CAPTAIN DURHAM DONALD GEORGE HALL
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
27TH MARCH 1918 AGE 20
BURIED: DOULLENS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION NO. 1, TANZANIA
This is a rather touchingly incongruous inscription for Captain Hall RFC, whose Military Cross was awarded for conspicuous gallantry in flying not only in the worst weather and at very low altitudes, but once at an extremely low altitude and under very heavy enemy fire in order to range the artillery's guns. But then 'mummie', who chose it, was quite an usual woman.
Born Ethel Beatrice Lloyd in Toungoo, Burma, her father died when she was two. The next time she surfaces it is as Ethel Sydney performing in a musical in New York. In the 1901 census, as Ethel B Hall, actress, she is staying in digs in Fylde, Blackpool with her three-year-old son Durham Donald George Hall. After this the records show that she divorced Sydney Donald Edward Hall in 1903 and married Samuel Robinson Oliver who divorced her in 1912 at which point she married the co-respondent, John Upston Gaskell. He left her in 1923 and the following year she married Alastair Ian Matheson who, born in 1899, was just younger than her son would have been.
You can perhaps see why her son was her 'sweet ideal'.
Durham Donald George Hall was born in 1898 and educated at Charterhouse. He left school in the summer of 1914 and was commissioned into the Yorkshire Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. In January 1918 he went to France with the newly formed 80 Squadron. On the 26 March he failed to return from a patrol. Witnesses saw him bring his plane down near Albert. It is thought it had been damaged by enemy ground fire. Hall had been wounded and died of his wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station the next day.