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Wulstan Tempest



Wulstan Tempest was born in Blackburn Lancashire and after leaving school joined the merchant navy. On the outbreak of World War I Tempest joined up with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and served with them in Flanders. In October 1914, Tempest was wounded at the first Battle of Ypres and was lucky to escape after being buried in a dugout by artillery fire.

Tempest returned to England to recover from his injuries and after learning to fly joined the fledgling RFC being posted to 39 Squadron at Suttons Farm. Here Tempest became firm friends with his fellow pilots William Leefe Robinson and Frederick Sowrey.

On the night of 1st/2nd October 1916 Tempest was ordered aloft on patrol and successfully intercepted the Super Zeppelin L31. This he accomplished despite having a broken fuel pump that required him to hand prime his engine at the same time as flying his aircraft and shooting. After only a single pass, Tempest managed to set the L31 alight and it fell in flames near Potters Bar in Essex. There were no survivors from its crew who were commanded by one of Germany's leading Zeppelin commanders, Heinrich Mathy. Tempest and his plane were almost engulfed by the huge mass of flaming wreckage as it dropped from the sky but he narrowly spun his plane out of the way just in time. On return to Sutton's Farm Tempest was so fatigued by the constant pumping to keep his engine working and the effects of intense cold that he crashed on landing. Luckily he survived with no more than a gashed head.

Like Leefe Robinson and Sowrey, Tempests success won him national admiration and public accolades. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his exploit.

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