Brunwin-Hales, Greville Oxley

He was the son of the Reverend Canon Greville Turner Brunwin-Hales (A, 1872-1877), Rector of St. Mary’s Colchester, and only brother of Second Lieutenant Henry Tooke Brunwin-Hales (A, 1906-1910), Lincolnshire Regiment, who fell at the Battle of Loos in October 1915 (see individual entry).

His five uncles as well as his father were Wykehamists and he himself came to Chernocke House from Rev. H.R. Browne’s school at Eastbourne. From Winchester he went up to Jesus College, Cambridge, and taking a diploma in Agriculture, entered into business as a land-agent, working for a time on the estate of Mr. Christopher Turnor, at Stoke Rochford, near Grantham.

When the war came he joined the 8th Battalion Essex Regiment and was transferred later to the Royal Flying Corps where he served with 13 Squadron, flying BE2c aircraft on bombing and reconnaissance missions. One such was on the night of 10th October 1916 when he dropped 12 twenty pound bombs on a train at Vitry Station. He was promoted to Flight Commander in December 1916.

On March 9th 1917 he was flying a BE2c, armed with two Lewis guns, at 4000 feet on an aerial photography and reconnaissance mission over Bailleul. He and his observer had just observed for an artillery shoot against a German heavy battery when three German Albatross fighters appeared at 5000 feet and dived on the British plane. Brunwin-Hales wrote afterwards: “I saw I could not engage the three machines at once, so I did a very steep spiral, my observer firing a double drum at intervals as best he could. The enemy machines followed us down to seven hundred feet over the trenches, firing the whole time. One machine dived beside us on our left and turned back as he crossed the lines. Two de Havilland scouts who had escorted us very well during the shoot were, at the moment of attack, escorting another BE.”

He was killed on March 24th 1917, shot down by flak, at the beginning of the Battle of Arras while engaged on patrol-work, and was buried with his observer at Aubigny.

A letter was printed in the Wykehamist of June 1917:   “Dear Sir, I notice that in the latest Roll of Honour no mention is made of the prowess as a fighter of Captain G.O. Brunwin-Hales, RFC. I believe I am right in stating that he had brought down more enemy aeroplanes than any other British pilot, except Captain Ball. In any case, his victims numbered well over twenty – a total which speaks for itself. I think this information will probably be of interest to many Wykehamists. I am, yours, etc., L.E. Bath.”

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Brunwin-Hales
  • Forenames or initials: Greville Oxley
  • House: A
  • Years in School: 1903-1907
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Royal Flying Corps
  • Date of Birth: 21st November 1889
  • Date of Death: 24th March 1917
  • How Died: Killed on action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer C4
  • Decoration: NA