THE WIGHT AVIATION MUSEUM WRITES: BARELY four years after the very first aeroplane landed on the Isle of Wight in 1910, there were men up in the air fighting the enemy over the trenches at the Western Front.

The Royal Air Force did not even exist at that time, and aviation was still in its infancy, yet men from the IW were distinguishing themselves flying with the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps, including such well-known Island names as Attrill, Chiverton, Jolliffe, Mew, Russell and Urry.

Over 400 men who called the IW home and served in the air forces during the First World War have been identified by Wight Aviation Museum.

IW casualties ranged from 18 to 47 years old, coming from all Island communities.

The names of almost 100 airmen who lost their lives are being researched by the museum.

Here, the museum lays out a short summary of just a few of those brave men who sacrificed all.

Stanley Winther Caws, aged 36, was the very first Island aviator to die in the Great War.

He was born in St Helens in 1879 and, after serving in the Boer War, he served as a trooper in Paget’s Horse, and later as a prospector in Canada, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force coming to England.

Caws transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in February 1915 and on training as a combat pilot at the unusually old age of 36, was posted to No. 10 Squadron, one of the first Royal Flying Corps squadrons to be created.

With his observer, Lt W. H. Sugden-Wilson, 2nd Lt Caws was out on a reconnaissance sortie in a two-seater Bleriot Experimental 2c on the morning of September 21, 1915, when they were attacked by Fokker aircraft and shot down by German air ace Lt Max Immelmann.

James Dacre Belgrave, aged 21, was from Sandown and was a captain in No. 60 Squadron and an 18-victories air ace.

Only one month after his squadron colleague Captain W. A. “Billy” Bishop received the Victoria Cross, on July 18, 1917, Belgrave was awarded the Military Cross.

His citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On at least five occasions he successfully engaged and shot down hostile aeroplanes and has consistently shown great courage and determination to get to the closest range; an invaluable example in a fighting squadron.”

In April 1918, his squadron joined the newly formed Royal Air Force, and he was killed in the Somme, flying an S.E.5 fighter east of Albert only months later, aged 21 years old on June 13, 1918.

Keith Ingleby MacKenzie, aged 18, was born in Ryde.

2nd Lt Mackenzie served with No. 16 Squadron RFC, and was on a photographic sortie flying a Bristol BE.2G aircraft, when he was shot down and killed west of Vimy-de-Bonval.

The shooting was claimed by the German ace-of-aces, the Red Baron, Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen — his 39th of 80 total victories.

2nd Lt Robert Naylor Treadwell MC, aged 24, of Parkhurst, was shot down and badly wounded on August 11, 1917, and died on September 9, 1917.

He served with No. 22 squadron RFC where he flew Bristol F.2b aircraft.

The citation for his Military Cross read: “Although very severely wounded during a combat, he succeeded in bringing back his machine against a very strong wind to his aerodrome, saving both machine and observer by his great pluck and determination.”

2nd Lt Clifford John Tolman, 23, of Alverstone Manor Farm, Whippingham, flew as an observer with No. 22 RFC and RAF, and was killed in a Bristol Fe 2 fighter with pilot Captain Thompson, east of Cambrai, the day of his seventh air victory.

Wight Aviation Museum held a centenary commemoration for 2nd Lt Tolman in October.

Today, the Wight Aviation Museum is actively researching, in partnership with the Commonwealth Family History Research, all the First World War airmen who came from the IW, to create the first ever IW aviation Roll of Honour.