Anzac Day: Service Takes Place In Gloucestershire Cemetery

Twenty-four members of the Australian Flying Corps are buried in the cemetery including flying instructors, cadets, and groundcrew.

A remembrance service has taken place at Leighterton Cemetery, Gloucestershire, to commemorate Anzac Day.

Members of the Gloucestershire County of the Royal British Legion joined with children from Leighterton Primary School and the Badminton Benefice to mark the occasion.

Twenty-four members of the Australian Flying Corps are buried in the cemetery including flying instructors, cadets, and groundcrew. 

A Commonwealth Service, organised by Gloucestershire County of the Royal British Legion, has been held in Leighterton since 1931, except for the years 1940-45 and 2020.

During the First World War, the Royal Flying Corps was established and the AFC (initially termed the "Australian Aviation Corps") and the Central Flying School were formed on 7 March 1913.

In 1917 the first detachments were sent to the UK and this led to the establishment of the First Training Wing of the Australian Flying Corps in January 1918.

The Anzacs became well known locally for their daredevil flying.

Minchinhampton hosted Number 1 Station and Leighterton hosted Number 2; Squadrons 5 & 6 went to Minchinhampton and Squadrons 7 & 8 to Leighterton.

The runways were grass.

Trainees came to the squadrons once they had completed six weeks' basic training and passed a written exam in aeronautics, Morse code and the theory of artillery.

They would then fly 12 times with an instructor, each flight lasting 15 minutes, before going solo.

Children from Leighterton Primary School pay respects on Anzac Day at Leighterton Cemetery (Picture: Ian Campbell and Ben Humphries).

Minchinhampton trained in single-seaters while at Leighterton training was in two-seaters.

The planes used were Sopwith Pups and Sopwith Camels, the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5A (Scout Experimental 5) and Avro 504.

A plaque to their endeavours has been erected on the wall of the cemetery at Leighterton.

In the First World War, the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) had four training squadrons based in Gloucestershire, Numbers 5 and 6 Training Squadrons AFC at Minchinhampton and Numbers 7 and 8 Training Squadrons AFC at Leighterton. 

Those four AFC squadrons formed the 1st Training Wing AFC with its headquarters and AFC hospital in Tetbury.

The Anzacs left the Stations on 11 May 1919 after which Leighterton reverted to farmland.

The virtual service will be shown on the Gloucestershire County RBL Facebook and YouTube on Sunday 25 April at 11:00. 

Cover image: Ian Campbell and Ben Humphries.