Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Commander Walter A. Edwards, Aviation Section, Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

1 November, 1918.

From:-      Force Commander.

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

Subject:-   WEEKLY OPERATION REPORT – WEEK ENDING NOVEMBER 2, 1918.

1.   There has been a concentration of enemy submarines in the North Sea during the week and the approaches of shipping along the French and English Coasts are believed to be practically free of under-sea craft. There have been few sightings along the French and Irish Coasts, and the concentration appears to be still progressing.

2.   An hitherto unreported attack on enemy submarine was made by an H-16 seaplane on patrol from Killingholme on October 14, 1918, 20 miles due north of Flamboro’. Pilot – Lieutenant McCann, USNRF., second pilot – Ensign Geyer, USNRF. Two bombs were dropped 50 yards on the starboard side of the periscope. Heavy bubbles arose, but no further signs of damage were noticed. The bombs were dropped from an altitude of about one thousand feet and a very rough air made accuracy difficult. The seaplane was obliged to make a forced landing on account of motor trouble immediately after the engagement, and taxied in to Scarboro’, to which place the Coastguard Station was signalled. No surface craft were in sight.

     The U. S. Naval Air Station at Porto Corsini, Italy has received a congratulatory message from the Italian High Officials in charge of the district for the splendid work done by the planes of this Station in a day-light raid over Pola on October 22, 1918, in co-operation with the Italians.

3.   The Force Commander has directed that an airplane be installed on the USS TEXAS, which ship is at present in dry dock being equipped with a starting platform.

4.   Two notable performances of H-16 seaplanes are reported from Killingholme; both were made on October 30, 1918. One 8 hour reconnaissance flight was made with the regular military equipment, except that the two 230-lb. bombs were not carried. The flight was made 200 miles from shore in a 35 knot wind. The water being very rough it was doubtful whether a landing would have been made on it. Sufficient gasoline for 1-1/2 hours more flying remained in the tanks at the end of the flight. The first pilot was Ensign C. H. Hodges, USNRF, and the second pilot Ensign E. M. Hall, USNRF. The other flight was a 9 hour coastal convoy. First pilot – Ensign S. C. Kennedy, USNRF., and second pilot – Ensign C.H.Weatherhead. Full military load was carried with 280 gallons of gasoline, crew of four men and the full amount of machine gun ammunition. The motor equipment and fuel capacity of both machines was that of the regular H-16 production.

5.   Advice has been received that three Handley-Page night bombing machines, equipped with Liberty motors, will be ready for delivery shortly.

6.   A mission, headed by Commander K. Whiting, USN., consisting of Lieut. Commander A. W. K. Billings, USN., Lieutenant C. P. Mason, USN., Lieutenant H. F. Guggenheim, USNRF. and Colonel Spencer-Gray, RAF. has gone to Italy to discuss the question of a Naval Aviation programme on the Adriatic.

7.   FRENCH UNIT.

     During the week ending October 12, 1918 the combined performances of the French Unit amounted to 523 flights made in 313 hours 34 minutes. There were 162 hours suitable for flying during the week and 228 seaplanes and 2 dirigibles were on the Stations of the Unit; there was an average of 74 planes and 2 dirigibles in commission. The flying personnel averaged 193 pilots. . . .

Ile Tudy. On October 22, 1918, two bombs were dropped on an oil wake south of Penmarch, and a mine was also bombed on the same day. The bombing of a second oil wake was also reported. On October 26, 1918, another oil wake was bombed with the result that greater quantities of oil appeared on the surface, as it is probable that all of these bombings were made on the result of an oil vessel previously sunk and still leaking oil. There were no submarines reported to be in the vicinity at the time. On October 26, 1918, HS-1 No. 115 crashed in a nose dive which occurred from a flat spiral, bursting into flames two or three minutes after the crash. Ensign W. G. Sprague, USNRF, was killed and Observer H.A. Roptker, M.M.1cl.(A) was seriously injured. The plane was totally wrecked. On October 28, 1918, HS-1 No. 112 crashed, killing pilot Ensign Edwin S. Pou, USNRF. John R. Banks, M.M.2cl. USN. (A) was injured, but is expected to recover. James H. Young, M.M.2cl. (A) was uninjured. A spar buoy was struck in making a landing and the plane was badly wrecked catching on fire, the fire being put out by Young. . . .

