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Robert Little

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Robert Alexander Little DSO & Bar, DSC & Bar (19 July 1895 – 27 May 1918) has long been regarded as the most successful Australian flying ace of World War I, with a total of 47 kills. However, some later researchers have suggested that this total was surpassed by Roderic Dallas.

Little was born on 19 July 1895, at Hawthorn, Melbourne, to James Little, a seller of medical and surgical books, and his wife Susan (née Solomon). He was educated at Camberwell Grammar School and Scotch College, later entering the family business as a traveling salesman.

Little applied for one of the few vacancies at Point Cook Military Flying School, and was rejected along with hundreds of others. He then decided to sail to England in July, 1915, were he paid to become a qualified pilot at his own expense. Gaining his flying certificate with the Royal Aero Club at Hendon, in October 1915. He joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a probationary temporary Sub Lieutenant on 14 January 1916.

He arrived in France in June 1916, posted to "Naval Eight" squadron. By year's end he had three victories to his credit, flying Sopwith Pups; scoring his first on 23 November. During this time, he married Vera Gertrude Field at the Congregational Church, Dover, on 16 September 1916.

When the unit converted to Triplanes, he began scoring heavily: eight victories each in April and May; four in June; and fourteen in July, the month he began flying Sopwith Camels. When he rotated to England for rest that summer, he was credited with 38 victories, including 15 destroyed or captured.

In March 1918, Little joined Raymond Collishaw's unit, which became No. 203 Squadron of the new Royal Air Force on 1 April. He gained a further nine successes before being killed attacking a Gotha bomber on 27 May. At age 22, he left a widow and a son, having received the Distinguished Service Order and bar, the Distinguished Service Cross and bar, and the French Croix de Guerre, as well as being Mentioned in Despatches, he was one of Australia's highest decorated pilots.

Of Little's 47 victories, 24 were credited as destroyed or captured (six shared) and 23 "out of control."

Little is buried at the Wavans British Cemetery, France.

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