17 September 1916 -Meanwhile in the Med

As the fighting has intensified on the Western Front, things have also got rather hot for the RNAS Seaplane Carriers serving in the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, the Ben-my-Chree was sent out to spot for the Espiègle and monitors M15 and M31, which were set 10 miles apart. Commander Charles Rumney Samson had requested that they simplify on one target but he was over-ruled.

The Ben-my-Chree arrived at El Arish at dawn. The seaplanes split into two flights. One Short seaplane with Flight Lieutenant Percy Herbert Maskell and Sub-Lieutenant James Leslie Kerry) and two Schneider seaplanes with Flight Lieutenant John Thearsby Bankes-Price and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Alfred James Nightingale, spotted for the monitors. Another Short seaplane with Flight Commander Tom Harry England DSO and Sub-Lieutenant King) and two Schneider seaplanes with Commander Samson and Flight Sub-Lieutenant William Man) for the Espiègle. The second flight found no targets and returned to the Ben-my-Chree where the Short seaplane landed and the two Schneider seaplanes flew on to reinforce the first flight. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Man had engine trouble and crashed but was rescued by a trawler. Commander Samson found the monitors were not firing and flew inland to search for the first flight but without success and returned to the ship. Pas it turned out, the first flight had just started spotting when a German aircraft separated the Short seaplane from its escorts. Bankes-Price engaged the enemy aircraft but without warning  his Schneider seaplane burst into flames killing hIm. The Enemy aircraft then forced down the other Schneider seaplane. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Nightingale was subsequently picked up by a monitor and his aircraft by a trawler. The Short seaplane was then attacked but Flight Lieutenant Maskell flew under the German landplane and Sub-Lieutenant Kerry fired a long accurate burst hitting the enemy aircraft. It then flew off, but the Short seaplane was too slow to give chase. Whilst all this was going on, the Ben-my-Chree was attacked by three German aircraft who dropped eight bombs without damage. The whole force then returned to Port Said.

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