Tag Archives: 27 Squadron RFC

3 December 1917 – 22 Squadron Disaster

Today on the Western Front, 9 Wing assisted 2 Brigade by bombing Honnecourt (27 Squadron RFC), Menin Station (25 Squadron RFC) and Crevecoeur (25 and 27 Squadron).

Providing fighter cover was 22 Squadron RFC in their Bristol F2bs. Lieutenant Sydney Arthur Oades and 2nd Class Air Mechanic John Harvey Jones had a smidgin of good news when they claimed to have shot down an enemy two-seater in flames north of Roulers.

After that it all went downhill. First, Lieutenant L R Titchener and Second Lieutenant Herbert Kenneth Johnstone were killed when their Bristol F.2b (A7230). collided in mid air with another F2b (A7268) with 2nd-Lieutenant Frank Amsden Biner and 1st Class Air Mechanic David Ward Clement on board. All four crew were killed.

2nd Lieutenant F Goodchap and 2nd Lieutenant Alfred Henry Middleton were slightly luckier as they were taken prisoner when their F2b suffered engine trouble and they were forced to land behind enemy lines.


1 November 1917 – Some Bombing

The weather was pretty poor today for flying and most offensive patrols were curtailed. Nevertheless the bombers attempted to work and despite the mist and cloud some managed to get through. The RFC Communique reported thus:

“9th Wing — Machines of No 101 Squadron dropped six 112-lb bombs on Roulers Station, two 112-lb bombs on Thourout Station, two 112-lb bombs on Beythem Station and two 112-lb bombs on Staden; 1,550 rounds were also fired at trains, lights on roads and active anti-aircraft batteries during this work.

Machines of No 102 Squadron dropped one 112-lb bomb on Gontrode Aerodrome, one 230-lb bomb on Heule Aerodrome, seven 112-lb and 10 25-lb bombs on Courtrai Stations, two 112-lb and one 25-lb bombs on Marcke Aerodrome, while eight 112-lb and six 25-lb bombs were dropped on trains, with the result that one was hit and derailed near Ghent and another hit and wrecked at Iseghem.

At 2 p.m. on the 1st, when clouds were at a height of about 200 feet, four Martinsydes of No 27 Squadron left the ground to bomb Gontrode aerodrome. Sgt S Clinch, who was one of the pilots, climbed through the clouds and flew for 40 minutes and on diving down through the clouds, found himself over Ghent. He followed the canal at a low height and dropped his bombs on the aerodrome, but was unable to see the results owing to drizzle and strong anti-aircraft fire. He landed again at 4.25 pm. The three other pilots became completely lost and returned with their bombs after a flight of two hours.

41st Wing — On the 1st instant, 12 machines of No 55 Squadron set out two formations of six machines each to bomb works at Kaiserslautern, a distance of 100 miles from their aerodrome. One formation reached the objective and dropped three 230-lb and six 1121b bombs from 15,000 feet. Results were not observed as the sky was very cloudy with only a few gaps. The other formation encountered seven EA, so dropped their bombs behind the German lines to enable them to fight. One EA was shot to bits and fell in pieces. All our machines returned.”

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.

4 August 1917 – Opportunities

Whilst the British offensive launched on 31 July has continued, the poor weather has also continued, limiting most flying for the last two days. Today some aircraft got up but spent most of the time attacking whatever targets of opportunity they could find.

For example, Lieutenant James Bass Finch and Lieutenant Arthur Sleep and Lieutenant Frank Warren Curtis and 2nd Class Air Mechanic F N Bell from 9 Squadron RFC attacked enemy transport in Langemarck from 900 feet in their RE8s.

Captain Robert Benedict Bourdillon from 27 Squadron RFC dropped one 230-lb and four 20-lb bombs from 5,700 feet on Cortemarck Station.

32 Squadron RFC attacked enemy trenches in their DH5s. 2nd Lieutenant William Raymond Fish reported hits on enemy troops. However, 2nd Lieutenant Lockhart Frederick Charles St Clair was hit by anti aircraft fire. His DH5 (A9404) crashed and he was wounded.

The only casualty today was 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Frank Preston Thwaites Dennett from 52 Squadron RFC who was wounded in the stomach whilst carrying out some experimental work with kite balloons in his RE8. No details are available about the pilot or the aircraft. Dennett died of his wounds the following day.

Whilst the British offensive launched on 31 July has continued, the poor weather has also continued, limiting most flying for the last two days. Today some aircraft got up but spent most of the time attacking whatever targets of opportunity they could find.

16 July 1917 – A bizarre accident

Capt Melville Johnstone from 27 Squadron RFC, a New Zealander from Motuotaraia, Waipukurau, Hawkes Bay, was killed today. However it was not enemy action that did for him, but a bizarre accident.

He was returning from a bomb raid over the lines unfortunately one of his bombs had not released properly and was caught in the landing gear of his Martinsyde G100 (7499).

Its not known if he was manoeuvring to try and release the bomb, but in any case the aircraft crashed into a lake near Arques which was just south of 27 Squadron’s aerodrome at Clairmarais North. Captain Johnstone was drowned and the aircraft completely written off.

