Military Wiki
Clement Wattson Payton
Born (1897-04-13)13 April 1897
Died 2 October 1918(1918-10-02) (aged 21)
Place of birth Walsall, Staffordshire, England
Place of death Vicinity of Courtrai, Belgium
Plot II. B. 6, Harlebeke New British Cemetery Harelbeke, Belgium
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Air Force
Rank Lieutenant
Unit No. 210 Squadron RAF
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross, French and Belgian Croix de guerres

Lieutenant Clement Wattson Payton, DFC (13 April 1897—2 October 1918) was an English World War I flying ace credited with 11 official victories.

Early life

Clement Wattson Payton was born to Elizabeth Croydon and Joseph Wattson Payton[1] on 13 April 1897.[2] He was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, England. He resided at "Westfield", Torquay, England.[1]

World War I

Payton joined the Royal Naval Air Service in November 1917. After training, he was posted to 10 Naval Squadron on 31 March 1918. He awoke the next morning in the brand new Royal Air Force.[3]

Payton served as a Sopwith Camel fighter pilot in France. His first success came on 20 May 1918, when he drove down a German Albatros D.V fighter plane out of control over Menen, Belgium. The next day, he teamed with squadronmates Solomon Clifford Joseph and Albert Leslie Jones to destroy a German observation balloon at Pont Riquen. On 26 May, another Albatros D.V fell under his guns. The following day, he teamed with Lawrence Coombes in driving down a Pfalz D.III fighter over Bailleul.[4] On 1 June 1918, he again teamed with Coombes; this time, they shared in the destruction of a German two-seater reconnaissance plane, and Payton joined Coombes in acedom. On 15 June, Payton drove down an Albatros D.V out of action.[4]

Payton did not score again until 11 August 1918, when he began a string of five destructions of the German's new fighter, the Fokker D.VII, including a shared win with Ivan Couper Sanderson. The last of these wins, on 1 October 1918, left Payton with a tally of a shared destruction of a balloon, shared victory in two destructions of enemy planes, solo destructions of five enemy fighters, and three enemy planes driven down out of control.[4]

Clement Wattson Payton was killed in action on 2 October 1918 after winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was downed by ground fire while bombing an enemy supply train in the vicinity of Courtrai.[3] He is buried in Plot II. B. 6, Harlebeck New British Cemetery, Harlebeck, Belgium.[1]


His Distinguished Flying Cross was gazetted two months after his death, on 3 December 1918: "A gallant and skilful pilot who has himself destroyed two enemy machines and driven down two out of control. Assisted by other pilots, he has also accounted for four others. On 23 August, in a bombing raid, one of our machines, compelled to descend owing to engine trouble, was heavily engaged by anti-aircraft fire. Observing this, Lt. Payton, with great courage, attacked the hostile batteries at a very low altitude, silencing several of them.[5]

He was also posthumously awarded the Belgian Croix de guerre on 15 July 1919.[6][7]



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