Western Star Saturday 1st May 1937
Patrol Plane
Over the Lines on the Western Front
Major FTD Meares, speaking at the Anzac commemoration service at Newington College, Sydney, recounted one of the most stirring stories of the war, describing how a German fighting aeroplane came to find a place in the War Museum at Canberra.
"I tell you boys this story because it is an example of devotion to duty in the face of great odds," Major Meares said. "It shows the spirit of self sacrifice which we commemorate in Anzac Day services."
Major Meares, who is an old boy of Newington College, said that in 1916 he was in action with the artillery at the little Belgian village called le Bizet. Every day an old type of British plane patrolled up and down the trenches to note any special movement of the enemy. On this occasion, three German Fokker Scouts suddenly appeared and opened fire on the British plane.
"The pilot of our poor old machine who had every right to run away from such odds, decided otherwise," Major Meares said. "He at once returned the fire, and drove down one of the Fokkers behind our lines. The other machines continue firing for a few minutes, but then ceased. To our surprise, the two German machines then flew back towards their own lines, whilst the British plane apparently continued its patrol.
"A week later we heard the reason for the puzzling incident. The British plane landed at St Pol, about 40 miles behind us, and it was found that both the pilot and observer were dead. They had been shot in the fight and the machine had actually flown and landed itself, only breaking the propeller in the process.
"The pilot was my old Newington chum, Lieutenant Lionel Sandy," added Major Meares. "The German machine, which was shot down, is now in our War Museum at Canberra, with a plate on it describing the incident."