Johnstone had joined 27 Squadron in December 1916 and in June been promoted to Captain as a Flight Commander.

24 April 1917 – 66 and 9

The action in the air continued with the offensive on the ground. Seven British aircraft were shot down with eight crew killed, 5 wounded and 2 taken prisoner. The British also claimed 36 enemy aircraft forced down or shot down though in the event the Germans only confirmed 2 wounded and 2 killed.

The big operation of the day was a combined reconnaissance and bombing mission to Le Quesnoy and Landrecies. A distant reconnaissance by nine Sopwith Strutters from 70 Squadron accompanied by six Sopwith Pups from 66 Squadron failed due to low cloud and on the way back the formation was attacked over Solesmesby six Halberstadts. One of the two-seater Sopwiths was shot down in flames and one of the escorting pilots was forced to land and was made prisoner.

2nd Lieutenant Clive Harold Halse and 2nd Air Mechanic William J Bond from 70 Squadron in Sopwith Strutter (A1002) were shot down by Leutnant Fritz Otto Bernert from Jasta 2.


Robert Stanley Capon

2nd Lieutenant Robert Stanley Capon from 66 Squadron got separated from the formation and shot down by Oberleutnant Heinrich Lorenz from Jasta 33 in Sopwith Pup A6175. He crashed near Cambrai and was taken prisoner. Three of his colleagues were also shot but managed to escape back over the lines – 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Myer Marsh in Sopwith Pup A670, Captain Robert Oxspring in Sopwith Pup A7305, and 2nd Lieutenant Cecil Charles Morley in Sopwith Pup A6152.

The bombing formations, which followed, fared better. Five Martinsydes from 27 Squadron each dropped one 230-lb. bomb in the neighbourhood of the sheds at Ath Station. The three escorting SPADs had a brief indecisive encounter with two Albatros two-seaters on the outward journey, but there was no other opposition.

Bernert then flew south to engage a 6 strong bombing formation from 9 Squadron returning from a raid on Busigny and shot three of them down. Lieutenant Charles Lee Graves in BE2e A2941, Lieutenant Frank Arthur Matthews in BE2e A2937, and Lieutenant George Edward Hicks in BE2e 7195. Graves and Matthews were killed and Hicks was taken prisoner.

15 September 1916 -The busiest day yet

The British launched a new offensive today between Morville and Le Sars.  The work for the RFC began late last night as aircraft were asked to patrol the front to disguise the deployment of the latest attempt to break the deadlock – tanks. This was the most intensive day of air fighting since the war began.

Once the battle commenced at 0620, the Corps Squadrons were used to track the progress of the tanks and infantry. In one notable example, Captain CHN Blount and his observer Lieutenant TS Pearson of 34 Squadron spooked the failed tank attack near HIgh Wood and a large German force. The planned assault was called off.

As well as this, the fighting in the air intensified as the new German Squadrons emboldened by their new machines met British forces still committed to the strategic offensive. The RFC lost eight killed and a further four taken prisoner , whilst claiming 14 enemy aircraft shot down.

11 Squadron RFC were covering a raid on the railway at Baupame  – 2nd Lieutenants Frank Edwin Hollingsworth and Henry Maurice Watkins Wells were shot down and killed in their FE2b (6047)  and Sergeant D B Walker died of his wounds in another . The squadron claimed two enemy aircraft shot down


Cedric John Kennedy

21 Squadron lost two more of their ineffective BE12s with Lieutenant Gilbert Klingenstein (6164) and 2nd Lieutenant Colin Elphinston (6583) both forced down and taken prisoner.

2nd Lieutenant Cedric John Kennedy of 27 Squadron was also taken prisoner when his Martinsyde (7484) was also forced down near Bourlon Wood.

Captain Alfred Spencer Mason Summers of 60 Squadron was shot down and killed in his Nieuport 16 (A136) by Leunant W Frankl of Jasta 4.


Alfred Mason Spencer Summers

70 Squadron and their Sopwith Strutters suffered the worst however.  Despite being in one of the better aircraft, they got into a fight with Oswald Boelcke’s Jasta 2, Jasta 4, and their new Fokker DIs and DIIs, and despite claiming 3 enemy forced down, and a further two collided in the melee, they themselves had four aircraft shot down with five killed and one taken prisoner. Captain Guy Lindsay Cruikshank DSO MC and 2nd Lieutenant Rudolph Arthur Preston were shot down and killed in A895 by Boelcke. Half an hour later Boelcke also shot down 2nd Lieutenant Neville Kemsley in A1903. He escaped with minor injuries but managed his observer Carl John Beatty was killed.


Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday

A similar fate befell A1913 as pilot Captain W J C Kennedy Cochran Patrick who survived a crash but his observer Captain Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday was killed. Finally Boelcke himself claimed victory 26 by shooting down A1910. 2nd Lieutenant Fritz Bowyer was wounded but survived while his observer 2nd Lieutenant William Bell Saint was killed by unknown pilots from Jasta 2 and Frankl from Jasta 4.