11 April 1917 – 3 Naval Squadron hit back


JST Fall

Later in the day a bombing attack on Cambrai was carried out by five BE2s from 4 Squadron RFC, with an escort of Sopwith Pups from 3 (Naval) Squadron and SPADs from 23 Squadron RFC.

On the way to the objective an Albatros two-seater which unhesitatingly attacked was sent down in flames by a pilot from 3 (Naval) Squadron.

Over Cambrai, Albatros and Halberstadt fighters attacked the bombers. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Stewart Temple Fall, reported as follows:

“When B.E.’s were attacked at Cambrai I attacked H.A. head on at about 8,000feet. I saw many tracers going into his engine as we closed on one another, I half looped to one side of him, and then the H.A. dived with a large trail of blue smoke. I dived after him down to about 4,000 feet and fired about fifty rounds when he went down absolutely out of control. I watched him spinning down to about 1,000 feet, the trail of smoke increasing. I was immediately attacked by three more Albatros which drove me down to about 200 feet. We were firing at one another whenever possible, when at last I got into a good position and I attacked one from above and from the right. I closed on him, turning in behind him and got so close to him that the pilot’s head filled the small ring in the Aldis sight.  I saw three tracers actually go into the pilot’s head; the H.A. then simply heeled over and spun into the ground. The other two machines cleared off. I saw two other H.A. spinning down out of control and while fighting saw two B.E.’s being attacked by H.A. Having lost sight of all the other machines and being so low, I decided to fly home at about that height (200 feet). A company of German cavalry going east along a small road halted and fired on me; also several machine guns opened fire. After flying west for about five minutes I was again attacked by a Halberstadt single-seater and as he closed on me I rocked my machine until he was within fifty yards. I side-looped over him and fired a short burst at him. He seemed to clear off, and then attacked me again; these operations were repeated several times with a slight variation in the way I looped over him, until within about five minutes of crossing the lines (flying against a strong wind), when he was about 150 yards behind me, I looped straight over him and coming out of ‘the loop I dived at him and fired a good long burst. I saw nearly all the tracers go into the pilot’s back, just on the edge of the cockpit. He immediately dived straight into the ground. I then went over German trenches filled with soldiers, and I was fired on by machine-gun, rifles, and small field guns, in or out of range. There was a lot of small artillery firing and many shells bursting in and about the German trenches, somewhere in the vicinity of the Cambrai-Arras Road. I saw many small companies ‘of infantry and cavalry of about ten to fifty in each going east along small roads. I noticed no convoys or movement of artillery. I landed at the first aerodrome I saw, No.35 Squadron, R.F.C. My machine was badly shot about.”

Despite the efforts of 3 Naval Squadron, 2 BE2s were lost and one of the escorting SPADs. Lieutenant Francis Leslie Kitchin from 4 Squadron was shot down and killed in BE2d 5849 by Leutnant Adolf Schulte from Jasta 12. His colleague 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Matthews was hot down and taken prisoner by Leutnant Georg Friedrich Roth also from Jasta 12.

2nd Lieutenant Stephen Roche from 23 Squadron was shot down and taken prisoner in SPADVII A6690 by Leutnant Hermann Frommherz, from Jasta 2.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s