William Ernest Staton began military service as a soldier in the Artists Rifles, a volunteer battalion popular with graduates of Britain's public schools and universities. About two thirds of the 15,000 men who passed through the battalion in World War I became officers somewhere in the British military. Staton passed from the ranks of the Artists Rifles to a cadet's position in the Royal Flying Corps. He had been commissioned a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the Artists Rifles on 4 May 1917. He became a Flying Officer with effective rank of Second Lieutenant on 21 September 1917. Staton was posted to No. 62 Squadron at the end of flying training early in 1918.
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