Thomas the air hero

THE family tree of Cliff Cordiner has contained many twists and turns.

He has already told us of one ancestor, Sarah Cordiner, a widow and mother-of-nine who ran a business single handedly.

Cliff also shared the story of another relation, Sylvester Cordiner who was a college gardener and an expert at playing the violin upside down.

Today, our final chapter in his story tells of the relative who helped set a world record in the air.


ON an otherwise ordinary day in 2006, Cliff Cordiner took a phone call.

It was “from a gentleman in Blackburn who had been thumbing through the phone book and was carrying out some research into military history”, said Cliff.

But what began as a random call soon led to Cliff unearthing a wonderful part of his own past.

The contact in Blackburn had found details of a Thomas Yates Cordiner.

“Thomas was in the Air Force and had received an Air Force Medal for being one of the crew of an aeroplane which took part in the first non-stop flight from Provence, France, to Egypt in 1920.

“He died on the Isle of Man after the war.”

Thomas Yates Cordiner joined the Royal Flying Corps in September 1916, and was serving in No. 58 Squadron at the time of the historic flight.

Cliff said: “We assume he had joined the Squadron before it moved to France in January 1918, and, having gained experience in Handley Page bombers, took part in the flight from Province in France to Heliopolis in Egypt in the following year

“For the day, it was very much a pioneering trip, and it is well known that air mechanics often had to carry out hazardous running repairs, even as their aircraft were in flight.

“Thomas must have been a bit of a daredevil and had a need for speed as, after the Great War, he took part in the Isle of Man TT races in 1923, 1924, and 1925.”

Our thanks to Cliff for sharing his family’s story.