M.51 Flight Captain  Frederick Edward Arthur 'Bam' Bambridge 

 flag england

 b. 7 Mar 1897, Ealing, London

8 Apr 1940 to 31 Mar 1943 (as pilot)

to 30 Nov 1945 (as Flying Control Officer) 


  ata frederick bambridge BG 2 BG      

 

Father: Arthur Leopold Bambridge (d. 1923), Mother: Anna Charlotte Caroline [Siebert]

Ed. Marlborough

Royal Field Artillery (6th [Duke of Edinburgh's] Wilts Regiment, Commissioned 12 Apr 1915, in France from 28 Oct 1915), RNAS (Flight Sub-Lieut from 17 Sep 1917, 2nd Lieut), RAF from 1 Apr 1918 (Lieut)

As a Flight Sub-Lieut. in the RNAS, he was seriously wounded in March 1918. This accident, according to research done by his grand-daughter, was "whilst serving as reconnaissance scout in RNAS 2nd Squadron based at Bergues. On 22 March 1918 he and his gunner were hit by anti aircraft fire over Ostende. Bam and gunner Harry Lovelock managed to crawl out onto the wings of the DH4 biplane and witnesses described seeing plane initially diving then fluttering down like a leaf then diving again. Tragically Harry lost his grip and fell at about 1,000 feet from the ground. Bam hung on the tail until a few feet above the ground when he threw himself clear. The plane on crashing rolled over on top of him breaking his legs in several places. The true account was hushed up for the sake of gunner Harry's parents feelings."

In March 1919 he relinquished his commission on account of "ill-health (caused by wounds)" but was permitted to retain his rank. 

In July 1919, Flight said (presumably referring to an earlier accident): "Lieut. Bambridge, who had the distinction of losing the tail of his machine at 15,000 ft. in France, and descending on the top plane more or less successfully, was in charge of the ground operations" for an air display in Liverpool.

 

m. Jul 1926 in Steyning, Sussex Vera Maud [Fullick]

vera fullick bambridge Vera

His patent No 338,495 for 'Improvements in or connected with Braking Means for Aeroplanes and the like purposes" was published in December 1930:

ata frederick bambridge 1930 patent

"The braking force is applied directly to the landing wheels and undercariage.... My invention admits of several modes of application and according to one embodiment a bracket or like device having slots in angular or other suitable relation is employed in co-operative relation with and at each end of the axle of the landing wheels."

ata frederick bambridge fiona

Address in 1940: Waimate, Gordon Rd, Whitstable


Postings: 6FPP, 1FPP, 4bFPP

Suspended in Jan 1941 for nine days for 'Accumulative Misdemeanours'

Suspended for 7 days in May 1941 for 'disregard of flying regulations at 33 MU Lyneham'

1 accident, not his fault:

- 18 Jun 1941, the wheels of his Anson got clogged in long grass, 'which prevented the pilot obtaining sufficient height to clear an obstruction'.

"This officer though limited in his flying activities for medical reasons has more than made up for it by his energy and organising ability in the Operations Room where he has proved himself a very great asset."

Transferred to ground duties 31 Mar 1943.

"Is a very conscientious officer. Unfortunately he is not good at handling his staff, and does not achieve a good team spirit."

Or, "A first class organizer and highly efficient Chief Flying Control Officer."


In September 1945 as the ATA was being disbanded, the Air Movements Flight held a 'Farewell Dinner'. The menu, and a 'poem' in the form of an ABC, have survived:

ata amf farewell dinner front 1024

ata amf farewell dinner front 1024

ata amf farewell dinner front 1024

People mentioned: 

Aubrey Bower [M.758]

Bill [Guy] Harben [M.18]

Bragg

Bam

Toni Combi [M.588]

Diana Hutchinson [W.107]

Delia

Fordie

Ian Forbes

Fitzy

Ireen Garge

Groupie Hill

Georgei Hayman

Harry Hamilton

Jack Hollande

Harry Harrison

Johnny Jordan

Joesph Smallbone

Johnny Scarborough

Joan

Les Kemp

H. C. Mason

Mary

Mac

Peter

Stan Pigott

Tom Preston

Paddy

Eulalia Rodd

Seaward

Spratt

Becky Sharp

Len Thornhill

Wendy

Stan

 ---

d. Dec 1966 - Elstree, Herts

His grand-daughter Fiona kindly tells me that "Bam's mother, Caroline Charlotte Anna Siebert-Charters, was a German aristocrat. His father, Arthur Leopold Bambridge, was an artist who exhibited several times at the Royal Academy and was a Member.

Bam's parents divorced when he and his elder sister Emily were small, in 1904. It was his mother who filed for divorce; she took Emily to Germany with her, leaving Bam with his father in England, apparently so that he did not get naturalised to being German.

Bam went to primary school locally in Wiltshire, then later went to stay with his uncle William, who was a Professor of Music and organist for Marlborough College. Bam spent 2 years at Marlborough, although not very successful academically I was informed by their archivist.

He joined the RFA in 1915, then RNAS. He was shot down twice in France, once whilst his passenger took aerial photos; the passenger was sadly killed, Bam was injured and thereafter always walked with a limp.

Bam met Vera when he retrieved her Alsatian dog after it had run off in fields near Shoreham airport. When he inherited his mother's money, he and Vera lived the high life - skiing in Switzerland, Cannes for the casinos (Bam loved gambling), and were friends with the Benetti brothers (racing cars). 'Bam' worked as a stunt pilot, carpenter, admin for BOAC in a London office, and also sold sun lamps. 

Bam and Vera had four children, Angela, Anthony, Brian and John. John became a pilot in the RAF and also flew privately. My aunt, Angela, is the last one still with us

Bam joined up in the early days of the ATA; a friend of his from Whitstable, Herbert Mason (q.v.) was joining so he applied. At first he flew planes, then later was promoted to Flight Captain. You can see his name in the marvellous poem written at the end of the war for their final evening dinner party.

Bam and Vera separated around 1940, and divorced after the war. Bam remained in Maidenhead (near the old White Waltham ATA base), living in a small flat,  and used to visit the old ATA base, by then an Aero Club. He also avidly read flying magazines sent to him by his sister Emily. Bam died of tuberculosis in hospital in Herts in 1966.

He was in contact with some of his relatives during those years including his cousin Philip whose wife told me how Bam lived a very simple life - "one plate, one cup,"less washing up", he said. He was fond of her small children, he was always a gentleman, had twinkly eyes and a lively smile.

The ATA ladies, Joy Lofthouse and Mary Ellis both told me in 2011 that Bam was a gentleman. He was often to be seen standing at the end of the runway at White Waltham, looking up into the sky." 


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

 

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