10 September 1915 – Specialist observers

The days of the amateur observer are increasingly numbered At the beginning of the war the convention in the Royal Flying Corps was that the senior officer acted as observer while the junior officer (and frequently NCOs) piloted the plane under the direction of the observer.

Very quickly the relationship between the two changed and the pilot has become the primary crew member with observers relegated to an inferior position – observers often being chosen for their small stature (to cope with the limited performance of most of the aircraft).

The arrival of kite balloons on the Western Front added a new level of complexity to the job. Fortunately this has been recognised with the establishment of the Kite Balloon Training Depot in March 1915

The success of the balloons so far in place has led of course for demands from the army for additional balloons – and these require additional observers. To maximise efficiency these are increasingly being drawn from existing Royal Artillery officers who already have some experience with the operation of artillery. Four such individuals were posted to the training school today:

2nd Lieutenant John Alfred Clarke, 65th Battery, Royal Field Artillery
Lieutenant John Arthur Gerald de Courcy, 15 Siege battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
2nd Lieutenant J D S Lapland, 2t0 Heavy Battery, RGA
2nd Lieutenant Alfred William Oakden, 14 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

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