Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 12 August 1915
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: Royal Flying Corps
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 14 April 1889
Home Town: Minlaton, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Auctioneer
Died: Killed in training flight, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom, 28 February 1917, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Upavon Cemetery, Upavon, Wiltshire, England
Wargrave with Private Memorial
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

12 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 48th Infantry Battalion, Taken on strenth Royal Flying Coprs same day as discharged from AIF
12 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Officer, 48th Infantry Battalion
28 Feb 1917: Involvement Second Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps

Service History

Enlisted AIF 12 August 1915.
Second Lieutenant 6 October 1915.
Embarked with 2nd Reinforcements for 48th Bn, AIF. Adjutant 12th Training Bn, 27 July 1916 to 22 October 1916.
Discharged to Royal Flying Corps, 22 October 1916.
Second Lieutenantto Oxford 23 October 1916.
B Squadron Central Flying School, Netheravon, 26 February 1917.

Royal Flying Corps

The origin of the Royal Flying Corps commenced in 1911 when the Royal Engineers Air Battalion consisting of a Headquarters and No 1 Company with airships and No 2 Company with aero planes superseded the Royal Engineers Balloon Company.
In May the following year the Committee of Imperial Defence instructed Colonel Frederick Sykes to form, train and command the Military Wing of the Royal Flying Corps.
The Germans, who had seriously considered the tactical and strategic use of balloons and aircraft long before the Great War had by August 1914 trained more than 1,000 pilots and produced approximately 800 military aero planes.
The Royal Flying Corps equipment along with its number of trained pilots and ground crews were markedly inferior and in 1914, the entire Corps consisted of only four squadrons each made up of three flights of four aircraft with two in reserve. As the Royal Flying Corps quickly grew so did the demand for pilots and throughout the war there were many Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans flying or serving as ground crew in the RFC.
It is said that in the earlier part of the war the number of airman from all overseas dominions amounted to about fifty per cent.
When Australia set up the Central Flying School at Point Cook Victoria in 1914, it commenced training with only two flying instructors and five training aircraft and was the only British dominion to raise its own Flying Corps for service overseas in the Great War. The first complete Australian squadron entitled No 67 Squadron was committed to service with the BEF in Egypt and Palestine.
After surviving the constant hell of ‘life’ freezing in the trenches, the men on the Western Front like the Light horsemen in the fly infested Sinai desert began to sense there might be a certain freedom attached to fighting in the air. Like the Germans the British soon discovered that the best raw material for the making of a pilot was an accomplished horseman.
The demand for good heart, good hands and a quick eye is the same in each case.
Perhaps whenever they saw a flimsy aircraft overhead they thought the inherent dangers of flying and the possibility of meeting death in the air would be better than being shredded by artillery while shell in a trench or drowning in the mud.

Showing 2 of 2 stories

Biography contributed by Virtual Australia

Abridged text supplied by Chas Schaedel and the South Australian Aviation Museum History Group

After a period as Adjutant for an AIF training battalion Sutherland was transferred to the RFC on 22 Octover 1916 and posted to No.2 Flying Corps School of Instruction at Oxford (late No.2 School of Military Aviation)

Sutherland completed his Ground School examinations at Oxford and then commenced his flying training during which he was killed whilst flying a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 7810 on 28 February 1917 at CFS Upavon when the wings of the aircraft failed as he pulled out of a dive too quickly.

Just over 20 years later on 22 April 1918, his son Pilot Office Lancelot Sutherland, Adjutant of No.2 Squadron at Laverton was killed in a crash whilst practising in an Bristol Bulldog A12-2 for an air display at Richmond Air Base, NSW.


Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

Casualty of the Great War, Alan served with the Royal Flying Corps at Upavon. He was formerly serving with the Australian Imperial Force, 48th Bn.
(Civil Registration: Deaths Mar 1917 Sutherland Allan D'A 26 Pewsey 5a 247-forename incorrectly recorded by the civil registration authorities)

He left a widow, Elsie Letitia Sutherland, [nee Trehearne] of Minlaton, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia and two sons, Hamilton D'Arcy Sutherland (9 September 1913-Adelaide to 19 July 2008) and Lancelot Robert  “Lance” Sutherland. Hamilton D'Arcy Sutherland became a noted Cardiothoracic surgeon 9 September 1913 and Lance was killed in an aircraft accident whilst serving with the RAAF on 24th April 1938.

His other son, Lance, joined the RAAF and died in an accident practising aerobatics just before WW2. Hamilton D'Arcy and his brother attended St Peter's College on a bursary for the sons of old scholars who had died on active service. In 1938 Hamilton went to London to commence surgical training. He passed the Primary Examination of the Royal College of Surgeons six weeks after his arrival and World War 2 broke out a few months later. He immediately returned to Australia spending the next five years in the RANVR rising to the rank of Surgeon Lieut. Commander. During the War he served at various Military Hospitals and on ships including HMAS Platypus and HMAS Australia. He was on the Platypus when the Japanese bombed Darwin Harbour. He passed the Fellowship examination of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1944 and was also awarded a Master of Surgery(Adelaide).


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

The summary below was completed by Cathy Sedgwick – Facebook “WW1 Australian War Graves in England/UK/Scotland/Ireland

Died on this date – 28th February.... Alan D’Arcy Sutherland was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1889, He married Elsie Letitia Trehearn on 28th April, 1913 at All Saints Church, St. Peter’s, Norwood, South Australia.

Alan D’Arcy Sutherland was a 26 year old, married (with 2 children), Auctioneer from Minlaton, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia when he enlisted on 12th August, 1915 with the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.).

