Eric Arthur Cave attested for the Royal Flying Corps in July 1915, carried out his flying training atBrooklands, and obtained his Aviator’s Certificate as well as his commission on his birthday - 9 August1915. He was posted for operational flying to 24 Squadron (DH.2s), the R.F.C.’s first single seaterfighter squadron, which was being formed in the UK by Britains first ace Major Lanoe Hawker VC.Lieutenant Cave flew across the channel with the squadron when they first became operational, servingwith them in the French theatre of war from 6 February 1916. He wrote of his initial experiences in aletter to his parents, dated 7 February 1916.
Seven days later Cave was killed in a flying accident. On 14 February his C.O., Major Lanoe Hawker,V.C., D.S.O. wrote to the following letter to Cave’s mother (included in the group):
‘Dear Mrs Cave,
Permit me first, on behalf of myself and the whole of no 24 Squadron, to express our deepest sympathywith you in your sad bereavement. This Squadron, as you probably know, is equipped with fast Scouts,which are undoubtedly very tricky to fly. Your son however, was a good pilot, and handled the machinevery well. Unfortunately, while planing down to land about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, he made toosteep a turn, the machine got out of control, and dived to the ground before he had time to recovercontrol again. Help arrived within 2 minutes of the accident, but there was nothing to do - death wasinstantaneous:- at least he did not suffer any pain....’
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A quite superb and poignant group to one of Britain’s original fighter pilots. Lieutenant Cave’s parentsclearly kept everything relating to his service and death and there a some very rare Wargraves/memorial documentation of the type not often seen. As well as letters from the young pilot justprior to his death, the original signed letter by Major Hawker, Britain’s first great Ace, is incrediblyrare. Hawker himself was shot down By Von Richthofen in November 1916.