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Pontypridd Air Cadets discover and pay tribute to local WW1 flying ace

Cymraeg

 

Seven Cadets from 1004 (Pontypridd) Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) are planning to adopt the grave of a local First World War hero later this month.

 

They developed the idea after carrying out extensive research for the prestigious RAF 100 First World War Commemoration Project competition. They have reached the finals of the competition, which will be held in Llandrindod Wells on Sunday 15 April.

 

The Wales-wide competition, sponsored by Air Officer Wales, aims to inspire Cadets to engage with their local communities and identify those that contributed to the First World War who may not have been well-known.

 

It is part of nationwide celebrations to mark 100 years since the formation of the Royal Air Force and to commemorate the end of the First World War. The Cadet team was required to identify a member of their community from the ‘Great War’, document their history and locate their final resting place.

 

1004 (Pontypridd) RAFAC will represent No 1 Welsh Wing Air Training Corps (ATC) and there will also be teams from No 2 Welsh Wing ATC and No 3 Welsh Wing ATC aiming to win the competition.

 

Captain Francis Mansel Kitto MC RFC

After researching online sources, the Cadets chose to research Captain Francis Mansel Kitto MC RFC (Royal Flying Corps) on account of his extraordinary service during the First World War.

 

Born in Pontypridd on New Year's Day 1897, Captain Kitto was transferred from the Welsh Regiment to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, aged 19. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and appointed Flying Officer before posting to 43 Squadron on the Western Front.

 

In March 1917, Kitto secured his first aerial victory east of Arras. He repeated this feat twice that year before transferring to 54 Squadron. On 1 December 1917, Temporary Lieutenant Kitto was appointed a Flight Commander and promoted to Temporary Captain. He achieved six more aerial victories in 1918, bringing his total to four German planes destroyed and five driven down out of control.

 

In June 1918, Kitto was awarded the Military Cross. His citation read:

 

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While engaged in attacking ground targets with machine-gun fire and bombs he observed a large party of troops, amongst whom he dropped the remainder of his bombs with the most excellent of results. On a later occasion he attacked a formation of enemy scouts, and having caused one of these to crash to the ground, he pursued another and attacked it eleven miles behind the enemy's lines, bringing it to the ground and destroying it. In addition to these he shot down two other hostile machines, and has shown throughout, the greatest determination and dash."

 

Post war career

On 24 June 1924, Kitto was granted a Class A commission in the Royal Air Force as a Flying Officer on probation and his rank was confirmed on 24 December 1924.

 

In spite of numerous dangerous feats in the air, Captain Kitto sustained serious injuries following a motorcycle accident while home on leave and he never recovered. He died aged 29 at Pontypridd Cottage Hospital on 25 June 1926.

 

Following further research using local records, the Cadets were able to locate his grave at Pontypridd Glyntaff Cemetery and in November 2017, three Cadets visited Captain Kitto’s grave.  It was overgrown, and lost its headstone. A personalised cross was placed and it was saluted in his honour.

 

Beyond the project

The team has so far been unable to find any surviving members of Captain Kitto’s family. If no surviving family members can be identified, the Cadets intend to adopt Francis Kitto’s resting place as a War Grave; they will maintain it, and commemorate him every Remembrance Sunday.

 

Project participant, Cadet Burgess said: “I found this project to be incredibly interesting as we got to search and find it such a lot about a local young man who risked his life and excelled in the protection of his country. I am personally very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to honour his story and life.”

 

Adult Flight Sergeant Keith Foxhall (RAFAC) led the project on 1004 Squadron. He said: “As the Project Leader I would like to thank and congratulate all of the team cadet members involved in this thought provoking but rewarding exercise. Hopefully it leaves everyone, as it does myself, with more understanding and appreciation of the selfless bravery and heroic action of the many thousands on both sides who were injured or lost their lives in the service of their countries.”

 

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Cadetiaid Awyr Pontypridd yn darganfod arwr awyr o’r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf ac yn talu teyrnged iddo

 

Mae saith Cadet o Gadetiaid Awyr yr Awyrlu Brenhinol (RAFAC) 1004 (Pontypridd) yn bwriadu gofalu am fedd arwr lleol yn y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf yn ddiweddarach yn y mis.

 

Datblygwyd y syniad ar ôl mynd ati i wneud ymchwil ar gyfer cystadleuaeth Prosiect Cofio’r Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf RAF 100. Mae’r saith wedi cyrraedd rownd derfynol y gystadleuaeth, a gynhelir yn Llandrindod ddydd Sul 15 Ebrill.

 

Nod y gystadleuaeth Cymru gyfan, a noddir gan Swyddog Awyr Cymru, yw ysbrydoli Cadetiaid i ymgysylltu a’u cymunedau lleol, a thynnu sylw at y rhai a gyfrannodd at y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf nad oeddynt yn adnabyddus o reidrwydd.

 

Mae’n rhan o ddathliadau ledled Prydain i ddathlu canmlwyddiant sefydlu’r Awyrlu Brenhinol, ac i gofio diwedd y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf. Roedd gofyn i’r tîm ddod o hyd i aelod o’u cymuned a gyfrannodd at y Rhyfel Mawr, cofnodi ei hanes, a dod o hyd i’w fedd.

Bydd Sgwadron 1004 (Pontypridd) RAFAC yn cynrychioli Adain 1af Gymreig y Corfflu Hyfforddiant Awyr (ATC), ac yn cystadlu yn erbyn timau o Ail a Thrydedd Adain Gymreig yr ATC hefyd yn y gobaith o ennill y gystadleuaeth.

