Alfred Henry Gearing, Indian Army


1890 Mar 23. Born Toxteth Park, Liverpool

1891 census in Toxteth Park, Liverpool

1901 census at Norwood, London

1911 census at 34 Cambridge Parade, Twickenham

1911 - 1914 His RAF record says "pilot aviator" with George Lee Temple at Hendon

He qualified for 1914 Star

1916 Mar 24. Gains his Aviators Certificate

1916 Sep 22. RFC Flying Officer. Temp. 2nd Lt. A. H. Gearing, R. Fus., and to be transfd. to Gen. List

1917 Jan 1. The undermentioned to be temp. Lts. whilst serving with R.F.C. A H Gearing

RAF Record

1918 on recuperative leave In South Africa

Lieutenant A H Gearing of the newly formed Royal Air Force arrived in South Africa on recuperative leave in mid 1918. He being the only RAF pilot fit to fly in South Africa was requested to fly one of the biplanes over Cape Town to advertise a fund raising for the Red Cross. Permission was obtained from the Postal authorities to sell and deliver special aerial postcards for the occasion. They bore the inscription "Make your sixpence fly". And fly they did. The first flight was planned to coincide with the next military tournament scheduled for the Green Point Cycle Track on the 17th October 1918. The tragic influenza epidemic of that year forced the tournament to be cancelled but the flight went ahead. Three bags of cards were flown from a field belonging to a Mr E Young of Wynberg to a safe landing on Green Point Common. The bags were handed to the postal authorities who rushed them to the Cape Town Post Office for mailing in the normal manner. Lieutenant Gearing flew over Cape Town on the 24th October and "bombed" the city with leaflets on behalf of the Red Cross. The mail flight was repeated on the 26th October and again on the 2nd November, one bag of cards was carried on each flight.

The RAF were ordered to rail one biplane to Pretoria to assist in the threatened "native revolt" in the Transvaal. Lieutenant Gearing and his team left Cape Town by rail on the 4th November. After several military and Red Cross fights they returned to Cape Town for the military tournament at the Rosebank Show Grounds which was rescheduled in December. The BE 2e was seen performing aerobatics over Cape Town on 14th December. Although reported as an advertising stunt for the show it was a routine test flight after assembly of the aircraft. Lieutenant Gearing merely used some "poetic licence" after the test flight to have some personal fun. Copies of a specially printed newspaper The Aerial News and more postcards were dropped on the show grounds on the 16th December. Sergeant Way who accompanied Lieutenant Gearing was praised for his accurate bombing.

Mail cards and Christmas greetings were flown from Mr Youngs field to the green Point Common on the 23rd and 30th December. On these two occasions the plane did not land and Sergeant Way attempted to bomb the red post office van parked on the Common. He missed but did force the two post Office officials to take cover. Lieutenant Gearing and Sergeant Way made one last flight on 8th January 1919. The purpose of the flight now seems obscured by what followed. the aircraft named Rio de Janeiro No. 2 (serial No. 3110) was watched by a large crowd of bathers at the Muizenberg Pavilion as it approached at about 5 pm. The crowd were delighted to see the plane sweep low over their heads, and many returned the wave by Sergeant Way. The smiles gave way to gasps as the biplane struck a tall light standard, causing the pilot to lose control of the machine which dived into the surf about 15 meters from the beach. The crowd surged forward and helped the dazed occupants from the wreck. Lieutenant Gearing escaped with a few bruises and a salty dunking. Sergeant Way was less fortunate, he suffered severe facial injuries to the mouth and was taken to the military hospital in Wynberg. The crowd helped the police to remove the wreck from the water to above the high water mark. Although attempts were made to repair the aircraft it was eventually stripped and scrapped. Although this was not the first aircraft crash in Cape Town, Sergeant Way had the honour of being the first person to be hospitalised in such a crash. the first air crash fatality would not occur until 27th December 1920 at the Green Point Common.

In recognition of South African involvement in the war the British Government resolved to grant South Africa 100 aircraft complete with equipment and spares to form the South African Air Force. Lieutenant Gearing and Sergeant Way by now recovered from their mishap were selected to fly the second BE 2e from Johannesburg to Roberts Heights in March 1920. On arrival they officially presented the Rio Gallegos Britons (serial No. A 3109) to the newly formed SAAF as the first plane of the 100 promised.

1919 Jul/Sep Married in Richmond, Surrey to Isabella Little

1919 Apr 10. Transferred to unemployed list RAF

1920 Apr 6.Indian Army Reserve of Officers. To be Lieutenants. Alfred Henry Gearing. 6th Apr. 1920, but to rank from 23rd Sept. 1916

1920 Sep 19. INDIAN.ARMY RESERVE OF OFFICERS. Lieutenants to be Captains. A. H. Gearing.

1921 Mar 25. The King has approved the relinquishment of their commissions by the undermentioned, and the grant of rank as shown below: — INDIAN ARMY. Capt. A. H. Gearing (T.C.).

1921 May 19. Joined ADRIC with service no 1983. Posted to R Coy

1922 Jan 16 . Discharged on demobilisation of ADRIC

1928 Mar 19. Arrived in UK from Bombay A Police Superintendent living in India

1928 Jun 21. Attends Indian Police Dinner in London

1928. Divorce Court File: 9389. Appellant: Isabella Gearing. Respondent: Alfred Henry Gearing. Type: Wife's petition for divorce

1931 Jan 8. Leaves UK for Bombay. Indian Police, travels alone.

1932 Apr/Jun Married in Kensington to Lavinia E M Claridge

1932 Sep 16. 232 Oakwood Court, London. Travels to Bombay, India. Police. Travels alone

1934 Jan 12. Travels from Bombay to UK. District Supt of Police. Travels with Lavinia. Indian Police

1934 Aug 31. Travels from UK to Bombay. Travels with Lavinia

1935 Feb 22. Travels to UK from Bombay. with Elsie M Gearing, Indian Police Supt.

1939 Register Living at 2 Wallace Avenue , Worthing M.B., Sussex. He is Indian Police Retired, with wife Lavinia E M.

1943 Jan/Mar Died Surrey aged 51


WO 339/43577