George Guy Barry Downing


Lieutenant; Royal Flying Corps (formerly 9th Battalion, The Welsh Regiment)

Killed: 4th September 1917, Scotland

George Guy Barry Downing was born in 1893 in Station Road, Llanishen to George Cottrell and Alice Downing. He attended Charterhouse and Slade schools, where he showed some talent as an artist, and by 1911 was back with the family in Beverley, on Lisvane Road.

He enlisted not long after the outbreak of war in 1914 and was commissioned into the 9th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. The following year he served with his battalion at the battle of Loos, where he was wounded. While recovering back in Britain from his wounds, he requested to be transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and, following training, returned to France in 1916 as a pilot.

In September 1916, while flying a BE.2c over the Somme battlefields, his aircraft was caught in a barrage of German anti-aircraft fire and seriously damaged. He managed to nurse his injured machine back towards the Allied lines, despite being pursued by two German fighters, and crash-landed in a French trench.

Following another long spell of recuperation during which he also had to fight off an acute attack of diphtheria, he was posted to No.2 (Aux) School of Air Gunnery at Turnberry in Scotland (now the site of the Trump Turnberry golf course). He made repeated requests to return to front-line service during his time at the school. However, he was not to see combat again. On 4th September 1917 he went up on a routine training flight with another pilot in a BE2c when the aircraft got into difficulty and crashed. George was killed instantly, aged just 23.  He left behind a wife, Edith, who had married in April 1915, and an infant son Peter, born that same year.

Because he died in the UK, George's remains were brought back to Llanishen and interred in St Isan's churchyard. He is the only one of the men from Llanishen who fell during the war to be buried in the village. His name is also recorded on the memorials inside the church and there is a rather grand window dedicated to him on the West Wall.