Lt John Edward Arnott RFC

John Edward Arnott is generally cited as the chap who was dismissed/who resigned from Irish Air Force when his service in the Auxiliaries became known. However, the recent book by Lt Col Michael C O'Malley "Military Aviation in Ireland, 1921-1945" only makes passing reference to the incident.

1894 Mar 13. Born Gateshead, Durham , son of Rev Hamilton Hudspith Arnott and Jane. His father died Jul/Sep 1900

1901 census living at 80, Thornton Street, Darlington

1910 to 1916 His service record in RFC says "Cadet and Officer Naval merchant service"

1911 census living at 14 Langholm Cres, Darlington

1915 Oct 14. Married to Jane Swainston at Darlington. They appear to have had one child Gordon E Arnott born 14 Jul 1916 in Durham. That child appears to have emigrated to Rhodesia

1916 Jun 3. Gazetted 2nd Lt RFC posted to 2 School of Aviation. His RAF record is available

His RAF record gives a number of consecutive addresses 2 Beech Land House, Baker St, London followed by 6 Blandford St, London W and Dean House, 116 Great Tichfield St, London W, and finally Yalta, Silchester Rd, Glenageary Co Dublin from 19 Jan 1922. His next of kin is his mother Mrs H H Arnott at 14 Langholm Crescent, Darlington

1916 Jun 26. Posted to 25 RS

1916 Jul 30 Posted to 9 RS

1916 Sep 29 Posted to 59 Squadron

1916 Dec 24. Promoted to FO, still as 2nd Lt

1917 Jan 5. Posted to 37 Squadron

1917 Mar 18 Posted to 12 Squadron in France

1917 Jun 11. Posted to 61 Training School

1917 Aug 23. Posted to 42 Training School for instruction in bombing

1917 Oct ? Posted HQ of 23 Wing as bombing instructor

1917 Sep 1. Promoted Lt.

1918 Jan 31 Posted to HQ of 8 Wing as bombing instructor

1918 Apr 1. Promoted Lt in A&S

1918 Aug 7. To Lt in Admin

1918 Oct 1. Unfit General Service, but fit for light duty. Short low flights only for 6 weeks.

1918 Oct 29. Passed Medical Board and told to report to 16 Group at York.

1918 Nov 7. Posted "for disposal"

1919 Jan 8. Posted to 16 Group (NW) for Educational Duties

1919 Mar 9. Transferred to Unemployed List.

1919 His first wife died. I cannot find death in UK records. Could have been West Africa ?

1919 May. There is reference to service in West Africa from May 1919 to March 1920 with "invalided"

1920 March 20. Arrives UK from Nigeria on SS Appam. He travels 1st class and is an assistant trader. He is traveling alone

1920 Jun to 1920 Dec he was involved in "civilian flying". There is a National Archive request for the Registration and Certification of: Application by Mr. J. E. Arnott for permission to use aircraft registered in France and having French Certificates of Airworthiness for passenger flights in England

1921 Jan 12. Joined ADRIC with ADRIC number 1499 and was posted to "I Coy" at Hope Castle, Castleblayney, Monaghan.

1921 May 22. Man arrested by I Coy Main Gate Guard at Richmond Hospital

1921 May 22. Posted to R Coy and Re-engaged for a further 6 months

1921 May 24 Raids with R Coy

1921 May 29 Involved in questioning of J Murphy

1921 May 30 Raids with R Coy

1921 Jun 25 Signed raid report for R Coy

1921 Jul 1. Admitted to Stevens Hospital

1921 Sep 20. Admitted to Richmond Hospital

1921 Oct 17 Discharged from hospital

1921 Nov 22 Admitted Stevens Hospital

1921 Dec 21. Discharged Stevens Hospital

1921 Dec 24. Discharged Medically unfit, not due to service in ADRIC

On the 14th February 1922 , the last British aircraft flew out and Baldonnel was formally handed over to the Irish Army and later the newly formed Irish Air Corps.

