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Selden Herbert Long (1895-1952)

Air ace who originally served in the 15th DLI awarded DSO

Selden Herbert Long, the son of Major-General Sidney and Augusta Elizabeth Long, was born in Farnham, Surrey on 10 October 1895. After being educated at Stubbington House School in Farnham and the United Services College in Windsor he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 23 December 1914.

After training at the Military School at Brooklands, near Weybridge in Surrey, he was awarded his Aviator’s Certificate on 25 January 1915 and on 26 March was promoted to flying officer and seconded to the Royal Flying Corps. He landed in France three weeks later and in August was promoted to lieutenant. In September he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for carrying out a number of successful bombing raids. He returned to England in December and became an instructor at Erdington aerodrome, near Castle Bromwich in Warwickshire, having been twice mentioned in despatches. In February 1916 he was appointed a flight commander with the rank of temporary captain.

Some months later Selden returned to Europe and on 6 August he scored his first aerial win when he forced an enemy plane to crash. In the final two months of the year he forced down and captured an enemy plane and was involved with other pilots in the destruction of a further four aircraft. The first three months of 1917 saw the destruction of another three planes, resulting in his being mentioned in despatches twice more and being awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). He was then sent back to England, having been appointed a squadron commander, but on 5 July he returned to France, having taken demotion back to flight commander. A month later he was appointed acting Commander of No. 46 Squadron. In September 1918 he was appointed acting major and, after a short posting to a training squadron, was sent to Palestine as commanding officer of No.111 Squadron.

From April 1918 until July 1919 Selden was employed by the Air Ministry, after which he resigned and was granted the rank of major in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was transferred to the Reserve of Officers as a captain in the Durham Light Infantry. He finally resigned his commission on 10 May 1924, having written his memoir, ‘In the Blue’, which was published in 1920. In March 1937 he married Marion Beatrice Smith, the ex-wife of William Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, in the city of London. On 1 June 1940 Selden re-joined the RAF as a squadron-leader in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and served in North Africa. He was promoted to wing commander in September 1942 and retired ‘on cessation of duty’ on 10 September 1945. He died in a nursing home in Tamboers-Kloof in Cape Town, South Africa, on 12 December 1952.

The award of the MC was gazetted on 29 October 1915 and the citation reads:

“For conspicuous gallantry on several occasions, notably the following: On 10 September 1915, he went out to attack an observation balloon shed with a 100lb. bomb but, being heavily fired at by an anti-aircraft battery, he silenced the guns with this bomb and returned for another one, with which he attacked the balloon, he only narrowly missed it as it was being deflated beside the shed. On 23 September he made two determined attacks on trains from 500 feet, breaking the rails in two places. On the first occasion he returned to the attack three times, and finally climbed to 1,000 feet in order to make better use of his bomb sight; on the second occasion he made most of his return journey at 1,000 feet in order better to examine villages, roads, etc. On 25 September he attacked a train at 500 feet under heavy rifle fire, and damaged the line. Later in the afternoon of 25 September he heard that trains were moving at 25 miles distance, and, in spite of darkness and bad weather, he volunteered to attack them. Heavy rain prevented his reaching them, so he turned to attack Peronne station, descending to 500 feet and coming under heavy anti-aircraft gun fire. The fire prevented his reaching the station, but he climbed to 1,500 feet and attacked a “Rocket” battery, silencing one of its guns.”

The award of the DSO was gazetted on 12 March 1917 and the citation reads:

“For gallantry at Merval – for great skill and daring in piloting his machine. He shot down an enemy machine, which fell on our lines, and the same day he forced another hostile machine to land in the enemy’s lines. Later, he shot down another enemy machine, which fell in our lines”.

Birth date: 10-Oct-1895

Death date: 12-Dec-1952

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: United Services College, Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire (1911 census)
136 Shooter’s Hill, Blackheath, Kent (Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1915)
27 Bolton Gardens, Kensington, London (London, England, Electoral Registers, 1925-1927)
6 Austin Friars, Broad Street, London (London, England, Electoral Registers, 1933-1934)
23 Hans Place, Chelsea, London (London, England, Electoral Registers, 1937-1939)

Education: Stubbington House School, Farnham, Surrey
United Services College, Windsor

Family: Father: Major- General Sidney Selden Long (2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry)
Mother: Augusta Elizabeth Long (nee Glover)
Wife: Marion Beatrice Long (nee Bryce-Smith)(formerly Lady Leverhulme)

Military service:

15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry & Royal Air Force
Major & Wing-Commander

Medal(s): Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (5)
1914-1915 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by John Edwards

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