Lt. George John Hatch Biography-1: Introduction
Lt. George John Hatch (Nov 20, 1896 – April 6, 1917) was a WW1 Royal Flying Corps aerial reconnaissance pilot who was killed in action over Arras, France by German war ace Lieutenant Wilhelm Frankl on Good Friday (April 6) 1917. George’s death (and that of his observer Cpl. Ernest Langridge) was part of the “Bloody April 1917” offensive along a 100-mile stretch of northern France. By the end of April, the British had lost 250 aircraft, and some 400 aircrew had become casualties.
George was born in London in 1896; by 1911, his family had moved to London's Stockwell District. On Oct 1st, 1914, George enlisted in the 17th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (Poplar and Stepney Rifles), and was quickly promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Lt. Hatch volunteered to join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in October, 1916, and completed his pilot training in November. On December 6, 1916, he was promoted as a Lieutenant and assigned to the 8th Squadron, headquartered in Bellevue, France. “The Squadron specialized in the Corps Reconnaissance role, carrying out contact patrols and artillery spotting in close cooperation with the army."
George Hatch’s Watch:
George Hatch acquired his trench watch shortly after his promotion to the RFC; it is engraved “Lt. G. J. Hatch / RFC”. He used it continuously; the silver case is corroded and the original leather strap is well-worn. It was found at an English flea market, stored in a small cardboard box, along with an original handwritten note, “Lt. George John Hatch R.F.C. ~~ K in A 6/4/17 ~~ 17th County of London Battalion ~~ The London Regiment Poplar and Stepney Rifles”
Lt. Hatch piloted a Royal Flying Corps BE2e Reconnaissance plane