Edwin Moon, pioneer aviator and World War One hero, was born in Southampton in 1886. He lived with his family at 12 Cranbury Avenue and was educated at Banister Court School and then, as a boarder, at Cranleigh School in Surrey. On leaving school in 1904 he worked initially in his late father’s finance business in Hanover Buildings, but soon set up his own business, Moonbeam Engineering, in the Wool House on Town Quay, building motor launches and marine engines. His ambition, though, was to build an aeroplane, having been inspired by the Wright Brothers’ recent successes and Bleriot’s crossing of the English Channel. By 1910 he was ready to test his prototype plane Moonbeam I which managed a short ‘hop’ in the Calshot area. Later that year his second plane Moonbeam II managed a longer flight from North Stoneham Farm, land that was later to become part of Southampton Airport. Despite mishaps, Moon successfully flew his plane on a number of occasions and achieved his aviator’s certificate in 1914.

At the outbreak of World War One Moon joined the Royal Naval Air Service (forerunner of the RAF) and was posted to East Africa where he won the DSO and Bar and other gallantry awards, for repeated reconnaissance and bombing flights over enemy-held territory. In 1917 he was reported as dead following a seaplane crash; however, he and the airplane's observer constructed a raft and survived for several days. The observer died but Moon survived until he was rescued by local people and handed over to the Germans, where he became a prisoner of war. He received The Legion of Honour – Croix de Chevalier for his attempts to save the observer's life.

After the war Moon took command of the RAF flying boat station at Felixstowe. In April 1920 he was killed when piloting a flying boat which crashed into the sea on a training flight. He was buried at the Old Cemetery on the Common.

Moonbeam II

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Moon photographed in Moonbeam II, 1910

Edwin Rowland Moon

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Photograph, c.1910

Newspaper clippings (available online or from the Local Studies Library):

The Late Flight-Commander Moon (erroneous announcement of Moon's death) - (Southampton and District Pictorial 17/01/1917)
Account of Moon's death - (Southern Daily Echo 30/04/1920)
"Remarkable life of early high-flyer" - (Southern Daily Echo 22/07/2010)

Further reading:

The Story of Edwin Rowland Moon, by Rowland Charles Moon. (HSph)


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