Francis Athol Hinton

RFC and RAF Serial Number: 25967
NZEF Serial Number: 15286
RFC and RAF Trade:
Date of Enlistment: Joined NZ Army 8th of February 1916, to RFC on 27th of Sept 1917
Rank Achieved: Second Lieutenant
Flying Hours: Unknown
Operational Sorties: Nil in Air

Date of Birth: 5th of December 1887, at Cambridge
Personal Details: Francis was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Hinton. He was born in Cambridge but was educated at Morrinsville School, the he spent twelve days at Waihau School (or Waihou, records conflict), then between the 22nd of September and 5th of December 1902 he was at Walton School, before returning to Morrinsville School to complete his education. After leaving school Francis became a farmer at Eureka, north of Cambridge, like his parents.

Service Details: Francis joined the New Zealand Army on the 8th of February 1916, training at Trentham Camp and being attached to the Otago Infantry Battalion. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on the 25th of March 1916, probably because at 29 he was older than many of the men joining up and had more life experience to draw upon.

Francis embarked with the 15th Reinforcements aboard the troopship Waitemata headed for Britain on the 26th of July 1916, arriving at Sling Camp, Wiltshire, on the 3rd of October 1916. On the 19th of that month he found himself in the New Zealand General Hospital at Codford, but returned to duty on the 16th of November.

On the 31st of March 1917, Francis was posted to the New Zealand Command Depot, but he was declared as medically unfit for Army service and was given a medical discharge on the 17th of August 1917.

At this point he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps to train as a pilot. His first posting was on the 27th of September 1917 to No. 5 OCW, and three days later to No. 2 OCW.

Next it was on to No. 2 School of Military Aeronautics at Oxford, on the 14th of December 1917, where as a Pilot u/t (or 'under training') Francis began to learn the basics of flying.

He was commissioned as an officer on the 7th of February 1918, and posted to No. 29 Wing on the 9th of March 1918. Hi records state he was posted next to No. 57 Training Squadron on the same day, though this might have been No. 67 Training Squadron at Shawbury as the former unit was based in the Middle East, and No. 67 Training Squadron is mentioned later in the records.

The Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service on the 1st of April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force, so from this time on Francis was in the RAF. He received his Pilots Badge (or 'wings' badge) on the 28th of June 1918.

Next up he became CB Ad Staff at CSI on the 24th of September 1918. Errol Martyn suggests this may mean Cadet Brigade Administrative Staff and the Central School of Instruction, possibly.

On the 22nd of October Francis moved to No. 37 Training Depot Station, at Yatesbury, and soon after was posted to No. 51 Training Depot Station at North Shotwick, Cheshire..

Two days before the end of the First World War, Francis was flying Avro 504K F8719 at Shotwick. He was making a left hand turn close to the ground when the engine cut causing the aircraft to stall into the ground, and he was killed.

Date of Death : 9th of November 1918, at Shotwick, UK, aged 29.
Buried: Shotwick Cemetery, Cheshire, UK

Connection with Cambridge: Francis was born in Cambridge

Thanks To: Errol Martyn for providing information on this airmen, and details from his books For Your Tomorrow, Volumes 1 and 3.


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