Who's Who - Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor

Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor Andrew Frederick Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor (1894-1921) was South Africa's highest-scoring fighter pilot during World War One, with 54 victories.

"Proccy" (as he became known) was born in Cape Province on 4 September 1894 and was studying engineering at the University of Cape Town when war broke out in August 1914.  He promptly dropped his studies and joined the army, serving as a signaller with the Duke of Edinburgh's Own Rifles in German South-West Africa.

With a discharge from the army in August 1915 Beauchamp-Proctor resumed his studies, after which - in March 1917 - he enlisted with the Royal Flying Corps.  Upon arrival in England he was awarded a commission.  A small man at just 5' 2", Beauchamp-Proctor required his seat to be raised simply in order that he could reach the necessary controls.

With his flight training in England over Beauchamp-Proctor was assigned to 84 Squadron in late July 1917, with whom he travelled to France two months later.

All of his 54 victories were achieved during 1918, and he established a particular reputation as a 'balloon buster': he brought down more observation balloons than any other pilot in the RFC.  However despite his success as a fighter pilot Beauchamp-Proctor was not regarded as an especially able pilot: he managed to crash-land his aircraft three times before achieving his first 'kill'.

A first-rate shot however his remarkable success during 1918 flying S.E.5a's brought him the DSO, MC, DFC and the VC.  On 9 August 1918 he succeeded in bringing down nine observation balloons (a record).  He was wounded and sent home on 8 October following a perhaps reckless solo attack upon no fewer than eight enemy aircraft at once.

He died on 21 June 1921 in England aged 26.

A "dogfight" signified air combat at close quarters.

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