Thomas Smith Impey was born in 1880 and was a student at Bootham School from 1893 to 1896. During the First World War he served in the Royal Flying Corps, becoming a Captain and later a Major.
In the March 1916 edition of “Bootham” magazine he writes about his experiences flying over France:
“T. S. IMPEY joined the R.F.C. in February 1915, ” three months late, owing to an accident that kept me from doing anything at all for many weeks. I am now almost the oldest pilot flying, many of the senior officers being years younger than me. . . . I took my pilot certificates in about six weeks, and passed the final examination qualifying me as a flying officer in July. . . . After some delay with my engine at Folkestone, I crossed the Channel at about 8,000 ft. . . . From 8,000 ft. the N.W. corner of France looks like a map, Calais and Boulogne seeming only a hand’s-breadth apart, the hills and valleys being quite indistinguishable. . . . I was flying at 8,000 ft. looking for gun flashes over the line, when three or four came up— bang ! bang ! pong ! ping !—all around me, and little round puffs of smoke flashed away behind me; and I confess I turned round and flew out of range in zig-zags as quickly as I could, which was at about 80 miles an hour. Of course, I had to go back again when I had a few minutes to think it over, and now, though I don’t like ‘ Archie,’ I have learned to fly through him like everyone else, and do my work regardless. . . . It is awfully cold sometimes at 10,000 ft., which is a height we often fly at; and without proper protection in the winter frostbite is more than likely.””
T. S. Impey survived the war and was granted a permanent commission in the R.A.F. He retired in 1922.