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RE8 A3552 - What date was the photo taken?


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The two photographs of RE8 A3552 were taken at Wyton (flight training school) during 1917, either before July or in November/December. Can anyone help in pinpointing the date more accurately? Though the trees in the background would suggest it was autumn/winter, I need more information to be sure - eg the date of manufacture of the RE8. Thanks in advance, Steve

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Does this make it before July?

20 RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 6th Wing at Dover 1.2.1916 with nucleus from 27 Squadron. To Wye 24.7.1916. Designated as a Higher Reserve Squadron and establishment set 23.12.1916 at 6 BE2 + 6 RE8 + 6 Avro. To Wyton and 26th Wing 1.6.1917. To Spittlegate and 24th Wing 15.9.1917. To Harlaxton 27.11.1917 and disbanded into 40 TDS at that station 15.7.1918.

Commanding Officer Representative Aeroplanes

AMC DH2 5921.

AMC DH6 A9588, A9590, A9591, A9592, A9593, A9594, A9637, A9697, B2632, B2633, B2634, B2636, B2715, B2806, B2807, C9388.

Avro 504A 2903, 4741.

AW FK3 A8092, B9526, B9570.

Curtiss JN4 B1943.

RAF BE2c 1657, 2596, 2661, 2710, 2711, 4094, 4111, 4123, 4142, 4199, 4590, 4723, 5616.

RAF BE2d 5806.

RAF BE2e 7194, A1316, B429, B4430, B4440.

RAF BE12 6168, 6667.

RAF BE12a A590, A611.

RAF RE8 A3552, A3567, A3726, A3728, A3738, A4429, A4564, A4578, B4067, B6637, C2385.

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My RE8 file has nothing definite on A3552, except an entry based on another photo that I saw. Delivery details of machines around that serial are:

A3550 At Coventry aerodrome allotted to BEF 7.5.1917, VTBF. 1 AD under reconstruction by 1.6.1917. 7 Sqn dd ex 1 AD 27.7.1917 and damaged in forced landing due to engine failure on Contact Patrol 31.7.1917 (Sgt W. Smith/2Lt C.E. Prescott both OK – the machine touched down on boggy ground and tipped onto its nose). 1 AD ex 7 Sqn 4.6.1917 and deleted 5.8.1917.

A3551 17 TS Portmeadow by 10.6.1917 until @ 3.1918 and converted to DC.

A3552 Wyton (20 TS ?).

A3553

A3554 61 TS South Carlton and crashed 18.6.1917 (Sgt A.S. Holmes KIFA).

A3555 61 TS South Carlton by 7.1917.

A3556 63 Sqn Cramlington dd ex Coventry 22.5.1917. 35 TS Northolt by 8.1917 until @ 14.9.1917 (Lt W.S. Wilcox).

A3557 63 Sqn Cramlington dd ex Coventry 22.5.1917 (Lt M.G. Begg). 35 TS Northolt by 8.1917 until @ 15.9.1917 (Lt W.S. Wilcox).

A3558 63 Sqn Cramlington dd 28.5.1917. 60 TS Scampton by 18.10.1917. 44 TS Harlaxton by 1.1918 until @ 3.1918.

A3559 66 TS Yatesbury by 10.7.1917. Eastern Training Brigade 28.9.1917. BUT listed on 42 Sqn 5.10.1917.

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Looking at the pics of A3552 again, I'm not convinced that the location was Wyton. That station had its 1915 pattern gabled flight sheds on the SW boundary, plus 2 1917 pattern (timber) GS sheds in the NE corner. The 1915 pattern sheds were 2 of the 210 x 65ft versions and one of the smaller 140 x 65ft type. The sheds were left in their natural finish of galvanised metal sheeting by as late as November 1917. The photos above show no small shed -compare with this shot of the station.

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Mick, the reason I suggested the two periods was that the photographs were taken by Lt D S Glover, who went through pilot training from February to the end of June 1917 (first at Northholt, then Joyce Green, Turnberry, Wye and finally Wyton) before being posted to 6 Squadron in Abeele at the start of July (I have copies of his pilot's log book for that period). It was he who marked the first photo shown above with 'Wyton' in white ink. Lt Glover served with 6 Squadron until the end of August 1917 when a crash forced him to spend the next three months in the 3rd London General Hospital. In November 1917 he became a Training Schools instructor - at Hounslow, Narborough and Wyton (Training Squadrons 42, 69 and 31 respectively) but I have no dates for these appointments other than the fact that he was then sent to the Gosport School of Special Flying in April 1918. Lieutenant Glover's son, ex RAF squadron leader Rob Glover, informed me that to his knowledge the two photographs of A3552 were taken some time in 1917, but as to the actual date, he was uncertain. From IPT's post it would appear that A3552 had long gone (from Wyton) by the end of 1917, so the period would be pre-July 1917.

