No.18 Air Mechanic Hector Fred Lord
Hector Fred Lord was born at Fitzroy North in 1894 to William John Lord and Delia Bree. They had married in 1889 at Prahran. His siblings were:
- William John Allan Lord - born 1890 at Brunswick East
- Delia "May" Lord - born 1892 at Fitzroy North (later Mrs Smith)
- William Henry Lord (twin brother) - born 1894 at Fitzroy North
Between the years 1912 and 1913, the Lord family were living at Batman Street, Footscray, and his father was working as a painter.
In 1915, the family moved to the Central Flying School at Werribee, where his father "Bill Lord" was employed as a caretaker. His parents remained there for the duration of the war, and then they moved to Northcote.
In response to a directive from Senator Millen, that military flying operations would commence at Point Cook before the end of February 1915, Bill Lord was one of an advance party of four men who arrived at Point Cook on 16 February 1914, to set up the camp. A permanent hanger and workshop were erected on the southern end of the aerodrome, close to the beach on Port Philip Bay. The first flight from the airfield took place on 1 March 1914, when Eric Harrison did a circuit of the field in a Boxkite. (2, page 23)
Bill and Delia Lord lived at the camp in a large hospital tent until their cottage was completed in early 1915. They had previously lived in Footscray where Bill had been a baker and a storeman, and was considered as a jack-of-all-trades. His wife Delia had previously worked as a cook in the Missions to Seamen in Melbourne, and was now employed as the cook and manager of the Officers Mess tent. (2, page 35) Her kitchen was made out of old aircraft packing boxes.
Both boys had previous military experience with the 66th Infantry Militia Unit, and the fact that they were on hand, when vacancies were advertised to enlist in the Australian Flying Corps, would have been an enormous help in their being accepted for service.
Early in 1915 the unit known as the Mesopotamian Half-Flight (MHF) had been formed at Point Cook, in response to a request from India for support in their campaign to capture the city of Baghdad, (part of the campaign to defend the Suez Canal and the oil pipeline at the head of the Gulf). Britain was unable to help, and the Australian Government decided to commit a small contingent of four pilots and fifty ground crew. Eighteen of these were mechanics, and many had never seen an aeroplane prior to enlisting.
Lieutenant Petre was appointed as commander of the Mesopotamia Half Flight, and Tommy White was the adjutant. George Merz was the third pilot, and William Treloar was the fourth. White was tasked with selecting the ground crew out of 300 volunteers. Two of these he previously knew, and they were the twin sons of the Point Cook camp’s caretaker, Bill Lord. Both boys were well known at the camp and were highly regarded. Hector and Will Lord had previously served with the 66th Infantry Regiment at Footscray when Universal Training had begun in 1911, so their inclusion was virtually automatic. (2, page 46)
Along with his twin brother, Hector Lord was accepted into the Australian Imperial Force Flying Corps, at the Central Flying School in Point Cook on 30 March 1915, as an Air Mechanic. There is a photo of these volunteers (possibly including the Lord brothers) on page 16 of the Pictorial History of the RAAF. (2)
Less than three weeks later, both boys had embarked at Melbourne per SS Morea on 20 April 1915 with a 'Half Flight' lead by Captain Petre. They sailed for Mesopotamia (now Iraq), and arrived at Bassurah (now Basra) at the top of the Persian Gulf, on 26 May 1915.
After arriving, the Half Flight were equipped with two 'modern aircraft' which had been purchased by the Rajah of Gwalior. These were primitive Maurice Farman MF.11 (1) machines with a doubtful history. The heat and dusty conditions made the engines very unreliable, and when the desert wind known as the shamal blew from the north, their aeroplanes could only advance backwards.
In June 1915, the Indian Army captured the town of Amarah, and the Australian Half Flight moved there. On 4 July 1915 they received two Caudron G.3 aircraft, which were more reliable than the original planes.
The Australian Half Flight then participated in a successful British advance against Kurna (at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers). During this action, on 30 July 1915, two Australian Airmen (Lieutenants G H Merz and Burn) became the first Airforce casualties in the Great War. (Lieut Merz now has a street named after him in Point Cook. (2)) Their Caudron aircraft was forced down with mechanical problems, and both men were killed by local Arabs, after a running battle over many miles.
On 24 August 1915 the Half Flight’s aircraft and personnel were incorporated into “B” Flight of No.30 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. They then lost several crews by being shot down and being taken prisoner.
