RAF Service Number: 13530
RAFVR Service Number: 64255
RAF Trade: Padre
Date of Enlistment: 1938
Date of Demob:
Rank Achieved: Squadron Leader
Flying Hours: Nil known
Operational Sorties: Nil known
Date of Birth: 8th of March 1894, at Pahiatua
Personal Details: Jimmy Beaufort was the son of John William Beaufort and Margaret Jane Beaufort. He was born in Pahiatua, and attended the Pahiatua School.
On the 1st of April 1907 he left New Zealand, accompanying his mother and sister to Ireland. Jimmy then attended St Andrew's College in Dublin, followed by two years studying at Trinity College, Dublin University, between June 1912 and August 1914. Whilst at the university he was a cadet with the Dublin University Officer Training Corps.
When the First World War broke out, Jimmy volunteered for service. Details of this can be found down the page in Service Details.
Following his release from the RAF in March 1919, Jimmy took up studying at Trinity College, Dublin, and gained an MA in 1920. He then attended Wells Theological College, and was ordained as an Anglican Deacon and Priest in 1921.
He worked as a Curate at Northenden, Cheshire, in 1922. However he left Britain, embarking onboard the Athenic at London bound for New Zealand, on the 29th of December 1922.
Jimmy arrived at Wellington on the 7th of February 1923, and took up the position of
Vicar at Te Henui, New Plymouth, sometime that month. He was not there too long before he moved to Turua, on the Hauraki Plains, becoming Vicar there on the 31st of August 1923.
When the newly built Anglican church opened in Raglan, Jimmy became its first Vicar, arriving there on the 16th of January 1926.
A return to the military saw him take up position as the Chaplain to HMS Philomel, the New Zealand Naval Forces base at Devonport, Auckland, on the 23rd of August 1926.
He was then assistant chaplain at King's College, Auckland from September 1927 through till December 1929, but he embarked on the Port Hardy at Auckland for England, on the 4th of January 1930, arriving in London on the 10th of February 1930, where he became a priest at The Rectory, Newbury, Berkshire.
Another return to New Zealand saw Jimmy embark aboard the Ruapehu at London on the 20th of December 1930, arriving in Auckland on the 28th of January 1931. This return to Auckland was due to his new position as headmaster at King’s Preparatory School, Remuera, Auckland. He worked there from February 1931 through till 1934.
When Arthur Broadhurst established St Peter's School at Gwynnelands on Hamilton Road, Cambridge, he appointed Jimmy Beaufort as the joint headmaster beside Broadhurst himself in October 1934. Beaufort spent six months in Britain while the school was being built, picking up teaching techniques, equipment and a stone from Westminster Abbey that became, when he returned in late 1935, the foundation stone for the altar of the school's chapel. The school opened in February 1936.
The Rev. Beaufort seems to have also been fairly regularly leading services at St. Andrew's Church in Cambridge while he was at St Peter's School.
Jimmy either attended or his name was just on list of invitees to the ‘War Birds’ reunion at Auckland which took place on the 18th of July 1936. This was an annual reunion dinner of WWI pilots and aviators.
On the 1st of August 1936 it was announced in the Waikato Independent newspaper that James had become engaged to Ruth Carnegie Wilkie, of Northesk, Penrose. She was a member of the staff at St. Peter's School. They married in St. Peter's Chapel at the school on the 16th of December 1936.
Jimmy relinquished his position at St Peter's School at the end of the first term in 1937, and he and his wife Ruth sailed for Britain aboard the Awatea on the 19th of May 1937. They had decided to settle in Britain permanently, but stopped in Australia for a number of weeks on the way. They arrived at London on the 9th of July 1937..
Once settled in the UK Jimmy took up the position of Vicar at Shawbury and the chaplaincy of nearby RAF Shawbury, in around. August 1937.
He later became the Sub-Dean, at St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire, England, around. June 1939.
On leaving the RAF Jimmy became Dean of Grahamstown and Archdeacon, in South Africa, from mid-late 1944.
Service Details: Jimmy served in the British Army during the First World War. Shortly after that war had begun, he applied on the 28th of August 1914 for a commission with the Army Service Corps. He was appointed that commission as a Second Lieutenant the following day, at was posted immediately to Deptford on "H.T. Depot" duties, or home training.
He embarked for France on the 27th of December 1914, and was posted to the 2nd Divisional Train on the 27th of January 1915. Three days later on the 30th Jimmy was made a Staff Officer with 3 Company of the 2nd Divisional Train.
He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 20th of March 1915, and later on the 1st of August he was promoted again to Captain.
He was with 2 Company, or possibly 8 Company, of the 2nd Divisional Train by the 5th of November 1915. But on the 25th of November 1915 he'd been posted as a Staff Officer to 3 (171) company, 33rd Divisional Train.
