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Cocks in the Air

Bristol Fighter armistice

As flying activities for England-based squadrons declined in 1918, Brig Gen TCR Higgins, Gen Commanding Vth (London Defence ) Brigade, decided to raise morale by organising a Squadrons-at-Arms competition for the aircrew under him –  the pilots would be judged on their skill in a scramble start, formation flying, accuracy of w/t communication, gunnery, aerobatics, and the day ended with a concours d’élegance. It was held on 22 September at Sutton’s Farm in Essex.

 

141 Sqn in its Bristol Fighters, won the closely fought competition, and was therefore awarded the title of  “Cock” squadron. Understandably the odd cockerel was seen strutting around its quarters at Biggin Hill thereafter.

These chaps had some “vim”, in the parlance of the time - two months later they celebrated the Armistice by:

• Dragging the guns from Hyde Park down the Mall, leaving them under Admiralty Arch;

• In the Strand, danced on the roof of a taxi until it collapsed;

• Then drove the taxi to the Criterion and jammed it in the entrance where it burst into flames;

• Started a bonfire in a workman’s hut in Trafalgar Square which left scars on the base of Nelson’s Column for years;

• Rendezvoused with 2 other squadrons from Biggin at the Savoy, and danced in crocodile over all the tables in the restaurant.