30 April 1917 – “Bloody April”

Douglas Haig’s prediction of March 1917 has come to pass. At that time he informed the War Cabinet that:

“Our fighting machines will almost certainly be inferior in number and quite certainly in performance to those of the enemy. In view, therefore, of the marked increase in the number and efficiency of the German aeroplanes, it appears that we cannot expect to gain supremacy in the air in April, and it is even possible that it may pass to the enemy. The seriousness of this situation cannot be overrated, and its possible effect on the results of our operations will no doubt be fully realized by the War Cabinet.”

All in all the month that became known as “Bloody April” was a terrible month for the RFC/RNAS. In March they had lost 92 pilots killed in action, 32 taken prisoner and 64 wounded. The corrresponding figures for April were 207 killed, 112 taken prisoner and 102 wounded.

Despite the casualties, there were some positives. New aircraft (which in the event were to remain in use for the rest of the war) such as the Bristol F2, DH4 and SE5 were now in service and early problems with engines and gun jams were being ironed out.

The British also maintained their presence over the front allowing Corps machines to support the Army whilst denying the Germans the same opportunity.


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