South African World War I flying ace credited with 10 aerial victories. He was one of the war's handful of bomber pilots to become a balloon buster; he may have been the only pilot to do it twice. He was also celebrated for his feats of visual and photographic reconnaissance under hazardous circumstances. On 13 September 1917, he was appointed as a second lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. After training, he was posted to 152 Squadron, but his stay with them was truncated by his hospitalization. After recovery, he was assigned to 12 Squadron on 17 April 1918 as a Royal Aircraft Factory RE.8 pilot. He was slightly wounded a week after his arrival. His first aerial success with his new unit came when he achieved the unusual feat of destroying an enemy observation balloon with a bomber on 7 May 1918. He and his observer Hervey Rhodes repeated the feat on 4 June. A triple victory three days later made them aces. Pithey was reported wounded on 15 August 1918. The crew of Pithey and Rhodes continued their victory streak through 3 September 1918, becoming the most successful aces to operate the clumsy and obsolete RE.8. On 27 September 1918, they were both wounded during a sortie, ending their flying career together. They had both earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as each earning a Bar in lieu of a second award apiece. 21 February 1920 at 1406 hours, Pithey launched in favorable weather from Shotwick, leading a ferry formation of three towards Dublin. All three planes were seen between Denbigh and Rhyl in Wales shortly after departure. Pithey crashed fatally shortly thereafter.
Royal Air Force