1922 Jan/Mar He re-marries Rathdown, Dublin

1922 Mar 23. J E Arnott is granted a short service commission as a Flying Officer. (F H W Guard is the next name on the commissions list)

1922 Sep 6. Flying Officer J. E. Arnott relinquishes his short service commn. on account of ill-health and is permitted to retain the rank of Lieut,

1922 Sep 15. Arnott joins the Irish Air Corps. This is only 9 days after resigning from the RAF on health grounds. One could speculate that Arnott wouldn't have left the RAF unless the position offered in the Irish air service entailed a better offer than he had with the RAF, plus he had a new Irish wife. There were no advertisements for the early Irish aviation jobs: instead suitable candidates were sourced by word of mouth, which suggests that Arnott's background would have been known.

Lt Col Michael C O'Malley in "Military Aviation in Ireland, 1921-1945 writes "Although the Army leadership may initially have been waiting for the delivery of new aircraft before occupying Fermoy, it is possible that their hands were forced by circumstances in Baldonnell. Accounts suggest that JC Fitzmaurice and TJ Maloney were, in fact, sent to Fermoy at short notice after a disagreement with [William J] McSweeney. The point of conflict appears to have been around the promotion to the rank of captain of John Arnott. Arnott had joined the Air Service (on 15 September) after both Maloney and Fitzmaurice and, in theory, should have been junior to both. Not only was he promoted to captain but he was also designated as 'acting 2nd in command of flying'. The general tone of Fitzmaurice's unpublished memoir suggests that he had no doubts about his own worth as an officer and pilot and so it would have been out of character for him not to have objected to such action. It is suggested by Teddy Fennelly that Maloney and Fitzmaurice were contemplating resigning over this matter when they were ordered, at short notice, to fly to Fermoy. Three pilots are reported to have flown to Fermoy on 1 October 1922".

O'Malley then goes on to say, but does not substantiate. "Air Corps folklore reflects the popular belief that Captain John Arnott, the seventh ex-RAF pilot recruited, (on 15 September 1922), was lucky to escape with his life when 'dismissed' on or about 21 December the same year. Allegedly he had been identified as a former Auxiliary and was requested at gunpoint to take the mail boat to Britain - and did so!"

Fitzmaurice writes about this incident many years later. But there is no substantiation of any story of being escorted out of Ireland at gun-point.O'Malley's is the only reliable account that I could find, and he has not been able to substantiate why Arnott left the Irish Air Corps

There is mention of the aircraft being shipped to Ireland in June 1922, being assembled and finished in silver dope by October 1922 with the national colours applied to the tail and "The Big Fella" painted on the nose. At that point the info re Arnott being lined up for the test flight and discovered to be ex-auxie might apply

1922 Oct 18. Appendix VI: Aviation Department of the Army has 16 officers, 9 NCOs, 31 men (including riggers, carpenters, fitters etc), and 36 civilian staff listed. J Arnott is listed as "Captain" under the heading 'Rank' and as being "Acting 2nd in command of flying" under the 'Remarks' heading. 

1922 Dec 21. Leaves Irish Air Corps. Apparently after being forced to resign because of his ADRIC connection, but I have yet to substantiate this. He may have been frog marched to the docks, he may have resigned for ill heath, or he may have resigned for any reason unknown.

1924 Jan 23. John Arnott and his wife Annie of 10 Hume St, Dublin travel to Melbourne, Australia on SS Bendigo. He is a "clerk" and his wife is 2 years younger. They travel 3rd class.

1929 Transferred from the Melbourne to the Perth office of T. M. Burke and Co., land agents.

1930 Loses his job in Perth due to the recession.

1931 Dec 8.The final entry to the Arnott file is report of ex-officer's death in Perth, Australia.

His funeral notice was in The West Australian of 8 December 1931:
ARNOTT. — The Friends of the late Mr. John E. Arnott, of 248 St George's Terrace, Perth, are respectfully informed that his remains will be privately interred in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Karrakatta, at 11.15 o'clock THIS (Tuesday) MORNING. BOWRA and O'DEA, Undertakers, 195 Pier- street, Perth. Tel. B4308. Private, B3376, B2938.

