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Cecil Arthur Lewis
29 March 1898 – 27 January 1997
Cecil Lewis.jpg
Place of birth Birkenhead, England
Place of death London, England
Allegiance Royal Flying Corps
Years of service 1915-1918
Unit 3 Squadron, 9 Squadron, 23 Squadron, 44 Squadron, 56 Squadron, 61 Squadron, 152 Squadron
Battles/wars First World War, Second World War
Awards Military Cross

Cecil Arthur Lewis MC (29 March 1898 – 27 January 1997) was a British fighter pilot who flew in World War I. He went on to co-found the BBC and enjoy a long career as a writer. Author of the aviation classic Sagittarius Rising (inspiration for the movie Aces High), Lewis joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915, after lying about his age. In 1916, he flew the Morane Parasol in combat with Number 3 Squadron and was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the Battle of the Somme. Flying the S.E.5a with 56 Squadron, he was credited with eight victories during May and June 1917. Back in England, Lewis served with 44 and 61 Squadrons on Home Defence before returning to France in late 1918 with 152 night-fighter Squadron, flying the Sopwith Camel.

After World War I ended, Lewis was hired by the Vickers company to teach the Chinese how to fly and to establish a Peking-Shanghai air service using converted Vickers Vimy bombers. It was in Peking that Lewis married Doushka Horvath (1902-2005), the daughter of a Russian general. Lewis returned to England when the air service project was abandoned by Vickers after a couple of years.

Lewis was one of the four young men who founded the BBC in 1922, where he was a writer, producer, and director. In 1931, he co-wrote and directed a short film adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play How He Lied to Her Husband. At the 1938 Academy Awards ceremony, Lewis, Shaw, Ian Dalrymple and W.P. Lipscomb received Oscars for their screen adaptation of Pygmalion. He served with the Royal Air Force during World War II, in Sicily, Greece, Egypt, and Italy.

During the late 1940s Lewis became enamored with the teachings of the Greek-Armenian mystic Gurdjieff. In 1947 he flew a Miles Gemini to South Africa, where he spent the next three years on a farm he established, but the farm was not a success, and in 1950 he returned to England. He joined the Daily Mail in 1956 as a reporter. After his retirement he moved to Corfu where he spent the rest of his life, continuing to write until well into his nineties.

George Bernard Shaw wrote of Lewis: "This prince of pilots has had a charmed life in every sense of the word. He is a thinker, a master of words and a bit of a poet."

He was the last surviving World War I ace.



Works by Lewis

  • Sagittarius Rising (1936) ISBN 1-85367-143-6
  • The Trumpet Is Mine (1938)
  • Challenge to the Night (1939)
  • Pathfinders (1944)
  • Yesterday's Evening (1946)
  • Farewell to Wings (1964)
  • Turn Right For Corfu (1972)
  • Never Look Back; an Attempt at Autobiography (1974)
  • Gemini to Joburg (1984)
  • Sagittarius Surviving (1991)
  • All My Yesterdays (1993)
  • So Long Ago, So Far Away (1996)

External links


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