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

CONFIDENTIAL

A-7.  <42775>                               25 October, 1918.

From:-         Force Commander.

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

SUBJECT:-      WEEKLY OPERATIONS REPORT – WEEK ENDING OCTOBER                   25, 1918.

     1.        In the British Weekly Report account of the attack by a seaplane from the U. S. Naval Air Station, Wexford, Ireland on October 11,it is stated that the submarine was believed to be damaged. Attention has been called by the Commanding Officer of the Wexford Air Station to the bombing of a submarine on the 13 October, 1918 which occurred within 10 to 15 miles of the attack of the 11 October. While the subsequent movements of this submarine on the chart do not show that it was seriously damaged, the home-ward voyage is supposed to have begun immediately after the second attack.

     2.        On October 16, 1918, H-16 No. A3478, with Lieutenant (jg) MacNamara, USNRF., pilot, Ensign Biggs, USNRF. second pilot and Ensign Shaw, USNRF. Observer on patrol from Aghada to Wexford sighted two long oil patches at 1:23 p.m. 15 miles off Ballincourty. Glimpses of the periscope were had at intervals and two bombs were dropped. The last one functioned, exploding at the point where the periscope was last seen. The plane circled round for 45 minutes but could not establish wireless communication with its Base. The periscope remained visible and submarine appeared to be trying unsuccessfully to submerge.

              On October 18, 1918, H-16 seaplane No. 3468 on patrol from U. S. Naval Air Station, Queenstown Ireland bombed a submerged submarine with one 230-lb. bomb. The wake of the submarine disappeared and no results were observed.

              On October 19, 1918, H-16 seaplane patrolling from U. S. Naval Air Station, Lough Foyle with Ensign Montgomery, USNRF. as pilot, attacked a submarine at 4:15 p.m. The first bomb was dropped 30 feet to the starboard of the periscope; the plane circled and dropped a second bomb about 10 feet in front of the submarine. Oil and air bubbles were observed. The attack was carried on by three destroyers which dropped 14 depth charges on the spot. Seaplanes were recalled by the Flag Ship and definite information as to the result is not yet obtainable.

              On October 13, 1918, two H-16 <HS-1> seaplanes on patrol from U. S. Naval Air Station, Fromentine, France dropped three bombs on the apex of an oil streak 23 miles south of Ile d’You.1 Heavy oil bubbles came to the surface for 13 minutes, no further results being observed.

     3.        Lieutenant Kenneth MacLeish, USNRF. has been reported missing since October 14, 1918. He was last seen while serving as a pilot with Squadron No. 213, R.A.F. in combat with a large number of enemy aircraft over Leffinghe.

              Investigation of territory recently captured has resulted in the gather of information from a peasant to the effect that on the day of Mac Leish’s disappearance an American aviator was forced down uninjured and captured by the Germans. No other American pilot is reported missing on this day.2

              The burned remains of Lieutenant A. L. Gates’, USNRF. machine were found. The machine showed no signs of having been crashed and no burnt clothing was found indicating that the pilot made a safe landing and burned the machine.3

              An H-16, No. A1072 was crashed in a landing on glassy water after sunset at U. S. Naval Air Station, Queenstown, on October 23, 1918. Pilot Ensign G. T. Owens, USNRF., second pilot Ensign Ferdinand A. Rosenberger, USNRF. observer Ensign William N. Peterson, USNRF. and machinist James F. Black, MM2e were cut and bruised but are expected to recover. Radio operator Wilfred Allen Anderson, E1, 3cl, USN.(E), was killed. The seaplane was a total wreck.

     4.        It has been decided to accept delivery of 1 Caproni 600 h.p. night bombing plane equipped with Isotta motors for immediate delivery, and 5 within the next month, instead of the 6 Fiat equipped Capronis now in Italy.

     5.        French Stations. French Stations during the week ending October 5, 1918 made a total of 728 flights, amounting to 655 hours 15 minutes; suitable time for flying amounted to 419 hours. There was an average of 234 seaplanes and 2 dirigibles in commission on the Station with 53 seaplanes and 2 dirigibles in commission. The flying personnel averaged 187.

Treguier. Eight planes are now at this Station.

L’Aber-Vrach. On October 14, 1918, Lieutenant Commander H.B.Cecil, USN, reported to Commandant de Patrouilles, Aeriennes de Bretagne, that the U. S. Naval Air Station at L’Aber-Vrach was ready for military operations with 6 seaplanes in commission. The planes were kept ready with motors warmed for an allo4 and practice in getting these alert sections into the air in the shortest possible time was conducted.

