Nigel Ambler Wilding Owen (1888 - 1973)
Nigel Ambler Wilding Owen was born on Saturday, 7 April 1888. In July 1900 he was attending the Wistanstow Village School - his son has a book he won as a prize for the 'weekly examination'. He may have subsequently gone to the technical college in Shrewsbury. I gather he was also invited to join Lichfield Cathedral choir but declined.
He was a young man of 'daring do' (see photos) so it is not surprising that he joined the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I.
I am told he was one of the first people in this country to obtain a pilot's licence. He signed on at Crystal Palace as a
Temporary Provisional Flight Officer on 5 November 1916. Many RNAS pilots trained at Verdôme in France and it was here
that Nigel was posted on 11 January 1917. The supply of local farm produce made life in the wooden huts of Verdôme more
than bearable; there were food shortages back in England. At Verdôme he was awarded his Aviator's Certificate on 18
April 1917, flying a Caudron biplane (the certificate states he was born on 7 April 1891). However, Nigel appears to have
lacked the discipline expected of a flying officer. Just a week later the following report about Nigel emanated from
Verdôme on 25 April 1917:
Sent on cross-country flight to Tours. Did not report arrival to Verdôme but
proceeded to the town and remained there until the following day. This officer has been previously reported to me for a
serious offence has continuously given trouble by his slack and lazy habits. Quite unsuitable to hold a commission. Promises
to make a good pilot, although slack and lazy in school work. On 5 May a submission was made to terminate his
appointment and he ceased duty five days later. Nigel was talented and courageous but he was too much of a free spirit to
fit into life in the services.