Squadron RFC 1915 continued
with Capt. Milne
Jul 31st Sat:
My turn to
make Army Recce. Went up with Capt. Milne as observer, at 4.15, but
found ground to the South & East covered with a dense fog &
was obliged to descend. Made another attempt at 9.30 am in
spite of clouds which had come up, but which were not thick. Crossed
the lines over La Bassée above clouds at 9,000 ft. On nearing
Seclin clouds were thicker, we turned in the direction of Douai but
clouds became so thick it was impossible to see earth at all in that
direction. Decided to return & steered by compass for South of
Lens. We were fired at as we passed over gaps in the cloud and a
piece of HE shell went through the fuselage hit a bracing wire &
remained inside. Arrived back at 11.30. A bombing
raid has been arranged to take place tomorrow & Aug 2nd on the
aerodromes at and near Douai. No's 3 & 16 Sqn's to attack the
aerodrome & workshops at Douai & No 2 Sqn to attack the
aerodrome at Vitry, starting at 4.15 am.
Aug 1st Sun:
Leather & I ascended at 5.0 am with six bombs each to drop on
Vitry aerodrome. My machine climbed badly and when we met as arranged
at 6 o'clock over Arras I was only at 8,500 ft. I crossed the
trenches last and dropped my bombs at 6.15, three going down wind
& three coming back (wind from the West). The first three dropped
on the aerodrome to the right of the landing T. The second
three on the edge of the aerodrome remote from the sheds, - no
apparent damage. At the time of writing Lt. Reid has not returned.
William Reid with Frisquette
log book on Aug 1st records a flight time of 2 hours 10 minutes. Note
that for this bombing mission they were flying without Observers. Lt.
Herbert Russell (later AVM) was Lt. Reid's Observer the previous day.
Aug 3rd Tues:
dropped a message last night over the French lines saying that Lt.
William Reid is a prisoner & wounded in two places in the left
arm but not seriously. He was hit by anti-aircraft fire.
Note:The August 1st raid on Douai marked the opening of the
"Fokker scourge". Lt. Max Immelmann (famous as one of the
first German Aces and for the Immelmann turn) flying a Fokker
Eindecker claimed his first victory
forcing down Lt Reid and his BE2c.
Immelmann went on to record 15 "victories" before his
eventual death on 18 June 1916 as the Allies began to overcome the Fokkers.
in his Fokker Eindecker E1
was a member of Feldflieger Abteilung 62 based at Douai. He had been awakened
by the air raid around 0445 and had set off in pursuit of the
attackers together with Lt Oswald Böelcke flying the Squadron's
two Eindeckers. By the time they were airborne and had climbed to the
attackers height, they met the returning No 2 Squadron aircraft
including those mentioned above. Immelmann
two aircraft which were engaged by Böelcke until his gun
jammed. He then continued his climb and spotted a third aircraft
which he pursued setting upon Lt Reid. Having wounded Reid, Immelmann
was eventually unable to fire his gun
because of a jam and forced him to land by bluff.
anti-aircraft fire explanation for Reid's downing was offered by the
Germans is not clear, but at the time the Fokker Eindecker was
something of a secret weapon (with its gun firing through the
propellor). Immelmann claims to have dropped the German message about
Reid himself over St Pol on 1 August.
account of this event
entry: Reconnaisance with Lt Davis around Seclin. Met German
aeroplane (Albatross) over Armentieres, chased it to Bois de Biez
when it was turned by AA guns, cut it off and exchanged shots. It
went down quickly probably hit.
Aug 6th Fri:
Reconnaissance with Lt. Davis as observer. He spotted the German
anti-aircraft guns at Wingles, Pont a Vendin & Lens.
1915, trenches in front of Lens, straight road runs from Bethune
(bottom left) to Lens (top right). Photo faces East towards Loos
which is on the left of the road on the German side. Bottom of photo
scene of the Battle of Loos, September 1915 (see history note below).
Opposing lines of the trenches. British below, German above.
(above) shows the area in the photo above at a 90 degree angle ie
Bethune is top left and Lens is bottom right. Loos is centre right on
map. Line of trenches runs approximately North-South down the centre
of the map. Lens is North of Vimy ridge and Arras.
Aug 10th Tues:
Set out for
Seclin this afternoon to photograph in company with Capt. Hearson.
When at 10,000 ft & about to cross the trenches we saw a German
aeroplane, probably an 'Aviatich' . We immediately gave chase. It was
slightly faster than our RAF 2c's and was gaining. When over the Bois
de Biez it came within range of our anti-aircraft guns two well
placed shots caused it to swerve to the left and we caught up. My
observer, Lt. Davis, opened fire, as did Capt. Hearsons
observer, Capt Milne. The enemy machine did a bad side-slip which
leads us to believe it was hit. However he continued on his course in
a S.E. direction and was lost to view. We returned, took our
photographs & got back to the aerodrome without seeing more enemy
machines. On landing we found that Capt. Hearsons aeroplane had
been hit by about 8 bullets from the enemy aeroplane's machine gun,
mine was undamaged.
Editor's note: RAF
to the Royal Aircraft Factory
Aug 11th Wed:
Am informed by
the Major that my promotion has gone through & that I shall
shortly leave for another squadron, probably No. 4.
Aug 12th Thurs:
instructions to join No.4 on Aug 16th.
Aug 15th Sun:
Orders to join
No.4 cancelled. Am to remain with this squadron for the present,-
until a vacancy occurs, I suppose. Went up at 6.30 this morning to
take photographs at Hulluck (H.I3 b.d. 14, 15 a.e. & 20). Heavy
clouds came up & I was obliged to return unsuccessful. Attempted
again successfully at 4.30pm. Was fired at by anti-aircraft guns at
Wingles, Pont a Vendin and Lens.
History note: Battle of Loos
A British offensive launched on 25 September 1915 with six Divisions
plus two in reserve. The assault was preceded by a chlorine gas
attack. The first wave infantry assault was stopped by machine gun
fire. On the second day the reserve Divisions moved forward meeting
similar machine gun fire. They reached the German second line
trenches before retreating. The battle continued for three weeks. The
British gained a narrow salient two miles deep for the loss of 16,000
dead and some 25,000 wounded. On the second day the reserve Divisions
had suffered more than 50% casualties. It was a substantial victory
for the Germans who referred to the scene as the "corpse field
Loos, Sur les traces de la Grande Guerre commemorates
the history of the three great battles fought over Loos and supports
a local museum.