Wilfred Harry Sneath

Rank Lieutenant
Service No Unknown
Date of Death 06/04/1918
Age 19
Service/Regiment Royal Naval Air Service 1st Squadron which became the Royal Air Force 208th Squadron
Memorial

Arras Flying Services Memorial, France. Walmer Airfield Memorial, Kent.
East Finchley Cemetery and St Marylebone Crematorium.

 

Wilfred was born on 19th March 1899 and baptised at Christ Church, Crouch End on 22nd April. His parents were Harry George Young (1867-1942) and Amelia Eliza Sneath, nee Edwards (1867-1958) and he had six siblings: Dorothy E. (b.1892), Edward (born and died in 1894), Winifred Annie (b.1895), Philip George (1897-1973) and Harold (1901-1988).

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family resided at 115, Crouch Hill, Hornsey. Wilfred’s father was the Managing Director and Proprietor of a Hotel and Restaurant. 

At the time of the 1911 Census, the whole family was living together with two servants at ‘Leavesden’, Hendon Lane, Finchley. His father was the managing director of a drapery, provisions and seminal service to hotel proprietors.

The confirmation register of St Luke’s Finchley records that Wilfred’s sister, Annie, was confirmed at St Paul’s Cathedral on 21st June 1913 by the Bishop of London, aged 18. It lists her address as ‘Leavesden’, Hendon Lane, Finchley.

Wilfred enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) on 8th April 1917. He became a temporary Flight Sub-Lieutenant on 30th June. He trained at Crystal Palace, where the RNAS Drafting Office was located, the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and the Training Establishment at Cranwell. On graduating from Cranwell, Wifred was described as a 'good and keen officer ... has proved quite reliable' and Dover. Wilfred initally served with 1st Squadron and was slightly injured in a crash on 11th October 1917 but rejoined his unit eleven days later. He was then posted to 8th Squadron at St Eloi where he scored five victories flying the Sopwith Camel earning the term ‘ace’ for his achievements.

Date                Time                Aircraft he flew                      Aircraft shot down

5 Dec 1917       1355               Sopwith Camel (B3821)            Albatros D.V (OOC)

24 Jan 1918      1500               Sopwith Camel (B3821)            Albatros D.V (DES)     

05 Feb 1918     1245                Sopwith Camel (N6356)           Albatros D.V (DES) 2  

16 Feb 1918     1115                Sopwith Camel (N6356)           Albatros D.V (DESF) 3

06 Apr 1918     1130                Sopwith Camel (B7187)            Fokker DR.I (OOC) 4

On 1st March 1918, the squadron was sent home to Walmer in Kent for a well-earned rest. However, an early re-call to duty was made as the Germans started their Spring offensive. It went first to Teteghem and then to La Gorgue, spome 30 kms west of Lille, supporting the Portuguese defence of the line. It became the 208th Squadron, Royal Air Force when the RAF was formed on Monday 1st April 1918.

Wilfred was killed in action on Saturday 6th April 1918, less than three weeks after his 19th birthday. He was shot down in flames near Lens by 24 year old Lieutenant Karl Hertz flying a Jasta 59, who was himself killed on 9th May 1918. Wilfred is remembered not only on various memorials, but on the gravestones of his father and grandfather. His estate was valued at £501 13s 11d, which went to his father at 134, Audley Road, Hendon.

The November 1918 edition of the monthly magazine of St Luke’s Finchley lists Wilfred’s name in the Roll of Honour, stating that he ‘was a member of the congregation till his family left the neighbourhood a few years ago. As a child he attended the services from the very beginning of St Luke’s and was well known among young members of the congregation.’