The pilot, his peers and a broken heart

• Alaric Pinder Boor, 1892-1917.

THE life and death of WWI pilot Alaric Pinder Boor will be commemorated in a special remembrance concert at St Mary’s Cathedral on November 4.

Historian Richard Offen will narrate the story of Lt Boor, a Christian Brothers College (now Aquinas) student who died ahead of the famed Battle of Beersheeba in Palestine.

Lt Boor was studying medicine at Oxford University when war broke out.

He served in the light infantry in France, Greece and Italy before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

On the morning of the Battle of Beersheba on October 31, 1917, Lt Boor flew out on a reconnaissance mission.

Mission

Along with his observer John Herman Muller, his mission was to scout the German and Ottomon stronghold at Beersheba and see if an attack was viable.

In the days before most planes were equipped with radio, Lt Muller’s report confirming a viable attack was written down on paper, wrapped around a weight, and dropped to the allies.

They continued their flight back to El Buzzar aerodrome, but their plane crashed at about 10.30am.

His unit commander Major Horace Haycock wrote to Lt Boor’s parents “whether his controls jammed or not it is impossible to say but knowing his skill as a pilot I cannot help believing something went wrong with the machine.”

The aircraft Lt Boor was flying, the RE8, had a reputation as being particularly difficult to fly.

Lt Muller died on impact.

An unconscious Lt Boor was pulled out of the wreckage, but he was fatally wounded and sadly didn’t hold on to hear about the allied victory later that day.

Aged 25, he was buried in Beersheba war cemetery.

A Rhodes Scholar, photographer, champion sportsman in boxing and cricket, Lt Boor was one of many talented young men whose promising lives would be cut short: In 1909 he was photographed with 12 other CBC prefects. Six of the 13 pictured would die in action.

It was said the CBC principal Paul Nunan “was never the same again,” according to CBC historian Kevin Paull. “His heart, like his boys, had died on the battlefields.”

The story will be accompanied by one of Australia’s leading trumpet players Yoram Levy, along with Perth Soprano Katja Web, the St George’s College Chamber Orchestra and the Cathedral Choir and pipe organist.

Remembrance by Candlelight is on November 4 at St Mary’s Cathedral (Victoria Square), tickets $25 via http://www.ticketsWA.com or 6488 2440.

by DAVID BELL

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