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Alcock, Sir John William (1892–1919), aviator, was born at Basford House Cottage, Seymour Grove, Old Trafford, Manchester, on 6 November 1892, the eldest son of John Alcock, a domestic coachman and later a horsedealer, and his wife, Mary Whitelegg. He had a boyhood fascination with machines, and after attending the parish school at ...

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Sir John William Alcock (1892–1919) by Ambrose McEvoy, 1919 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bacon, John Mackenzie (1846–1904), astronomer and aviator, born at Lambourn Woodlands, Berkshire, on 19 June 1846, was the fourth son of John Bacon (1809–1871), vicar of Lambourn Woodlands, a friend and neighbour of Charles Kingsley and Tom Hughes, and his wife, Mary Lousada...

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Bailey [née Westenra], Dame Mary, Lady Bailey (1890–1960), aviator, was born in London on 1 December 1890, the only daughter and the eldest of three children of Derrick Warner William Westenra, fifth Baron Rossmore (1853–1921), and his wife, Mittie Naylor (d...

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G. Temple

revised by Anita McConnell

Bairstow, Sir Leonard (1880–1963), aeronautical engineer, was born on 25 June 1880 at Halifax in Yorkshire, the son of Uriah Bairstow, a commercial clerk, and his wife, Elizabeth Lister. He attended schools in Halifax, from where he went, in 1898, on a scholarship to the ...

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Balfour, Harold Harington, first Baron Balfour of Inchrye (1897–1988), airman, businessman, and politician, was born on 1 November 1897 in Farnham, Surrey, the younger son and second of the three children of Colonel Nigel Harington Balfour OBE, a serving officer, of Belton, Camberley, Surrey...

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Ball, Albert (1896–1917), airman, was born at 301 Lenton Boulevard, Nottingham, on 14 August 1896, the elder son and second of three surviving children of Sir Albert Ball (1863–1946), master plumber, land agent, and sometime mayor of Nottingham, and his first wife, Harriet Mary Page (...

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Albert Ball (1896–1917) by E. N. Birkett, c. 1915–16 The Imperial War Museum, London

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Batten, Jean (1909–1982), aviator, was born on 15 September 1909 in Rotorua, New Zealand, the youngest child and only daughter of Frederick Batten, a dentist, and his wife, Ellen Blackmore (1876/7–1966). Frederick was the son of an English immigrant surveyor, James William Batten...

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Beamont, Roland Prosper (1920–2001), air force officer and aviator, was born on 10 August 1920 at 8 Private Road, Enfield, Middlesex, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Clement Beamont, a trade officer with the Foreign Office, and his wife, Dorothy Mary, née Haynes. Educated at ...

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Roland Prosper Beamont (1920–2001) by William Vanderson, 1958 [with the English Electric P1B Lightning at Farnborough] Getty Images

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Noel Pemberton Billing (1881–1948) by Elliott & Fry, 1920s © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Billing, Noel Pemberton (1881–1948), aviator and self-publicist, was born on 31 January 1881 in Hampstead, the youngest child of Charles Eardley Billing, a Birmingham iron-founder, and his wife, Annie Emilia Claridge. He was educated at the high school, Hampstead; Cumming's College, outside Boulogne...

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Sir James Bird (1883–1946) by Walter Stoneman, 1946 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bird, Sir James (1883–1946), naval architect and aircraft manufacturer, was born on 19 March 1883 in London, the second son of Samuel Bird, merchant, of East Cowes, Isle of Wight, and his wife, Freda. He was educated at Marlborough School, where he was a prefect, played in the hockey eleven, and captained the football fifteen. He next served an apprenticeship with ...

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Blackburn, Robert (1885–1955), aircraft designer and manufacturer, was born on 26 March 1885 at Kirkstall near Leeds, the eldest of three sons of George William Blackburn, an engineer, and his wife, Kate, née Naylor. His career was influenced by his engineering background—George Blackburn...

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Sir Basil Davenport Blackwell (1922–2003) by unknown photographer, 1985 UPPA/Photoshot

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Blackwell, Sir Basil Davenport (1922–2003), engineer and industrialist, was born on 8 February 1922 at 72 Hollyshaw Lane, Whitkirk, Yorkshire, the son of Alfred Blackwell, engineering company manager, and his wife, Hilda Kathleen Sophia, née Bretherick (later Lloyd). He was educated at Leeds grammar school...

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Sir John Nelson Boothman (1901–1957) by Walter Stoneman, 1946 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Boothman, Sir John Nelson (1901–1957), air force officer and aviator, was born at Napier Road, Wembley, Middlesex, on 19 February 1901, the son of Thomas John Boothman, a railway clerk, and his wife, Mary, née Burgess. Educated at Harrow county school he was, in January 1918, too young to enlist in the British forces, so he joined the French ...