30 September 1916 – Haig

Douglas Haig wrote to the War Office today, setting out the impact of the new gernam Jastas on the RFC and the requirement for better aircraft.

“I have the honour to request that the immediate attention of the Army Council may be given to the urgent necessity for a very early increase in the numbers and efficiency of the fighting aeroplanes at my disposal. Throughout the last three months the Royal Flying Corps in France has maintained such a measure of superiority over the enemy in the air that it has been enabled to render services of incalculable value. The result is that the enemy has made extraordinary efforts to increase the number, and develop the speed and power, of his fighting machines. He has unfortunately succeeded in doing so and it is necessary to realize clearly, and at once, that we shall undoubtedly lose our superiority in the air if I am not provided at an early date with improved means of retaining it. Within the last few days the enemy has brought into action on the Somme front a considerable number of fighting aeroplanes which are faster, handier, and capable of attaining a greater height than any at my disposal with the exception of one squadron of single-seater Nieuports, one of F.E. Rolls Royce, and one of Sopwiths,-the last mentioned being inferior to the enemy’s new machines in some respects though superior in others. All other fighting machines at my disposal are decidedly inferior. The result of the advent of the enemy’s improved machines has been a marked increase in the casualties suffered by the Royal Flying Corps, and though I do not anticipate losing our present predominance in the air for the next three or four months, the situation after that threatens to be very serious unless adequate steps to deal with it are taken at once. I have directed the G.O.C. Royal Flying Corps in France to put forward a statement of our estimated requirements.”

He also wrote to Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, highlighting ther impact on operations.

“we were now doing less distant fighting with the result that an increasing number of German machines now come up to the lines, and a few cross them, whereas practically no German machines crossed the line in the first two months of the battle. It is the fighting far behind the enemy’s lines that tells most.”

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