Category Archives: RNAS

19 November 1917 – Porte in a storm

Today, a conclusion was reached in the corruption case against Wing-Commander John Cyril Porte RNAS and William Augustus Casson.

Porte is currently working for the RNAS and has been instrumental in the development of flying boats at RNAS Felixstowe.

The case has come about because before the War Porte worked for the Curtiss Aeroplane company and was in the process of designing an aircraft for crossing the Atlantic. As part of his deal with Curtiss, Porte received a 20-25% commission on all flying boats sold that he had designed.

John Cyril Porte

When the War broke out, the project was suspended and Porte returned to England to work with the RNAS. Porte’s agreement with Curtiss however remained in place. Porte and William Augustus Casson (a former Barrister) made an agreement by which all the commissions received from sales were received by Casson, who would retain one-quarter for himself and pay over the remainder to Porte. In his role at Felixstowe, Porte was responsible for the purchase of seaplanes and indeed many orders were made by the Admiralty to the Curtiss Company.

It seems however that the authorities are keen to bring a swift end to this messy situation. Today, Casson pleaded ” Guilty ” to 12 counts of an indictment charging him with giving a gift to Porte, an agent of the Crown, as an inducement for showing favour to the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in relation to the business of the Crown. Mr. Casson pleaded ” Not Guilty ” to counts charging him with conspiracy to defeat the law, and with aiding Wing-Commander Porte to accept gifts.

The Attorney-General, at the opening of the proceedings, announced that in the case of Commander Porte he wished to enter a nolle prosequi. In making this announcement, the Attorney-General said that at the outbreak of war Commander Porte was in America occupying a commercial position in the aeronautic world which was a very advantageous one. Immediately on the outbreak of the war he abandoned that position, came to England, and placed his services unreservedly at the disposal of his country. At that time and now he was suffering from a most grave haemorrhage of the lung. At the present Commander Porte was doing invaluable work at the Admiralty in regard to the national defence, and the Admiralty were most anxious to retain his services. The progress of the malady from which he suffered was such that it was not possible to suppose that in any event the period for which his services would be at the disposal of his country would be a very protracted one. All the money paid to Porte, with the exception of £10,000, which had been disposed of; remained in his possession and he had agreed that the balance would be handed over by his representatives to the authorities.


Casson, was fined £500 on each of the 12 counts, plus costs. THe police had found £6000 at Casson’s house and this was used to discharge the fine as Casson had no other income.


13 November 1917 – Fall and Wood

Today, a flight from 9 Squadron RNAS were out on a high altitude offensive patrol in their Sopwith Camels when they came across an enemy patrol. The Flight Commander Flight Lieutenant Joseph Stewart Temple Fall and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Arthur William Wood attacked three Albatross Scouts. The rearmost machine was shot down. They followed the aircraft down, and saw it crash in the floods, hit a fence and turn over on its nose, partly upside down.

An hour later, after returning to replenish his ammunition, Flight Commander Fall attacked an Albatross two-seater, it was last seen at 500 feet spinning on its back completely out of control. For this action and another victory earlier in November he was subsequently awarded the DSC for the third time (the only Canadian to do so).
Joe Fall was the son of a farmer who was rejected from the army due to a childhood head injury.

On 23 August 1915 he was accepted as a candidate for the Royal Naval Air Service. When Canadian authorities abandoned support for a flying school in Canada, Fall left Canada on 12 November 1915 to be trained in England. By late 1916, he was flying the Sopwith Pup in combat with 3 Naval Squadron. He then joined the Montreal School of Flying, but as it had no aircraft he took a preliminary flying training course at Dayton, Ohio with the Stinson School of flying. He then paid his own passage to England and applied to join the Royal Navy. He was accepted and reported to the Admiralty on November 30th 1915. He was able to deceive the naval medical branch. He later said:

“When they asked me if I had any bodily injuries, I said no. They didn’t ask me anything about head injuries and I didn’t offer anything.”

During the interview Joe mentioned he had already taken some flight training and the Navy put him in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). He spent almost a year in training and finally went to the front in October 1916. He served with various bomber formations before joining 3 Squadron RNAS in February 1917, transferring to 9 Squadron RNAS in September 1917. At this point he has claimed 32 victories.

In a service dominated by Canadians, Wood was unusual in being an Englishman from Bradford. He joined the RNAS in October 1916, joining 9 Squadron RNAS in September 1917. This was his 10th victory.

12 November 1917 – Second Reading

Following its formal introduction on 8 November 1917, the Air Force Bill, which will set up the new independent Air Force received its second reading in the House of Commons today.

The Bill was debated in full and was passed by the House. Given the importance of passing the Bill quickly, the House has decided to submit the Bill to a Committee of the Whole House on 16 November 1917, rather than send it to a normal specialist committee for review.

The record of the debate is available in Hansard.

8 November 1917 – Air Force Bill

Today, Walter Long, the Secretary of State for the Colonies introduced the long promised Air Force Bill that will establish a separate air service for the British forces received its First Reading in the House of Commons. This is merely a formal step and the Bill will be debated and scrutinised next week.

The full text is available on pages 1197 and 1198 of Flight Maagazine of 15 November 1917.

28 October 1917 – Trying to bomb Germany


Richard Gregory Gardner

7A (Naval) Squadron has been bombing targets in Belgium including Zeebrugge locks, Bruges Docks and various German airfields. Overnight one of their Handley Page 0/100s (3122) was lost bombing St. Denis Westrem airfield.

2ND Lieutenant William Wallace Hutton (seconded from the RFC) was killed in the crash. His colleagues Flight Sub-Lieutenant George Andrews and Assistant Gun Layer E M Kent were taken prisoner.

