AIR MECHANIC 3RD CLASS WILLIAM ARTHUR HANSEN
ROYAL AIR FORCE
8TH NOVEMBER 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: CHARMES MILITARY CEMETERY, ESSEGNEY, FRANCE
William Hansen came from Argentina to fight for Britain. Argentina was resolutely neutral throughout the war despite the fact that there was huge pressure on the president, Hipolyto Irigoyen, to support the Allied cause. Many British, German, French and Italian residents returned to Europe from Argentina to fight for their countries. Hansen was one of them.
He joined the RAF as an Air Mechanic Third Class and was a member of 115 Squadron, a night bombing unit based at St Ingelvert in northern France. Hansen and nine other men of 115 Squadron were killed in an accidental bomb explosion on the 8 November 1918. The accident is said to have occurred at Roville - there are no other identifying hints as to its location. All 10 casualties are buried at Charmes Communal Cemetery Extension, 215 km from St Inglevert. Hansen and five others are buried in what looks like a communal grave, their headstones standing touching each other. Whilst Hansen and Linley have individual grave references - I.F.16 and I.F.18 - the other bodies have a single reference - I.F.17. It was obviously not possible to distinguish one body from another.
Hansen was the son of Rudolph and Jane Woolven Hansen of Paseo Colon 532, Buenos Aires. Jane Hansen chose her son's inscription; Rudolph was dead. Despite its poetic ring, the inscription does not appear to be a quotation. Honour motivated her son's decision to return to Britain - to help, to fight, to die. I have not been able to find out anything about the accident but ... a night bombing unit, ten dead airmen, a mass grave ... the clues are there.