25 September 1915 – The biggish push

The allies autumn offensive commenced this morning At 06.30. The weather has deteriorated over the last few days. Visibility is poor caused by mist coupled with the gas released as part of the attack.

Nevertheless 1 Wing RFC continued its artillery spotting with mixed results. It appears that spotting for pre-arranged targets was mostly successful, but that new targets identified from the air have been largely ignored.

Attempts at contact patrols have also been largely unsuccessful. Some effort had been put into developing signals using smoke and cloth strips for the ground troops to indicate their locations and to identify obstacles on which the aircraft could call in indirect fire. There is little evidence that any of these were used successfully.

Bombing, however, continued to have some success. The railway line between Douai-Valenciennes was bombed by 14 aeroplanes of Second and Third Wings. Lieutenant H. R. Nicholl of 8 Squadron, finding a bank of fog over Valenciennes, dived to 150 feet and dropped his bombs on the track and sidings. Second Lieutenant Sholto Douglas of the same squadron hit the brick supports of the bridge which carries the light railway over the main line near Wallers. The light railway was cut and the main line partly blocked with the debris. Four pilots from 12 Squadron bombed a train east of Haubourdin and another between Valenciennes and Le Quesnoy. Lieutenant Horsfall scored a direct hit on the train. 2nd Lieutenant Lees dropped bombs which missed a moving train south of Seclin but broke the line in front of the train.

Enemy aircraft made a half-hearted attempt by to interfere with the bombing. Three pilots had brief indecisive encounters in the neighbourhood of Douai. 2nd Lieutenants J N Washington and M W Greenshow of 8 Squadron were shot down in their BE2c (4002) and taken prisoner.

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