A pilots' war




 Nivelles Airfield, Belgium 1918-1919

Nivelles airfield was occupied by the RAF after the cessation of hostilities and a number of Squadrons passed through. In early 1919 No.s 11, 22, 62 and 88 Squadrons (Bristol Fighters) were based here before moving to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. The airfield had a number of permanent structures having been an advanced training centre for the German Air Service. The photo below (taken in January 1919) shows a line of canvass hangars at the top with permanent buildings centre and bottom.

Nivelles airfield from the air

Note above: Handley Page O/400 bomber (? 207 Sqn) at the end of the tent hangars, with 2 F2Bs in front and others concentrated in front of the permanent buildings in the bottom half of the photo. In the lower part of the photo outlines of where tent hangars were placed can be seen (1 hangar remains).

The airfield had been a German Air Service (GAS) advanced training centre (Jagdstaffelschule II) and after the Armistice became an assembly point for surrendered GAS aircraft, including those belonging to Jasta 2 (Boelcke). The Armistice terms required the surrender of 1700 aircraft, including in particular the Fokker DVII, within 31 days of the cessation of hostilities. No.s 48, 29, 79 and 206 Squadrons were based at Nivelles at the time of the mustering of GAS aircraft. The surrendered aircraft appear to have been disassembled and taken (towed) away by truck.

No.s 11, 22, 62, 88 and 107 Squadrons took over the airfield between 18 and 20 December 1918 while the processing of German aircraft was still in progress. 22 Sqn was another F2B unit, and was commanded by Major J A McKelvie - a former temporary CO of 62 Sqn (in 1917).

Bristol fighters in front of hangar at Nivelles airfield 1918

Above, Bristol F2Bs outside the large permanent hangar, also visible in the lower half of the aerial photo top.

Nivelles sheds 2-5 and office (centre of the aerial photo top).

Fokker DVII in Jasta (2) Boelcke markings (crosses removed) in the care of 62 Sqn RAF at Nivelles, December 1918

    Fokker DVIIs and Albatri at Nivelles (photo courtesy of G VanWyngarden, author of Fokker DVII Aces of World War 1)

Disassembled Fokker DVII being readied to move.

 Photos © www.airwar1.org.uk from  Major F W Smith's collection except where otherwise specified.

No 62 Sqn Pages  1  2  3  4  5  6 7

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