In the week ending October 5, 1918, an HS-1 plane was lost after a forced landing in a heavy sea. The hull filled at once and sunk,; the pilot and observer were taken off slightly injured.

Brest. Six planes were reported in commission.

Ile Tudy. During the week ending October 5, 1918, seven convoys were conducted and 21 submarine warnings received. On October 11, 1918, five warnings were received. “A” Section made one convoy of 16 ships at 10:45 a.m. with 3 convoyens. Section returned on account of broken oil line. At 11:10 Section answered allo, left north bound convoy and found three French trawlers circling 7 miles off Penmarch with four other French trawlers 7 miles to the west. No sign of submarine seen. The north bound convoy met at 12:30 p.m. two miles to the south of Penmarch 11 ships convoyed by 6 surface craft and 1 blimp. Section left base at 2 p.m. to meet convoy of 12 cargo ships escorted by 4 surface craft. At 3:35 p.m. allo call was answered, several patrol vessels met but no sign of submarine activity discovered.

This account gives a good idea of the work demanded from an active Naval Air Station in a day.

La Croisic. Four DD and 2 HS-1 planes are reported in commission. At week ending October 5, 1918, 30 submarine warnings were received. Two Tellier boats reported in commission at end of the week.

Fromantine. During the week ending October 5, 1918, twelve convoys were escorted. Flying was curtailed from October 6 to 9, 1918, on account of insufficient supply of gasoline on the Station. Seven HS-1 planes reported in commission at the end of the week.

St. Trojan. During the week in what is reported to be a normal landing the forward step of an H-16 plane was torn off. On October 2, 1918, an unsuccessful patrol was carried out in the search after the submarine which had attacked a Paimboeuf dirigible on the previous day. One H-16, one HS-1 and 3 Le Pen seaplanes reported in commission.

Arcachon. On October 1, 1918, the French gave up the operation of Cazaux Seaplane Station. Two French planes are now being kept temporarily by the U. S. Naval Air Station, Arcachon. These machines continue to operate under orders from the French authorities.

On October 9, 1918 an HS-1 plane made a patrol to investigate oil spots, but returned without finding them.

Operations were carried on in the week ending October 5, 1918 in co-operation with the French planes from the station. Five HS-1, 1 DD and 1 Levy Besson (French) are reported in commission.

Moutchic. On October 9, an HS-No. 808 was flown to Pauillac for repairs. On October 10, 1918, a DD seaplane was flown to Cazeau for the training of pigeons. On October 14, 1918, an HS-1 seaplane was flown to Pauillac for repairs. On this day there were 78 Naval aviators taking the pilots’ course, and 24 enlisted men taking the observers’ course. During the week ending October 5, 1918, 563 dummy bombs were dropped, and 37,146 rounds of ammunition used in practice on the ground range and 7,710 in the air. Sixteen planes are reported in commission.

Pauillac. During the week ending October 5, 1918, one DH-4 was flown to the Northern Bombing Group, 6 seaplanes to Fromentine, 4 being received from that Station for repairs and replacements of light crank shafts and one plane received and one returned to St. Trojan.

Paimboeuf. During the week ending October 5, 1918, eight convoys were escorted, three convoy flights being stopped by motor trouble.

On October 4, 1918, P-3, having picked up a convoy after three hours search was caught in a bad off-shore squall, wind NE 30 knots. The bearing cap of the blower motor became loose causing friction which produced heat and a fire, which was immediately extinguished. The dirigible returned to the station on one motor.

Inflation of the French dirigible, Captain Ca<u>ssin, was finished on October 5, 1918 after 40 hours.

There were two dirigibles reported to be on the station at the end of the week.

     6.        Irish Unit.  In the week ending October 12, 1918, the U. S. Naval Air Station at Lough Foyle made 3 patrol flights, one instruction flight and one test flight. In the week ending October 12, 1918, Wexford made 5 patrols and one test flight. In the week ending October 19, 1918, the three airplanes in commission made 18 flights, an average of 57 hours 8 minutes duration, averaging 17-1/2 hours 2-1/2 minutes per aircraft. Fourteen patrols were made and four convoys escorted. Two submarines were sighted and attacked and one oil patch bombed. Accounts of these engagements are given in the early part of this report.

Continuous trouble is being experienced at this Station with the dogs on the starting crank breaking.

Queenstown. During the week ending October 12, 1918, 6 patrol flights were made, and one test flight.

Lough Foyle. One H-16 seaplane is reported in commission.

Wexford. Two H-16 seaplanes are reported in commission.

Queenstown. Two H-16 seaplanes are reported in commission.

Whiddy Island. During the week ending October 12, 1918, one patrol and one test flight were made.

