Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, December 27, 2015

British Military Aviation in 1915, July – December

The Vickers Gunbus Became Operational in July 1915

12 July
Following an inconclusive exchange of fire on 6 July, the monitors HMS Severn and HMS Mersey re-engage the German Navy cruiser Königsberg, which had been trapped in the Rufiji Delta by blockships. A seaplane of the Royal Naval Air Service provided spotting for the monitors until forced to land due to a combination of engine trouble and damage from anti-aircraft shrapnel. The Königsberg was destroyed during the bombardment.

13 July
The British Armstrong Whitworth SS (Submarine Scout) airship with an extra fuel tank successfully completes trials at Kingsnorth in Kent.

24 July
Colonel F.H. Sykes is appointed to command all Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) air units in the eastern Mediterranean, effectively becoming the air commander for the Dardanelles operation.

25 July
No.11 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the first fighter squadron to be fully equipped with the Vickers Gunbus 2-seat fighter, arrives in St Omer, France.

25 July
The Victoria Cross is awarded to Lieutenant Lanoe G. Hawker of No.6 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, for his actions during an offensive patrol over France and in recognition of the continuous courage he demonstrated while flying a Bristol Scout 1611, with a hastily fitted cavalry carbine.

31 July
The Victoria Cross is awarded to Captain J.A. Liddell of No.7 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, for his actions during a reconnaissance patrol over Ostend in Belgium. His observer was Second Lieutenant R.H. Peck and the aircraft a Royal Aircraft Factory RE5, 2457.

The first systematic scheme for training observers is introduced.

HMS Ben-My-Chree

12 August
Flight Commander C.H. Edmonds of the Royal Naval Air Service makes the first aerial torpedo attack as he sinks a Turkish supply ship in the Sea of Marmara, Dardenelles, flying a Short 184 seaplane from the seaplane carrier HMS Ben-My-Chree.

17 August
Flight Commander C.H. Edmonds sinks a second Turkish vessel with an aerial torpedo. While a Short 184 seaplane flown by Flight Lieutenant G.B. Dacre of the Royal Navy, sinks a Turkish tug. However, the plane was not airborne at the time and needed to release the torpedo in order to be able to take off from the water.

19 August
Colonel Hugh Trenchard assumes command of the Royal Flying Corps in France in succession to Sir David Henderson. Trenchard was promoted to brigadier general and quickly requested another squadron by the middle of September. He further suggested that one squadron be provided for each army corps for artillery work, photography and close reconnaissance, and one squadron for each army headquarters, for army reconnaissance.

Trenchard also suggested that there should be a headquarters squadron for General Headquarters (GHQ) work and that a further squadron be provided for each army for special work such as bombing raids.

23 August
Captain A.J. Liddell of the Royal Flying Corps is awarded the Victoria Cross for valour while flying a Royal Aircraft Factory RE5.

24 August
Major Lanoe G. Hawker of No.6 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC) is awarded the Victoria Cross for shooting down three German Albatros biplanes while flying a Bristol Scout C biplane and armed only with a bolt-action rifle mounted beside the cockpit.

The Royal Flying Corps Machine-Gun School is formed at Hythe to instruct students in air fighting.

23 September
No.2 and No.3 Wings of the Royal Flying Corps begin the first concentrated interdiction campaign aimed at disrupting German communications, in support of the Allied offensive at Loos. The attacks continued until 16 October. Rail lines were damaged in 16 places, five trains were destroyed, and a signal box and railways sheds at Valenciennes were wrecked.

Maj. General Hugh Trenchard Just After the War
(Corrected from Original Posting)

4 October
In a special order of the day, the commander-in-chief of the British Expeditionary Force Field Marshal Sir John French expresses to Brigadier General H.M. Trenchard and all ranks of the Royal Flying Corps his appreciation of "the valuable work they have performed during the battle of Loos, he desires especially to thank pilots and observers for their plucky work in co-operation with the artillery, in photography and bomb attacks...Throughout these operations the RFC have gallantly maintained the splendid record they have achieved since the commencement of the campaign".

8 October
No.26 Squadron is formed at Netheravon from personnel of the South African Air Corps previously engaged in the campaign in German South-West Africa. The squadron subsequently embarked for East Africa in December 1915 to participate in operations against German forces in Tanganyika.

The Royal Flying Corps' 5th Wing, consisting of No.14 and No.17 Squadrons, supported by an Aircraft Park, arrives in the Middle East. The Wing was commander by Lieutenant Colonel W.G.H. Salmond.

3 November
The first land plane to be flown from an aircraft carrier is piloted by Flight Lieutenant H.F. Towler of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), when he flies a Bristol Scout C from the seaplane carrier HMS Vindex during launching experiments.

7 November
Lieutenant G.S.M. Insall of No.11 Squadron, Royal Flying  Corps, is awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during a fighting patrol across German lines. Air Mechanic T.H. Donald was observer-gunner in a Vickers FB5, 5074.

19 November
The Victoria Cross is awarded to Squadron Commander R. Bell-Davies of No.3 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, for rescuing a downed airman (Flight Sub-Lieutenant G.F. Smylie) after completing a bombing attack on Ferejik Junction in Bulgaria in a Nieuport 12, 3172.

Handley Page Bombers Operational Later in the War

18 December
The first British multi-engined aircraft is test flown. The Handley Page O/100 is piloted by Lieutenant Commanders Stedman and Babington.

Source:  RAF Museum

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