14 December 1916 – Absolute mental and physical fitness

Although progress has been made on the training of observers, Major-General Hugh Trenchard, still has concerns about the quality of those arriving in France.  He therefore wrote toSeftonBranker, Director of Military Aeronautics, with his concerns:

“At present the elementary instruction work of observers in a squadron is very considerable, and time is taken up in teaching such work which should be used in raiming the standards of qualified observers.

Further,  new observers often arrive in a squadron after a long period in the trenches without any leave and in an unfit condition to take up work demanding absolute freshness mentally and physically.

I therefore propose, if you can make the necessary arrangements, to send home officers on their joining the RFC o probation for a course of training as observers. all officers who joined the Royal Flying Corps in the field as probationary observers. I would suggest that the course should last at least a month.”

The expectation is that about 100 officers would return to England, and return in weekly batches once training is complete.

The proposals have been agreed today by  Trenchard and Brancker and will come into force on 1 January 1917. Around 70% of the officers will be trained at the existing Schools of Military Aeronautics, and 30% at the School of Aerial Gunnery at Hythe.

The course will cover the following:

Artillery work: Organization of the Royal Artillery in the field with the types of guns, howitzers, ammunition in use. Meaning of simple gunnery terms. Signal codes. Methods of aircraft co-opera- tion. Practice with an artillery target.

Wireless: Sending and receiving morse. Elementary principles of wireless telegraphy as applied to aeroplanes. The transmitter and receiver and their care and maintenance.

Machine-guns: Care of the Lewis gun. Stripping and assembling. Stoppages. Filling the ammunition drum. General principles of aiming and firing.

Photography: Manipulation of service cameras. Taking photographs. Study of air photographs, particularly in connexion with artillery work.

Map Reading and Use of the Compass

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