Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain David C. Hanrahan, Commander, Northern Bombing Group to Vice Admiral Sir Roger J. B. Keyes, Commander, Dover Patrol

U. S. NAVAL AVIATION FORCES, FOREIGN SERVICE

NORTHERN BOMBING GROUP

P.O. ADDRESS, A.P.O. +4, B.E.F.          TELEPHONE CHANNEL TRUNK

REFERENCE NO. HQ-523                     CABLE ADDRESS, “AMAIR-CALAIS”

30 October 1918.            

From:  Commander.

To:    Vice-Admiral Commanding Dover Patrol.

Subject:  Northern Bombing Group; Future Operations of.

     1. In view of the fact that the coast of Belgium has been cleared of the enemy, and this coast is now occupied by the Allies, the future disposition of this Group was taken up with vice-Admiral Sims and was by him submitted to the Navy Department, Washington, D. C.1

     2. As long as offensive operations are carried on by the Allies in this district I consider it quite proper and advisable to continue using what forces I have to operate with the 5th Group in bombing raids against the enemy objectives.2 On the cessation of the offensive by the Allies I was obliged, according to my instructions, to cease operations against land objectives.3

     3. In order to carry out our operations, due to the advance of the lines, and the great distances between our present aerodromes and our objectives, I was obliged to operate from advanced fields.4

     4. I shall, of course, continue operations with what forces I have, at any time, as long as there is an offensive on, but I wish to know if the status of this Group has been changed in any way in connection with my orders to report my forces to you, as the work we are doing at present, and have lately been doing, is connected with land objectives.

     5. I have been unofficially informed that Admiral Benson, Chief of Operations, U. S. Navy, who is now in Europe, has recommended to the Secretary of the Navy that this Group shall continue as it is at present in force, to the extent of four day and four night squadrons, for the protection of the seaplane base, if established at Zeebrugge.5 I expect to get confirmation of this from the Navy Department, through London, in a few days and will then inform you of our exact status.

     6. It appears to me that this recommendation of the Chief of Operations was made with a view of holding the Group together for the present, with the expectation of further naval objectives opening up due to the advance of the Allied Armies, which objectives we would operate against.

     7. I am unofficially informed that the 5th Group has disbanded and three squadrons of that Group now remain in the vicinity and are operating as a Wing under Lieutenant-Colonel Osmond.6

DC Hanrahan        

CAPTAIN, U.S.Navy.

Source Note: DTS, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655.

Footnote 2: Many of the pilots in the Northern Bombing Group operated with the 82nd Wing of the 5th Air Group. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat, 334.

Footnote 3: The Northern Bombing Group offered to support the advance of the American Expeditionary Force but was rejected. Thereafter, the aviators supported the British forces in their advance. Ibid., 341-42.

Footnote 4: By the Armistice, elements of the Northern Bombing Group were operating from Knessalaere, a former German air base. Ibid. 343.

Footnote 5: See: Jackson to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 29 October 1918. Presumably, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels would have been forwarded that cable.

Footnote 6: Lt. Col. Edward Osmond, who formerly served in the Royal Navy as a squadron commander before the creation of the Royal Air Force and the transfer of all British air assets into that organization.