Thomas Reid Swinburne

Rank Flight Sub-Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 08/06/1917
Age 19
Regiment/Service Royal Naval Air Service No. 1 Squadron
Memorial Arras Flying Services Memorial, northern France. This commemorates 990 members of the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Air Force who were killed on the Western Front and have no known grave. The Chapel of King's College, London. The headstones of his father and grandfather, Darlington West Cemetery


Thomas was born on 2nd February 1898, and baptised on 18th March 1898 at St Cuthbert’s, Darlington. He was the only son of Major Thomas Baker (1853-1931) and Mary Hannah Swinburne, nee Reid (1854-1937), who were married in 1885 at St Saviour’s Brixton. His father was a recipient of the Volunteer Officers' Decoration (VD), an award instituted in 1892 for 20 years or more meritorious service by officers of the UK's Volunteer Force. He became a tobacco manufacturer and served on Darlington Council in 1896. Thomas had three elder sisters – Mary (b.1888), Elsie (b.1890) and Esther (b.1892).At the time of the 1911 Census, the whole family were living together in Darlington.

Thomas received his secondary education at Westminster School and subsequently attended preliminary classes at King’s College, London from 1916. He enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service on 1st June 1916. He was based at Crystal Palace from 18th June 1916 and moved to Chingford on 8th July 1916. He received his aviator’s certificate from the Royal Aero Club on the 6th January 1917, when flying a Maurice Farman Biplane, a French aircraft, at RNAS Chingford. He was then transferred to RNAS Cranwell in Lincolnshire on 8th February 1917 and to RNAS Dover on 16th May 1917, immediately prior to being deployed to France. He was stationed at RNAS Bailleul, an airfield complex northwest of Lille, right on the Belgium border. It was totally destroyed in the German offensive of April 1918.

Thomas went missing, and was presumed killed by the Admiralty, on 8th June 1917. Records indicate that he was flying a Sopwith Triplane (N6293) and chasing an enemy plane when he was lost over enemy lines. German flying ace, Max Ritter von Muller, is recorded as having claimed N6293 as a kill at 7.10pm near the town of Le Quensnoy, northern France, very near the Belgian border.

The July 1917 monthly magazine of St Luke’s Finchley lists Thomas’ name in the Roll of Honour as ‘missing’. The May 1918 edition notes his death and states that his parents lived at ‘Holmwood’, Beechwood Avenue, Finchley.


Arras Flying Services Memorial - photo taken by Revd N Pye








Source: King's College London