Andrew Frederick Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor VC, DSO, MC & Bar, DFC.
Born on 14th September 1894 at Cape Province, South Africa, Beauchamp-Proctor was the Squadron’s highest scoring ace during World War I. The son of a school teacher, when the war began he was a student of engineering at the University of Cape Town but abandoned his studies to join the army. He served as a signaller in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles and saw action in German South-West Africa before his discharge from the army in August 1915. After completing his education, Beauchamp-Proctor joined the Royal Flying Corps in March 1917 and was commissioned upon his arrival in England. Having successfully completed pilot training, he was posted to 84 Squadron in late July and accompanied this unit to France in September 1917.
An SE5a pilot, Beauchamp-Proctor was just five feet two inches tall. His height made it necessary to raise the seat and modify the controls of the aircraft he flew. Despite these difficulties and a crash on 11 March 1918, Beauchamp-Proctor claimed 54 victories that year and became the British Empire’s highest scoring balloon-buster
Beauchamp-Proctor was killed in an aircraft accident on 21st June 1921 and was buried with full military honours at Upavon, Wiltshire. His body was later returned to his native South Africa and now lies at St John’s Church, Mafeking.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While on offensive patrol he observed an enemy two-seater plane attempting to cross our lines. He engaged it and opened fire, with the result that it fell over on its side and crashed to earth. On a later occasion, when on patrol, he observed three enemy scouts attacking one of our bombing machines. He attacked one of these, and after firing 100 rounds in it, it fell over on its back and was seen to descend in that position from 5,000 feet. He then attacked another group of hostile scouts, one of which he shot down completely out of control, and another crumpled up and crashed to earth. In addition to these, he has destroyed another hostile machine, and shot down three completely out of control. He has at all times displayed the utmost dash and initiative, and is a patrol leader of great merit and resource.”
MC citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 22 June 1918
Distinguished Flying Cross
“Lt. (T./Capt.) Andrew Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor, M.C.
A brilliant and fearless leader of our offensive patrols.
His formation has destroyed thirteen enemy machines and brought down thirteen more out of control in a period of a few months.
On a recent morning his patrol of five aeroplanes attacked an enemy formation of thirty machines and was successful in destroying two of them. In the evening he again attacked an enemy formation with great dash, destroying one machine and forcing two others to collide, resulting in their destruction.”
DFC citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 3 August 1918
Distinguished Service Order
“A fighting pilot of great skill, and a splendid leader. He rendered brilliant service on the 22nd August, when his Flight was detailed to neutralise hostile balloons. Having shot down one balloon in flames, he attacked the occupants of five others in succession with machine-gun fire, compelling the occupants in each case to take to parachutes. He then drove down another balloon to within fifty feet of the ground, when it burst into flames. In all he has accounted for thirty-three enemy machines and seven balloons.”
DSO citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 2 November 1918
“Between August 8th, 1918, and October 8th, 1918, this officer proved himself victor in twenty-six decisive combats, destroying twelve enemy kite balloons, ten enemy aircraft, and driving down four other enemy aircraft completely out of control.
Between October 1st, 1918, and October 5th, 1918, he destroyed two enemy scouts, burnt three enemy kite balloons, and drove down one enemy scout completely out of control.
On October 1st, 1918, in a general engagement with about twenty-eight machines, he crashed one Fokker biplane near Fontaine and a second near Ramicourt; on October 2nd he burnt a hostile balloon near Selvjgny; on October 3rd he drove down, completely out of control, an enemy scout near Mont d’Origny, and burnt a hostile balloon; on October 5th, the third hostile balloon near Bohain.
On October 8th, 1918, while flying home at a low altitude, after destroying an enemy two-seater near Maretz, he was painfully wounded in the arm by machine-gun fire, but, continuing, he landed safely at his-aerodrome, and after making his report was admitted to hospital.
In all he has proved himself conqueror over fifty-four foes, destroying twenty-two enemy machines, sixteen enemy kite balloons, and driving down sixteen enemy aircraft completely out of control.
Captain Beauchamp-Proctor’s work in attacking enemy troops on the ground and in reconnaissance during the withdrawal following on the Battle of St. Quentin from March 21st, 1918, and during the victorious advance of our Armies commencing on August 8th, has been almost unsurpassed in its Brilliancy, and. as such has made an impression on those serving in his squadron and those around him that will not be easily forgotten.
Capt. Beauchamp-Proctor was awarded Military Cross on 22nd June, 1918; D.F. Cross on 2nd July, 1918; Bar to M.C. on 16th September, 1918; and Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918.”
VC citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 30 November 1918