On the 9th of June 1917 he was posted back to Britain and attached to the Royal Flying Corps for Observer duties. He began training on the 21st of June 1917 at No. 1 School of Military Aeronautics, which was situated within the premises of the Cooperative Wholesale Society Jam Works in Reading, Berkshire.
He then proceeded on the 29th of June 1917 to the Wireless and Observer's School at Brooklands, to undergo his Observers training course.
With training completed he returned to France on the 29th of July 1917, and joined No. 9 Squadron RFC, at Proven. This unit was flying Royal Aircraft Factory RE.8 reconnaissance bombers.
The following reports have kind been supplied by Errol Martyn, detailing some of Jimmy's WWI actions in the air as the Observer (E.A. stands for Enemy Aircraft):
IRE.8 A3722 with Lt Yeatman as pilot. 6.40 am while on Contact Patrol over ‘U.20. & U.21.’ at 1200-1500 feet. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers.
2 seater. Type unknown. 1 Fixed forward gun, & 1 moveable rear gun. Speed – slightly faster than an R.E.8.
The E.A. appeared out of a cloud on our starboard quarter & slightly above us; he fired at us at extreme range, (500 yards) from his forward gun. Observer then fired a burst of about 10 rounds from our Lewis Gun. Pilot turned & fired at him with the Vickers. The E.A. had now turned homewards and fired at us over his tail. After 4 rounds the Vickers had a No.4 stoppage. Pilot turned & rectified this whilst Observer fired from his Lewis another 15 rounds. Pilot then turned & fired with the Vickers. The E.A. was now a long way off & we could not catch him. We followed him over to his own side firing a further 25 rounds but he was too far off. Both Pilot’s & Observer’s tracers were seen to pass close to the E.A.
(Sgd by Yeatman, Beaufort & Sqn CO), 11 Aug 17
CITA. RE.8 A3722 with Lt Yeatman as pilot.’ 4.30 pm. about’ while on Artillery observation between Elverdinghe & Boesinghe at 2500 feet. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers.
Albatross [sic] single seater, black, with 3 or 4 white rings round fuselage, & white markings on tail & wings. Armament not ascertained but probably same as usual. Fast.
Pilot saw an Albatross Scout above, go towards one of our balloons & turn above it; we went towards it & saw it go back towards its own lines. Immediately the balloon caught fire & came down. Then just underneath about 1000 ft. below Pilot saw a second scout (Albatross), and dived on to it firing about 30 rounds, from Vickers, but missed. The E.A. got away owing to superior speed.
(‘Indecisive’ handwritten on form; Sgd by Yeatman, Beaufort & Sqn CO), 12 Aug 17
CITA. RE.8 A3722 with Lt Yeatman as pilot. [5? 6?].30 am while on Artillery Patrol between Langemarck & Poelcappelle at 3000 feet. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers.
One two-seater AVIATIK. 1 Gun firing forward, 1 switching rear gun. Colours not distinguishable owing to light being behind it.
While patrolling in the above locality, the E.A. appeared out of mist, above & to one side of us. Observer fired a burst at it from about 300 yards. Pilot turned to use the Vickers, which failed to act, so turned again & Observer fired more bursts. The E.A. fired about 40 rounds from each gun at us without effect. As he had 2 or 3 more R.E.A’s & 2 Albatross [sic] Scouts fairly close behind him, & Vickers out of action, we discontinued the combat.
(Sgd by Yeatman, Beaufort & Sqn CO), 16 Aug 17
CITA. RE.8 A3722 with Lt Yeatman as pilot. 3.30 pm while on Counter Attack Patrol over Langemarck at 2000 feet. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers.
AVIATIKS. Wings green on top & white underneath. Black Crosses on white background, on top wings. Forward & rear guns. Faster than an R.E.8.
Encountered the above machines doing Contact Patrol. Two confused encounters took place in which Observer fired about 200 rounds, Pilot’s gun being out of action. The enemy machines fired several bursts at us without effect from both guns. We were only engaged with one at a time. Observer’s guns had two stoppages.
(Sgd by Yeatman, Beaufort & Sqn CO), 16 Aug 17 (Note: 2nd combat of the day)
CITA. RE.8 A4297 with Lt Yeatman as pilot. 4.30 & 5.0 pm while on Artillery Observation over Langemarck at 3500 feet. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers.
Single seater scout. Firing forward. Colour – Dark Grey.
At 4.30 whilst Pilot was doing a shoot 2 single seaters approached from the North & when at a distance of about 400 yards opened fire. Observer opened fire & enemy machines turned to the East.
At 5.0 pm. two enemy scouts dived on us & opened fire from a distance of about 500 yards. Observer opened fire & scouts turned away.
