Rare video released of war plane in Hartlepool in May 1914 just months before the start of the First World War

AMAZING 100-year-old footage of a military biplane on the beach in Seaton Carew just months before the start of the First World War has been released to mark a military milestone.

Thousands of people can be seen in Hartlepool for the spectacle of a BE-2 biplane flying overhead and then landing on the beach.

The RAF has released the footage as No 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, formed on May 13, 1912, marks its 102nd anniversary.

The rare video footage of the plane, which was an early part of the squardon, was recorded in Hartlepool on May 14, 1914.

It shows the officer commanding No 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, Major CJ Hawke, demonstrating state of the art flying manoeuvres.

The Marine Hotel can be seen in the background as people surround the plane which had come to a halt on the beach.

The squadron was ordered to fly to France at the outbreak of the First World War where pilot, Lieutenant Hubert Harvey-Kelly, became the first British military aviator to land in France and went on to claim the first Royal Flying Corps aerial victory when he forced down an enemy aircraft.

In 1915, during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, the squadron pioneered the use of aerial photography in order to map the trenches of Northern France.

They have continued to be an intelligence gathering asset through their history, from photography of the D-Day beaches in 1944 to the “eye in the sky” full motion video they provide to ground commanders on current operations, including in Afghanistan.

Today their 21st Commander, Jez Holmes, the officer commanding No II (Army Co-operation) Squadron pays tribute to those who flew and fought before them.

“The intervening years have seen an astonishing progression from the early string kites that took eight days to fly from Farnborough to Montrose in 1913, to the cutting edge modern technology of today that can deliver a range of precision effects at vast ranges and at great speed.

“While the how and where have changed, what the squadron does hasn’t. One hundred years ago the personnel of II Squadron were the first to land in France where they flew in support of the Army on the Western Front, providing reconnaissance imagery and attacking targets from the air.

“Furthermore, 70 years ago the squadron flew low level over the D-Day beaches providing vital reconnaissance and spotting for naval gunfire. While the context and technology continues to change, the tenacity and spirit of the men and women of II (AC) Squadron remains a constant.

“Our role of defending the United Kingdom and her Allies remains the golden thread that links us back to those first airmen from 1912, underlining our proud motto; ‘Hereward’, meaning Guardian of the Army.”

Click here to see the video footage.