Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Military 2nd Type, Distinguished Flying Cross, GV WW1, British War and Victory Medal, WW2 Defence and War Medal, Wing Commander O.C. Cassels, Royal Air Force, late Royal Flying Corps. In later life an Author of Short Stories in Blackwood Magazine, Agricultural and Cattle Expert and Expert Salmon Fisherman.
Oliver Cassels’s family were friends with the Von Richtofen family before the war and he claims to have fought a young ‘Red Baron’ in a fistfight as a boy on a train going across Germany, being again engaged in aerial combat with him during the War, many of his fellow officers in 12 squadron fell to the guns of the Red Baron. His father was a Pioneer in Electrical Engineers mother was named Gottwaldt from Kleve, in Germany. Further research in Germany could be most interesting.
Medals are period mounted on silk ribbons as worn, WW1 pair named: “Lieut O.C. Cassels R.A.F.”
With an impressive large folder of comprehensive research including identified group photo of 12 Squadron in 1918 and his original certificate for the issue of his O.B.E. also a photo from a newspaper article upon his retirement in 1959. And another enjoying his retirement as an expert Salmon fisherman.
Birmingham Post article 1st January 1959:
“OFFICER WHO TWICE FOUGHT RICHTOFEN
F./Lt. Oliver Cassels, at the age of 60, the ‘oldest inhabitant’ of RAF Station, Hereford, who retired from the RAF Yesterday. He twice fought Von Richtofen, the German fighter-ace of the first world war: Once as a boy with his fists in a train going across Germany – the two families were friends – and later with machine-guns over the Western Front. He was then a Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps.
He has served at Hereford for the past 14 years – for a period as a Wing Commander Chief Instructor of the RAF School of Administration before reverting to Flight Lieutenant Rank on the active reserve as a training officer.
He plans a very active retirement at his home, the Old Rectory, Hope-under-Dinmore, Herefordshire, as an expert salmon fisherman and author.”
O.B.E. Announced in the London Gazette 8th June 1944, his original recommendation:
“This officer has been Chief Instructor of the Senior Course of the Royal Air Force School of Administration for 27 months. During this time, 49 courses have passed through the school. Wing Commander Cassel’s exceptional ability as Chief Instructor, combined with his hard work, enthusiasm and leadership, have been the inspiration of instructors and students alike.”
D.F.C. announced in London Gazette 3rd December 1918, his original recommendation:
“For gallantry and skill. On 12 August 1918, he carried out a very successful shoot with 266 S.B., causing several fires in the battery position, and also exploding an ammunition dump. This shoot was carried out under very adverse weather conditions.
On 21 August 1918, this officer carried out a most successful artillery patrol lasting three and a half hours, during which he observed 13 active hostile batteries, three of which he silenced.
As an artillery pilot this officer’s work has been quite exceptional, particularly during the offensive, and he has had a number of combats with enemy aircraft whilst carrying out his patrols. He has always shown courage, devotion to duty and reliability of a very high order.”
Oliver Chance Cassels was born during July 1898 in Blackheath Kent, a native of Ottery, St Mary, Devon his home. He was the son of Francis Kennedy Cassels M.I.E.E. and Dorothea Gottwaldt (who was born in Cleve, Germany during 1872 to Theodor Gottwaldt). He spent his childhood as an Agricultural Student and his family made frequent trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina where many other Cassels lived.
His father was a Pioneers of the Electrical Industry and spent much of his Life in Argentina, erecting the first supply stationed in Argentina at Buenos Ayres, La Plata and many other cities. (Obituary Eastbourne Gazette 19th June 1929)
Oliver Cassels first attested as a Private in the General Service Corps on 25th July 1916, being mobilised from the Reserve on 4th May 1917 to the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. Being commissioned into the Royal Flying Corps on 8th September 1917, whilst attending NO 1 School of Aviation. Appointed as Flying Officer in December 1917, he was posted to No 12 Squadron, a famous RE 8 Unit in France, during January 1918.
It was noted that he also spoke and wrote Spanish Fluently, being qualified in flying the D.H.6., B.E.2., B.E. 12 and R.E. 8.
He also had a practical knowledge of surveying and field engineering.
During his tour between January and October he regularly flew artillery observation and photographic patrols. During his patrols he encountered numerous enemy aircraft including apparently coming up against the Red Baron himself, who had shot down a number of 12 Squadron Pilots.
One of his combat reports from the 25th March 1918, with his Observer Lieutenant H.H. Harman, he was engaged by 4 Albatross Scouts at 10,500 Feet in RE. 8. 4558 armed with 1 Lewis and 1 Vickers Machine Guns:
‘At 10.20 a.m. we decided to cross the line to procure photographs of the C.B. Area before the clouds completely obscured vision. When approximately over N9, four Albatross Scouts passed about 1,000 feet beneath us and turned and commenced to climb under our tail, at the same time opening fire. The Observer opened fire on the nearest machine and tracers were seen to hit the machine. After about 50 rounds had been fired, a suspicious cloud of smoke was seen to burst from the front of the enemy plane. For the next few seconds all four enemy machines were obscured under the Observer’s blind spot but when seen again only three machines were observed, disappearing Eastwards, going down into the clouds’
Following the War he was transferred to the Unemployed List in February 1919, being recalled for WW2 in 1939 and made Squadron Leader.
Appointed as Squadron Leader in Administrative and Special Duties Branch 26th June 1939, Announced L.G. 20th October 1939, page 7043.
He was then promoted to Wing Commander and served at RAF Stannington. He stayed with the RAF after the war until 1959 when he finally retired, at the time he was described as the “Oldest inhabitant of RAF Station Hereford”.
Birmingham Post 13th April 1964:
With fishing rods under his farm, Wing-Cdr Oliver Cassels contemplates on the theme for another short story. Since he retired from the R.A.F. in 1959 to settle at the Old Rectory, Hope-under-Dinmore, Herefordshire. He has had numerous short stories published about fishermen and salmon fishing. Now 65, he can look back on a varied and interesting life on which to draw characters for his many stories. As a young man he flew with the famous 12 Squadron when he won the D.F.C.: Had a spell with the Foreign Office: studied Cattle for five years in South Africa; carried out agricultural research in Spain; and is an expert salmon fisherman.”
As stated in the newspaper article upon his retirement he did some Writing, he wrote an article for Blackwood’s Magazine in Volume 274, 1953 called “Chance Casts” By Oliver Cassels. Also “White-Faces: Hereford Cattle and Their History, published in Chamber’s Journal 1951. Also ‘Skipper” by Oliver Cassels during 1964 in the Blackwood Magazine. Another Article ‘Beer’ by Oliver Cassels, Blackwood Magazine February 1976 and many more.
The Book The House of Blackwood, 1804-1954: The History of a Publishing Firm page 227 reads: “Thomas Woodrooffe, Peter Carew, Oliver Cassells, John Crompton, W.F. Graham, M.C.A. Henniker, J.K. Stanford and John Welman were other ‘Maga’ writers who came into prominence after the war.”