My recently published book, ‘Empire’s Noble Son’ draws on the extensive and never before published correspondence and photographs of Australian 2nd Lt Lyle Buntine, MC, of 11 Squadron Royal Flying Corps. In his own words, he tells of his life in the British Army and the RFC, especially during the early stages of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, where his bravery in aerial combat was personally recognised by the King. Finally the book places his tragic death into the broader context of Great War Australian society as it dealt with the complex issues of ‘War and Memory.’
Some 600 young Australians served with the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during the Great War, many losing their lives. One young fighter-pilot from Melbourne who gave his life was 2nd Lt Lyle Buntine MC, the son of the Principal of Caulfield Grammar School. Lyle’s tragic accidental death, following gallant service as a fighter pilot during the Battle of the Somme, was notable in that his family preserved every letter, newspaper article, photograph and artefact associated with his life and active service. His extensive correspondence, which has never before been published, provides the basis for this book, which follows his life from his school days to his active service in the fledgling RFC and to his untimely death. Lyle’s letters trace his voyage to and travels around England, his life as an officer in the British Army, his training adventures on primitive RFC aircraft and his combat experiences on the Western Front, including surviving being shot down six times! These letters bring to us a forgotten voice from the past resounding with humility and humour, coupled with absolute fear. Also explored in this book is the manner in which his family and school mourned his death and marked his memory. His family’s struggle to come to terms with the loss in war of their ‘Empire’s Noble Son,’ and the loss of five other extended family members, was an echo of the deep grief manifest in the wider Australian society at the end of the Great War.
‘Time Goes Forever, But Memory Remains’
(A line from the Caulfield Grammar School song)
Daryl Moran PhD
Dr Daryl Moran can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org