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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

British Military Aviation in 1915, January – June

The Fokker Eindecker Would Be the Bane of the RFC in 1915

Small numbers of Royal Flying Corps aeroplanes are kept at readiness to combat possible enemy airship raids.

The Experimental Photographic Section of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) is formed under the command of Lieutenant J.T.C. Moore Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon of Tara).

19–20 January 
The German Navy mounts the first airship raid on Britain. Three Zeppelins (L3, L4 and L6) were dispatched; one was forced to turn back with engine difficulties 90 miles from the English coast. The remaining airships bombed Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn, killing two residents of Yarmouth and injuring three, and killing two and injuring 13 residents of King's Lynn. These were the first British casualties due to air attack.

The first night air defense sorties are flown by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Following the attack by Zeppelins L3 and L4, two Vickers FB5 Gunbuses of No.7 Squadron were ordered to take-off from Joyce Green and patrol over the southern outskirts of London, without result.

23 January 
British reconnaissance aircraft spot Turkish forces preparing to attack the Suez Canal area.

Headquarters of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) directs that one flight in each squadron is to specialize in bombing as well as normal duties.

17 February 
The seaplane carrier HMS Ark Royal arrives off the Island of Tenedos to conduct air operations in support of Royal Navy vessels attacking Turkish fortifications in the Dardanelles.

10 March 
The Battle of Neuve Chappelle opens. The assault on Neuve Chappelle is based, for the first time in the history of warfare, on maps prepared solely by photographic reconnaissance. The battle also included the first attempt at air interdiction, with bombing attacks on railways at Courtrai, Menin, Lille, Douai, and Don by Royal Flying Corps aircraft carrying 25 pound and 100 pound bombs in an effort to delay the progress of enemy reinforcements. However, Royal Flying Corps Headquarters judged only 3 out of 141 railway attacks to have been successful. The aircraft also bombed a divisional headquarters at Fournes.

24-26 March 
Elements of No.3 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, arrive at Tenedos aerodrome with 18 aircraft of varying types to support operations in the Dardanelles.

Royal Naval Air Service Henri Farman Floatplane at Gallipoli

28 March 
The first flight by an aircraft from Tenedos aerodrome takes place to reconnoiter Turkish positions.

The first German Fokker Eindecker enters service on the Western Front. The Eindecker was armed with a synchronised machine-gun firing through the propeller arc and as such, has often been described as the first true fighter aircraft. This marked the beginning of the "Fokker Scourge".

1 April 
No.9 Squadron is re-formed at Brooklands. This squadron would subsequently to form the basis of the Royal Flying Corps School of Wireless.

22 April 
During a gas attack at Ypres in Belgium, Royal Flying Corps (RFC) aircraft spot the gas cloud moving toward French troops and are able to warn them of the danger.

25 April 
British Commonwealth and French forces begin to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

26 April 
Second Lieutenant W.B. Rhodes-Moorhouse of No.2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, is awarded the Victoria Cross, the first to be won by an airman, for heroism displayed during a low-level bombing sortie against Courtrai railway station in Belgium. His successful attack, flying a Royal Aircraft Factory BE2, in the face of heavy ground fire was judged to have been the most important bombing sortie of the war to that point.

Lt. William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse, VC

The award was posthumous; although mortally wounded during the attack, Rhodes-Moorhouse successfully flew his damaged aircraft back to the Royal Flying Corps airfield at Merville in order to lodge a full report of the attack.

30 April 
Allied aeroplanes arrive in South West Africa for use against German forces.

The South African Aviation Corps begins to fly reconnaissance sorties in support of South African Army units during operations against German forces in German South-West Africa. The colony surrendered two months later.

4 May 
Kite balloons are used for artillery observation in France for the first time.

9 May 
The Battle of Aubers Ridge. After an initial failed attempt on 25 April, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) made the first concerted attempt to mount "contact patrols", consisting of low-flying aircraft seeking to identify for higher headquarters the exact whereabouts of friendly troops during an attack. Three aircraft of No.16 Squadron attempted to fulfill this role during assault on Aubers Ridge, sending down 42 wireless messages reporting on the progress of ground troops, who displayed white sheets measuring 7 feet by 2 feet. At this time troops did not have the benefit of portable radios and could only send back information on their progress by means of runners. Although perhaps better than nothing, contact patrols were never to prove a wholly reliable method of obtaining information on what would now be called the "Forward Line of Own Troops".

10 May 
Royal Flying Corps pilot Captain L.A. Strange manages to regain control of his Martinsyde S1 Scout after he falls out and hangs on when trying to free a jammed ammunition drum.

31 May 
German Army Zeppelin LZ38 carries out the first air raid on London. A house at 16 Alkham Road in Stoke Newington was hit. Seven members of the public were killed and a further 35 injured.

Zeppelin LZ38 at Its Home Base

26 May 
Following a request from the Indian Government for trained pilots for service in Mesopotamia, Australian Flying Corps air and ground personnel arrived at Basra to join Indian Flying Corps personnel serving in the theatre. Australian and Indian Army personnel flying Indian Flying Corps aircraft formed the "Mesopotamian Half-Flight", which supported the Indian Army during the opening round of the Mesopotamian Campaign.

7 June 
The Victoria Cross is awarded to Flight Sub-Lieutenant R.A.J. Warneford of No.1 Wing, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), for downing Zeppelin LZ37 (Oberleutnant von der Haegen) near Bruges in Belgium. He dropped six 9-kilo (20-pound) Hales bombs onto it from above in a Morane Saulnier Type L3253.

17 June 
Flight Sub-Lieutenant R.A.J. Warneford VC of No.1 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), is killed with his passenger, American journalist H.A. Needham, when his Henri Farman F27 two-seat reconnaissance bomber rolled over during a steep turn near Paris.

Source: RAF Museum

No comments:

Post a Comment