In December 1915 Flight Sub-Lieutenant Bunnie Bremner joined No. 2 Wing RNAS in the Gallipoli campaign as a pilot, based on the island of Imbros. He flew many different aircraft while he was there, but his favourite was Bristol Scout No. 1264. Eight months later he was invalided home with malaria and dysentery, and brought back with him three souvenirs of 1264 – the stick, rudder bar and the magneto. Now, 100 years later, his grandsons, David and Rick, with their friend Theo Willford, have rebuilt 1264 and it is flying once again.
- & 2. Students set up for filming the interview at Milson Flying Club near Ludlow, Shropshire.
- My brother Rick prepares to start the engine by turning the propeller, while I squirt a little petrol into each of the cylinders in turn.
- & 5. Students try out being a pilot in the Bristol Scout.
- The Bristol Scout logo on the propeller blade
- Interested visitors crowd around the Scout at Milson Flying Club.
- The cockpit, showing the instruments, all of which are genuine WWI instruments. The brass map holder contains a photocopy of the original map granddad used to fly the 90 miles across water from Imbros to Thassos.
- The cockpit is very small, and – as the students will confirm – very difficult to get into or out of!
- Granddad’s pilot’s licence, or brevet, issued by the Royal Aero Club. The Chairman, H. C. L. Holden, was granddad’s uncle!
- The envelope which the pilot’s licence was in.
- The letter from the Royal Aero Club announcing that the licence had been granted.
- Portrait of Francis Bremner
- The Scout C 1264 Thassos June 1915 per Francis Bremner
- Bristol Scout in the living room
- The Scout: work in progress
- The only other Bristol Scout – the Opdyke Scout – to have been built since WWI, hanging in the roof at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton.
- The Le Rhône engine arrives, welcomed by Theo Willford and Gene de Marco. Born in New York Gene is Chief Pilot and Production Manager of Vintage Aviator Ltd in NZ. He is credited with having spent more time on WWI aircraft than anybody else in history.
- Waiting by the hanger
- The Scout and Vulcan above
- Bristol Scout: portrait
- Bicester Flywheel – the whole team
- This is the map granddad used to navigate from Imbros to Thassos. It’s 89 miles, and for most of it he would have been out of sight of land, with no radio, a very unreliable compass, and only two hours’ fuel for a trip that took 90 minutes. And when he got there, he had to land at an airfield he’d never seen before.
- First flight overhead
- Dodge Bailey, the most experienced pilot of WWI aircraft in the UK and a professional test pilot, completed the test flights.
- Voisin on emergency strip at Helles
- Yvonne Davies in the cockpit
- A student tries out being a pilot.
- – 32. Original flying notes describing granddad’s tour of duty. These are actually notes that he took before he received his logbook. He then transferred them verbatim into his actual logbook. His handwriting was horribly cramped and difficult to read in whichever book he wrote so below is the transcription of the original notes.
- The cover of granddad’s pilot’s licence.
TRANSCRIPTION OF PILOT’S NOTES
C Flight 2nd Wing Imbros. FDHBremner
Dec 19th Avro 1043 Duration 10 min.
Practice Flight solo. Found it difficult to judge distance from ground just before landing.
Dec 20th Avro 1043. Duration 25 min.
Practice flight solo. Two landings, both better than before.
Dec 25th Avro 1043. Duration 1hr 30 min. Height 7500
General reconnaissance over Peninsula to see what it was like. Visited Suvla, Anzac, Helles, Killid Bahr, Chanak and submarine net. Archie not much trouble, always well behind. Did not worry about landing and in consequence made most excellent one.
Dec 27th Voisin 8501. Duration 10 min.
Joy ride with F.S.L. Harvey? For instruction in Voisins
Voisin 8501. Duration 35 min
First solo flight in Voisin. Landing very bad as I did not pancake enough and so I landed on front wheels. Soon got used to machine in air.
Voisin 8503. Duration 25 min.
Two more landings, getting better.