Private Alan D’Arcy Sutherland attended N.C.O. Class from 23rd August, 1915 until 30th September, 1915. He was posted to 12th Reinforcements of 10th Battalion on 1st October, 1915 as Sergeant. Sergeant Sutherland attended Officer’s School from 16th October, 1915 to 31st October, 1915 & was posted to 8th Reinforcements of 27th Battalion on 1st November, 1915 & transferred to “A” Company on 1st December, 1915.

Alan D’Arcy Sutherland applied for a Commission in the A.I.F on 8th December, 1915. His educational qualifications were listed as “Passed Senior Public University Examination”. He qualified at a competitive examination for first appointment as 2nd Lieutenant on 6th November, 1915. He was currently ranked as Sergeant attached to “A” Group, Base Infantry.

Sergeant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland received a Commission on 16th December, 1915 as Second Lieutenant with 2nd Reinforcements of 48th Battalion.
Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland embarked from Adelaide, South Australia on HMAT Aeneas (A60) on 11th April, 1916 for active service abroad.

Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland embarked from Alexandria on Franconia on 6th June, 1916 & disembarked at Plymouth, England on 16th June, 1916.

Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland was posted to Codford, Wiltshire, England from 27th July, 1916 to perform duties as Adjutant of 12th Infantry Training Battalion.

Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland was discharged from Australian Imperial Force in U.K. on 22nd October, 1916 as he had been gained a Commission in R.F.C. (Royal Flying Corps)
Second Lieutenant Sutherland was at C.F.S. (Central Flying School) Upavon, Wiltshire on 28th February, 1917 when he was flying a Sopwith 1½ Strutter serial number 7810.

Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland died on 28th February, 1917 as a result of an aeroplane accident. (Some forms in the Service Record file have Second Lieutenant Sutherland’s date of death as 28th March, 1917).

A Court of Inquiry was held into the accident on 28th February, 1917 & The Court were “of the opinion that the accident was caused by excessive strain being put on the machine. Error of judgement on the part of the pilot.”

Second Lieutenant Alan D’Arcy Sutherland was buried in Upavon Cemetery, Upavon, Wiltshire, England – Plot number 10 and has a Private headstone. His death is still acknowledged by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Lancelot Robert Sutherland – son of Alan D’Arcy Sutherland
Newspaper Article –The Sydney Morning Herald , Sydney, NSW – 23 April, 1938:
Richmond Tragedy

While practising a "slow, upward roll" at the Richmond Aerodrome yesterday, for the air pageant to-day, Pilot-officer L. R. Sutherland, age 23,of the Royal Australian Air Force, lost control of his machine, which crashed to the ground, and crushed him to death. He was the son of the late Mr. A. Sutherland of St. Peters, Adelaide, who was killed when flying at the war.

In conformity with Air Force tradition every pilot on the flying field was ordered aloft after the crash, and there were 80 machines in the air at the onetime flying over the wrecked plane.

Sutherland was to have taken part in the Air Force display at to-days pageant. Sutherland and another pilot had taken their machines aloft to practice aerobatics. Both machines were put into a slow roll. When Sutherland's plane—a British Bulldog—was only 50 feet from the ground he appeared to get into difficulties.

Spectators were horrified to see the machine get out of control and crash to the ground.

Pilots and officers who were watching the manoeuvres of Sutherland and his companion, raced to the scene, but they found Sutherland's body dreadfully crushed among the wreckage.

Death had apparently been instantaneous. It is not known what caused Sutherland to lose control of his machine, but pilots who witnessed the crash expressed the opinion that Sutherland could probably have recovered and gained altitude and safety had he not been so close to the ground.

Pilot officer Sutherland had been stationed at Laverton R.A.A.F. station Victoria, and had come to Richmond R.A.A.F. station with three other young pilots for the pageant. He had graduated at Point Cook. He was educated at St. Peter's College and Roseworthy Agricultural College.
(The above is a summary of my research. The full research can be found by following the link below)



Alan D’Arcy Sutherland of Minlaton, South Australia was born in Adelaide in April 1889 and attended St Peter's College 1899 – 1906 and while there served in the cadet unit and attained the rank of sergeant. He was a good sportsman and was particularly adept at cricket and football and was also a fine student who passed the senior public university examination.

After leaving school he joined his uncle, Mr R.A. Ford, of Yorke Peninsula, auctioneer. Later he represented Messrs. Bagot, Shakes, & Lewis, and subsequently went into partnership with Mr. D. Davies, of Minlaton. He was an excellent auctioneer and a good business man, and was popular with all. [i]

He enlisted at Keswick on 12 August 1915 and while in transit at the Infantry Base Depot, Mitcham attended an NCO course which he successfully completed at the end of September.  He then attended officer training and on 16 December he joined the 2nd quota of reinforcement for the 48th Battalion as a second lieutenant.

Second Lieutenant Sutherland sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Aeneas with the 2nd quota in April 1916, and later in Egypt received the news he would be going to England to undergo pilot training.

After disembarking at Portsmouth, England in June, he reported to 12th Training Battalion as the adjutant and on 22 October was, at his own request, discharged from the AIF. The following week he was commissioned in the RFC and posted to the Central Flying School at Oxford where on 28 February 1917, he was accidentally killed during a training flight; he was 27 years of age.

[i] Adelaide Chronicle, 17 March 1917, p. 39

Text from the book Fallen Saints

For details on his AIF and Royal Flying Corps Service please see My Stories at right of page