Veteran Stories:
Quentin Shirriff

Navy

  • Flying Officer Quentin Shirriff standing in front of a Curtiss JN4 trainer aircraft during World War 1. 1916. Collection courtesy of Mr. Shirriff's son, John H. Shirriff.

    Flying Officer Quentin Shirriff standing in front of a Curtiss JN4 trainer aircraft during World War 1. 1916. Collection courtesy of Mr. Shirriff's son, John H. Shirriff.
  • Quentin Shirriff flying a two-seater trainer aircraft with the ground visible in the background. At this time, Mr. Shirriff was stationed near Eastbourne, England. 1916.

    Quentin Shirriff flying a two-seater trainer aircraft with the ground visible in the background. At this time, Mr. Shirriff was stationed near Eastbourne, England. 1916.
  • Quentin Shirriff seated in Avro 504J training plane #9822 at Eastbourne training aerodrome. England, 1916.

    Quentin Shirriff seated in Avro 504J training plane #9822 at Eastbourne training aerodrome. England, 1916.
  • Airship, or blimp, used for anti-submarine patrol over the English channel. The photo was taken by Quentin Shirriff, probably while he was stationed at Eastbourne, England, for flight training.

    Airship, or blimp, used for anti-submarine patrol over the English channel. The photo was taken by Quentin Shirriff, probably while he was stationed at Eastbourne, England, for flight training.
  • Quentin Shirriff (second from left) and fellow air crew enjoying leave in Nice, France. January, 1917.

    Quentin Shirriff (second from left) and fellow air crew enjoying leave in Nice, France. January, 1917.
  • Quentin Shirriff posed with three local farm women and a yoke of oxen. Mr. Shirriff was on a break between missions where he flew as a bomber pilot and fighter pilot.

    Quentin Shirriff posed with three local farm women and a yoke of oxen. Mr. Shirriff was on a break between missions where he flew as a bomber pilot and fighter pilot.
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Transcript

My name is John Shirriff, and my father was Quentin Spears Shirriff. He served as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant with the Royal Naval Air Service in France and Belgium, from September 1916 to July 1917, and he completed his service as a Captain in the Royal Air Force at Hendon aerodrome in London, England.

He joined up on September 21st, 1915, and then there followed a period of training in gunnery and signals on board HMCS Niobe at Halifax, which he passed with "a very good report." By February 7, 1916, dad was on his way to England. He passed flight and gunnery school training at Eastbourne and Eastchurch respectively, and was posted to No. 3 Wing at Luxeuil, France on September 14, 1916.

While flying with No. 3 Wing, dad participated in day bombing raids on German blast furnaces and steelworks located in the Saar Valley. Some raids were made from Luxeuil, but most were launched from Ochey, a smaller airfield, which was closer to the front lines. His plane was a Sopwith 1 ½ strut single seat machine used for bombing at heights of twelve thousand feet.

In March 1917, he transferred to "C" Flight, No. 11 Squadron. This flight was an advanced training squadron for fighter pilots, somewhat similar to a pilot's pool. Then on April 1st, dad was posted to "C" Flight, No. 10 Squadron at Furnes, Belgium. The flight consisted of Art Dissette from Toronto, who was Acting Flight Commander, Jack Page from Brockville, J.H. Keens from Toronto, D.F. Fitzgibbon, an Englishman, and my father from Toronto. The squadron moved to Drogslandt aerodrome, from which fighter patrols were made over the front lines for the purpose of engaging and destroying enemy aircraft. On these patrols, Sopwith tri-planes were used, at heights ranging up to seventeen thousand feet.

My father made a total of thirty-three sorties during his service at the front. He was repatriated to Canada in 1919, but returned once more to England to marry my mother, a Yorkshire girl whom he had met in London. The wedding took place on January 31st, 1920 in York.

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