Sandy, Lieutenant James Lionel Montague

No 69 (Australian) Sqn RFC

James Sandy was born in Sydney on 4 February 1886, and was a Company Secretary when he joined the 1st Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column in Sydney on 16 August 1914. He left Sydney on HMAT A8 Argyllshire on 18 October; he then served at Gallipoli before being evacuated due to a septic right ankle, which caused him to be treated in England before being returned to Australia in May 1916. A medical assessment in July recommended that he be discharged from the Army, but the Medical Board recommended that, despite his having a severe limp, he be enlisted for ‘motor or flying work on account of his being skilled in this type of work’.

He transferred to the AFC on 24 October, the day before he left Melbourne on HMAT A38 Ulysses. On arrival in the UK he went through flying training with Nos 49, 81 and 82 Reserve Sqns RFC before being posted to No 69 (Australian) Sqn in August 1917.

He was killed in action near Armentieres on 17 December 1917 while flying in RE 8 A3816, with Sgt H F Hughes as observer, who was also killed.

The RE 8 was attacked by six enemy aircraft from Jasta 29 and both Australian airmen were killed by the same bullet during the fight, but the RE 8 continued to fly in large left hand circles until its fuel was exhausted, when it eventually crashed in a field 5 km north east of St Pol. Vizefeldwebel Eugen Weiss of Jasta 29 was credited with a victory over the RE 8 (though the Germans cannot have seen the RE 8 crash); it was his second, and final, victory. Before their deaths the Australian crew wounded one of their attackers Ltn Clauss, the pilot of Albatros D.Va 5390/17, forcing him to land and be captured, along with his aeroplane, which is now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial.

Lt J L M Sandy is buried in Grave H 8 at St Pol (Communal) Cemetery, France.

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