Busk, Hans Acworth

The son of Thomas Teshmaker Busk (who died a couple of months after his birth) and Mary, nee Acworth. His elder brother was Lieutenant Edward Busk, a pioneering figure in aviation who was to be killed in November 1915 whilst test flying a BE2c at Farnborough, an aeroplane he was largely responsible for designing. Hans was the youngest of four children and came to Winchester from Rottingdean School. He remained at Winchester for two years and in 1909 went to Gresham’s School, Holt and then to King’s College, Cambridge. In December 1913 he followed his elder brother Edward and took flying lessons at Hendon.

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1914 when it was in its infancy, and whilst designated a Sub-Lieutenant was awarded his Aviator’s Certificate in February 1914. He was appointed to HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham, to attend an advanced course of instruction at the Isle of Grain Naval Air Station from where the RNAS operated seaplanes. At the start of 1915 he was operating from Dundee, flying Short Admiralty seaplanes. On 1st January 1915 his aeroplane crashed in heavy seas near Fifeness but he and his observer were rescued. There was another accident on 24th February when his plane slipped when turning and crashed.

He was promoted to Flight Commander in May 1915 and posted to the Central Flying School at Upavon as an instructor where he proved popular and effective. He managed to get home to Sussex most weekends, sometimes using an aeroplane and on one occasion “created a sensation in the little village of Rudgwick by descending spirally over the houses before alighting (at the family house). The following day he took his mother up for a flight. Her verdict was that it must be quite dull in good weather conditions!

On 15th August he was posted to RNAS Eastchurch and on 11th October he was informed that he would be joining the reinforcements for the RNAS at Gallipoli. He sailed from Devonport on 14th October 1915 arriving on the Island of Imbros two weeks later. His unit was equipped with a variety of aircraft, including the BE2c.  The RNAS pilots and observers carried out a variety of tasks, including noting the fall of shells for the artillery, reconnaissance, photography and mapping, bombing and even engaging enemy aircraft with armament as rudimentary as rifles.

On 16th December 1915 he was flying a Bristol Scout when the plane’s engine failed. He managed a forced landing in the sea north east of Kephalo where he was rescued by a lighter.

Allied High Command took the decision to end the Gallipoli Campaign in the last days of 1915 and the area of Suvla Bay and Anzac Beach were evacuated on 19th December, with the remaining forces leaving on 9th January 1916. On 6th January a multi national force including Busk was tasked with bombing the Turkish Galata airfield. According to his friend, Flight Lieutenant Theophilus Chater Vernon “Hans went out on Jan 6th in a Henry Farman biplane with a 130 hp engine ….. he started off at about 3 p.m. carrying a 550 bomb….. on account of the great weight he naturally went alone. As Hans carried no observer he therefore carried no gun and was last seen about 5 miles by air from the Gelata Aerodrome (German)”.

Another source, the “British Official History: The War in the Air, Vol II” says that “Busk went off to bomb, but was never heard of again. He probably came down somewhere in the sea….”    He had in fact been shot down by fighters, which he had been unable to out-run or fight off.    It is recorded that an allied plane had been shot down by Lt Hans-Joachim Buddecke in a Fokker Eindecker that afternoon and it was thought possible that Busk had been shot down in the sea that day, three days before his 22nd birthday.

He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and also on the Rudgwick War Memorial and his father’s grave in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick.

More about his life can be read on the Rudgewick Remembers website, which can be accessed here: http://www.rudgwickremembers.com/Hans%20Acworth%20Busk.html

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Busk
  • Forenames or initials: Hans Acworth
  • House: C
  • Years in School: 1907-1908
  • Rank: Flight Commander
  • Regiment: Royal Naval Air Service
  • Date of Birth: 9th January 1894
  • Date of Death: 6th January 1916
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer E1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Unknown but commemorated on the HELLES MEMORIAL Panel 2