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RFC Middle East


rmcguirk
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Does anyone know of an archive or library that has issues of “The Gnome”, a magazine for the RFC in the Middle East, edited by Capt. J E Dixon-Spain of No. 14 Squadron? Probably ran from late 1916 to 1918. My attempts to find by Google reaps an assortment of short people and aircraft engines – but no WWI-era magazines. Grateful for any help

Russell

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Hello Russell

Have you tried the RAF Museum at Hendon? If they don't have a set themselves, they may know a man who does.

Ron

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have now checked out the British Library's collection of "The Gnome" [bL shelfmark P.P.4039.(1.) . They hold 5 issues, numbered 1 to 5 (Nov '16, Jan '17, Mar '17, May 17, and Aug 17. I do not know if this is a complete set.

The tone is light-hearted, with numerous comical pen & ink drawings. The content ranges from the literary and cultural (eg, bits on Egyptian history), to lists of officers who have qualified at the No. 3 School of Military Aeronautics at Heliopolis. Not much mention of flyers who have "gone west" [KIA]. Regret saw no mention of the Australian Sqn.

It's well-written and well-produced; but the best thing in the set was a photo of captured British flyers Lt Floyer and 2nd Lt Palmer with their German &Austro-Hungarian "hosts". The two have just been treated to "a damn good lunch" at Beersheba Aerodome (5 Mar 1917). The following is quoted from Wings Over the Desert by Desmond Seward.

Three days later, on the morning of 8 March, while the only six machines of No. 14 Squadron now serviceable were out bombing Junction Station ... a two-seater Rumpler dived down from 4,000 ft over the landing ground at Kilo 143 and dropped a 'smoke-ball', followed by a message bag. then it flew off. Because this was mistaken for a bombing attack, two Australian aircraft ... took off to attack the Rumpler, but it was too fast for them.

The message was a letter[and the photo] from the Germans, saying they regretted having to inform their British opponents that they had shot down one of their machines. Luckily, however, pilot and observer had survived to enjoy an excellent lunch in their mess. The bag also contained requests from Floyer and Palmer for pyjamas and shaving tackle, with a note from their captors promising that these might be delivered in safety. That afternoon, a British aircraft dropped the items at Beersheba, with a message of thanks and also an apology from the Australians for trying to intercept the Rumpler. German fliers ... stood outside their mess waving up at the pilot.

I reviewed this book for the GWF Book Review Section on 19 October.

Russell

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It sounds an interesting resource. I expect there was either censorship, at the very least self censorship: too much personal information would have been a gift to enemy intellegence.

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