Noel Keeble was born in Thorpe Road on 6 April 1891. He was a flying ace of the First World War and is credited with six aerial victories. Keeble joined the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and in 1915 was assigned to a squadron in No. 1 Wing. They were based at Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, Dunkirk, France. In January 1916 he gained his first victory while flying a Nieuport single-seat plane. He managed to force down a German seaplane. In October 1916, flying a Sopwith Pup, he destroyed another seaplane. For this he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. His citation read:
Distinguished Service Cross. Flt.-Lieut. Noel Keeble, R.N.A.S. For conspicuous gallantry on the 23rd October, 1916, when he attacked four German seaplanes and brought one of them down in a vertical nose-dive into the sea.
On 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service was merged with the Army's Royal Flying Corps to form the Royal Air Force. Keeble became part of No. 202 Squadron RAF and flew a two-seat plane. His observer/gunner was Captain Eric Betts who went on to become an Air Vice Marshal in World War 2. He went on to bring down four more planes. His other great achievement, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, was to obtain 1000 valuable photographs of enemy positions behind enemy lines. His citation read:
Distinguished Flying Cross.Lieut. (T./Capt.) Noel Keeble, D.S.C. (Sea Patrol). This officer (with an observer) has obtained 1,000 invaluable photographs of enemy positions miles behind the lines, and has brought home extremely important new information during this period. He has destroyed eight enemy machines, including one biplane during the past month. Captain Keeble is a most capable and gallant Flight Commander.
Keeble remained in the RAF with the rank of flight lieutenant until August 1934, when he was placed on the retired list. He returned to RAF service during the Second World War and finally returned to the retired list with the rank of Wing Commander on 31 October 1945.
Sadly two of his three sons, who had followed him into the RAF died in combat missions during the Second World War.
Noel Keeble died in 1963.
The London Gazette, 11 May 1917
The London Gazette, 20 September 1918
Peterborough & The Great War project
It was in 1910 that Frederick Sage & Co. Ltd, an expanding company of shopfitters and woodworkers, opened a large factory in Walton. The position of the factory, close to the Great Northern railway ensured easy transport of its finished products.
In the First World War the company branched out into the making of aeroplanes, initially under sub-contract, making a sea plane, the Short 184, but later designing and building their own aircraft.
After the end of the First World War the company closed down its aircraft design department and returned to cabinet making and shop fitting, having prestigious commissions from, amongst others, Harrods, Selfridges and Peterborough Town Hall! During the Second World War they again turned to aircraft production, building forward fuselages for Airspeed Horsa gliders, and after the war again returned to their original products.
The Walton factory left the ownership of Sage & Co. in 1936. During the Second World War it became the Royal Ordnance Factory, making air launch torpedoes. Perkins Engines used the factory from 1957 for twenty two years. The site later lay unused for many years until it was demolished in 2010, except for its Grade II listed water tower.
Secret Peterborough, Bull, June & Vernon, Amberley Publishing, 2018
Noel Keeble was born in Thorpe Road on 6 April 1891. He was a flying…
It was in 1910 that Frederick Sage & Co. Ltd, an expanding company of…