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Phorson, R., R.F.C., 1914-18
The following has been received from Dave Barrett:

I have just discovered your post about Douglas S Phorson who was killed in 1916. I am a teacher at Dartford Grammar School and I have been researching the past pupils of the school who fought in World War I. I do not know anything in particular about Douglas, however, I can provide you with a little bit of information about his brother Ronald, who attended our school as a boarder. I also have a photo of Ronald from the school magazine in 1919.

Ronald Maxwell Phorson served in the Royal Flying Corps. According to the Summer 1916 Dartfordian he was the first ever member of the school community to fly across the English Channel, flying from Farnborough on 29th June 1916 to serve at the Somme.

Ronald Phorson was born in 1895 in Durham, Sunderland. His father Peter was a manager within a ship building company. His mother was named Annie and was from Scotland. He had an older brother named Douglas who was listed as a veterinary student in the 1911 census. Ronald attended Dartford Grammar School from 1905 to 1908. He joined the Northern Cyclist Battalion, a Territorial battalion, on 13th July 1913 and became a 2nd Lieutenant. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1914. He transferred to the R.F.C. and was stationed at Gosport near Portsmouth on 23rd March 1916, which was home to 22 Squadron. It is possible that Phorson was a member of 22 Squadron, since they served on the Somme.

Phorson soon moved to Brooklands Wireless School near Weybridge, Surrey, on 29th March. Ian Fagg of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust states that “the wireless school at Brooklands would make sense as he could have been training in ground to air liaison, communicating via wireless with reconnaissance aircraft as part of the ground control of infantry or artillery.”

His older brother, Captain Douglas Stuart Phorson, served in the 18th Durham Light Infantry and also fought at the Somme. The 18th Durham Light Infantry were in the 31st Division and attacked Serre. Douglas was wounded during the battle, but carried on commanding his men. Douglas was killed by a shell which penetrated his dugout on 16th December 1916.

Ronald was wounded whilst serving at the Somme. After the war he remained in the Royal Air Force and was promoted to captaincy in 1919. He married Evelyn Noble in West Ham in 1920, but died in 1934 in Durham at the age of just 39.

I hope that you find that interesting! If you can add anything about him it would be very helpful. I am not currently sure which squadron he was in, but I would guess at the 22nd.

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk