OF MAJOR RODERIC STANLEY DALLAS, DSO, DSC & BAR AND CROIX DE GUERRE,
by Rick McQualter
majority of Australians have probably never heard of Major Roderick
Stanley Dallas. He was one of Australia's highest scoring aces,
second only to Captain Robert Alexander Little.
Both these men travelled to England to learn to fly at the start
of World War One, both served in the Royal Naval Air Service and
both men were destined to fall in combat in the last year of the
Stanley Dallas travelled to England in early 1915 to learn to
fly, he was accepted into the Royal Naval Air Service after topping
the eighty-four other applicants in his entrance exam. He was
later commissioned as a Flight Sub Lieutenant and joined No.1
Squadron, R.N.A.S. In December 1915. He remained with No.1 Squadron
serving on the Western Front during the formative and hard fought
years of 1916 and 1917.
In June 1917 he became the Commanding Officer of that Squadron
and in 1918 after the amalgamation of the two air services to
form the Royal Air Force he was transferred to 40 Squadron, R.A.F.
as its Commanding Officer, holding the rank of Major.
Major Dallas was killed in combat on the 1st of June 1918, the
following letters were written by Stanley Dallas to his father
during the period 1915 to 1918.
These extracts were taken from copies of
those letters and were made available by Stanley Dallas's niece,
Mrs June Wilson, and the Australian War Memorial.
P & O
32 Line Street
....I often go to Hendon the flying ground and watch the flying.
I can get right out there for 2d in the tube and it is beautifully
situated in open country.
I have met a good few of the flying men here and went up to over
1000 feet with Mr Baum on a eighty horse power biplane. He said
that she was doing about 72 miles an hour and it was simply thrilling,
only those who have been up can realise the new sense of life
that seems to take hold of you, there is no doubt that flying
is the very poetry of motion Dad and you would be astonished to
see the ease with which the men handle the machines.
I fully believe that given a fairly slow machine that in a hour
I could fly it quite well. I went to see Colonel Buckley and Captain
Collins of the High Commissioners Office. Colonel Buckley advised
me to see Lt. Sidney Pickles at Eastchurch who is the leading
instructor for the Admiralty Flying Schools.
Colonel Buckley advised me to be careful about paying for private
tuition at a school, he said that some of them are sharks and
keep one a long time there. Of course there are some very good
schools too however he advised me to go into the Naval Flying
Branch for a year or so and then transfer to Australia.
As I was saying Mr Sidney Pickles showed me the very latest in
fighting machines and they are simply wonderful in construction
and finish they look like so many fine racehorses Dad.
I saw a machine that he chased a German on which travels at 92
miles an hour and has a machine gun fixed on it. Mr Pickles who
is an Australian is recommending me through his Commanding Officer
and Captain Collins is backing up his statement he said that there
are a good few wanting to join so I expect to get word any day....2
1. Dallas paid his own way to England in
early 1915 after being advised that this would be the quickest
way to get into the air war.
Peter Firkins, The Golden Eagles, St George Books, Perth, 1980,
2. Dallas was subsequently commissioned on the 25th June 1915
as a Flight Sub. Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service. He
obtained his Royal Aero Club Pilots Licence at the Grahame-White
School at Hendon. The licence, No.1512, was issued on the 5th
of August 1915 and was obtained flying a Grahame-White Biplane.
1 Well Dad we are now in our third
year of war, a dreary monotonous struggle still goes on but you
will agree that we have at last started to move and that Germany
is feeling the pressure badly from all sides. Our soldiers fully
realise that it will be a hard fight and I must say some of the
Tommies I have seen look awfully sturdy and confident. I cannot
help paying a tribute to our fine Australian boys, they are a
force to be reckoned with and fight fearlessly so I am told 2.
Well Dad the weather lately has been rather poor for flying but
these last few days we have done a good deal. A flight every day
does one a lot of good really, we never fly under a couple of
miles high and there of course the air is pure....
