He was born in Indian but at a very young age moved to England, signed up for service in the air wing of the navy and went on to serve in Europe during the Great War.
A few months after the Germans starting bombing of London by monstrous Zeppelin balloons, he would become the very first in the war to shoot one down during an air battle. Rex was flying his single winged, one passeger plane when he saw the enemy balloon that was the very balloon to drop the first bombs on England just a few months earlier.
He followed it for several hours till be could manouver above it, where it had no defences and then dropped his bombs on it. When it expoded his own plane was impacted by the sudden rush of air pressure which flipped his craft upside down. He went into a nose dive with loss of control, managed to still fly it some 35 miles into enemy territory, fix up minor repairs and set off again to fight more battles.
Within days he was directed to go to Paris where he was invested with the equivalent medal to the US's Medal of Honor. That very day he took a new plane up for 2 test runs, the first solo and the second with a reporter. Then the plane malfunctioned in mid air, and again flipped upside down. Both were thrown from the plane because it had no seat belts. Both died, the passenger immediately, and Rex enroute to hospital.
He was supposed to leave Paris for London where he was to receive his Victoria Cross, but instead, fate ended his life at the early age of 23.
Rex is shown above, as is a likeness of the plane he flew in the battle that destroyed the Zeppelin, also shown above.
Part of the plan was to have a contest to design a plaque for these great war heroes and have to have it unveiled on the very day, 100 years after the deed took place and the VC was later awaded for.
Past blogs told of the public outcry when the details began to emerge. A plaque was designed (called a paving stone) and the authorities went about creating hundreds on the pattern shown here. Trouble is, those who were making the decisions of the day blew it. They decided that only those who WERE BORN in England would get one of these plaques.
The public began to demand that the narrow parameters would exclude other VC heroes, born elsewhere but clearly as deserving of recognition that those born in England would get. Still others argued that some born in England went off to other countries, later earning the VC, but by the earliest of rules also did not qualify for this honour. Still others complained that all VC recipients were as deserving.
One of the strong groups advocating that the plans had to be revisited was the very regiment that earned 3 VC's and one of these was Rex from India. And thus I thought I ought to bring you Rex's story.
Another of the many coming forth argued that the same discrimination was being applied in the case of a 26 year old who moved to England also as a child and ended up being killed in battle leading his regiment in a charge. His name was Phillip Bent, and he was born at Halifax Nova Scotia in January 1891. He was apparently the youngest Lt.Col in the army of the day. But according to the rules, he was a hero that earned the VC posthumously but not important enough to be honored.
But that changed. Both he and Rex and several hundred more will all be honoured thanks to the watchfull eye of the British public.
It should be remembered by all that in the Great War there were 628 Victoria Crosses awarded. That is almost half of all awarded sinec inception. But nevertheless with the millions who fought, it is indeed an honour for those proud enough to be on the receiving end. And of those 628... only 365 were born in England.
Certainly something to reflect on. And speaking of reflection I would like to end with this wonderful image.
It speaks volumes... despite being blurry!