Date of Death:
1st Bn. Royal Scots attached
1st Squadron . Royal Flying Corps
7 december 1893 ,Dibrugarh , Assam , India
6 july 1915
Son of Harry and Jessie Playfair, of Dalaguri, Letekujan P.O., Sibsagar, Upper Assam, India.
Educated at Oakham and passed into Sandhurst, 14 january 1912, with a Prize Cadetship
Hospital Farm Cemetery
Row B , Stone 9
5 february 1912
6 july 1915
Gazetted Second Lieutenant to the Royal Scots
Joined the 2nd Battalion and afterwards the 1st Bn. at Allahabad.
Left India with his Regiment
Entered the Royal Flying Corps as observer on active service.
While serving with N°1 Squadron , his Avro 504 was on artillery obeservation duties over St. Julien.
Their 'spotting' had resulted in so many direct hits that, the hostile anti-aircraft guns having proved ineffectual, 2 German Aviatiks were sent up to attack them.
As one by one they rose to the attack the gallant pilot of the British machine, with a word through the speaking-tube to his observer, made a drive which brought him alongside or above the enemy, and a fair supply of ammunition for the machine-gun being to hand, it was expended to such good purpose that one after another the Germans were compelled to retire.
In the breathing spaces between the different combats Filley would drop back into position favourable for observation, and Playfair would resume his interrupted work of taking notes and sending back news to the battery.
The work in hand was important enough to call for all the attention of the two officers, but so far as they themselves were concerned, they did not seem to mind the interruptions.
Down below, however, the Germans were becoming greatly exasperated, and finally some officer, having apparently made up his mind that the British aeroplane must be brought down or driven off if the position were to be tenable much longer, sent up a couple of aeroplanes simultaneously, with instructions to attack together.
One can, in imagination, hear one of the British airmen shouting through the speaking-tube: "Now for it!" or see the other passing to his companion a slip of paper with a few words scribbled upon it telling him to get ready for the scrap, with the added titbit: "There are only five rounds left!"
A final message was sent back to the battery, and then, while a shell from one of the guns crashed on to the spot indicated, Filley, without waiting for the Germans to attack him, swooped toward them in order to get in the first shots. It was a right royal battle while it lasted, but, unfortunately, it did not last very long.
The British were badly outmatched, being short of ammunition and having two enemies to fight.
Filley, however, manoeuvred his machine so skillfully, and Playfair worked his gun so cleverly, that, but for an unlucky bullet from one of the German machines, they might have come off with flying colours.
Practised as he was in the ways of engines, Lieutenant Filley, after recovering from the shock he had suffered at seeing his comrade killed, realized that his engine had been damaged by some of the spraying bullets from the German gun.
He was helpless for attack now that his companion was dead, and his one idea henceforth was to save his machine.
To stay where he was would mean being shot down by the Germans, in which case the aeroplane would be captured and he himself made prisoner, even if he were not killed.
The true soldier knows when it is time to leave the scene of battle, and Filley realized that his duty was to get back as quickly as possible.
The enemy, thinking that they now had him, closed in upon him, but the Lieutenant swung round, and, with his engine making weird noises, as though it resented being driven while so severely mauled, made for the British lines.
Presently the Germans came within range of the British anti-aircraft guns, whereupon they promptly turned tail, leaving Filley to go on his way unmolested to a graceful landing which he soon was able to make near Hospital Farm.
Lieutenant Playfair was shot through the heart and his body was skilfully brought back to our lines by his pilot , Second Lieutenant Filley O.Dwight who afterwards received the Military Cross for this engagement.
His Colonel wrote :
' He was an unusually capable officer and died a heroic death and was an honour to have such an officer under his command.'
His Major reported:
'He was extraordinarlity brave , feared absolutely nothing , loving fighting in the air and was such an example of grit and ability that his death was a great loss to the squadron.
I knew of no one who could gather so much information from a single reconnaissance.'