While serving at Basra, Hector Lord was deprived of his Lance Stripe for misconduct. The incident occurred on 30 October 1915, and his punishment was published in Flying Corps Routine Orders, No.32, dated 2 November 1915. (No copies survive, so further details are unknown)
On 22 January 1916, Hector Lord was admitted to "D" Section, General Base Hospital (G.B.H.) at Amarah (7) suffering with diarrhoea.
(All drinking water was drawn from the Tigris River which was heavily polluted. Apart from its high bacterial content, the suspended sand in the water contained salts in solution which acted as intestinal irritants. Almost everyone suffered from attacks of diarrhoea.) (6)
He fell sick again on 8 March 1916, and was admitted to the 'Pindi' British General Hospital (B.G.H.) at Amarah(7), suffering with Malarial dysentery (M.&.D.) That required several weeks of treatment, and he was then discharged to the local convalescent depot on 24 March 1916, to recuperate.
While Hector Lord was away suffering with medical problems, the Australian Half Flight were involved in the Siege of Kut Al Amara. Between December 1915 and April 1916 the British-Indian garrison at the town of Kut was besieged by the Ottoman Army. There were several unsuccessful attempts made to relieve the garrison. Number 30 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps carried out the first supply drops in history, over the garrison in April.
Aircraft and personnel of the Australia Half Flight were supporting General Townshend’s forces on the ground. On 25 October 1915, they were confronted by overwhelming numbers of fresh Turkish troops, and withdrew to the town of Kut, where they were laid siege. After costly efforts to break out, the garrison finally surrendered on 29 April 1916.
Prior to the surrender, the Squadron was ordered to leave Kut. The two seaplanes (type Short 827) were sent downstream on barges; the two land based aircraft (a Maurice Farman Shorthorn (MF.7) and a B.E.2.) flew out of Kut on 7 December 1915; and two damaged MF.7s and one damaged Martinsyde S.1. were abandoned. Several British pilots and observers, along with most of the non-commissioned officers and Air Mechanics were also left behind in Kut, and captured by the Turks.
This loss of aircraft and men marked the end of the Australian Half Flight. The eight Australian Air Mechanics who were stationed further away at Basra (including Air Mechanic Hector Lord), escaped capture and were sent to Egypt later in 1916, where they joined the Australian Flying Corps.(5, page 25)
(After the garrison surrendered on 29 April 1916, its inhabitants were marched to imprisonment in Aleppo (currently in Syria). They covered a distance over 700 miles, which became known as the "Death March to Anatolia". They included nine Australian Ground Staff (one being his twin brother, Air Mechanic William Lord). Only two of the Australians survived in captivity. (5) 70% of the British troops and 50% of the Indians subsequently died in captivity. At the end of their march, the men were starved and ill-treated, and were forced to work on the construction of a railway across the Taurus Mountains. (2))
Air Mechanic Hector Lord became sick with another bout of Malarial dysentery on 27 May 1916, and was admitted to the 23rd Stationary Hospital at Amarah(7). This time he needed further treatment and he was transferred on to the British General Hospital (B.G.H.) at Basrah. They decided to invalid him to India for further treatment, and he was evacuated by the Hospital Ship Vita, on 11 June 1916.
There is a ten month gap in Hector Lord's service record during his time in India, and the next report is when he disembarked at Suez from H.T. Aronda, on 4 April 1917. He firstly reported back to the Royal Air Force Base Depot at Aboulir, where he was temporarily attached to 67 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps “In the field”.
On 18 March 1917 he joined an Australian unit, and became a member of 67 Squadron(8) Australian Flying Corps. They were stationed in Palestine and their aim was to take the Gaza-Beersheba railway line, and then to liberate Jerusalem. (2, p.22) This was despite them having to operate old B.E. aircraft, against much superior German machines.
On 31 July 1917, Hector Lord was admitted to the 66th Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.) suffering with headaches. He was transferred to the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital at El Arish (in North Sinai), then on the 24th he was moved to Kantara (modern day El Qantara), and the 14 Australian General Hospital (A.G.H.) at Abbassia, Cairo.