8.   IRISH UNIT.  

Lough Foyle. A mine was sighted by a patrol from Lough Foyle on October 22, 1918 and considerable wreckage was seen floating in the vicinity. On October 23, 1918, a suspicious oil patch was bombed, no result being observed. . . .

Whiddy Island. During the past week a violent storm at Whiddy Island caused considerable damage to the U. S. Naval Air Station there, the wind reaching the velocity of 76 miles per hour. A boat and lighter on the Station were seriously damaged and part of the officers’ quarters building was blown in by the wind. Storms of this character occur frequently during the winter and it is proposed to move the officers’ quarters to a more protected position.

9.   ENGLISH UNIT.

Killingholme. Three F2A seaplanes from this Station are tme<tem>porarily attached to the Royal Air Force Seaplane Station at Dundee, Scotland. Great submarine activity in the vicinity has resulted in an effort to prepare as many machines as possible for immediate operation, and additional pilots are being sent.

     On October 28, 1918, F2A No. 4057 started for Dundee, and crashed in the Humber, off the Station at 12:45 a.m. The first pilot, Ensign B. Lee, USNRF and Engineer R.J. Fisher are missing. Ensign J. Garrison, USNRF, second pilot was badly injured and Radio Operator F. Harris was unhurt. The greatest bravery was shown by Lieutenant (jg) R. H. McCann, USNRF and Ensign K. B. Hodges USNRF, who swam through the burning gasoline which surrounded the plane to the rescue of crew who were in the wreckage.

Fourteen planes are reported in commission on this station.

Plymouth. Satisfactory tests were made on October 15, 1918 in the operation of a kite balloon from USS PARKER. The test was made in a 35 mile wind and several landings of the basket on the platform were successfully made.

10.  ITALIAN UNIT.

Porto Corsini. In the week ending October 12, 1918, 12 test, 9 patrol, 10 practice and one reconnaissance flight was made. On October 7, 1918 in a reconnaissance flight over Pola to observe enemy shipping, it was noted that there was no enemy fire at the machines. An altitude of 3,500 meters was kept throughout the observation and 3 Austrian seaplanes and 2 land chasse planes that took the air did not interfere with the squadron. All machines returned safely to the Station.

On October 28, 1918, an M-5 with Ensign G.H.Ludlow, USNRF., pilot, crashed in a forced landing due to the flying apart of a defective cross-grained propeller. The pilot was uninjured, but the hull of the machine totally wrecked.

There were 14 planes reported in commission on this Station.

Lake Bolsena. In the week ending October 19, 1918, bad weather prevented flying on all but one day, when 7 flights were made in 1 hour and 30 minutes by American students.

None of the Italian pupils on the Station flew during the week.

11. NORTHERN BOMBING GROUP. . . .

Day Wing. On October 19, 1918, an attempted raid had to be abandoned on account of the low lying and thick fogs. The bombs that had been armed were dropped in the Channel. Six unidentified enemy aircraft were seen, but no engagement took place. On October 22, 1918, 10 machines left on a raid for the railroad at Deynze, four reaching their objective, and 1,296-lbs. of bombs were dropped. One DH-4 machine, pilot Lieutenant H.C.Norman, USMC., observer Second Lieutenant C.W.Taylor, USMC. was attacked by 7 enemy aircraft and driven down in a nose dive, both officers being killed. Through the week training in recognition of objectives, gunnery, bomb dropped [i.e., dropping] and machine gunnery continued. There has been trouble owing to the failure of Delco Deflectors to stand up in service. The failure is attributed to the regulator adjustments, and it is believed that the trouble may be corrected. One machine, No. 3295, crashed through motor trouble on October 25, 1918, while getting off. Pilot Ralph Talbot, Second Lieutenant, USMC. was killed and C.W.Fritzdarden, USMC. was injured. The plane caught fire after crashing. Another plane, DH-9, No. 4776, with Lieutenant Johnson, USMC. pilot and Gunner Gardner, USMC. crashed, neither of the passengers being injured. Raids were made by 9 pilots and observers from the Day Wing with Squadron No. 218, R.A.F. on October 18 and 19, 1918.

W.A. EDWARDS                 

By direction.                

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifier “A-7” appears on the upper-left side of the first page.

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