Along with the establishment of the 41st Wing for bombing operations in Germany, ITS sister squadron, 7 (Naval) Squadron and its Handley Pages have been assigned new targets in Germany to attack areas of military importance.

This evening nine Handley Pages set out to bomb the station and military barracks at Cologne. Unfortunately, the weather conditions became unfavourable and six of the pilots turned to Antwerp and dropped their bombs on the Cockerill Works at Hoboken, and on the railways and docks. Two others attacked Bruges docks and trains south-west of Ghent.

The remaining pilot (Flight Lieutenant Richard Gregory Gardner) persisted towards his objective, but, hampered by rain, eventually dropped his twelve 112-lb. bombs on a lighted factory east of Duren. On the return journey, Gardner had to fly ‘blind’ through the clouds for 2½ hours, but eventually made a good landing on the small, unlighted aerodrome of a Flying Corps squadron after being in the air seven and a half hours.

27 October 1917 – Rhys-Davies Killed

Lieutenant, Arthur Percival Foley Rhys-Davies DSO, the 56 Squadron ace with 25 confirmed victories has been killed. A few weeks earlier, Rhys-Davies had been involved in the dogfight that saw the death of the German ace Werner Voss.

Fresh from receiving notification of his promotion to Lieutenant, he set off in SE5a B31 around 1035 for a patrol over Roulers. During the patrol, he was separated from


Arthur Percival Foley Rhys-Davies

the rest of his flight when in typical fashion he set off in pursuit of a group of enemy Albatrosses.

He failed to return from the patrol and was posted as missing presumed dead. It was not until 29 December 1917 that a report came through from the German side that he had been shot down and killed. Post war research suggests that Karl Gallwitz from Jasta 2 is the most likely candidate for this victory.

The exact site of Rhys-Davies crash is unknown but was most likely between the lines as his body and aircraft were never recovered. He was posthumously awarded the DSO.

It was not a good day for the RFC and RNAS as a further seven crew were killed and three taken prisoner. In addition to this 5 more were killed in training accidents back in England.

Those killed in action were:

  • 2nd Lieutenant George Page Bradley, 43 Squadron RFC
  • 1st Class Air Mechanic  William Malcolm Goldsmith, 10 Squadron RFC
  • Probationary Flight Officer George Heaven Morang, 10(Naval) Squadron
  • 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Ivor Phillips, 45 Squadron RFC
  • 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Willibrod Primeau, 70 Squadron RFC
  • 2nd Lieutenant John Henry Sanders , 59 Squadron RFC
  • Lieutenant William Bernard Sherwood, 60 Squadron RFC
  • Lieutenant Ronald John Santa White, 48 Squadron RFC

Those taken prisoner were

  • 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Arthur Cartledge, 28 Squadron RFC
  • Lieutenant Richard James Eardley Percy Goode, 70 Squadron RFC
  • 2nd Lieutenant Sidney Lunn Whitehouse, 19 Squadron RFC

Those killed in accidents were:

  • 1st Class Air Mechanic  W Eastwood, In training
  • Leading Mechanic Walter Fairnie, R.N. Air Station (Yarmouth)
  • 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Fleet, In training
  • 2nd Lieutenant Charles William Homer, 25 Training Squadron
  • 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Sidney Hudson, 49 Squadron RFC
  • 2nd Lieutenant John Harold Keeble, 49 Squadron RFC
  • Flight Sub Lieutenant Charles Herman Macneil, In training
  • 2nd Lieutenant Douglas Mcgill, 25 Training Squadron
  • Flight Sub Lieutenant Peter George Shepherd, RNAS

23 October 1917 – Bonar Law Speaks

 The Chancellor of the Exchequer Bonar Law spoke at the Alber Hall this evening in connection with the new economy campaign, Mr.

Bonar Law, after referring to the failure of the German submarine campaign, he went on to speak about the bombing campaign:—

“They have another hope. They hope to win by warfare from the air on defenceless women and children. But they have not succeeded so far, and they will not succeed. To read the papers sometimes, one would think members of Governments were quite different from other people. We are not. We share your feelings and, if you like, we share your prejudices. The Government realises the importance of the air service; not merely now, but for many, many months it has had priority over any other form of supply, as, the result has shown. The members of the Government received a report the other day—I have not asked the permission of the military authorities to make it public, but I do not think it will do any harm, and I will risk it. During last month our air service at the front, among their other activities, dropped about 8,000 bombs behind the German lines. In the same period the Germans dropped about 1,000 bombs behind our lines. In the month of September, again, our air service directed the artillery on something like 8,000 batteries of the enemy, and they directed it against between 700 and 800 of our batteries. I venture to say to you, therefore, that from the point of view of damage inflicted on the enemy what was done against them by us in September far exceeded all the damage that in all their air raids they have inflicted upon the people of England.

But that is not enough. We share your feelings. You know that we cannot prevent these air raids, but it is our business to make them as costly as possible. But I think I know that the people of this country can bear hardships and dangers of death that may come more patiently, and rightly so, if they know that they are not all on one side. 1 wish to be careful in what I say. We are not going to lose our air supremacy on our front in Flanders; we do not intend to tell the enemy what we propose to do ; we do not desire to boast or to raise false anticipations—but I say this, it is a kind of warfare which is detestable, we would avoid it if we could, but our enemy has determined on it ; so be it. It was not we who started poison gas—we should never have done it— but it is not by our enemy, it is by us and our Allies that that weapon is being used most effectively to-day. It is the same here. Let our enemy have patience, and he will find that what he can give us will be returned in full measure, pressed down, and running over.”