The twelfth entry in this series marks the centenary of 41 Squadron's first pilot killed in action and has been made possible by Mary Cody-Cowdery.
Samuel Franklin Leslie Cody was born 07th September 1895 in Basel, Switzerland to parents, (touring Europe as performers,) S.F. Cody and ‘Lela Marie Cody’ real name being Mrs Elizabeth Mary King nee Davis. They were not married to each other.
From an early age ‘Frankie’ was no stranger to limelight having appeared in his parents ‘trick shooting and riding acts in the circus as well as onstage in one of his father’s melodrama plays ‘Viva, A Woman of War’.
Frankie first attended a boy’s school [private] at Forest Hill House, Sydenham, South East London before attending a Grammar school in Farnborough, Hants when his father was invited by the army to further his Man Lifting Kites as well as later to develop and build his aeroplane at Farnborough in Hampshire and thus become the first man to fly in England. Needless to say ‘Frankie’ must have been the envy of every school boy growing up in the UK to have such a famous father as ‘Col’ S.F. Cody.
April 1913 S.F.L. Cody, aged 17 years and employed as an aeroplane mechanic, married Maude Helier Cody. (A shock to both of his parents as neither of them knew that it was taking place). In August of that year, his father was killed in an air crash. Following his father’s death, Frankie was employed as an Assurance Inspector. His son Samuel Franklyn Cody was born October 1913.
In 1914 soon after his 19th birthday, Frankie like so many thousands of men in the country enlisted into King’s Royal Rifle Corp at Blackdown, ( 9th Service) Military Battalion, later he transferred to Motor Machine Guns. 31st October [his son’s first birthday] transferred to The Royal Field Artillery before finally transferring on the 19th June 1915 to The Royal Flying Corp. Pilot’s licence number 1797 issued on 28th September 1915. Certificate was taken on a Maurice Farman Biplane at The British Flying School, Le Crotoy, France.
0n 1st March 1916 Frankie was promoted to Corporal. Three months later on 1st June 1916 he was promoted to Sergeant. He was posted to No 6 Reserve Squadron on the 17th August 1916, 3 years after his father’s fatal air crash.
On 10th October 1916 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on the General List P17479/Appointed Flying Officer in The Royal Flying Corps Special Reserve on 2nd September 1916 just 5 days before his 21st birthday when he was posted to 41 Squadron.
S F L Cody of No 41 Squadron RFC was killed in action while flying FE8 7613 on 23 January 1917. He left Abeele aerodrome at 14:24 and was seen in combat with four enemy aeroplanes (Albatros and Roland) east of Boesinghe, after which he spiralled down in a nose dive. Lnt Walter von Bülow-Bothkamp of Jasta 18 was credited with a victory over a "Vickers" which crashed near Bixschoote; it was the 6th of his eventual 28 victories before his death in action on 6 January 1918.
From an enquiry, which was dropped over enemy lines, reliable sources confirmed that his body was found at Houthulst G.C. 20.P.13.b.3.7. German grave number 826A.
Images from the remembrance service in Belgium 23 Jan 2017
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