuport, 111 Squadron, 'C' type, Forced to Land/Destroyed, 10miles N.E. Arsum.

15.4.1918 Nieuport, 111 Squadron, 'C' type, Destroyed, S.E. Tul Keram.

Total 4 Destroyed, 1 Out of Control = 5 victories.

His Officers Casualty Form states "Missing". Unofficially reported "Wounded & Prisoner of War" (message dropped by enemy aeroplane). 17.7.1918 Taken prisoner in Palestine, is at Psamalia, Constantinople and is well.

After W.W.1. became an author, journalist and book publisher, wrote several books under the name “Contact” ‘An Airman’s Outing’ 1917 (re-published in U.S.A as 'The Flying Ace and Cavalry of the Clouds'), ‘Eastern Nights and Flights’ 1920 (an account of his capture, imprisonment and escape), 'Our Fathers' 1930, 'Our Mothers' (and by Miss I. Clephane) 1932, 'The Londoner's England' 1947, later returning to journalism, becoming a drama critic, editor of ‘The Graphic’ (1926-1932) and publisher, a founder member and Chairman of The Book Society 1929, founded and Chairman The Reprint Society 1939, helped found Pan Books Ltd., 1944, Avalon Press 1945, The Folio Society with Charles Ede in 1947. Retaining his interest in flying he took his Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate (No.8309) 3 June 1928 on a D.H.60 Moth at Hampshire Aero Club. Lived in London, S.W.1. Bott died Westminster, London 17 September 1952.

Picture in "Deeds That Thrill the Empire". of "Second Lieutenant A.J. Bott, putting out a fire on his aeroplane while gliding back to the British Lines". "As observer, Second Lieutenant Alan John Bott, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, Special Reserve (attached to the Royal Flying Corps) has been in many fights, and furnished many good reports. On one occasion when his pilot was gliding back to the British lines after his engine had been hit and stopped, he drove off an attacking aeroplane and put out with his hands a fire started by anti-aircraft guns. On another occasion, after driving down one hostile aeroplane, he fired at another, which dived and collided with a third. The last one fell vertically".

Copy pictures, M.I.C. (pair), Aviators Certificate (1928), London Gazette’s, award recommendations, Officers service file, R.A.F. Service, 10 x 1916 Combat Reports, articles & letters quoted in - 'The War in the Air', 'Somme Success', R.F.C. Communiques 1915-16, 'The Times' obituary 19.9.1952, "Captured by the Turks when his aircraft crashed in Palestine, he succeeded in making an exciting escape, afterwards recounting the experience in a spirited volume, "Eastern Flights", published 1920., Censusetc.