Victoria Cross flying ace who served his country in two wars
Pilot who won the military’s highest honour in 1915 went on
A First World War flying ace who escaped from multiple prisoner of war camps and was awarded the Victoria Cross spent part of his life living near Ashford.
Group Captain Gilbert Start Martin Insall and various members of his family lived in Imber, an old timber house in Cheeseman’s Green Lane, Sevington, for a number of years.
Captain Insall named the house after a Wiltshire village that was requisitioned by the Army for use as a training ground during the Second World War.
His only surviving son, David, who now lives in the Arab state of Oman, said: “My father named Imber after the village on Salisbury Plain that was vacated to make an urban warfare training centre.
“He was very sad about it as he was stationed nearby, variously commanding RAF Upavon and RAF Netheravon in the 1920s and 1930s, and knew the village.”
Insall was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest military decoration, for “conspicuous bravery, skill and determination” on November 7 1915.
He was flying a Vickers FB5 Gunbus with air mechanic TH Donald as gunner when they became caught up in an air battle with a German plane.
Insall, at the time a second lieutenant, forced the enemy pilot to make an emergency landing.
Then, as the German crew got out and prepared to fire, he dived down to 500 feet, allowing his gunner to open fire.
The Germans fled and Insall bombed the downed Aviatik, but his plane was hit by enemy fire on the way back to base and