Well Dad from my point of view high up I see little of the actual
fighting itself on the ground but you can see the contrast of
the shell scarred ground against the priceless green fields and
notice the difference in the contour of the lines from time to
time.... ....I have now had eleven aerial battles and have brought
down six German machines. The last was when protecting a French
spotting machine I fought a German Fokker
3 over his own aerodrome and after much manoeuvring for
position I got a full tray into him. He turned upside down his
hands fell back over his head and then down he went to earth.
It was a ghastly sight Dad and one can't help thinking of chaps
you have shot. For this I was decorated by a French General on
the Aerodrome with the highest order of the French War Cross or
`Croix de Guerre' It's a very pretty but simple bronze cross with
swords and a green ribbon with thin red stripes. You receive it
only when mentioned in General Army Despatches. The next time
if I am fortunate enough to be mentioned I will get the Legion
of Honour. From the British Government I have received the D.S.C.
or Distinguished Service Cross, a Naval decoration and almost
equivalent to the Military D.S.O.
Dallas joined No.1 Squadron, R.N.A.S. at Dunkerque on the 2nd
of December 1915 and had his first active service flight on the
same day in a Caudron G.IV, no: 3295.
2. During this period the 2nd Australian Division was involved
in fighting along the Somme Front, south-east of the Bapaume Road.
During the previous month both the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions
were involved in heavy fighting at Pozieres. Chris McCarthy, The
Somme, The Day-by-Day Account, Arms & Armour Press, London, 1993,
3. Possibly the Fokker E111 claimed for 9th July which was shot
down at Mariekerke aerodrome. Dallas was flying a Nieuport 11,
number 3994. Shores, Franks & Guest, Above the Trenches, Grub
Street, London, 1990, p.132.
....I am looked upon as an authority now on aerial
fighting and am well received at the Admiralty or Air Board. I
got promoted to Flight Lieutenant on my birthday and as I said
Dad instead of doing ordinary routine work I have been given a
flight to look after. I have six very fine scout pilots and some
very fast scouts in fact this squadron that I belong to is considered
to be one of the finest in France possessing a fine record....
.... I am going to have a spell from fighting and just go up for
a flight when I want to. I could have had a job teaching or instructing
at any station in England but I am going to stay here and look
after my flight it is fine to be able to concentrate ones mind
and thoughts on the working of a flight like this....
A. Squadron No. 1 Wing
....we probably will not get a great deal of flying to do, the
weather does not permit it but there is a good deal of other work
to be accomplished. I think that was tip top about the Zeps they
certainly will think twice about our defences now Dad
1....I had another scrap the other day and shot down another
Hun machine making my eighth now 2.
Many of the Officers and men saw the Hun falling from our Aerodrome
I may have some more good news for you shortly Dad. I am flying
a new type of scout 3 very fast and
the only one of her kind out here now but she certainly is a peach
to fly....Well Dad assure Mother that I am quite all right, should
I go under I have made no greater sacrifice than many other young
fellows, this is a struggle for existence and the greatest chance
of our lives....
No.1 Naval Squadron
B.E.F. France 15.5.1917
.....I have now shot down 20 Hun machines officially and had many
scraps. A few days ago I was awarded a bar to my D.S.C. which
takes the shape of a silver rosette on my present ribbon.
A likely reference to the German Zeppelin losses during raids
on England during August to October 1916 with Lt. William Leefe
Robinson's victory over Zeppelin SL11. J.H. Morrow, The Great
War in the Air, Airlife Publishing Ltd, London, 1993, p.155.
2. possibly a unknown scout shot down on 30.9.16 S.W. off St Pierre
Capelle while flying a Sopwith Triplane. Shores, Franks & Guest,
Above the Trenches, Grub Street, London, 1990, p.132.
3. Dallas was now flying a prototype Sopwith Triplane, N500.
It is a great and glorious game this Dad developing
to a cunning and scientific method of fighting. In the air, miles
up you have men ready to pounce upon each other and pour in a
steady stream of lead from one or more machine guns. If the range
is close the decision is quick and sure, a bunch of flame or a
dive to destruction is the end that awaits the unwary.
I love leading my flight into action, flying today Dad is just
like riding together on horse back although you cannot hear the
other fellow speak I have employed my own methods of fighting
and I am quite satisfied with them.
