Immediately after receiving his certificate on a Wright biplane at the Stinson school, San Antonio, Texas, on 23 March 1916, William Melville Alexander joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant, on probation. Posted to 3 Wing on 3 December 1916, he joined 10 Naval Squadron on 26 April 1917 and was assigned to the "Black Flight" under Raymond Collishaw. With this squadron he scored 22 victories flying Triplanes and Camels on the Western Front. In April 1917 his commanding officer recommended him for a Bar to the Distinguished Service Cross. He was also recommended for promotion to the rank of temporary Major in August 1918.
"By the end of 1915 Curtis School was filled, Wright Brothers had opened a school in Dayton, and it was filled. Well, I went down and signed up with the Stinson School in San Antonio, Texas. I went down there and learned to fly on a model B Wright, an old pusher where we sat... like you sit on a bob-sleigh, with your feet hanging out, looking down... The machine was put together with what we call baling wire, just fabric doped, cotton fabric or linen fabric, and wooden wings... I did exactly 210 minutes before I flew my test." Mel Alexander, Royal Naval Air Service
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)
Flt. Lieut. (Act. Flt. Cdr.) William Melville Alexander. R.N.A.S.
On 16th August, 1917, he attacked at about 3,000 feet two hostile scouts, one of which, after a short combat, fell completely out of control.
On 20th August, 1917, while returning from patrol, he observed three enemy scouts. These he pursued until they turned to fight. One of the scouts he shot down completely out of control, and the remaining two dived away.
On 21st August, 1917, while on an offensive patrol, he attacked and drove down completely out of control an enemy scout, which was attacking another member of his patrol.
Flt. Lieut. Alexander has at all times shown the greatest bravery and determination.
Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 September 1917 (30285/9537)