Who's Who - James McCudden

James McCudden James Thomas Byford McCudden (1895-1918) was a long-serving, high-scoring British fighter pilot during World War One.

Having enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps as a mechanic the year before war began, in 1913, McCudden was promoted in time to Sergeant.  He determined to train as a pilot.  The sudden switch worked, as it so often did during the First World War.  McCudden proved a natural in aerial warfare.

Having amassed a collection of 'kills' McCudden was awarded the Military Medal in September 1916.  This was followed by a formal commission into the Royal Flying Corps.  The following February he won the Military Cross, to which he added a bar six months later.

The recipient of a further award in March 1918 - this time the highest, the Victoria Cross - McCudden, with 54 victories to his credit was en route to France when he was killed in a flying accident on 8 July 1918, failing to take rudimentary steps following the stalling of his engine.

His spell of five years in the British air service placed him among the longest-servers in a profession notorious for its abbreviated service (and life) expectancy.

Shortly before his death McCudden published a renowned memoir of his air war, Five Years in the RFC.

A "Communication Trench" was a narrow trench constructed at an angle to a defensive trench to permit concealed access to the defensive trench.

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