Major Henry Cockerell (usually called Harry) joined the RFC in August 1914, served in France from April 1915. He began as a Private and rose through the ranks being gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in 1916 and Major in 1919. He was in the Observer Corp an extremely dangerous role which involved flying low over the trenches, gunnery, taking photographs and reporting on the detail of enemy positions and describing the effectiveness or otherwise of the combat –details such as had the artillery reached its target or overshot. Eventually his hearing was seriously reduced due to a shell burst beneath his plane whilst on a sortie over enemy lines and he was unable to send and receive Morse code so he was moved to training operations. He is pictured on the right (centre) with other ranks and a large machine gun. His was an outstanding career which has been researched in detail by his grandson Bill Wiggins. Bill describes his grandfather’s role thus: Observers as well as communicating with Army Command by Morse radio were also photographers and gunners and due to his 9 months of operational experience flying over the trenches he was re-assigned as a training officer to teach new recruits. I remember him telling me he had more crashes and near misses doing this than flying in France and Belgium
Amy and Harry had two children Keith (b.1920) and |Barbara (b.1926). When Harry was abroad Amy and her family moved to Ufton but much of their pre-WW2 married life was based in London with Harry posted on location in Britain to training establishments. Amy (and young son) followed Harry to Egypt in 1922 for a short stay. Here she is (pictured on the left) on a camel – yet another unusual mode of transport!
Harry had a distinguished career and retired from the RAF in 1935 but in WW2 he was recalled and involved in important security work at headquarters. So by the time of the 1939 National Registration Survey, Amy was back in Ufton helping with the farm.
After the WW2 Amy and Harry lived for a time in part of Radford Hall. She is remembered with affection by Jean Reed who married Amy’s nephew Peter, as ‘Aunty Amy’ a very kind and warm-hearted person. They were a distinguished-looking couple pictured here at their daughter Barbara’s wedding in 1954.