Today looping, diving, spinning and other manoeuvres are always
used and fighting pilots must act and think quickly. Well Dad
and now I am going to give up this fighting for I have been promised
command of a squadron 1 which I hope
will mean promotion to Squadron Commander which is equivalent
to a Major in the Army. A few days ago I was chosen to fly a captured
German machine. I had shot down one exactly like it a few days
before. 2 I did not like it as much
as my old bus I would back her against any Hun....
Naval Squadron No.1
B.E.F. France 26.9.1917
....Well Dad today I am a busy man, my squadron are again taking
part in the great battle3 and have made an ever lasting name for
themselves. To fly high and fight is one thing but to fly low
just over the heads of our advancing troops exposed to bursting
shells and machine and rifle fire is another entirely different
thing. My pilots have done wonderfully well and I have received
many congratulations and a fine one from the General who was very
pleased. Some of our machines flew that low that they saw the
German machine gunners and snipers and routed and harried them.
Batches of troops hiding from our artillery were scattered and
some killed. Horse convoys bringing up shells were shot at from
heights of 100 to 50 feet. The horses rolled over dead, men jumped
into ditches to hide and the wagons piled on top of each other
and blocked the road.
Dallas was later given command of No.1 Naval Squadron on 14th
2. The German plane is not mentioned other than as a Albatros
scout in the book `The Golden Eagles' but his previous three victories
were Albatros DIII's so it is more than likely that this is the
type of aircraft that Dallas took for the test flight. Peter Firkins,
The Golden Eagles, St George Books, Perth, 1980, p.50. Shores,
Franks & Guest, Above the Trenches, Grub Street, London, 1990,
3. Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele. No.1 Naval Sq. was based
at Bailleul between June and November 1917.
of my fine fellows did not come back but the Hun losses were heavier....This
war is developing as far as aerial offensive goes and fighting in
the air is growing by day and by night.
As you lie in bed at night you can hear a whole string of our machines
going over to bomb the Hun aerodromes and back areas. The Hun also
does a little of this so the war goes on by night and by day. I
have got a horse now and go out for exercise in the early morning
and late evening. It is a great exercise, I get the horse attached
to me from some remount depot....
R.N. Aeroplane Station
....I have taken over command of Dover Station until I go out to
France Dad. I really would much sooner be out there where the real
thing is going on, after all one must no longer regard this war
as an episode but as life itself and accordingly we must model our
There will be great things doing in the spring and I am going to
be out there to put every ounce that I can into the thing. We must
bear this oily faced brute and the air is the first place that will
yield us any result for the effort we must put forth.
I flew over the spot where............... was killed a few days
after. Poor fellow he must have had a pretty hard time all that
Menin Road and Passchendaelle Ridge was hell. The Hun seems very
sure of his ability to "carry on" but there is a predominant air
of bluff about his statements. Well Dad I have every hope that the
whole thing will just about pan out this year or early next year...remember
me most kindly to all whom I know and tell them my great plan for
after the war is to fly from England to Australia and if I get half
a chance I am going to do it Dad. You have only to look up the maps
of the world to see that 2/3 of my trip would be over land.
Well goodbye Dad my score is now 30 machines down....
40 Squadron Royal Air Force 1
....There is not the slightest doubt that we have descended from
a fine old family name with noble traditions and I am proud of
it and willing to give my life or fight to death for it and those
are the sentiments and feelings dearest to my heart, my Home and
my Country.... Australia for good Australians is good enough for
I am really afraid that she is not the Australia I left, from
what I can make out she is entangled in a political web of very
small mesh and I am sorry to see such a state of things with a
country of such fine and vast possibilities.
You know Dad I do hope that they will only recognise the value
of aerial war and aerial possibilities. As far as I am concerned
my life will be devoted to the air. I love it and if Australia
will listen to some of her sons who went out as a comparative
stranger without her backing I will give my life's devotion to
her aerial welfare.
I suppose that you have by this time heard that I have been wounded.
