This image shows the ground-crew and
pilot preparing for another First World War dawn raid next to
their Sopwith Pup aircraft, a scene that could have been
witnessed on any French air field during 1917. Who knows what
the crew and pilot would have been discussing knowing the
chances of success of the mission at the time. Incredibly,
this photograph was taken in 2018 in Essex. Stow Maries
Aerodrome remains one of the most authentic airfields of the
period anywhere in the World. I was lucky enough to be present
during this magical sunrise to capture this haunting and
The Sopwith Pup was a British
Single-seat biplane fighter that entered service with the
Royal Flying Corp and the Royal Naval Air Service towards the
end of 1916. The name ‘Pup’ was not an official designation,
but a nickname that came about when a pilot commented that the
aircraft was a smaller version of the Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter.
With pleasant flying characteristics and good maneuverability,
the aircraft proved very successful. The Pup was eventually
outclassed by newer German fighters, but it was not completely
replaced on the Western Front until the end of 1917.
The reenactors are dressed in authentic costumes from the era;
they are keen historians and enthusiasts who take every care
to ensure every detail is accurate. The airfield itself was
established here in 1916 for use by the Royal Flying Corps
during the First World War. By 1919 the airfield had served
its purpose and ceased to be required during peace time. Due
to an unsuitable clay-based soil, Stow Maries was not
re-opened during the Second World War despite its location.
Stow Maries Aerodrome was therefore left largely
abandoned and intact for almost 90 years, some of the
buildings were used for grain store, but otherwise remained
untouched until the airfield was purchased by Steve Wilson and
Russell Savory who set about restoring it to the a state that
it would have been found in 1919.
Today the Aviation
Heritage Trust and the Vintage Aviator Ltd base several World
War One aircraft at the historic Aerodrome and regular open
days are held where some of these aeroplanes can be seen
taking to the skies.