Courtney, Lieutenant John Classon
No 4 Sqn AFC
John Courtney was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 14 April 1893, and joined the AFC on 14 October 1916. He departed from Melbourne on HMAT A5 Omrah on 17 January 1917. After arrival in the UK he qualified as a pilot and was posted to No 71 (Australian) Sqn. In December he went to France with his unit, where he was promoted to Lieutenant in January.
A Kiwi in the Australian Flying Corps by Bill Marsden, in the 2007 edition of the ’14-’18 Journal, is a detailed account of Lt Courtney’s life and career. He was killed in action at on 7 April 1918 when flying Sopwith Camel B5635, after the aeroplane was hit by ground fire and fell in flames on the Lille-La Bassée Road near Béthune. He was initially posted as Missing in Action, but on 25 May a German airman dropped a note over the British lines that confirmed Lt Courtney’s death.
He was buried by the Germans, but his grave was destroyed in subsequent fighting. Lt J C Courtney has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.