Berehaven. Investigation is being conducted of the loss of 3 kite balloons; two on the U.S.S. UTAH and one on the U.S.S. Oklahoma.

     7.        English Unit. Killingholme. No submarine sightings have been reported from this Station since last report.

     8.        Italian Unit. Porto Corsini. On October 22, 1918, 13 seaplanes from this Station took part in a raid over Pola between 2 and 3 p.m. Forty-three machines altogether were engaged in the operation, and all returned safely to their Station. It is proposed to repeat this operation at once. Eleven M-5, 3 M-8 and 2 FBA seaplanes were reported in commission.

Lake Bolsena. During the week ending October 12, 1918, there was a total of 18 hours 12 minutes weather suitable for flying. The American pupils at the School used 11 machines in 171 flights, totaling 54 hours 53 minutes.

     9.        Northern Bombing Group. Eastleigh. On October 17, 1918, and October 22, three DH9A machines were received from Hendon. On October 18, 1918, fifteen cars of DH-4 material were received from Glasgow. On October 19, 1918, one DH-4 and one DH-9 were flown to France, and one DH-9 on October 23, 1918. During the week ending October 17, 1918, five DH9A and two DH-4 planes were given trial flights. The testing and inspection of machine guns and ammunition was conducted. At the end of this week a total of 17 planes had been flown from this Station to the Northern Bombing Group Fields in France. The erection of DH-4 and DH-9 planes continues, and the manufacture of shop equipment and furniture is being carried on.

Dunkirk. Seaplane flying from the U. S. Naval Air Station, Dunkirk has been stopped and the Station will be abandoned as a seaplane station.

On October 19, 1918, one special convoy escort flight was made during 1 hour 25 minutes flying time. Ensign H. G. Campbell, USNRF. and Ensign William C. Vanfleet, USNRF. made three patrols on the 17, 18 and 21 days of October with the St. Pol French Naval Chaser Squadron.

Night Wing. In the week ending October 18, 1918, uniformally poor weather for night flying prevailed. Two raids were made in Handley-Page machines, Nos. 5411 and 4578, in which 5,340-lbs. of bombs were dropped. The pilots were Lieutenant (jg) Moseley Taylor, USNRF., Ensign W. Gaston, USNRF., Lieutenant (jg) O.P.Kilmer, USNRF., Lieutenant (jg) W.M.Blair, USNRF. and Lieutenant (jg) K.R.Smith, USNRF.

Day Wing. During the week ending October 18, 1918, six pilots from the Day Wing Squadrons were training at the British pool, Audembert and four pilots and four observers operating with the R.A.F. Squadron No. 217. Instruction was given for all pilots in maps, photographs and objectives in the enemy sector.

Ninth Squadron. Made four successful raids during the week, dropping a total of 9,994-lbs. bombs.

On October 17-18, 1918, from 4 p.m. to 4 p.m., 2,268-lbs. bombs were dropped on E<e>cloo. Bursts were observed on railroad sheds, four on the station and surrounding buildings, three direct hits on the railway yards and four bursts on the railroad. One DH-4, No. D-6 (name of pilot not given) fired 100 rounds into an enemy aircraft, which came down in a steep spiral and crashed into the sea.

On October 22, 1918, 10 machines left on a raid upon the railroad at Deynze. On account of low clouds and mist only four machines were able to reach the objective. Hits were observed upon the rail-road.

One DH-4, pilot Lieutenant Norman, USMC., observer Lieutenant Taylor, USMC. failed to return. This machine was last seen about 3 miles NW of Deynze and is supposed to have landed with machine trouble behind the enemy lines.5

W. A. EDWARDS 

By direction. 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The “CONFIDENTIAL” at the top of the document is a stamp, as is Edwards’ signature.

Footnote 1: That is, Île d’Yeu, France.

Footnote 2: MacLeish had been killed, though his death was not discovered until December 1918 when a Belgian farmer discovered MacLeish’s body at his homestead near Leffinghe. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat, 78.

Footnote 3: Gates had been captured by the Germans. He made a daring escape attempt that was foiled just a few yards from the Swiss border. He survived the war and was finally freed on 26 November 1918. Ibid., 77.

Footnote 4: “Allo,” (the French word for hello) was the signal for a submarine sighting. When a vessel saw a submarine it was to send the word “allo” by radio at full power and in plain language. It was to repeat “allo” two or three times and give the position of the sighting. Wilson, American Navy in France, 312.

Footnote 5: Marine lieutenants Harvey Norman and Caleb Taylor were killed when their plane, which had become separated from the rest of the squadron in fog, was attacked by seven enemy aircraft and crashed. Rosanno, Stalking the U-Boat, 342.

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