Some 600 young Australians served with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during the Great War, many losing their lives. One young fighter-pilot from Melbourne who gave his life was 2nd Lt Lyle Buntine MC, the son of the Principal of Caulfield Grammar School. Lyle's tragic accidental death, following gallant service as a fighter pilot during the Battle of the Somme, was notable in that his family preserved every letter, newspaper article, photograph and artefact associated with his life and active service.
His extensive correspondence, which has never before been published, provides the basis for this book, which follows his life from his school days to active service in the fledgling RFC and to his untimely death. Lyle's letters trace his voyage to and travels around England, his life as an officer in the British Army, his training adventures on primitive RFC aircraft and his combat experiences on the Western Front, including surviving being shot down six times! Buntine flew a FE2, he was recognised as an accomplished fighter pilot being awarded the Military Cross medal for gallantry. In the sky, the dogfights were against Boelcke (the legendary father of the German fighter air force) and the Jasta 2 Squadron pilots.
These letters bring to us a forgotten voice from the past resounding with humility and humour, coupled with absolute fear. Also explored in this book is the manner in which his family and school mourned his death and marked his memory.
His family's struggle to come to terms with the loss in war of their 'Empire's Noble Son, 'was an echo of the deep grief manifest in the wider Australian society at the end of the Great War.
'Years May Pass On, But Memory Remains'
(A line from the Caulfield Grammar School song)