Dec 28th Voisin 8501. Duration 3hr 45min. Height 8200
Spotting over Helles for 8th Corps. Observer Sasoon. First time I have ever taken a passenger. Started at 1315 and had to return immediately owing to plug breaking. Left again at 1335 and returned at 1700. Archie did not trouble much – sighted Hun and chased him a short way, but he was a long way off and was far too fast.
Dec 30th Voisin 8502. Duration 2 hours 10 min. Height 8000
Spotting for H.M.S. Thesus and Grafton. Observer Barnaby. Strong northerly wind blowing and banks of cloud from 1500 to 6000 ft. One or two very bad bumps in places, quite calm at 8000. Had to give up owing to clouds getting too bad to see target. Very badly blown about near the ground so pancaked the last 10 ft down. Got caught in a gust which gave us a lot of leeway so landed rather heavily on one back wheel. Was going very slowly at the time so pulled up almost at once without using brake. Not at all displeased with landing under the circumstances. Archie shot a fair amount at first but was always low. He gave up when the clouds got bad. No Huns about.
-Total time 11hrs 10 min.-
Jan 6. Voisin 8502. Duration 1hr 20min. Height 8400.
Reconnaissance round Kythia. Observer 2nd Lieut Dunston H.B.C. Wireless jammed at first so had to come down at end of 10 min and have it put right. Quite calm on ground, if anything slight s breezes. Bumpy up to 1500, above 4000 strong N.W. wind, quite steady. Machine climbing bette tahtn I have ever known her do before, and did not reach limit at 8400. Went from 500 to 8000 in under 50 min. Engine 1300, speed 42 knots. Towards the end Archie made some very good shooting for the first time. I did not mind it a bit even when the bombs were very close.
Jan 7th (am) Voisin 8502. Duration 40 min. Height 2000
Attempted reconnaissance with Sergt Lamrock(?). Went up and observer failed to see strips so thinking wireless was useless was wrong came down after twenty minutes. Told that wirerless was all right so went up again and observer tangled aerial trying to let it out, so came down after twenty minutes.
Very strong north wind and very bumpy. Got first 1000 ft in under 2 1/2 min each time.
Coming down each time had very little control of machine and was blown about all over the place. Machine yawed very badly when she rolled and wind at 500 ft quite different direction to that on ground.
Flew right down to ground with plenty of engine in each case and made A.1. landings further attempts postponed owing to wind.
Jan 7th (pm) Voisin 8502. Duration 2 hrs 30 min. Height 8300.
Spotting for H.M.S. “Earl of Peterboro”. Observer Barnaby. Had two oied plugs starting so left late, 2.30 for 3.00 shoot. Slight south wind blowing and machine did not climb over well. Started shelling at 5500 and went over land at under 6000. Archied a good deal but nothing very close. Machine climbed steadily to 7500 and then stuck engine revs at that height 1340, much more than usual (usual revs 1300). Throttled down a bit and then opened out to 1325, machine went slowly up to 8300 and appeared to have about reached her limit. Finished spotting just before 4.30P.M when Barnaby asked me to go over land well to north of Kythia (about square 29) as he had noticed something he wished to investigate. Was returning shortly after 4.30 but was still over land when was attacked by Hun, who came up unobserved behind and slightly above me. Did not know he was there till he started firing, and even then did not realise exactly what noise was. As soon as I realised what it was I attempted to turn left to bring my Lewis to bear on him and just caught a glimpse of him over my left shoulder. He then disappeared behind me again and tried a few more rounds, and apparently made a big
Total time 16 hr 45 mins
right handed sweep and made off in the direction of Chanak. He was far too fast and nippy for me to bring my guns to bear on him, and the whole action only lasted about 30 seconds. I attempted to follow him but realised that he had hit me. I was then just about 8000ft. I attempted to reach Imbros, but engine revs dropped off very rapidly and I saw that it would be impossible for me to reach the island. I then throttled right down and made for the Helles aerodrome.