I was very low down doing a reconnaissance with some of my picked
pilots. I took them out because I knew the country better. We
became split up in the mist and low clouds and I found myself
over enemy country with German troops shooting at me from below
with rifle and machine gun fire. I saw a long row of German wagons,
motor wagons going along bringing up supplies so I fired into
the leading one and set him on fire. He crashed into a ditch at
the side. Just then a bullet went through my leg above the knee
and ripped my breeches and out through the machine. 2
This did not worry me a great deal so I flew on and later I saw
a German Officer and a lot of men marching below then I saw our
shells blow up a German gun and horse team. I was just getting
my bearings when they got on to me again with machine guns and
by gad they riddled the machine but only hit me once this time
a bullet hit an iron bar and then splashed into my ankle and heel
making three wounds. This made my foot stiff and filled my boot
with blood and then I thought perhaps I had better go home so
I turned into the clouds and raced for my aerodrome. I had to
go to hospital and undergo an operation.
The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated
on 1st April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force.
2. This strafing action took place on April 14th south west of
Bailleul, Dallas was flying a SE5A at the time. Norman Franks,
Cross and Cockade, Volume 3, No.4 , p.150.
am getting along top hole now but will have to have my foot X rayed
again pieces of bullet in there yet. While in bed I got a signal
saying that I have been awarded the D.S.O. and as soon as my pilots
heard of it they all rushed in and I was soon almost deafened by
their cheers. Well Dad I have now brought down my 34th enemy machine
and the third last was in flames and fell on our side of the lines
1. I simply love flying and fighting
Dad and with Gods help I will come through safely and that is how
I always go about my tasks in the air fighting.... When in bed the
Chief of the Air Staff came to see me. I have heard since that one
of my exploits 2 when told to Sir Douglas
Haig made him laugh for fully quarter of an hour, I will tell you
about it later Dad....3
LOST BUT GONE BEFORE', this is the epitaph that you'll find on
Major Dallas's grave at Pernes British Cemetery in France. The
cemetery is nestled in the small town of Pernes-en-Artois on the
main road from Lille to St. Pol. Among Stanley Dallas's awards
are the Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Service
Cross and Bar and the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
He was further Mentioned in Dispatches by Field Marshall Haig
in November 1917 for "gallant and distinguished services in the
Back home in Australia, Stanley Dallas is an unknown name except
amongst his family, the people of his home town and aviation enthusiasts.
However a number of memorials exist to remind us of Major Dallas,
a memorial cup run in his home Shire of Esk, as well as a new
Water Reservoir, were named after him and in recent times an airfield
was named in his honour at Toogoolawah in Queensland.
In Canberra, in the suburb of Scullin, a street is named `Dallas
Place' where it rests amongst many other famous aviation names.
1. A likely reference to a Rumpler C shot
down in flames near Dixmude on 12th March 1918. Taken from an
extract from R. Sturtivant, Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Units.
Also shown as Dallas's 23rd kill, Shores, Franks & Guest, Above
the Trenches, Grub Street, 1990, London, p.132.
2. Most likely a reference to an incident when Dallas dropped
a pair of boots over the German aerodrome at La Brayelle with
a message "If you won't come up here and fight, herewith one pair
of boots for work on the ground, Pilots for the use of." He then
bombed and strafed some ground crew on the airfield and on his
return flight home he bumped into two enemy aircraft, shooting
down one, a Albatros DV. Christopher Cole, Royal Air Force Communiques
1918, Tom Donovan Publishing Ltd, London, 1990, Communique no.5,
3. Major Dallas was shot down and killed on the 1st June 1918
whilst involved in a fight against three Fokker Triplanes. For
a number of years his official tally of enemy planes destroyed
had been stated as 39 and although recent research indicates 32
enemy planes destroyed (Above the Trenches) some sources indicate
that the number of planes destroyed by Dallas is closer to 50.
"Dallas was credited with thirty nine confirmed victories, although
his indifference to official claims suggests he may in fact have
accounted for the destruction of more German aircraft" Admiral
Sir Reginald Bacon in his book `The Dover Patrol 1915-17'. Peter
Firkins, The Golden Eagles, St George Books, Perth, 1980, p.56.