Flight Lieutenant Capel Francis Goodson Adye
Capel Francis Goodson Adye first joined the RAF, as a probationary Pilot Officer, on a Short Service Commission on 11 October 1929.
On 8 September 1930, Pilot Officer Adye was posted to No.17 Squadron at RAF Upavon, from No.3 Flying Training School at RAF Spitalgate. 17 Squadron had recently completed their conversion to the Bristol Bulldog. A year later, by now a Flying Officer, he was posted to the Fleet Air Arm. At the end of his five year commission in October 1934 he was transferred to the Reserve as a Flying Officer. He immediately left for Canada and remained there for the next five years until, following the outbreak of war, he was recalled to the colours. He arrived back in Southampton, aboard the “Aquitania”, on 30 September 1939.
In the intervening five years, aviation had changed considerably with aircraft now monoplanes and made principally of metal rather than wood and fabric, they had enclosed cockpits and used oxygen systems; speeds were also much higher. In consequence it is likely that Capel Adye was sent on refresher training at one or more of the flying training schools that existed at the time.
Flying Officer Adye appears with No.213 Squadron, at RAF Wittering, flying a sector reconnaissance on 26 April 1940. Such sorties were normally assigned to newly posted pilots, but there is no record of his arrival with the squadron. At this time, 213 Squadron was still very much involved in training but did send a flight to RAF Bircham Newton from time to time. During his stay with 213 Squadron, Flying Officer Adye joined in much of the training activities including air-to-air firing, aerial combat and bomber affiliation sorties. His recorded time with the squadron was brief – on 15 May he was posted to No.17 Squadron at RAF Martlesham Heath where arrived the next day. Perhaps his departure from 253 Squadron can be explained by their move to France via Manston and Biggin Hill over 16 and 17 May.
On 17 May, 17 Squadron transferred from Martesham Heath to RAF Hawkinge, via RAF Debden where their radios were changed to H.F from VHF. After lunch, the squadron was ordered to Merville and conducted patrols around Brussels from there. “A” Flight, flying north east of Brussels encountered a formation of Ju.87s – in the combat “A” Flight claimed four victories and two damaged Stukas. The flight lost Squadron Leader Tomlinson after he stalled his Hurricane and crashed, he sustained some injuries, and Flying Officer Lines went missing. The squadron returned to Hawkinge in the evening.
The squadron returned to France the following day. After escorting transport aircraft to Merville, they landed at Lille. In the afternoon they engaged a Do.215 and two Me.110s attacking civilians, downing the bomber and damaging one of the fighters. After returning to Lille, an air raid warning hastened their return to Hawkinge. The take off was chaotic and most of the squadron made their way home individually. The pattern continued on 19 May with the squadron patrolling Cambrai, Valenciennes, Le Cateau and Bavai. They encountered a formation of Me.109s and claimed three victories. A Dornier was also attacked by Pilot Officer Whittaker, his victory being confirmed by Flying Officer Adye. Pilot Officer Robert Harris was killed in the engagement.
The next day the squadron flew to Manston and formed a bomber escort with 151, 56 and 213 squadrons to Macquin. 21 May brought another forward move to France – after failing to meet their bomber charges, the squadron were patrolling near Amiens:
Our Squadron patrolling at 14,000ft sighted a Hs.126, 2 miles north of Amiens flying north east at 8000ft, F/Lt. Toyne, Sgt. Seward, F/Lt Adye, Sgt. Wynn and F/Sgt. Jones attacked it. Enemy aircraft was seen to turn over in a field 10 miles NNE of Amiens, one occupant left the machine and ran away.
Capel Adye had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant since 19 May. After their return to Hawkinge the squadron were ordered to RAF Debden where they arrival before nightfall.
22 and 23 May were rest days for the squadron during which armour plating for the pilots was fitted and VHF radios were reinstalled in their Hurricanes. On 24 May, 17 Squadron was sent to Kenley.
The first full day at Kenley was busy for the squadron; at first light they escorted Blenheims to Gravelines and returned to Hawkinge. Then at 10.40, they took off in company with 605 and 79 squadrons to patrol Calais. They downed a Do.17 then met a large formation of Ju.87s claiming several. However:
F/Lt. Adye almost flew into a lone Hs.126. He fired a five second burst and the enemy aircraft burst into flames and hit the ground.
That afternoon, after landing at Hawkinge, the squadron returned to Kenley. Here they found six pilots had been posted to their complement, but only two were operationally trained.
Early on 26 May, 17 Squadron rendezvoused with 79 Squadron over Biggin Hill, and headed for Lille where they dropped message bags. They then performed a sweep around Calais. They encountered various German aircraft, their fuel state prevented extended engagements, but:
F/Lt. Adye, P/O Whittaker and P/O Manger attacked one Do.17 20 miles ESE of Calais and claimed an inconclusive casualty.
After landing and refuelling at Hawkinge, the squadron again took off with six Hurricanes of 79 Squadron, however their formation only comprised fifteen aircraft, to patrol Calais and Dunkirk. The patrol was uneventful but as they headed home they were bounced by three Me.109s, they managed to bring one down. Flight Lieutenant Adye was not so lucky:
Just after crossing the French coast and on the return journey 3 Me.109s dived out of the thin cloud and attacked F/Lt. Adye rear section leader, his aircraft burst into flames and he took to his parachute and landed in the sea.
No trace of Adye or his Hurricane was found.
Capel Francis Goodson Adye was born in Exeter in 1909, to Major Capel George Adye and Ida Irwin Adye. On 27 March 1926 he can be found arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in company with his younger brother, Warwick, they are both described as “scholar”. After two years Capel and Warwick return to Britain in December 1928 by which time their occupation is “farmer”. Within ten months Capel joins the RAF on a Short Service Commission, which lasts five years. He comes to attention of the local constabulary in February 1934 when he is fined £1 for driving without lights in Gosport. On completion of his 5-year commission, Capel returns to Canada in October 1934. He remains in the Americas for the next five years, during which time he becomes a salesman. On the outbreak of war, he is recalled to Britain by the Air Ministry.
At some point while in Canada, he marries Ruth Wilhelmina Adye.
Flight Lieutenant Capel Francis Goodson Adye is commemorated on Panel 4 of the Runnymede Memorial.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.