27 March 1917 – Virtual expansion

Changes to wireless operations with artillery were implemented back in August 1916 and have proved successful. They have also shown that it was possible to employ a larger number of wireless aeroplanes on a given length of front.

To take advantage of this, RFC command has contemplated increasing the number of corps squadrons, but in the end, Major-General Hugh Trenchard decided that it would be more economical in personnel, especially of squadron and flight commanders, if the number of aeroplanes in each corps squadron was raised from 18 to 24, Given the shortage in personnel, this is the only practical solution. This was approved by the Army Council today.

In approving this increase the Army Council hoped that BE2 aeroplanes made surplus by the proposed re-equipment of five corps squadrons with RE8 aeroplanes could be used to bring the remaining BE2 squadrons in France up to the increased establishment. Very rapidly it became clear that delays in the RE8 replacement programme made this unlikely. On the 26 April, the War Office informed Sir Douglas Haig that it would be impossible to provide for a permanent increase of corps squadron establishments during 1917.

In the event only squadrons involved in the forthcoming offensive were expanded fully with others coming on stream piecemeal as aircraft became available.

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