2nd June 1915 - extract from The Illustrated War News.
"The Daily Bulletin" 29th April 1915
"Details are now to hand of the successful air raid carried out on 26th inst. It is a story of amazing gallantry and heroism and is worthy of special notice. The aviator, Second Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse, left Merville at 3.05 in the afternoon, alone in a biplane, to drop a heavy bomb on the railway junction at Courtrai. Arriving at his destination, he volplaned down to a height of 300ft. While at this low altitude he was subjected to a tornado of fire from thousands of rifles, machine guns and shell fire. He was severely wounded in the thigh, part of which was shot away, but instead of descending into German lines, where his life might have been saved, and to prevent his machine falling into the hands of the Germans, he turned and made for British lines. To increase his speed he descended a further 200ft. and crossed the German lines at a height of 100ft. only. He was again severely wounded by a bullet, which ripped open his abdomen. Instead of landing at Ypres, he flew the whole way back to Merville and made his report. We regret to say that he succumbed to his wounds twenty-four hours later. This would appear worthy to be ranked among the most heroic stories of the world's history.
The London Gazette announced the award of the Victoria Cross on 22nd May 1915 as follows:
"To the late Lieut. W.B. Rhodes-Moorhouse, Special Reserve, Royal Flying Corps, for the most conspicuous bravery on 26th April 1915, in flying to Courtrai and dropping bombs on the railway line near the station. On starting the return journey he was mortally wounded, but succeeded in flying for 35 miles to his destination, at very low altitude, and reported the successful accomplishment of his object. He has since died of his wounds. This officer was flying a BE 2b.
William Barnard Moorhouse, the elder son of Edward Moorhouse of Spratton Grange, was born on 26 September 1887 and was educated at Harrow and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He was 13 years old when the family came to Spratton in late 1900 or early 1901. When they moved to Spratton, they had two daughters, Anne (15) and Mary (11) who were educated at home by a governess (Emily Davison, who was later to become the well known suffragette who died when she threw herself under the king's horse at the Derby in 1913). They also had two sons, William (13) away at Harrow and Edward who was 7 years old.
The family employed a butler and housekeeper to head a below stairs group consisting of footman, lady's maid, cook, housemaid, kitchen maid and general servant. The children were cared for by a governess, head nurse, under nurse and nursery maid. Outside they employed a head gardener, a coachman and two stable hands. The servants in the house came from as far away as Scotland, Devonshire and London while the under nurse was Louise Horst from Switzerland.
While at school, William developed a passion for speed and the workings of the internal combustion engine. He is remembered in the village between 1909 and 1914 for his many motorcars in which he used to race around the streets with local boys on board. Sydney Holt said that William tested his cars on the hill leading up to Holdenby and he used to get Sid's father and his brothers to sit in the back to give more weight. Even more exciting for everyone, however, was his flying machine, which local mechanics would work on with amazement. Arthur Branson said, "The first aeroplane I saw was flown by Billy Moorhouse. He gave us a thrill when he flew low over the school one day. We all ran down to the Grange to see this wonderful machine that could fly. That was in 1911. Everyone in the village was there."
William Moorhouse had pooled his resources with another more experienced aviator, James Radley, to produce a version of the Bleriot XI aircraft - the Radley-Moorhouse monoplane. He took flying lessons at Huntingdon, and was the first person in Nort