Stooke, Lieutenant Ernest Cecil DCM MID

No 1 Sqn AFC

Ernest Stooke was born in Melbourne in 1894. He was a Station Hand when he joined the 8th Light Horse in Melbourne on 14 January 1916. On 2 May he embarked on HMAT A66 Uganda for transport to Egypt. After promotion to Lance Corporal, he transferred to the 3rd Anzac Battalion, Imperial Camel Corps, in November. After the action at Rafa on 9 January 1917, when Allied forces captured a strongly held Turkish redoubt, he was Mentioned in Despatches by General Sir Archibald Murray. In April he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his part in the Rafa fighting. The citation was: For conspicuous gallantry and coolness in handling his Lewis machine gun during the action. In July he qualified as a Hotchkiss Gun instructor. In October Sgt Stooke transferred to the AFC and began pilot training, after which he was commissioned in January 1918. Promotion to Lieutenant and a posting to No 1 Sqn followed in March.

Lt Stooke is mentioned in the Official History for an incident on 28 April when he was flying a Bristol Fighter with Lt H B Fletcher as observer, accompanied by Lt E P Kenny and F C Hawley in another Bristol. The two Australian aircraft fought four German Albatros scouts south of Nablus, driving down three of them.

On 11 June 1918 when flying in Bristol Fighter B1276 with Lt L P Kreig, and escorting Lt Ross Smith and Lt W A Kirk in Bristol B1229, the pair chased a German Rumpler two-seater down to a hasty landing north of Tul Keram.

On 23 June, with Lt Sutherland as observer, and in company with Maj S W Addison and Lt W H Fysh, he fought a formation of four German Albatros scouts south east of Bireh. One of the enemy aircraft was later reported to have broken up and crashed.

Lt Stooke had an unusual accident when taxiing Bristol B1280 for a flight from Beersheba to Ramleh on 14 August, when the aeroplane collided with a camel!

He was killed in an aircraft accident on 19 August 1918 while flying Bristol F2B B1280 with Lt L P Kreig, who was also killed.

Lt E C Stooke DCM is buried in Grave AA 18 at Ramleh War Cemetery, Palestine.

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