Charles Curtis Darley CBE AM

b. 31/07/1890 Caynham, Salop.  d. 10/06/1962 Winchester, Hampshire.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 27/09/1919 Lake Bracciano, Italy.

Charles C Darley AM

He was the son of Captain Charles Edward and Emily Louisa Darley. He was educated at Dulwich College and the RMA Woolwich. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery in 1910. A keen photographic enthusiast, he was an early exponent of this means of intelligence gathering, when he returned to fight in France.  He had gained his RAeC Certificate (No 592) on 15 August 1913. His career at the front was cut short on 26 October 1915, when his aircraft (Vickers FB5, 5464) was attacked and shot down by none other than Max Immelmann.  Landing behind enemy lines he was captured spending the next two years as a POW.  In early 1919 he and his elder brother were flying in a Vimy, which crashed in Italy, thrown clear he attempted to rescue his brother, unfortunately unsuccessfully.  Badly burned in the attempt he was awarded the Albert Medal and spent 18 months in hospital recovering.  In 1925, he married Hilda Stephenson. In 1931 he was awarded the CBE. Injured in a flying accident in 1939, he was invalided back to Britain and then in September out of the RAF.  He was almost immediately re-employed by the Air Ministry in a civilian capacity. He remained in this role until 1959 when he retired as an Air Commodore to Hampshire.



On the night of the 27th September 1919 a Vickers-Vimy Aeroplane, piloted by Captain Cecil Hill Darley, brother of Squadron Leader (then Flight Lieutenant) Darley, who was acting as Navigation Officer, made a forced landing by Lake Bracciano, some twenty miles north of Rome, when on a flight from England to Egypt. On the following morning, in taking off, the aeroplane failed to clear a telegraph pole, and crashed, immediately bursting into flames, Squadron Leader Darley was thrown clear, but at once rushed to the blazing wreckage and displayed very conspicuous bravery and devotion in persistent, but unavailing, attempts to rescue his brother, who was pinned in the pilot’s seat. His efforts to release his brother were only brought to an end by his collapse. He sustained such severe burns that he was a patient in hospital for over eighteen months.