John Harold Whitworth Becke was born in Liverpool on 17th September 1879. His father was the curate of All Saints Church in Kensington, but he chose a military career path which would see him serving in the very first days of the Royal Flying Corps and rising to the rank of Brigadier General.
His parents James Henry Becke and his wife Edith and throughout their stay in Liverpool they lived at 13 Marmaduke Street L7. By 1891 they had left the city to move to Beckingham in Nottinghamshire, John Becke starting his military life in the Sherwood Foresters. He was an infantry officer in the Second Boer War and after service in India in 1912 he was seconded in the rank of captain to the newly-formed Royal Flying Corps. He was awarded his Royal Aero Club aviators certificate on 18 June 1912 flying a Bristol Biplane at Brooklands. He became the commanding officer of No.6 Squadron at Farnborough, one of the very few squadrons to be established before the outbreak of the First World War. He served throughout the war, transferring to the Royal Air Force on its creation in April 1918. Having risen to the rank of Brigadier General, he continued in the RAF until 1920.
He was a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Air Force Cross. Mentioned in despatches twice, he also received the Croix de Guerre and was an officer the French Legion of Honour. He died in Scotland on 7th February 1949.
The Becke family home in Liverpool
All Saints Church Liverpool
This photograph shows Becke standing in conversation with King George V at the Bray-Dunes aerodrome, 5 July 1917. Edward, the Prince of Wales, is looking at a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 biplane. (The photo is a modern colourisation)
© Liverpool Footprints