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Old 3 November 2014, 05:37 AM   #1
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1. Wing RNAS 1915

Hello folks!

Did RNAS 1. Wing was based in Furnes aerodrome during the first half of 1915? Warneford Reginald took off from this field to score his zeppelin-hit. Was the whole wing at Furnes?

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Old 3 November 2014, 09:53 AM   #2
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Formed at Gosport 15 October 1914 as No.1 Squadron RNAS. Proceeded overseas 26 February 1915. Became No.1 Wing RNAS in June 1915. "A" Squadron, No.1 Wing RNAS was formed at Dunkirk 1 March 1916. Designated 'Detached Squadron' on 3 July 1916. Became No.1 Squadron RNAS on 6 December 1916. Eventually No.201 Squadron RAF on 1 April 1918. Returned to England 15 February 1919 and disbanded at Lakewon on 31 December 1919. No 480 (Coastal Reconnaissance) Flight, Calshot, was redesignated No.201 (Flying Boat) Squadron in January 1929.

In the first half of 1915 it wasn't Furnes-based. There was a detachment at Dover in January 1915 but also a presence at Dunkirk in February 1915.

As far as I can ascertain the sequence was as follows:
On 24 December 1914 two Bristols from No.2 Squadron RNAS were sent from Eastchurch to Dover but were then relieved by "B" Flight of No.1 Squadron RNAS. This flight consisted of 4 Avros under JT Babington. About a month later, i.e. by the end of January 1915, "A" Flight of No.1 Squadron RNAS moved from Gosport to Dover, but 2 Avros were sent to Westgate, then back to Dover by February 1915. And what of "C" Flight of No.1 Squadron RNAS? It became an independent unit, initially Newcastle-based.

The bombing raids in Feb 1915 were not solely No.1 Squadron, as the raiders included seaplanes too. The bombing of Ostend and Zeebrugge included people like Harold Rosher (his memoirs are free to download) and E.G. Rigall, one of the earliest casualties for No.1 Squadron RNAS. (Rigall's Avro 875 had taken part in the Friedrichshafen raid in November 1914, so they probably ill-equipped for the task required of them). The official records claim that No.1 Squadron RNAS damaged U-14 in February 1915 at Zeebrugge but it would appear that the damage was superficial.

By the end of February 1915 they were based at St Pol. Throughout February and March 1915 they conducted bombing raids on the Channel ports. However, there's something of a grey area between the operations of No.1 Squadron RNAS and the Dover Patrol, e.g. by 21 March 1915 reinforcements included 5 pilots from Dover, together with 3 Curiss and 2 Vickers aircraft.

Courtney led the unsuccessful raid on Hoboken on 24 March 1915, the 5 Avros not being up to the task of a 100 mile raid in adverse fog and cloud conditions.

A further raid was attempted on Hoboken on 1 April 1915, led by F.G. Andrae, but it was J.P. Wilson's bombing raid on a U-boat at Zeebrugge that'd appear to have been the more successful sortie of that day.

In April there were spotting flights conducted for the Excellent and Bustard but the signal lamp and other equipment were not ideal, nor was the W/T communication used with the batteries at Nieuport.

Of the anti-Zeppelin actions in April 1915?

On 26 April Spenser Grey, Babington, Wilson, Marsden and Warneford attacked a "drachen" kite balloon, dropping 12 x 20-lb bombs on it.

On 29 April the LZ-38 made a raid on England. On 17 May 1915 the LZ 37 attacked Calais, the LZ38 Ramsgate and the LZ39 aborted its raid. Spenser Grey, Bigsworth and Warneford got to bomb it, with Bigsworth dropping 4 bombs on her back, but she made it Evere untroubled. Warneford got to bomb the Zeppelin sheds on 26 May 1915.

On the night of 6 June 1915 Warneford - in a humble Morane - did indeed get to destroy the LZ37 but it's sometimes forgotten that JP Wilson and JS Mills - in Henri Farmans - got to destroy the LZ38 on the ground.

In terms of when the RNAS adopted revised terminology? Yes, in June 1915 No.1 Squadron RNAS had become No.1 Wing. Over the course of 1915 control of the naval air stations was transferred from the Air Department of the Admiralty to the Senior Naval Officer of the area in which they were based, so the airship stations at Capel and Polegate, together with the seaplane and aeroplane stations at Dover and Dunkirk, were all placed under the control of Admiral Bacon, SNO Dover Patrol.
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Old 3 November 2014, 10:14 AM   #3
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On the Furnes link with 1 Wing RNAS? It's more of a 1916 connection.

In March 1916 No.1 Wing's structure was overhauled:
No.1 Flight: two-seater Nieuports for reconnaissance duties.
No.2 Flight: single seater Nieuports for fighting/anti-Zeppelin patrols.
No.3 Flight: two-seater Nieuports for W/T spotting.
No.4 Flight: BE2Cs for night spotting.
Bombing Flight: Caudrons for anti-submarine patrols/bombing operations.

The above-named flights were grouped into two squadrons:
"A" Squadron: Nos.1 and 2 Flights, and Bombing Flight.
"B" Squadron: Nos. 3 and 4 Flights.

"A" Squadron became No.1 (Naval) Squadron, under the command of an Irishman (Francis Knox Haskins), with a multinational cast that included Minifie and Dallas.

To protect Dunkirk a French squadron was based at Furnes and the RNAS at Dunkirk but the French were taken to reinforce the Verdun sector, so it fell to "A" Squadron/'Detached Squadron'/No.1 (Naval) Squadron, under Haskins, to take up quarters at Furnes.

On 10 June 1916 they began the illustrious history as the RNAS' first proper homogenous fighting unit, intercepting enemy raiders on Dunkirk but also conducting offensive patrols along the Belgian coast. By 22 June 1916 the squadron received its first Tripehound.
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Old 3 November 2014, 11:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for the precious info.
Thus A-flight moved to furnes in June 1916? OK?

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