(Sgd by Yeatman, Beaufort & Sqn CO), 25 Aug 17
On that same day as the last stated aerial combat, the 25th od August 1917, Jimmy graduated as an Observer and he transferred to a commission in the RFC as Captain. He seniority was backdated to the 30th of July 1917.
However the following day on the 26th of August, Jimmy was very seriously wounded, he received a gunshot wound to his thigh and left foot, and was treated by medics of the 131st Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. The report of this incident reads thus:
Aeroplane Casualty Report: RE.8 B758. 140 hp. 2nd Lt J. B. Finch. Duty – artillery Observation over Boesinghe. 1 Lewis, 1 Vickers. Wireless. 20 lb bomb carrier. 1 Aldis sight, 1 Norman sight. Brought down near Boesinghe. Brought down by E.A. Machine not yet salved. Pilot and Observer wounded. Total flying time of machine 26.45. Struck off. (TSTBII adds – left at 9.15 am, combat with 3 EA 11.30 am and shot down.)
Jimmy was admitted to 2 Stationary Hospital, Abbeville, on the 29th of August 1917. Following a week there he was transported to England and admitted to St Thomas’s Hospital, London, on the 6th of September 1917.
His injuries were extensive. at a Medical Board held on the 18th of September 1917 he was classed as unfit and prescribed Light Duties for the next three months.
At a further
Medical Board on the 10th of January 1918 he was still classed as unfit. The findings of this Board are only partially legible in the records but state " . . . the fracture has united satisfactorily . . . The fractured metatarsals in R. foot have united, the wounds have healed. Foot quite useful but great toe rather stiff. Is undergoing electrical treatment. The wound on the back of the left [tibia?] has long been healed. (No original report on wounds available). Patient is still lame & cannot walk without pain. . . ." He was assessed as being incapacitated for six months from the date of his wounding.
Jimmy was next transferred to the RFC Auxiliary (Mrs Mullinder’s) Hospital, at Clifton Court near Rugby, by the 15th of January 1918, to continue his rehabilitation.
On the 27th of February 1918 he faced another Medical Board at the 1st Southern General Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, and then a follow up
Medical Board on the 19th of March 1918. At this final Board Jimmy was given three weeks leave, which he'd take at 62 Morehampton Road, Dublin, followed by a return to his duties as fit, but non-flying.
It seems he was appointed as a Lieutenant (Honorary Captain) on the 1st of April 1918 in the newly formed Royal Air Force.
His return from leave was not good however, as he was admitted to Grove Military Hospital, Tooting, in London, suffering from measles, on the 8th of April 1918.
He was released as Fit for Light Duties on the 13th of April and instructed to report to the Director of Air Organisation, Air Board, on The Strand, for his posting orders.
Jimmy was posted to No. 5 School of Aeronautics, Denham, as instructor in aerial observation, on the 16th of April 1918
On the 22nd of July 1918 Jimmy was cleared to fly again and was now under instruction to become a pilot.
He proceeded to No. 1 School of Aeronautics, Cooperative Wholesale Society Jam Works, Reading, on the 10th of August 1918 to learn to fly. his next posting was to the Armament School at Ealing, on the 19th of October 1918.
The war ended on the 11th of November 1918 but Jimmy stayed on in the RAF for some time, finally being transferred to the Unemployed List on the 11th of March 1919.
Second RAF Career
A report in the Waikato Independent newspaper on the 21st of August 1937 stated that the Rev. James Beaufort, formerly joint-headmaster of St Peter's School, Cambridge, and now in Britain, had accepted a living at Shawbury, near Shrewsbury in England, and that he'd also become the chaplain at the nearby Royal Air Force aerodrome that was being re-established there.
RAF Shawbury was an old airfield that had hosted flying training and an aeroplane repair section during WWI, but it had closed in 1920 and reverted to agriculture. It reopened in 1938 as the home to No. 27 Maintenance Unit, and No. 11 Flying Training School.
Jimmy was appointed to a commission in the Chaplains Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), and as confirmed as a Squadron Leader on the 15th of April 1941.
According to Doug Brown in his Wine, Women and Song and ex-student of King’s prep school, Beaufort was at Odiham when Brown was at Kenley (Dec 41-Jul 42); he was thwarted by weather when flying over to visit Odiham and the following week Beaufort had left, having been posted to the Middle East
He resigned his commission on the 31st of August 1944, taking a church position in South Africa.
Died: 19th of March 1952, at Grahamstown, South Africa
Connection with Cambridge: Jimmy lived in Cambridge for three years before WWII, leaving the town to rejoin the RAF
Thanks to: Many thanks to Errol Martyn who has been extremely helpful assisting with this page