CAPTAIN LAURENCE MINOT, MC
ROYAL FLYING CORPS
28TH JULY 1917 AGE 21
BURIED: HARLEBEKE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, BELGIUM
The light of her young life went down,
As sinks behind the hill
The glory of a setting star,
Clear, suddenly, and still.
John Greenleaf Whttier 1807-1892
Laurence Minot's father may not have quoted the words exactly as Whittier wrote them but Whittier's poem on the death of his sister is the inspiration for Minot's inscription.
After a phenomenal month in which he achieved six aerial victories between the 1st and the 27th July 1917 (qualifying as a flying 'ace'), Minot was himself shot down on the 28th - one week after his 21st birthday. Initially listed as missing, Flight magazine reported on the 7 March 1918:
"Captain Laurence Minot RFC, who was reported missing on July 28th 1917 is now, from information obtained from German sources by the British Red Cross Society, officially concluded to have been killed in aerial combat on that date near Heuelbeke."
Buried by the Germans, Minot's body was reburied in Heulebeke Communal Cemetery in 1923. In May 1926, the Air Ministry announced:
"A new trophy, to be known as the Laurence Minot Memorial Trophy, has been presented by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous in memory of the late Captain Laurence Minot, MC, Royal Flying Corps, who was killed on July 28 1917, in air combat whilst serving with No. 57 Squadron Royal Flying Corps. Competition for this trophy, which will be awarded annually to the crew of the bombing aeroplane which obtains the highest degree of accuracy in individual classification bombing practices for the current year, will be open to all bombing squadrons under the command of the Air Officer Commander in Chief, Air Defence of Great Britain."
Flight on 26 May 1926
The anonymous donor was, of course, Minot's father. The trophy, a magnificent silver eagle with wings outstretched, is no longer awarded but has been presented for safe-keeping to No. 57 Squadron, Minot's own squadron, which also owns his Military Cross.
Laurence Minot, the child of his second marriage, was his father's only son. For many years he put an In Memoriam announcement in The Times on the anniversary of his son's death. The last time on 28 July 1937:
"In proud and ever-loving memory of my gallant son, Captain Laurence Minot MC, RFC, killed in aerial engagement near Meulebeke, Flanders, July 28 !917, aged 21."