Captain Oliver Le Boutillier

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Flying ace:

Captain Oliver Le Boutillier


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Born in New Jersey, the son of a Jerseyman, Captain Oliver Le Boutillier was a Great War flying ace with a record showing ten enemy aircraft shot down


A signed print of Capt Le Boutillier flying over the grounded Fokker Triplane of Baron Manfred von Richthofen

Family

Oliver Le Boutillier, known as 'Boots' during his military service, was born on 24 May 1894 to a Jersey father and Canadian mother in Montclair, New Jersey.

His father, Oliver L Le Boutillier, was born on 16 July 1861 to David Le Boutillier and Anne Barrette of St John, Jersey. He left Jersey in the 1870s and after marrying a Canadian girl moved to the USA where he was naturalised in 1904.

War service

He trained at the Wright Brothers Flying School in Mineola, New York and then crossed into Canada and joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 21 August 1916. By April the following year he had joined No 9 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service as a sub-lieutenant to pilot a Sopwith Triplane. Between 25 May and 29 July 1917, he scored four victories by driving enemy planes down out of control.

On 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were combined into the Royal Air Force and 9 Naval became No. 209 Squadron RAF.

Dogfight

During a squadron dogfight on 21 April 1918 in the Somme River valley, Le Boutillier, Robert Foster, and Merrill Samuel Taylor shot down an Albatros two-seater and sparked a running dogfight during which Captain Roy Brown claimed to have downed the legendary German ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen.

Le Boutillier claimed to have witnessed Brown's tracer bullets penetrating Richthofen's cockpit. Immediately after its crash, Le Boutillier flew over the triplane of von Richthofen.

He finished the war with ten 'kills': one aircraft captured, three destroyed and six 'out of control'. He had over 600 hours flying time in his log book by the end of the war.

Kills

Capt Le Boutillier's first recorded kill was on 25 May 1917, when his Sopwith Triplane - N5459, of 9 Squadron - got the better of an LVG C off Ostend. This was followed by two further kills for the same aircraft on 5 June and 17 July, and a fourth with 9 Squadron's Sopwith Triplane N5484 on 29 July.

The following April saw successes on 21 and 22 April in an RAF 209 Squadron Sopwith Camel D3338. Flying the same aircraft Capt Le Boutillier recorded four further kills in May 1918. He was awarded the DFC for his exploits.


Later career

On his return to the United States, Le Boutillier became a skywriter, and later an official of the Skywriting Corporation of America. He also became a barnstormer and piloted aircraft for 18 movies, including Hell's Angels and Wings. As a flight instructor, he gave Amelia Earhart her first lesson in a twin-engined aircraft, and also taught her competitor, Mabel Boll (Mabel Countess de Proceri).

He became a Civil Aviation Authority inspector in charge of Colorado and Wyoming.

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