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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

100 Years Ago: Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell Deliver the First U.S. Air Service Victories

Lts. Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell, 94th Aero Squadron

The first U.S. Air Service aerial victories by fighter planes in the American sector in France were by Lts. Alan Winslow and Douglas Campbell, two pilots of the 94th Aero Squadron, which had just been transferred to the front. 

Squadron Insignia
On Sunday morning, 14 April 1918, they were on alert at Gengoult Aerodrome near Toul, France. German planes were reported in the area and the two U.S. pilots, completely inexperienced in aerial combat, took off in their Nieuport 28s. Almost immediately they saw two German aircraft and attacked them directly over the flying field at less than 1,000 feet altitude, in full view of not only the Americans at Gengoult Aerodrome but also the French citizens of Toul. Winslow shot down an Albatross D.V and a minute later Campbell destroyed a Pfalz D.III. They were both  back on the ground in a matter of minutes. This initial fighter combat by the U.S. Air Service, although probably successful due as much to luck as skill, convinced the French people that the Americans were "super-human."

On 31 May 1918, Campbell became the first U.S.-trained pilot to receive official credit for his fifth victory, thus becoming an ace. Winslow was decorated for a later action but was shot down on 31 July, lost an arm and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.

Sources: USAF National Museum, Air and Space Museum


  1. The first interview by Winslow and Campbell, including first person quotes, was by war correspondent Don Martin. His dispatch, dated April 17 and published in the New York Herald on April 18, will be included in the April 17 posting on

  2. Subsequent research has revealed that the first A/C was flown by a Pole named Wroniecki, who was a active French spy operating within the German Air Service. He returned to operational flying with the French. The second flyer was pursuing him, with the intent of shooting him down, as as the Polish aviator's duplicity had been uncovered by the German intelligence service.