Throughout July and August, the extent of air fighting and contact with enemy aircraft has been increasing. Decisive combats remain few, however, due to crude armaments of most aircraft, though the arrival of better armed aircraft such as the Fokker E1 and the Vickers FB5 is starting to change this. Despite being in the field for over a year, the RFC remains relatively small despite the large increase in the size of the British Expeditionary Force.
Lieutenant-Colonel Brooke-Popham, appointed RFC Chief Staff Officer in France on 25 May, took note of this apparent disparity. Brooke-Popham had experience of both combat and staff posts having previously served as Wing Commander of 3 Wing. He has written to the newly appointed GOC Hugh Trenchard with his concerns.
He highlighted that the British Expeditionary Force had expanded from four divisions to thirty, whereas the number of aeroplane squadrons had only grown from four to eleven. On top of this many new and diverse duties had been added to their original role of reconnaissance.
“If the enemy brings troops over from the Eastern front and resumes his offensive, he will doubtless make a determined effort to prevent our discovering his movements. Then will commence the real struggle for air supremacy where numbers will be one of the essentials for success.”