2Lt Frederick Howard Chainey (Howie)

 In Characters

Although Bob Pitman did not meet Second Lieutenant Frederick Howard Chainey (Howie) until spring, 1918 at the 100 Squadron aerodrome, they were born and raised less than three miles from each other in Walthamstow. Howie was three years younger than Bob, a critical age spread when one is in school. On enlistment in 1917, Chainey was a bank clerk in London; he was processed quickly through gunnery and aeronautics school, arriving at the front in early 1918. 


Although the rapport did not reach the level shared with Wellsey during 1917, Bob and Howie quickly became friends and bunk mates, there for each others’ moral support. While the two observer/gunners by definition did not fly in the same two-man aircraft, they did mutually identify with the risks taken every night they were ordered on bombing sorties (missions). The exception is the one night, September 16, 1918, when they flew in the new Handley Page O/400 heavy bomber on the ill-fated sortie with a three-man crew. 

That night was to be their last flying, as Chainey, Bob and their pilot Johnson was shot down. In later years, Chainey writes a detailed account of that sortie, their attempt to walk to safety and ultimately the time spent as POWs for the balance of the war. See ‘Diary of Sec-Lieut. F. Chainey, (from 16th September to 23rd December, 1918)‘ in ‘The Annals of 100 Squadron‘ by Major C. Gordon Burge, O.B.E., June, 1919, Herbert Reiach Limited, London.


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