Tag Archives: 25 Squadron RFC

12 October 1917 – Heavy Losses

The British attempted another advance between the Ypres-Roulers railway and Houthulst Forest today. However heavy rain made ow lying areas impassable and the advance was mostly a failure.

 The RFC committed 10 squadrons to assist the advance carrying out low-altitude machine-gun and bombing attacks, contact and counter-attack patrols, and zone calls to the artillery for fire on active batteries, troops, transport, and machine-gun posts.

Concentrations of German troops were reported in the Passchendaele area were reported by air reconnaissance at 1300 and were severely shelled by the British artillery. In the end though no counter attacks developed most likely because the British advance had been so limited.

The concerted effort by the RFC proved very costly however. 66 Squadron lost three of its Sopwith Pups from an offensive patrol. 2nd Lieutenant Martin Newcomb (A635), 2nd Lieutenant Robert William Brownlee Matthewson (B1830) and Lieutenant Alfred Wylie Nasmyth (B1836) were all shot down by pilots from Jasta 36. Newcomb and Matthewson were taken prisoner but Nasmyth was killed.

 45 Squadron RFC also lost two of its Camels when they were shot down by aircraft from Jasta 35 and their pilots killed on an offensive patrol – Capt Horace Bertram Coomber (B2375) and 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Hugh Willard (B2386). Captain James Humphrey Cotton Minchin and 2nd Lieutenant Clifford Gordon Vandyk from 21 Squadron RFC, were hit by AA fire in their RE8 (A3768). The plane crashed on the British side of the lines but both were wounded.

Kenneth Hugh Willard

 Lieutenant Samuel Hall Allen and 2nd Lieutenant Graeme Cecil East Smithett from 57 Squadron RFC (in DH4 A7515) failed to return from a bombing mission on Hooglede after being shot down by Leutnant Harry von Bulow-Bothkamp from Jasta 36. Both were killed. Later in the day, their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant George Wheeler Armstrong 2nd Lieutenant Hubert Pughe-Evans were taken prisoner when their DH4 (A2135) was shot down by Leutnant Fritz Kieckhäfer from Jasta 29. Sergeant H L Clear and 2nd Lieutenant Frederick William Talbot from 25 Squadron RFC were also taken prisoner when their DH4 (A7426) – failed to return from a bomb raid on Beythem.

 2nd Lieutenant Harry Ronald Hicks from 19 Squadron RFC was killed on a ground attack mission in his SPADVII (B3574). Finally 2nd Lieutenant Wilfrid Gilbert Morgan and Lieutenant James Morgan Atkinson from 4 Squadron RFC were shot down in their RE8 (B5040) on a counter attack patrol and photography mission. Morgan was badly injured and later died of his wounds and Atkinson was taken prisoner.


14 August 1917 – Hill 70

Tomorrow the Canadian Corps will attack Hill 70, east of the village of Loos which has been in German hands since September 1915.

In preparation for the attack, the RFC carried out carefully organized attacks. Overnight 10 Squadron bombed railway junctions and billets east of the Lens front, notably Carvin, Berclau, and Oignies in their Armstrong-Whitworths.

At Oignies a fire was started, and the pilot whose bombs caused the blaze went down to 500 feet, and finding that a number of men had gathered, dispersed them with his machine-gun.

Oignies was attacked again today by day-bombers from 25 Squadron in their DH4s, who dropped 28 20-lb. bombs on the village. The same squadron, late in the evening, attacked the German aerodrome at Dorignies, north of Douai, with forty 20-lb. bombs.

27 Squadron attacked Phalempin aerodrome from which aircraft worked over the Lens sector—in their Martinsydes with four 112-lb. and 32 20-lb. bombs).

During the night,  10 Squadron bombed the head-quarters and rest billets of the German divisions which were to be attacked. Fifty-one light-weight bombs were dropped by the squadron on Annay, Courrieres, Oignies, Carvin, Epinoy, and Pont-a-Vendin.

28 March 1917 – A good day for Jasta 5


Keith Logan Caldwell

B flight of 60 Squadron was on an offensive patrol near Lens. Two of the Original five aircraft had dropped out due to engine trouble. The three remaining aircraft, led by Captain Keith Logan Caldwell attacked two enemy two seaters. They were then attacked themselves by three enemy scouts. Caldwell got into a one-on-one with one of the attackers eventually driving him off. 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Uriel Phalen in Nieuport 23 B1624 failed to return from the mission and was assumed killed. Leutnant Kurt Schuhmann from Jasta 5 claimed the victory though evidence is scant.

Jasta 5 then went to destroy a 25 Squadron photo reconnaissance  mission over Douai, about 12km behind the German lines. At this point the flight was down to 4 machines, three of which were lost.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Edward Harris Stevens and Lance Corporal C Sturrock in FE2d A32 claimed by Leutnant Kurt Schneider. They lost the undercarriage in the crash and Stevens was badly wounded
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    Aubrey de Selincourt

    Captain Aubrey De Selincourt and Lieutenant Harry Cotton in FE2d A6378 were forced down with a damaged engine and crashed – claimed by Leutnant Werner Voss

  • Lieutenant Thomas Noble Southorn and Lieutenant Vivian Smith in FE2d A6410 crashed when forced to land with a shot up engine and radiator – claimed by Vitzfeldwebel Otto Könnecke

All six crew members were taken prisoner but Stevens later died of his wounds. Aubrey De Selincourt later became a well-known author of classical and sailing books.