Regarding the location, I have put a circle on the photograph you provided of Wyton as to the approximate position of the aircraft that would yield the correct views of the major buildings and trees. Though I can understand your reluctance to confirm absolutely that it is indeed Wyton, it surely must be a fairly convincing case that it is.

Thanks to you and IPT for responding so promptly and with so much detail.

Steve

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I don't know if you're aware of it, but the RAFM holds a copy of Glover's logbook on microfiche. I have a photographic copy of that. He made his first flight with 2 RS at Northolt on 2.1.1917 and completed initial training with 5hr 39min dual and 6hr 51min solo. All flights were on MF Se.11s.

He moved on to 10 RS at Joyce Green on 22 March and first flew there on the 28th. He was there until 17 May but only made a limited number of flights on HF.20s and a single Vickers FB. All flights were dual instruction and he left with a total of 17hr 10min.

Glover was posted to 20 RS at Wye and made his first flight there on 19 May, in an Avro. He moved with the unit to Wyton and completed his training there, flying BE2c, BE2e, BE12 and RE8s and graduating on 21 June. He left 20 TS with 31hr 40min solo time and joined 6 Sqn at Abeele on 28 June.

I think you may have missed the point of my posting the Wyton aerodrome photo. The end 1915 pattern flight shed in your upper photo is the 210ft version with 2 sets of doors, each surmounted by a gable. The equivalent one in the Wyton photo is of the small version, with only one set of doors and a single gable. A combination of your 2 photos shows 3 of the 210ft sheds. I'd suggest that a more likely location was Wye. The attached site plan that I've prepared for the CCI Gazetteer shows Wye's layout and it's a much better match. That 2 week period that Glover spent at Wye tallies with delivery dates for RE8s around A3552 - could it have been that he recorded the arrival of a new type on film?

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PS

It's a long time since I'd looked at Glover's logbook and I just remembered that he'd made some additional entries on the final pages - well out of sequence for whatever reason. His time at Turnberry is there, flying from 6.4.1917 until 17.4.1917 in FE2bs A817, A824, A836 & A837, plus FK3 A1499.

He also recorded 4 extra flights at Joyce Green with 10 RS but most significant for this post:

22.5.1917: 3000': RE8 (A)4677: 55min: Lympne-Folkestone-Dover-Canterbury.

24.5.1917: 6000': RE8 (A)4194: 40min: taking photos

25.5.1917: 2000': (A)3552: 35min: cloudy

25.5.1917: 3000': (A)3552: Puff targets

26.5.1917: 3000': (A)4194: 20min

26.5.1917: 2000': (A)4194: 20min

All these were while 20RS was at Wye.

The next entry on that back page is:

6.6.1917: 4000': (A)4224: 1hr 25min

That was at Wyton, by which time 20 RS had become 20 TS

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I now see what you mean re the shed sizes. Your suggestion that Glover was taking a photograph of a new type would also explain the pristine condition of A3552 in the two photographs. If the location was in fact Wye, then the date the photographs were taken would have been late May or early June 1917.

One of Glover's flights in A3552 gives the purpose as 'puff targets'. Do you by any chance know what this referred to? In my grandfather's war diaries, he mentions in December 1917 in Abeele of two instances where 'Puff shoots' were practiced, one of them in the snow. As yet I have not found out what a 'Puff shoot' or 'Puff target' was.

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I suspect it doesn't add much, but part of a contemporary (1917) syllabus for Artillery Cooperation Training Schools comprised:

Artillery Puff Target:

One series of 10 puffs to be ranged correctly. Map coordinates of target to be sent and Artillery Code and ground signals correctly used. Aerial to be wound up before landing.

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I think this does add to explaining what 'Puff Targets' or 'Puff Shoots' were. Though I have yet been able to find evidence that would substantiate it, I always thought that they were a way of testing and improving the ranging skills of aircrew - used both in England as part of the Art Obs/Co-op training syllabus and on the front line (as evidenced by several references to 'Puff Shoots' in my grandfather's war-time diaries).

The simple version could be to set off an explosive 'puff' at a known coordinate and have an aircraft fly towards it and then transmit its coordinates to the wireless operator on the ground (positioned next to a theoretical allied battery) using the appropriate artillery codes, and for the ground operator to respond with the appropriate signal by means of sheets, Popham Panels et al (depending on the system in favour at that time). The transmitted coordinates could later be compared to the actual coordinates and the aircrew rated on their accuracy.

An alternative but more complex explanation would be for the trainer to give the aircrew the coordinates of a theoretical target and then set off explosive 'Puffs' at various distances from the target, each puff representing a shell burst. The aim of the exercise would be for the observer or pilot (whoever was operating the wireless set) to use the clock code system to transmit the appropriate corrections to the wireless operator at the battery based on the distance and angle the puff is from the target coordinates.

Or . . . it could be a combination of the two, as some sorties were flown against pre-determined targets whilst others were to search for likely enemy targets by looking for gun flashes in range of the battery the aircraft was working with and guiding the guns on to the target using wireless telegraphy.

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