 

Capten Francis Mansel Kitto MC RFC

 

Ar ôl defnyddio ffynonellau ar-lein, dewisodd y Cadetiaid ymchwilio i’r Capten Francis Mansel Kitto MC RFC (Corfflu Awyr Brenhinol), oherwydd ei wasanaeth anhygoel yn ystod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf.

 

Ganwyd Capten Kitto ar ddydd Calan 1897 ym Mhontypridd, a throsglwyddwyd ef o’r Gatrawd Gymreig i’r RFC ym 1916 ag yntau’n 19 oed. Comisiynwyd ef yn Ail Is-gapten a’i benodi’n Swyddog Awyr cyn ei anfon at Sgwadron 43 ar y Ffrynt Gorllewinol.

 

Ym mis Mawrth 1917, sicrhaodd Kitto ei fuddugoliaeth gyntaf yn yr awyr i'r dwyrain o Arras. Llwyddodd i ailadrodd y gamp hon ddwywaith y flwyddyn honno cyn trosglwyddo i Sgwadron 54. Ar 1 Rhagfyr 1917, penodwyd yr Is-gapten Dros Dro Kitto yn Gomander Awyr a’i ddyrchafu’n Gapten Dros Dro. Cafodd chwe buddugoliaeth awyr arall ym 1918, gan ddinistrio cyfanswm o bedair awyren Almaenig, ac achosi i bump golli rheolaeth a gadael y frwydr.

 

Dyfarnwyd y Groes Filwrol iddo ym mis Mehefin 1918. Ysgrifennwyd amdano yn ei gydnabyddiaeth o deilyngdod:

 

“Am ddewrder amlwg ac ymrwymiad i’w ddyletswydd. Tra’n ymosod ar dargedau ar y ddaear trwy ddefnyddio gwn peiriant a bomiau, fe welodd griw mawr o filwyr, a gollyngodd weddill ei fomiau yn eu plith gyda chanlyniadau ardderchog. Yna’n ddiweddarach ymosododd ar awyrennau sgowtiaid y gelyn, ac wedi iddo ymosod ar un awyren ac iddi blymio i’r ddaear, aeth ar ôl un arall ac ymosod arni un filltir ar ddeg y tu ôl i linellau’r gelyn, gan ei dinistrio’n llwyr.  Yn ogystal, saethodd ddwy o awyrennau eraill y gelyn, gan ddangos dewrder a phenderfyniad heb ei ail bob amser.”

Gyrfa wedi’r rhyfel

 

Ar 24 Mehefin 1924, dyfarnwyd comisiwn Dosbarth A yr Awyrlu Brenhinol i Kitto fel Swyddog Awyr ar gyfnod prawf, a daeth ei ddyrchafiad yn swyddogol ar 24 Rhagfyr 1924.

 

Er gwaethaf ei brofiadau peryglus niferus yn yr awyr, anafwyd Capten Kitto’n ddifrifol mewn damwain beic modur yn ystod cyfnod o wyliau. Bu farw’n 29 oed yn Ysbyty Bwthyn Pontypridd ar 25 Mehefin 1926.

 

Yn sgil ymchwil pellach gan ddefnyddio cofnodion lleol, llwyddodd y Cadetiaid i ddod o hyd i’w fedd ym Mynwent Glyntaf, Pontypridd, ac ym mis Tachwedd 2017, ymwelodd tri hadet â bedd Capten Kitto. Roedd y bedd yn chwyn i gyd, ac wedi colli ei garreg fedd. Gosodwyd croes bersonol ar y bedd, a gwnaethant saliwtio i’w anrhydeddu.

 

Tu hwnt i’r prosiect

Hyd yn hyn, nid yw’r tîm wedi llwyddo i ddod o hyd i aelodau o deulu Capten Kitto sy’n dal i fod yn fyw. Os na ellir dod o hyd i neb, mae’r Cadetiaid yn bwriadu ysgwyddo’r cyfrifoldeb am fedd Francis Kitto fel Bedd Rhyfel; bydd y sgwadron yn cynnal a chadw’r bedd, a’i gofio bob blwyddyn ar Sul y Cofio.

 

Dywedodd Cadet Burgess, a gymerodd ran yn y prosiect: “Roedd hwn yn brosiect diddorol iawn, gan i ni ymchwilio a darganfod cymaint am ddyn ifanc lleol a fentrodd gyda’i fywyd ac a wnaeth gymaint i amddiffyn ei wlad. Yn bersonol, rydw i’n ddiolchgar iawn fy mod i wedi cael y cyfle i ddarganfod mwy amdano ac i dalu teyrnged iddo.”

 

Y Rhingyll Awyr mewn oed, Keith Foxhall (RAFAC) arweiniodd brosiect Sgwadron 1004. Dywedodd: “Fel arweinydd y prosiect, hoffwn ddiolch a llongyfarch pob un aelod o’r cadetiaid ar y tîm a gymerodd ran yn yr ymarferiad diddorol a gwerth chweil hwn. Rwy’n gobeithio bod gan bawb – fel –finnau -  well ddealltwriaeth a gwerthfawrogiad o ddewrder anhunanol y miloedd ar y naill ochr a’r llall a gafodd eu hanafu neu eu lladd tra’n gwasanaethu dros eu gwlad.”

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