Grouse shoot­ing in mesopotamia

The re­mark­able story of James Stan­ley Beatty’s sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the First World War. Com­piled with the as­sis­tance of his grand­son David Mills.

Shooting Gazette - - This Month -

a truly re­mark­able sport­ing tale of Cap­tain James stan­ley Beatty RFC’S der­ring- do in No Man’s Land to­wards the end of the First World War. Com­piled with the as­sis­tance of his grand­son David Mills.

My grand­fa­ther, James Stan­ley Beatty, was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. With the be­gin­ning of the First World War he en­listed in the Royal Fly­ing Corps (RFC) on June 15, 1915, as a lieu­tenant. He was ini­tially part of the RFC’S Num­ber 1 Squadron, and is in­cluded in a Squadron pho­to­graph taken on De­cem­ber 25, 1916, with Canada’s fly­ing ace Billy Bishop. Stan served in Bailleul, France, and was then posted to Mesopotamia and Egypt where he served most of the war as a cap­tain. He re­turned to Canada in July 1919. On July 15, 1919, he was awarded the Distin­guished Fly­ing Cross (DFC), one of I be­lieve only 30 Cana­di­ans to re­ceive this hon­our.

Stan was an avid shooter and hunter, both be­fore and af­ter the First World War. He also sought op­por­tu­ni­ties to hunt dur­ing his train­ing over­seas in Eng­land, where he wrote many let­ters home de­scrib­ing his shoot­ing ad­ven­tures, and, in one mem­o­rable in­stance, shoot­ing grouse and par­tridge in no-man’s land be­tween the English and Turk­ish bat­tle lines in Mesopotamia. Any avid shooter will en­joy the lengths to which he went to ob­tain his shot­guns and am­mu­ni­tion, and how he man­aged to con­vince of­fi­cers, driv­ers and oth­ers to en­able him to shoot birds in a very dan­ger­ous area. The story is typ­i­cal of Stan’s au­dac­ity, spirit, and love of ad­ven­ture.

His DFC was awarded, not for these shoot­ing ex­ploits, but rather for the fol­low­ing: “Dur­ing op­er­a­tions near Sheroat, Egypt, 24th to 30th Oc­to­ber, 1918, he ren­dered gal­lant ser­vice in ha­rass­ing the en­emy by ma­chine gun fire from very low al­ti­tudes, be­ing vig­or­ously fired upon the whole time. Cap­tain Beatty has al­ways been con­spic­u­ous for gal­lantry and de­vo­tion to duty. On 21st April, 1918, he de­stroyed one en­emy ma­chine and brought down another out of con­trol.”

James Stan­ley "Stan" Beatty, who serves most of the war as a cap­tain in the Royal Fly­ing Corps.

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