- Stevens, Errol
- History - WW1, Biographies and personal histories, Naval Aviation
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
R.S. DALLAS DSO DSC* C de G (1891 – 1918)
Roderic Stanley Dallas is generally regarded as Australia’s second highest scoring air ace of any war, with the majority of sources listing at least 39 victories, second only to R.A. Little with 47. Numbers given to Dallas range from 51 in the “Guiness History of Air Warfare” to 32 in “Above the Trenches”, but nearly all sources state that sometimes he did not bother to make a claim and that often he allowed new pilots to finish off a hostile aircraft to boost their morale.
He was born on July 30 1891 at Mount Stanley pastoral station near Esk, Queensland where his father was working at that time. His parents were Peter and Honora (nee Curry) Dallas and the name Stanley came from his birth place. As he grew up he was usually called Stan and his normal signature was R. Stanley Dallas.
His parents moved to Tenterfield, New South Wales when Dallas was still small and then to Mount Morgan, Queensland in 1898. By this time there were four children in the family, an elder sister and two younger brothers.
He attended the Mount Morgan Boys Central School until 1907 when he left age 16 to obtain a job in the Assay Office of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company. Whilst at school he reached the rank of Sergeant in the school Cadet Corps. Mount Morgan at the turn of the century was a major producer of gold and copper. Dallas continued his education in the evenings at the local Technical College studying chemistry and mechanical drawing.
Later, because of better pay, he and a brother became miners at the Iron Island leases.
In 1913 he joined the local part time Citizen Military Forces and became a Lieutenant in the Army Reserve. His brother was killed in a mining accident in 1917.
After the outbreak of WWI Dallas applied to join the Australian Flying Corps but was not accepted. By this time he was well over 6ft (180cm) tall and built proportionally. He was a big man in all senses of the word and rarely smoked, drank or swore which was unusual for miners of that period.
Because of his keen desire to fly he paid his own way to England in early 1915 and tried to join the Royal Flying Corps but was rejected. His application to join the R.N.A.S. was successful and he was appointed Temporary Acting Flight Sub Lieutenant on June 25 1915 and posted to Hendon for pilot training.
His first flight was in a Grahame-White biplane on July 3. He also trained in Bleriots and Farmans and on August 5 after a flight in a Grahame-White biplane he was awarded Royal Aero Club Certificate No. 1512. This certificate stated that he was born at Brisbane on July 29 1891. Some of his R.N.A.S. records state that he was born on July 29 1892. He was then posted to Chingford Essex and on October 30 managed to wreck a BE2c at Barnet in Herts.
On November 11 he was posted to Dover where he carried out coastal patrols and then to No. 1 Wing, Dunkirk at the end of November, where he joined A Squadron which was later to become No. 1 Squadron R.N.A.S. or Naval One. His first active service flight from Dunkirk was on December 2.
Dallas’s first aerial combat of over 100 in his brief flying career came on February 16 whilst in a Nieuport Scout against a hostile aircraft but the result was inconclusive.
On April 24, flying a Nieuport he achieved his first victory when he shot down a German 2 seater but sustained some damage to his own aircraft. His next victim as reported in “The War in the Air” was a German sea plane returning from a raid against Dover. On May 20 whilst patrolling off the Belgian coast in a Nieuport he spotted and then attacked the seaplane which crash landed in the sea and then sank.
It was in this early 1916 period that Dallas received his R.N.A.S. nick name of Breguet as told by fellow Australian B.C. Bell, later Squadron Commander DSO, DSC, C de G, in “Reveille”. Bell decided to play a practical joke on Dallas who was the duty officer. Bell pretended he was the CO on the phone and told Dallas to take off in the Breguet knowing it was under maintenance without a propeller, and attack a Zeppelin reported in the area, Dallas protested, but was overruled and wheeled the Breguet out and got into his flying gear. Bell came to watch but eventually Dallas realised what had happened.