1932 Jan 26. Then a remarkable twist The West Australian
EX-R.F.C. OFFICER'S DEATH.
Unaccountable Circumstances.
The Acting-Coroner (Mr. T. Y. A. Lang, PJtf.), conducted an inquest in the City Courthouse yesterday into the death of John Edward Arnott (35), a commission agent, who was formerly an officer of the Royal Flying Corps. Evidence disclosed that death was due to arsenical poisoning, but the Acting-Coroner was unable to find how or when it was administered. Sergeant Lynes examined the witnesses. Mr. C. E. Stacey (Government Toxicologist) said that the contents of deceased's stomach, which were sent to him from the Perth Hospital, were found to contain 11.2 grains of arsenic. Two grains were sufficient to cause death. Dr. John William Horan said that he first met deceased about two years ago, when he was coming to the State from Melbourne aboard the Karoola. He had frequently received friendly calls from him since then, and, about nine months ago, he asked witness to guarantee the payment of interest contributions on a loan of £175. On the night of December 4 last, witness was called to a house in Ord street, West Perth, to prescribe treatment for deceased, who was suffering from vomiting attacks. - Deceased refused to go to hospital, so witness ordered him doses of chlorodyne. Witness was again called to see deceased the next morning. He then summoned two other doctors for a consultation, after which deceased was removed to the Perth' Hospital. Late in the afternoon, witness advised deceased to have his affairs fixed up, and deceased said something like, 'Am I as bad as all that?' Witness replied: — 'You are very ill.' Mr. Mervyn McKnight, from whose home deceased had been removed, was called to the hospital, and a will was drawn up. Later, witness heard that deceased had died. Witness had not the slightest idea that deceased was suffering from arsenical poisoning. The symptoms of this and ptomaine poisoning [food poisoning]were very much alike. Edward Clive Vickers, an indeit agent and business broker, said that he had known deceased for about two years. Seven or eight months previously to his death, witness negotiated a loan of £175 for deceased, which was to be repaid within two years, with interest at 20 per cent. Deceased said that he would be travelling about a good deal, so he appointed witness as his agent, with authority to receive war pension payments at the rate of about £42 a year. This money was sufficient to meet interest payments. No security was secured for the. loan, but deceased said that he had taken out an insurance policy for £250 owing to the fact that he was doing some flying. 'A Very Moody Man.' Miss Marjory McKnight, a school teacher, residing in Ord Street, West Perth, said that deceased came to the State about two years ago, having been transferred from the Melbourne to the Perth office of T. M. Burke and Co., land agents. Owing to the depression, he lost his employment with the firm in April, 1930, and since then had only secured a few weeks work selling forestry bonds. He had visited the home of her people on many occasions. He was a very moody man. When his wife was on her way from the Eastern States to England, she called at deceased's request to see witness's people. His wife, deceased had said, did not like living in Australia. About 5.40 p.m. on December 4. deceased called at the house and complained of having been ill from vomiting attacks. He was asked to stay for tea, during which curried eggs were served, but he ate only a portion of his meal. He mentioned something about having had tinned salmon for lunch. During the evening witness got a bottle of soda water for deceased to try to stop his vomiting, but the attacks continued. Deceased was very unwilling that a doctor should be called in, but this was done without his concurrence. Dr. Horan prescribed treatment by chlorodyne. In the morning deceased could eat no breakfast and was eventually taken away to the Perth Hospital. Mervyn McKnight. solicitor, said that on two occasions after Dr. Horan's first visit, he endeavoured to administer chlorodyne to deceased, according to the doctor's directions, but deceased could not keep it down. On the following after noon, witness was called by Dr. Horan to the Perth Hospital, where he again saw deceased. Deceased said that he wanted to draw up his will. He mentioned that he had an equity in an insurance policy, and said that he wanted all his estate left to witness's sister Doreen. Witness then drew up the will, which was signed and witnessed by Dr. Horan. . 'I find,' said the Acting Coroner, in recording his finding, 'that deceased died on December 5 from arsenical poisoning, there being no evidence to show how the poison was administered.'

That says that his wife did not like Australia, and appeared to have been on her way to the UK at the time of his death. And that he left his money to his solicitors sister Doreen McKnight. I am uncertain if that is the "Miss Marjory McKnight" who was also a witness in the inquest

 

ADRIC