Orford Museum, Suffolk
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Orford Museum, Suffolk

Frank Holder 

 

Frank Holder, aged 19,
when stationed at Orford Ness
(© Hammond Collection)

 

Frank Holder arrived at Orford Ness on 31st December 1916 to take up his role as a RFC pilot in A Flight - responsible for reconnaissance and fighter/bomber aircraft.

In his role as a pilot, he tested and flew 35 different makes of aeroplane, many of them at night as well as during daylight hours. He helped with machine gun tests, towing targets for shooting practice, checking oxygen apparatus at high altitudes, and he jumped from an aeroplane to test the Mears parachute. Thankfully, successfully.

The downing of L48, the high altitude Zeppelin on the night of June 17, was one of his first flights in defence of the Home Front and was credited to him and Sergeant Sidney Ashby, his observer and gunner at the time. It was also credited to Captain Robert Saundby, another pilot from Orford Ness and Lt Watkins from Goldhanger.

 

 

The crashed Zeppelin

 

The crashed L48 Zeppelin
at Theberton, guarded
by the Home Guard
(© Hammond Collection)

 

Whilst at Orford Ness, he worked with the pioneering photographer, Walden Hammond, who tested new methods for night photography using a flare invented by Frederic ‘Bertie’ Harper (a scientist and observer in the RFC).

It was also necessary to learn how to navigate at night, and crucially to take off and land safely.

 

Wickham Market station aerial photograph 

Walden Hammond's unique
night time photograph of
Wickham Market Station
(Campsea Ashe) lit by
dropping a flare.
(© Hammond Collection)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Reference: Experimental Station - Royal Flying Corps.
Orford Ness 1916-1919 by Sqn Ldr F D Holder OBE, MC, JP, DL (Vol.8 No.2 1977))

Frank D Holder –
An experimental pilot at Orford Ness 1916-1919

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