I had never landed there before (but Barnaby had) so I glided till I knew I was well within reach and then came down in S turns. I happened to have selected a good spot and made a perfect landing. Machine was pushed into dugout, but would not go right in and Turks began to shell it with H.E. but were unable to hit it.
Searched for demolition party buyt cold not get hold of them and was not allowed to burn machine so returned and finished it as well as possible with a pick, a shovel and a sledge hammer.
Embarked in lighter at 6.30 pm at pier at W beach and left at 1.30. Intermittent shelling with H.E. most of the time. Went on board S.S. Partridge (2nd last ship to leave) and proceeded to Mudros. Was ???? at from Mudros back to Imbros in store ship S.S. Jimin?, finally landing about 3 PM on Jan 10th.
Jan 18th Bristol Scout 1261. Duration 35 min. Height 3000 ft
First flip in fast machine. Beautiful calm day. Machine showed some slight tendency to spin on setting off, but corrected it quite easily. Did not find that Voisin had made me heavy handed. Did not like right handed turns at first, but got better towards end. Flew in at 53 m.p.h. and made quite nice landing. She tried to spin when her tail came down, but I had engine on and kept her straight. On the whole much easier to fly than I expected, though not as comfortable as pusher.
B S 1261. Duration 30 min. Height 3000 ft
weather still absolutely calm. Right hand turns still a bit funny but got all right, though a bit uncertain ad end. Landed from 3000 ft without using engine. Brought her down at 60 miles / hr and made decent landing. Cut engine so could not prevent her spinning about 45° to the left at end of run.
Jan 20th B S 1262. Duration 55 min. Ht 9300
Escorting M.F. 1383 over Krithia and Fuselier Bluff. Saw no hostile aircraft. Great quantities of oil thrown out so I feared my oil pipe had burst. Saw other Bristol also escorting M.F. 1383 so I returned a few minutes early. Flew in too slowly and pancaked on landing.
it was an off day for me and although I flew with confidence and was quite comfortable the whole time I was flying damn badly. A most unsatisfactory performance.
Came down 9000 ft in 7-8 min. Too damn fast.
Total time 10 hrs 45 min.
Jan 24th B.S. 1264. Duration 1 hr 30 min. 10,500ft
Escorting Nieuport over Peninsula. Strong N wind and very bumpy. Clouds 6 – 10 thousand. Most of the time under clouds. Very bad bumps over coast from N.W. of Krithia down to Helles at 5500. Had to use full rudeder and warp to correct them. Flew in about 70 and landed very slowly but bounced rather badly. No spin.
Jan 26th B.S. 1264. Duration 1 hr 35 min. 9000 ft.
escorting Nieuport over Ak Bashi Liman. N landed thinking her wireless was wrong. I had seen strips so thought she must have a dud engine so landed as well. She went straight off and I followed. There was a thin cloud which was not very noticeable until one was in it and then we could not see anything. I dived out of it, made a left hand circle and went over it and could see down through it perfectly. I saw the N most of the time but was continuously losing sight of her and then picking her up again, however I was flying over the target and saw a good many of the shells falling so knew she was not far off. I fancy I saw no “archie” but it was a long way below me. Every time if fly B.S. I like them more. Landings a bit bumpy.
Jan 27th B.S. 1264. Duration 45 min. 9500ft
Flight Commander Littleton was escorting the MF (Ak Bashi Liman) but came back because the engine was missing.
When he got back the engine seemed all right so I continued the escort but did not ???? till after the after the M.F. had left.
I found the fine adjustment kept opening itself. L had not noticed this, perhaps it was the cause of his trouble.
Jan 29th B.S. 1264. Duration 45 min. 8000 ft
strong N.E. wind but not nearly so bumpy as I imagined it would be. Bumps off Helles, as on Jan 24th. Again rather bad. Escorting M.f. over Helles. Landing quite fair.
I was feeling rather unwell yesterday, and today I was evidently not as well as I thought, because I did not enjoy myself much although I was flying quite well.