Captain Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
July 13, 1917.
From: Captain Richard H.Jackson,1 Representative of the U.S.Navy Department in France:
To: Secretary of the Navy (Operations)
SUBJECT: PROGRESS IN AVIATION.
1. When the one hundred men arrived in France there was considerable difficulty in deciding upon their distribution and instruction, as the composition of the unit was not understood. After considerable delay, it was finally arranged to divide these men between two Army Camps of Instruction, one at Tours and one at St. Raphael; the former for pilots, the latter for mechanicians. On arriving at these schools the men were at once put in training and have made considerable progress. The time in these camps will probably be about two months.
2. Lieutenant Whiting and Paymaster Conger2 then began a tour of the coast line to study the points at which it would be most desirable to establish bases and a school. They were accompanied by representatives in aviation from the French Government
This tour has recently been completed and tentative arrangements have been made for the establishment and equipment of three stations,- one at Dunkerque,- one at La Croisic near St. Nazaire,- and one at St. Trojan near Roch<e>fort: also a faring, observing and training school at <La Cazau>, on the coast, 30 miles south of Bordeaux, where the final training on the water will be done.
3. Dunkerque is a center of intense activity in Navy aviation at this time. The site was allotted there by the French Admiral in Command and he has undertaken immediately hangars for one unit of approximately 200 men, which represents 16 machines, 12 in active service.
There is no doubt that this base should be manned as soon as possible.
4. The work at Croisic has been ordered. As this is close to the line of traffic just outside the mouth of the Loire, it is the next most important base.
5. Plans of La Cazau (School) and St. Trojan are being prepared.
6. The system of training in France is under the control of the army. Men are sent to various military schools in small numbers and given from one to two months' military training. They are then sent to a School of Flying and finally turned over to the Navy Pilots for training in Seaplanes, the whole course taking from 2 to 3 months, finishing off with Seaplane work.
The French count on 10 men for each pilot and the unit is estimated at about 200 men, including pilots, mechanicians, observers, helpers, carpenters, gunners and signalmen. There are now about 30 men being trained as mechanicians and about 60 as pilots and observers. There are at least 100 more men needed in order to round out the present unit, and from 800 to 1000 men should be sent over within 2 months to take up training for the 4 bases.
7. The French are realizing more and more the urgency of aerial sea patrol against submarines and are drawing up a very complete scheme for the defence of the coast,- the ultimate scheme calling for 50 stations, of which 12 are to be alloted to the American Navy.
There actually exist today 14 stations along the coast in varying degrees of activity, many of them having only balloons or captive balloons or army machines. Seven of these are hydroplane stations. One of the future stations is to be established at Belle Ile. The actual number of balloons and machines in service is small, as the army takes practically the entire output of engines.
8. The French Government has offered to furnish the necessary military and seaplanes to carry on the course of instruction for the men at the school to meet the present situation, but how long this will continue I am unable to say. I earnestly hope that we can make some arrangement by which our own machines may be supplied in time for active service at the bases. At the base now being prepared the Government has undertaken the work with the expectation of being reimbursed by the American Government in due course.
9. The question of manufacture and shipping the boats and engine parts from America, or of manufacturing of the engines in France, is now being studied by Naval Constructor Westervaldt, and Major Bolling3 representing the Air Production Board. As undoubtedly great difficulty will be experienced in getting any engines in excess of the number daily absorbed by the Army, some manufacturers state that if the material could be shipped from America, the finishing could be done without difficulty in France. The whole matter is still under discussion at this time but it is very desirable to get naval machines to man one base in September, and three more the following month.
10. The French Navy Department organization for defense against submarines, which has recently been expanded, now includes –
1) Air patrol.
2) Routing of vessels.
3) Patrol and convoy of vessels, mine sweeping, etc.,
consequently the subject of coast defense against submarines is intimately associated with aviation.
11. Establishment and employment of bases. Lieutenant Callan4 has been sent to inspect the plans for the base at Crosic and will then go to La Canau <Cazau> to lay out the plan for the school.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. A note at the bottom of the page indicates a copy should be sent to VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.
Footnote 1: Someone later typed in “U.S.N.” just above this line, with a mark indicating it should come after Jackson’s name.
Footnote 2: Lt. Kenneth Whiting, Commander, First Aeronautic Detachment, France; and Paymaster Omar Conger.
Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. George C. Westervelt, and Maj. Raynal C. Bolling.
Footnote 4: Lt. John L. Callan.