He remained under treatment until 18 October 1917 when he was discharged, and transferred back to No 67 Squadron Australian Flying Corps. They had now been equipped with Bristol RE8s and SE5 aircraft, which now gave them air superiority. On 31 October 1917 the Squadron attacked Beersheba, with its vital oil wells. "The coup de grace' was given by the Australian Light horsemen, who charged the defenders at sunset and took the town.” (2, p.23) (This was not the famous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, which occurred in the Crimean War.)
Gaza was captured on 8 November 1917 and Jerusalem one month later. New aircraft then arrived, including a Handley-Page bomber (which was flown by the famous Australian Ross Smith) These gave the British and English air forces almost unrestricted control of the skies.
Between January and the end of April 1918, No.1 Squadron Australian Flying Corps were based at the town of Mejdel by the Mediterranean Sea. They were operating Bristol Fighters, Martinsydes, R.E.8s and B.E.12As, and were performing strategical reconnaissance, Bombing, and Photographic duties. On 26 April 1918 they moved to a new aerodrome near the town of Ramleh (between Jaffa and Jerusalem).
In June 1918, the Squadron took part in a special reconnaissance to investigate the construction of a new railway line from Tarbaneh, and to identify its destination. Each month the operations were very similar. Mission types usually included Strategical Reconnaissance - about 30 sorties, Photography – 384 square miles photographed, Airborne Combat – 15 combats per month, Machine gun attacks on troops – 10 per month. Planes at hand were eight Bristol Mk.1 Fighters, nine Bristol Mk 111 Fighters, and one Handley Page bomber.
On 24 August 1918, Air Mechanic Lord was subjected to military justice. He was charged with being absent from the morning parade, and subsequently confined to camp for three days.
After five months at Ramleh, the Squadron moved to Haifa on 26 August 1918. Flying hours had increased during the month, mainly due to machine gun attacks on the retreating enemy.
The enemy were retreating through October 1918, and this required that advance landing grounds be set up. Bombing raids were made against long distance targets such as Aleppo and Rayak.
After the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, the Squadron were engaged on reconnaissance works to determine the condition of the Hama-Aleppo Railway line. They also operated a despatch service between Haifa-Homs-Hama and Aleppo.
Hector Lord reported sick on 25 November 1918. There is no record of his illness, but he was evacuated to the 31st General Hospital in Cairo for one week of treatment. He was then sent to the Convalescent Depot at Boulac to recover.
During this time in hospital, Hector Lord was remustered to Air Mechanic 1st Class. He used this military appointment immediately after the war in newspaper publicity, when he went into business.
On 26 January 1919, Hector Lord re-joined No 1 Squadron at the Moascar Camp in Ismailia. His Squadron had then received orders to hand over all of their equipment to No 111 Squadron of the Royal Air Force, and to prepare for an early return to Australia.
One month later, on 4 March 1919, Hector Lord embarked at Port Said for Australia on Port Sydney. After sailing via Colombo, Fremantle, Adelaide and Hobart, his ship arrived in Melbourne on 12 April 1919.
After another month, he was discharged from the A.I.F.'s 3rd Military District as medically unfit, on 17 May 1919.
After leaving the Flying Corps, Hector Lord teamed up with ex-Flight Lieut W. H. Treloar, (a former fellow airman from No.1 Squadron) and purchased a surplus military ‘De Havilland Six’ biplane. With their aircraft, they began a series of tours across Victoria and the Riverina, selling joy flights and promoting commercial aviation. In September 1919 they visited Wagga and Albury, and in October 1919 they were operating out of the Belmont Common in Geelong.
Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times, 26 September 1919, p.2. and
Geelong Advertiser, 30 October 1919, p.2.
The pair were able to recoup the cost of their plane after just two months’ operation. The only damage sustained to the aircraft was when a small boy put his foot through a wing, at Wagga.
Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times, 30 October 1919, p.1.
In May 1920, they did another tour of Victoria from their Ballarat base, covering 15,000 miles, and in total, carried 1,600 passengers.
Ballarat Star, 6 May 1920, p.1.
The partnership seems to have broken up by late 1920, as Lieutenant W. H. Treloar was then accompanied by ex-Sergeant-Major Hart, who was working as his mechanic. The new pair made a record braking flight from Melbourne to Deniliquin and return.
The Sun (Sydney), 26 September 1920, p.4.
Hector Frederick Lord next appears in Albury, where he was working for the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. On 22 December 1921, Hector Frederick Lord was charged in the Wodonga Police Court with stealing half a tin of kerosene from his employer (the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission). After pleading guilty, his lawyer pointed out that Hector had an honourable record of four and a half years at the war, and had a good record. He was fined £1.
