Several of my relatives joined the Royal Air Force, or Royal Flying Corps as it was called during World War 1. I have written previously about Hugh Vivian Champion de Crespigny. Two other relatives, cousins of my paternal grandmother joined up: Frederick Cudmore Andrews and Ernest Osmund Cudmore. They both were captured and both became prisoners of war in the same camp, Holzminden in Lower Saxony.

Ernest Osmond Cudmore was born 2 July 1894 at Glen Osmond, South Australia. He was the second of four sons of Milo Robert Cudmore (1852 – 1913) and Constance Cudmore née Alexander (1858 – 1913). Milo was the brother of James Francis Cudmore, my great great grandfather and Ernest was the cousin of my great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore.

Ernest Cudmore in 1917 at the time he was issued with his flying licence (certificate) by the Royal Aero Club. Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

When Ernest was fourteen his leg was broken when he was thrown from a horse. The bone did not set and his leg had to be amputated below the knee.

Wentworth (1908, July 16). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), p. 8. Retrieved from
Wentworth (1908, September 10). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 12. Retrieved from

After the death of their parents in 1913, the four Cudmore boys were cared for by their aunt Lilian Alexander (1861 – 1931), a pioneering woman doctor. She became a noted surgeon in Victoria.

Ernest took up racing motorbikes. In August 1916 he participated in a 24 hours’ reliability trial riding a 7 horsepower Indian in the sidecar class of over 600c.

24 HOURS TRIAL. (1916, August 16). Referee (Sydney, NSW : 1886 – 1939), p. 13. Retrieved from

Ernest Cudmore sailed for England and acquired his aviation certificate at Bournemouth on 26 April 1917. Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

Until 1911 the British military did not have any pilot training facilities. As a result most military pilots of the period were trained by members of the Royal Aero Club. By the end of World War 1, more than 6,300 military pilots had taken RAeC Aviator’s Certificates.

On 6 June 1917 Ernest Cudmore enlisted in the Royal Air Force. On 23 August 1917 he was discharged as a 3rd class air mechanic as he had received a temporary commission on probation as a 2nd lieutenant in the General List for duty with the Royal Flying Corps. He was described at this time as 6 foot tall, keen and efficient with good military character.  No descriptive marks were noted; the wooden leg was not mentioned.

His next of kin to be informed of casualties as recorded on the service records was Mrs D. H. Cudmore, Union Bank of Australia, Cornhill, London. This is probably Mrs Martha Cudmore, the widow of Ernest’s uncle Daniel Henry Cashel Cudmore (1844 – 1913). She had sons fighting in the war, including Collier Robert Cudmore and Milo Massey Cudmore, cousins of Ernest.

Ernest was confirmed in his rank of 2nd Lieutenant with effect from 13 November 1917. (London Gazette 15 December 1917). He was mentioned in dispatches gazetted 30 May 1919.

On 5 February 1918 Ernest Cudmore went missing and was taken prisoner of war. He was transferred to Holzminden.

card compiled by the Prisoners of War International Agency retrieved from
Prisoner of war record retrieved from

Ernest had been captured at Jabbeke, about 17 kilometres west of Bruges in Belgium. Sergeant Leslie Bains was captured at the same time. They were probably in the same plane.

A family story has that Ernest tried to escape while a prisoner so the Germans took away his wooden leg.

The story of Ernest’s life is continued at ‘B is for Buick‘.

Additional Source

  • British Royal Air Force, Officers’ Service Records 1912-1920 retrieved from 

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