Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

13 April, 1918.

From:-    Force Commander.

To:-      Secretary of the Navy. (Operations – Aviation).

Subject:- Aviation – Weekly Report of Activities.

1.   ENGLAND.  The commissioned Kite Balloon Pilots originally intended for the U.S. Naval Kite Balloon Station, Berehaven, Ireland, are at present receiving instruction at the Royal Naval Air Station, Roehampton, England. Upon the completion of this course, they will be detailed as observers at a British destroyer base where they will witness the actual operation of Kite balloons from destroyers, after which they will be assigned to Berehaven for active duty. The commissioning of this station has been somewhat delayed due to the fact that the vessel carrying materiel for its equipment was torpedoed, but, fortunately, beached in the vicinity of Berehaven where the material is now being landed.

     Five destroyers have been equipped with Kite balloon winches and four more will be so fitted as soon as these additional winches become available. These are particularly scarce at the present moment due to the fact that recently a cargo of them was sunk in the Mediterranean and replacements have been required by the British which have been given priority over our requirements.

     Permission has been obtained from the British Admiralty to have all U.S. Naval Aviators now stationed at the various Royal Naval Air Stations trained in the handling of large flying boats. Exclusive of those officers now attached to Killingholme, there are now thirty-eight pilots at these various stations, all of whom will be given instruction in flying boats.

     Extensive preparations are under way at the Royal Naval Air Station, Killingholme to receive the personnel and materiel for Lieutenant-Commander Whiting’s detachment.1 Special mechanics have been ordered there from the Royal Naval Air Station, Felixstowe, England, to make such modifications and alterations to the H-16’s as may appear necessary upon arrival to suit them to North Sea work where they will operate in areas patrolled by hostile aircraft. Local food contractors have been advised with regard to the probable nature and quantity of food which they will be called upon to supply, and work on additional slipways at the station proper is progressing as well as can be expected under the circumstances and with the shortage of labor which exists. The ultimate intention is to turn this station over to us entirely, having for its primary mission heavy bombing operations, and as a secondary and continuous mission the antisubmarine patrol of that sector of the coast. For this work the Naval aviators now in training at the several British Seaplane Stations will be admirably and adequately trained and will, therefore, be able to carry on the present work of the station with little or no interruption.

     The reorganization and amalgamation of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps has been effected, and the combined service is now known as the Royal Air Force. All Naval Officers attached to this Force are now in khaki and have assumed military titles.

2.   IRELAND.  Construction work progressing on the several U.S. Naval Air Stations in a satisfactory manner, and it is estimated that these stations will be sufficiently well advanced to receive planes by May 1, 1918.

3.   FRANCE.

     Le Croisic:-  Nothing of interest to report.

          Number of flights       ∙∙        ∙∙   36

          Total flying time for week        ∙∙   48 hrs.10 mts.

     Dunkirk:- Usual enemy air raids, but with no material damage to our station. One 15” shell landed between hangar space: the only damage done was to the French station in the immediate vicinity by flying debris.

          Number of flights       ∙∙        ∙∙   23

          Total flying time for week        ∙∙   20 hrs. 4 mts.

     Minor Judson Chapin, Quartermaster, 2nd Class, U.S.N.R.F., was killed in seaplane accident at this station and buried in the Dunkirk Cemetary. His next of kin have been notified.

     Moutchic:-    Number of aircraft in service          10

                   Number of aircraft out of ser-

                        vice under overhaul          6

                   Number of aircraft unassembled    4

                   Number of aircraft unfit for

                        further service              2                 Number of flights  ∙∙        ∙∙        ∙∙  157

          Total flying time for week   ∙∙   50 hrs. 39 mts.

     Ensign Lloyd A. Perry, U.S.N.R.F. was accidentally killed in seaplane fall at this station April 11,1918. His next of kin have been informed.

     Fromentine:-  Construction work in progress. Nothing of interest to report.

     Ile Tudy:-    Construction work in progress.

     There is nothing of particular interest to report from the remaining French Stations. The entire materiel and personnel of the U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service in France have been offered to assist in any capacity in the present fighting on the Western Front. The only actual transfers made to date, however, have been of several pilots from our Air Station at Dunkirk to reinforce the British pilots at that point.

4.   ITALY.

     Lake Bolsena:-

     Number of Naval Aviators at this station∙∙ ∙∙   2

     Number of student naval aviators at this station 35

     Number of machines              "   "     "     12

     Number of machines flying         ∙∙   ∙∙   ∙∙   6

     Total number of flights           ∙∙   ∙∙   ∙∙ 124

     Total time                        ∙∙   ∙∙     44 hrs.

                                                    52 mts.

     Due to a serious shortage of gasoline. flying has actually been discontinued at Lake Bolsena for the present and until further supply can be obtained.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Notation “A-1.” appears in the upper-left corner of the first page.

Footnote 1: Lt. Kenneth Whiting, Commander, First Aeronautic Detachment.

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