Wodonga & Towong Sentinel, 23 December 1921, p.3.
In 1922, Hector Lord's parents were living at 100A Ballantyne Street, Northcote, and he joined them there in 1924.
Later that year, Hector married Gladys Alma Nye, and the couple moved into 24 Lagnicourt Street, Sandringham, until 1927. Hector then calling himself an engineer.
In September 1926, Hector Frederick Lord, a motor mechanic of Hampton, was charged in the Collingwood court with stealing a car tyre from his employer - Foy & Gibson Pty Ltd. His manager stated that he had been employed for some time, and that he had been a good worker. In his defence, Hector stated that he had been drinking, and didn’t know what made him do it. He was subsequently fined £15.
The Age, 21 September 1926, p.10.
The family then left Victoria, and between 1928 and 1929, Hector and Gladys were living at No. 62 Causeway in Canberra ACT. He was then working as a mechanic.
Canberra was not suitable, so the family then relocated to Sydney. In 1931 Hector Fred Lord was working as a motor mechanic and living at Rosa Avenue in Bankstown, NSW. He made an appearance in court, when he alleged that certain communists had attempted to burn down his home.
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 1931, p.13.
Between 1933 and 1935, Hector and Gladys Lord were living at 376 South Terrace in Bankstown. Hector was then working as a fitter, and Gladys Alma Lord did home duties.
In 1934 Hector applied for a position at the Naval Dockyards at Garden Island in Sydney, but there is no record if he was successful. The job application required him to attach a statement of service from the A.I.F.
Between 1936 and 1949 they moved four times around the Bankstown area, before they settled at Flat 114D in the Housing Settlement at Herne Bay, Sydney. While there, he applied for a War Pension, on 14 March 1949.
Just over a year later, Hector Frederick Lord died at Lidcombe on 20 September 1950 and was buried in the Rookwood Cemetery at Lidcombe.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914-15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
The names of both brothers appear on the Werribee Shire Oak Board simply as "LORD, " and "LORD, ".
Their names never appeared in the Roll of Honor published throughout the war in the Werribee Shire Banner.
No. 18, Hector Fred Lord, Air Mechanic, Enlisted at the Central Flying School at Werribee on 30 March 1915. NOK Mrs J W Lord, C.F.S. Werribee.
No. 23, William Henry Lord, Moulder, Enlisted at the Central Flying School at Werribee on 30 March 1915. NOK Mrs M Lord, 71 Donald Street, Footscray.
Both boys enlisted on the same day, and embarked at Melbourne per SS Morea on 20 April 1915.
(1)a. There is a photo of a Maurice Farman MF.11 Shorthorn at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farman_MF.11
(1)b. There is an example of a Maurice Farman Shorthorn CFS-20 in the RAAF Museum at Point Cook. https://www.flickr.com/photos/87791108@N00/10775796704/in/photolist-hqdLWm-hqf6M4-9j3Be3
(2) Pictorial History of the Royal Australian Air Force, by George Odgers, ISBN 0 7271 0315 6
(3) Adana is a major city in southern Turkey, about 20 miles inland from the Mediterrean.
(4) Nisibin or Nusaybin. On the present border between Turkey and Syria, and east of Mosul.
(5) Cutlack, Frederic Morley (1941). The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914–1918. Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918. Volume VIII (11th ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. pages 25-26
(6) Medicine and Surgery in Mesopotamia by Capt F Coombs https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044685/pdf/brmedchirj272743-0034.pdf
(7)Amarah is a city in the south east of modern Iraq. It is located on the bank of the Tigris River, south of Baghdad, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
(8)During WW1, Number 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps was refered to by British Authorities from 16 March 1916 to February 1918 as No. 67 Squadron R.F.C. This was to avoid confusion with their own Number 1 Squadron. After February 1918 the unit was known by all forces as No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps.
Engagement notice of daughter
Bess, third daughter of Mrs and the late H.F. Lord of Bankstown, to John Phillips.
Sydney Morning Herald, 22 January 1951, p.14.
Embarkation - https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/
(2) Pictorial History of the Royal Australian Air Force by George Odgers, ISBN 0 7271 0315 6
Unit War Diary
British Forces in Mesopotamia 3 Jan 1916
National Archives of Australia
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