Thomas Stuart Nash

Thomas Stuart Nash

Royal Flying Corps which became the Royal Air Force in 1918

Died 9th August 1918 age 29

Lieutenant T.S. Nash – R.A.F.

Thomas Stuart Nash was a son of Rev. Cecil William and Meriel Nash of The Rectory, Kincardine O’Neil. TheRev. Cecil served as Priest in Charge at Christ Church Episcopal Church for 38 years from 1885 to 1923 and is commemorated by a sundial in the churchyard. He himself was born in England but his wife Meriel originated in Haddington. She was a daughter of the Rev. F. L. M. Anderson of North Berwick, and the couple were married at North Berwick in 1885. Their son Thomas was born on 27 March 1889 in Kincardine O’Neil and grew up in the village. At the time of the 1891 Census, they were at the Rectory and had two children – Meriel aged 4 and Thomas, then aged 2 – and three resident servants – cook, nurse and parlourmaid. Ten years later, a third child George appears in the census, younger brother of Thomas by nine years.  Thomas Nash attended school in Kincardine O’Neil, then Ellesmere College in Shropshire for a term only; his final three years of school were at Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen between 1903 and 1905. 

On 7 August 1914 (three days after the outbreak of war with Germany), Thomas Nash appears in the outgoing first class passenger list of the “Mooltan”, bound for Sydney under the captainship of Capt. R. L. Haddock. His ultimate destination was Penang where he was to take up employment as a merchant in the London firm of Boustead & Co.

In April 1917, Nash returned from the Far East and enlisted in the army (regimental number 83617), giving his occupation as “Merchant’s Assistant”. Then, in September that year, he was technically discharged, being appointed to a temporary commission as “2nd Lieutenant (on probation) on the General List for duty” with the Royal Flying Corps. From April 1918 (when the RFC became the RAF) he was with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders.

A note in his service record reads “Since joining the R.F.C. flown DH6 Aircos [trainer bi-planes], Sopwith Scouts and Sopwith Camels”.  In May 1918, as part of No. 80 Squadron, he was in Sopwith Camel B5576 when it was damaged by enemy action on an offensive patrol to the Somme. The Camel was a single-engine bi-plane substantially constructed of plywood, fabric and aluminium, fitted with twin machine guns and able to carry four 24lb bombs. According to the Operations Record Book, No. 80 Squadron was constantly engaged at this time in following up and harassing the retreating enemy, and was twice mentioned in French Army dispatches.

Fighter planes of the RAF were deployed on the Western Front as part of an allied offensive launched on 8 August 1918. On the morning of that day, in the course of a patrol taking off at 10.15 from Vignacourt for operations towards Bray-sur-Somme, Nash, flying B5587, was “reported to have crashed a Fokker DVII at Morcourt south of the Villers-Bretonneux road which is east-southeast of Amiens” and was then “set upon by four Fokker DVIIs and, severely wounded, he managed to crash-land in front of our advancing troops who pulled him from the remains of his aircraft”. He was taken to no.61 Casualty Clearing Station, and died there of his injuries the following day. He was 29 and unmarried. 

Thomas Nash appears to have been highly thought of. His commanding officer wrote to the bereaved parents: 

He was a most gallant officer, always quiet and unassuming, and most highly popular with both officers and men. He was wounded on the 8th Inst. in a fight with four enemy machines just after he had brought down one. The German airman crashed well over the lines, and your son flew down over him. He told me that the German pilot got out of the crash and waved to him, so he could not shoot at him again. He therefore waved to him and started for our lines. He was then attacked by four more enemy machines, and was shot through the back and crashed, but was later picked up by our advancing infantry and sent back to the C.C.S. We buried him in the little cemetery nearby. The war is going splendidly, but it mars one’s enthusiasm when one loses pilots like your boy”**.

He is buried at Vignacourt British Cemetery. Rev. Nash instructed an inscription on the standard issue Commonwealth War Graves headstone: “Jesu Mercy, Grant Him Thine Eternal Rest”. He is also commemorated in a stained-glass window in his father’s church at Kincardine O’Neil. His medal surfaced in an auction sale on 19 November 2019 and was sold as part of a small collection for £350.

[I acknowledge with thanks the assistance of Malcolm Barrass of in compiling this note]

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Registers of Births & Marriages
Census 1891 and 1901
Robert Gordon’s College Roll of Honour
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour
National Archives – War Office files AIR76/367/126 and WO339/112259; Air Ministry and Royal Air Force Records AIR27/669 (including photos of 80 Sqn. in 1918)
*W. R. Chorley: “Royal Air Force & Australian Flying Corps Squadron Losses 1 July – 11 November 1918” p.129 (Mention the War Ltd 2019)
Copy service record at
** London & China Telegraph 26 August 1918
Aberdeen Press & Journal 15 August 1918
Aberdeen Weekly Journal 16 August 1918
Passenger lists leaving UK 1890-1960 at
Christ Church Episcopal Church Kincardine O’Neil – eastmost window on the south side
www Medal for sale as part of a batch. – quotes RAF Communiqué No.19: refers to a large number of combats on the battle front. “Lieut. T. S Nash, 80 Sqn., Fokker DVII crashed south of Morcourt at 10:15/11:15” and “Lieut. T. S. Nash (Wia; dow), 80 Sqn, Camel B5587 – crashed on offensive patrol Bray 10:15/11:15” – 10/5/18 – Sopwith B5587 damaged by enemy gunfire on offensive patrol to Somme; 8/8/18 – B5587 Sopwith Camel crashed on offensive patrol Bray.