Who's Who - Henry Woollett

Henry Woollett Henry Winslow Woollett (?-1969) was a leading British 'balloon buster' during the First World War.

Raised in Southwold in Suffolk, Woollett was studying medicine when war broke out in August 1914.  He nevertheless immediately enlisted and was given a commission with the Lincolnshire Regiment.  As with many of the war's air aces Woollett served with the infantry - in his case during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 - before seeking and receiving a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in 1916.

Even by the standards of the day Woollett received his wings remarkably quickly, after a mere 3.5 hours of tuition.  November 1916 brought Woollett an assignment to 24 Squadron where he flew first DH2 and then DH5 aircraft.  Distinguishing himself rapidly as an ace Woollett's demonstrable bravery and skill brought him the Military Cross and promotion to Flight Commander.

In August 1918 Woollett returned to England and became a flight instructor.  Nevertheless keen to return to active service Woollett returned to the Western Front in time for the opening of the great German Spring offensive of March 1918, joining 43 Squadron (where he stood out by wearing, eccentrically, a leopard skin helmet and gauntlets).  He also decorated his aircraft to represent the face of a Red Indian.

A specialist in the especially dangerous practice of downing enemy observation balloons - these being typically well protected by anti-aircraft artillery and by patrol aircraft - Woollett brought his tally to 35 'kills' by August 1918 (winning en route the DSO and bar to his previous MC and claiming six victories in a single day, 12 April 1918) before he once again returned to England to oversee training duties in Eastbourne.

Also the recipient of the Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre, Woollett continued to serve following the armistice, including a spell in Iraq in the 1920s.  He died in October 1969.

"Beachy Bill" was the name given to one of the Turkish guns which regularly shelled Anzac Cove.

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