Airfields and Airmen of the Channel Coast by Michael O'Connor

By Michael O'Connor

During this newest addition to the Airfields and Airmen sequence, Mike OConnor describes the dramatic air activities that happened alongside the Belgian and North France sea coast in the course of the nice War.In addition to the Royal scuffling with Corps and RAF point this quantity covers the Royal Naval Air carrier (RNAS) and Belgian Air carrier (AMB) in addition to the German Naval Air provider.

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Under the terms of the Armistice the German air service handed over all its fighters and bombers and though some aeroplanes were used in fighting on the Eastern front during 1919 it was officially disbanded in May 1920. Belgium Belgium’s small size, limited resources and intention to remain neutral in any conflict, all led to meagre beginnings for the Belgian Air Service – the Aviation Militaire Belge (AMB). Despite this, King Albert was very air minded, and although never a pilot himself, he was flown several times over the lines during the course of the war, although occasionally the pilot responsible had to pretend to misunderstand his requests to go deeper into German Occupied territory!

During the retreat from Mons the squadrons moved from field to field, moving in all about ten times in as many days. In particular the RFC spotted von Kluck’s attempt to outflank the British Expeditionary Force and the signal was taken personally by Henderson to British Headquarters. After the Battle of the Marne and the so-called ‘Race to the Sea’ the RFC moved north with the rest of the British Army and set up headquarters at St Omer, where they soon settled into the pattern that would remain for the rest of the war.

George Cockburn, another pioneer pilot, offered to train them free of charge and Short’s provided free technical assistance at their factory. Short Brothers had their factory at Battersea but later opened another at Eastchurch and became almost the exclusive supplier of seaplanes to the RNAS. Later in 1911 McClean bought another ten acres at Eastchurch and gave it to the Royal Navy to set up their own flying school. Much experimentation was carried out with wireless, seaplanes and flying aeroplanes from ships.

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