Lt. George J. Hatch Biography
Lt. George J Hatch Biography-5: Co-pilot Ernest Langridge
Cpl. Ernest Frank Langridge -- Lt. Hatch's Observer
Ernest Frank Langridge died on 6 April 1917, along with Pilot George Hatch. He was a corporal in the Royal Flying Corps – the forerunner of the Royal Air Force and was the son of William and Eliza Rhoda Langridge, of 13 Woodside Road, Pokesdown.
Corporal Ernest Langridge was a member of 8th Squadron, the Royal Flying Corps. Before the Battle of the Somme the Royal Flying Corps mustered 421 aircraft, with 4 kite-balloon squadrons. However, by the end of the Somme offensive in November 1916, 800 aircraft had been lost and 252 crew killed.
By 1917 the German Air Force, although with fewer aircraft, was becoming noticeably superior in organization and equipment. Among the enemy pilots that Ernest Langridge faced was Baron Von Richthofen. At that time a pilot in the Royal Flying Corp’s life expectancy was just 68 hours. The RFC suffered heavy losses at the beginning of 1917 as their more obsolete aircraft took on the new German ‘Albatross’ fighters.
The culmination of the battle for the air was ‘Bloody April’ when 245 British aircraft out of 365 were lost and 211 aircrew listed as killed or missing including Corporal Ernest Frank Langridge who died on April 6th 1917 aged 20, brought down by ‘one of Von Richthofen’s mob’. Ernest was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), an extremely high level award for bravery.