Hugh Douglas Stier ("Pong" to his grandchildren) was a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force during World War I. As I understand it, the U.S. had few military aircraft and even fewer trained pilots as its involvement in World War I became imminent. A number of Schools of Military Aeronautics were established at U.S. universities in 1917, modeled on Canadian and British ground schools. The top graduates of these programs received commissions as reserve officers in the Signal Corps Aviation Section and were sent for advanced flight training in Canada, Italy, France, and Great Britain.
Pong trained at the Ohio State University School of Military Aeronautics, Columbus, Ohio, squadron #7, in 1917. He was part of a group of approximately 500 that were originally slated to go to Italy but re-routed to England in August and September 1917, where they trained at Oxford and were known as the Oxford Cadets. Their ship left New York and picked up the transatlantic convoy in Halifax, N.S.
Ohio State School of Military Aeronautics, August 15, 1917 (Link to hi res TIF file)
Most of the Oxford Cadets joined American aero squadrons, but a few--about 50--stayed with British units. Pong flew with the Royal Flying Corps Squadron No.206 (a bomber squadron) from May 25-Sept. 12, 1918. He received two victory credits for destroying enemy aircraft on July 25 and August 7, 1918.
According to his Victory Medal (see below) he flew in two named campaigns: the Somme Offensive (8 Aug - 11 Nov 1918) and Ypres-Lys (19 Aug - 11 Nov 1918), as well as other unnamed operations.
His insignia appears to be both British and American pieces.
top row from left:
World War I Victory Medal: close-up and details
Two Signal Corps discs. Before the establishment of a separate Army Air Corps, there was an Aviation Division within the Signal Corps. These are enlisted man's collar discs and would have been worn before he got his officer's commission, one on the left side of the high collar on the tunic. A "US" disc was worn on the other side.
Silver First Lieutenant's bar. This is a plain silver bar. There is another bar not pictured here. For both bars, click here.
Bottom row from left:
U.S. Officer's cap badge stamped "J R Gaunt London" on the back.
U.S. and U.S.R. pins
The "albatross" of the Royal Flying Corps close-up
Top row from left
Royal Flying Corps Cap Badge close-up
Two shoulder stars: detail and close-up
Bottom row from left:
Two wings with silver propeller. These are stamped "London" on the back. I don't know if they were used by the Americans or the British. I have seen them described as cadet wings. Have seen pictures of them on the high jacket collars. The US collar insignia were worn by officers on the front edge of the collars, the winged propeller insignia were worn behind them. close-up
Three buttons. Two clearly say "RFC." Small one appears to have a crown. close-up
The de Havilland DH-9 two-seater light bomber, which I believe the 206 squadron flew in 1918.
The De Havilland Company
Two seat light bomber.
One 230hp Siddeley Puma
Span 45ft 1 in; length 30ft 3in; height 11ft 4in.
Maximum speed 111mph;
One fixed forward firing 0.303in Vickers machine gun and one or two 0.303in Lewis machine guns manually aimed from the rear cockpit. Bomb load up to 250lbs.
First flown in 1917 and served in various Squadrons on the Western Front until the end of World War 1. The performance of the DH9 was disappointing due to the Puma engine and a replacement aircraft known as the DH9A soon followed. This was the same as the DH9 but with a Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII or Liberty engine. Nevertheless 3,204 DH9 aircraft were built and they saw considerable action.