21 May 1917 – A slow day

There was not much action on the British sector of the Western Front today.


Eberhardt Mohnicke

A patrol of four FE2ds from 24 Squadron were out on a photography mission over La Bassée around 1600. One of the aircraft A6447, with 2nd Lieutenant John Fenwick Walker Blackall and 2nd Lieutenant Beverley Charles Moody on board fell behind the others with a poor running engine. As was becoming a common tactic at this point, a four strong patrol from Jasta 11 attacked the lone aircraft and shot it down with Leutnant Eberhardt Mohnicke, John Fenwick Walker Blackallwho had only joined on 18 May, claiming the victory. Blackall and Moody crashed and were taken prisoner.


James Hubert Ronald Green

About 20 minutes later the remaining three aircraft were also attacked, but they stuck to their formation eventually driving off the four enemy aircraft. Sergeant James Hubert Ronald Green and Private H Else and Lieutenant Alexander Roulstone and Lieutenant Henry Cotton claimed to have driven down two enemy aircraft out of control, but the Germans reported no losses.

3 May 1917 – Close Air Support

It seems the Germans were resting a little today as a large number of bombing missions were carried out seemingly unopposed, including Don Station by 27 Squadron, Busigny and Brebieres Junctions by 55 Squadron, an enemy ammunition dump at Iwuy, Eswars aerodrome, and Tourmignies aerodrome by 16 and 100 Squadrons. There were no combat losses on any of these missions.


Stanley Forrester Browning

The only casualties were suffered by 41 Squadron who were attacked by a number of Jastas while on patrol. Captain Stanley Forrester Browning was killed in FE8 (A4873), and Lieutenant Alexander Fraser was taken prisoner in FE8 (7622).

The 25 Squadron FE2b A842 with 2nd Lt Berry King and Trumpeter

James Kingston Lawrence on board caught fire and nose-dived near Fiefs killing the crew. The cause of the fire in unknown.

In an unusual action, aerial reconnaissance by 43 Squadron showed German troops massing for a counter-attack of XIII Corps in the Oppy area. As a result Sopwith Strutters from 43 Squadron returned to attack the troops. The following day the RFC Communique suggested that 13 aircraft were involved, while the Official History says only 5. Either way they flew low over the trenches and machined gunned the troops. All the aircraft retuned safely. This is regarded as the first true close air support mission carried out by the RFC.

Whilst this mission gets a paragraph in the Official History of the air services (Volume 3, p373), and a mention on the RAF Museum’s timeline for 1917, it doesn’t seem that it was particularly important in the overall scheme of things as it does not get a mention in the Official History: Military Operations France and Belgium, 1917.

2 May 1917 – Easing off

After the frantic action of April, things have begun to calm down a little on the Western Front. On the one hand, the new German combat group has taken the pressure off those sectors where it is not operating. On the other Manfred von Richthofen has gone back to Germany on leave and this seems to have lessened the intensity of the group, though perhaps this was inevitable given the pressure of the last two months.


Kenneth John Knaggs

The main event of the day was a mass scrap involving 40 aircraft in the evening.  Eight Albatros scouts from Jasta 11 attempted to attack some 25 Squadron FE’s over Vitry. Flight Lieutenant Robert Alexander Little from 8 Naval Squadron then attacked and claimed to have driven one out of control. Little was then attacked by 4 new Albatros scouts from Jasta 10. Little fled for the lines by putting his aircraft into a spin. Albert Ball and Kenneth John Knaggs from 56 Squadron then arrived and shot up some of the the enemy.

Claims were made by both sides, but in the end neither suffered any losses other than minor damage and injuries.


25 April 1917 – A mixed day for Jasta 11


Sebastian Festner

Around 0815 this morning a patrol by six Sopwith Strutters from 43 Squadron RFC encountered four red Albatrosses from Jasta 11). In the ensuing fight Lieutenant Charles Lionel Veitch and 2nd Lieutenant Edwin Simmons Wright Langton (in 7799) were shot up and Langton was wounded in the foot. In return Lieutenant Charles Roland O’Brien and 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Leslie Dickson shot down Vitzfeldwebel Sebastian Festner in Albatros DIII 2251/16. Festner was an ace with 12 confirmed victories. Festner’s aircraft fell between the lines and as the area was under heavy shelling was never recovered.

An hour later another Jasta 11 patrol got a modicum of revenge when they clashed with a patrolof FE2b’s  from 25 Squadron RFC. Lothar von Richthofen attacked the FE2b (A5505) of 2nd Lieutenant Maurice Arthur Hancock and Lieutenant Vivian Smith.  He was set upon by another FE2b(A387) with 2nd Lieutenant Charles Verdon Darnell and 2nd Class Air Mechanic George Pawley. They shot away his controls and forced him to land. He was saved by his wingman Leutnant Karl Schaeffer who shot down Darnell and Pawley in flames. Both were killed in the crash. Hancock and Smith crashed making a forced landing but were unharmed.744833_t2

Also killed today were:

    • 2nd Lieutenant William James Clifford and 2nd Lieutenant Henry Lea Tomkies from 48 Squadron RFC who were shot down in their Bristol F.2A A3352 by Leutnant Karl Schaeffer from Jasta 11.

Alexander Miller Turnbull

  • Lieutenant Thomas Thomson and 2nd Lieutenant Alexander Miller Turnbull from 12 Squadron RFC in BE2e 7191 by Leutnant Karl Allmenroder.