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US Army Air Service Aero Squadrons


researchingreg
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I am trying to find out information on the 165th Aero Squadron which was formed on 26 November 1917 and was stationed at Fowlmere from 15th March 1918. I want to know about their training in the UK. I assume they were flying Airco DH4's as this seems to be the main aircraft that the US Air Service used and at Fowlmere the RFC and later the RAF were training on DH4's and DH9's at 31 TDS. Therefore I assume that the RFC/RAF Instructors were also training the US aircrews.

1. How can I find out about the 165th Aero Squadron?

2. How can I find out about their training in England?

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I suspect you'll find that it wasn't the aircrews but the ground staff of the 165th that were attached to 31 TDS. The pattern that emerges for USAAS units in the UK is that the administrative and technical staff were attached to RFC/RAF units to learn operating and maintenance procedures, while aircrew were trained independently - some in the USA, others in France and some with assorted RFC/RAF units. The 25th Aero Squadron, for example, was at Ayr and then Marske, but its pilots had been attached to RFC/RAF SE5a squadrons in France. When a unit was considered ready, its ground personnel were gathered together (sometimes different flights from different stations) at one of the camps near Southampton - Flower Down, Romsey, Codford - and then shipped to France where machines were issued and pilots posted in. Some publications have got this wrong in the past and have created myths such as the 185th Aero Sqn flying SPADs and Camels from Montrose - pure fiction.

A good understanding of the USAAS build-up to operational status is available in the recently published To France on Fragile Wings (ISBN 978-1-57510-166-8) - which looks at a pilot with the 168th Aero Sqn, but provides a full history of that unit. In the UK, its ground staff were attached to 38 TDS at Tadcaster and 47 TDS at Doncaster - both SE5a training stations, although the 168th was scheduled to fly Liberty DH4s; they were there to learn procedures.

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After a rather lengthy process I was able to get hold of digitised section of the Gorrell files for an Aero Squadron I was researching from the University of Texas.

There is a section on "Training" in Vol I of "The US Air Service in World War I" edited by Maurer Maurer (USGPO). This is sort of the "official report on operations" it's Ch10 p93-116

p103 there are a couple of paragraphs on training in British schools.

There is also quite a lengthy section on training in Toulmin (The Air Service American Expeditionary Force 1918: The development of America's Air Arm in World War I) but this focuses mostly on operations in France however p228-234 has a section on "The English Pool" which describes training in the UK and a provides a list of bases/locations where "US Air Troops were stationed Sept 23 1918" and Fowlmere is listed as a "Bombing" training location (I can provide this list if of interest) The USAS Training section was subdivided into Pursuit/Bombing/Observation training

There is no index reference to 165 Aero in Thayer (America's First Eagles: The official history of US Air Service AEF ISBN 0-912138-24-6)

I'll have a look and see if I can find a reference to 165 Aero in the Order of Battle -- but that may take a while!

Chris

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I have downloaded the 'History of the 165th Aero Squadron' from an Aerodrome post. It is not very helpful. It does not even give the type of aircraft they flew.it concerns itself with sickness and feeding the men. It gives a list of enlisted men and the names of some commanding and medical officers. It does answer my question about training . They were trained by the RAF. The most interesting excerpt is as follows:

After seven days the Olympic pulled into dock at Liverpool England on March 5th and the troops disembarked the following morning. From there the Squadron proceeded to the American Boot Camp at Hornsey, Hants, remaining there ten days when the Squadron was divided and one part sent under the command of Lt. Benson to Fowlmere Cambs, and the other under Lieut. Russ to Narborough, Norfolk. Lieut. Farmer was transferred out of the Sqdn.

At these stations the work was similar to that done at Call Field. The men were trained under the direction of the Royal Air Force. Pilots were trained and the work was of purely mechanical nature in repairing ---- and carrying on the work necessary to keep the planes in the air. The planes were of several different British Types and were the first battle planes the Squadron had seen'

The narrative then goes on about movement until they arrive at Romorantin airfield in France on the 9th November. They were then given one days rest and assigned to their work. Then on the 11th the Armistice was signed.

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Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service includes a history of the 165th Squadron.

I tried to down load this from a site on the internet but was hit first by a phishing atack and then by malware and attempts to load a fake file manager and a fake version of CCleaner so be careful. I had to run my real version of CCleaner to remove the rubbish.

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At these stations the work was similar to that done at Call Field. The men were trained under the direction of the Royal Air Force. Pilots were trained and the work was of purely mechanical nature in repairing ---- and carrying on the work necessary to keep the planes in the air. The planes were of several different British Types and were the first battle planes the Squadron had seen'

Call field did basic pilot training up to going solo. So it looks as if the aircraft would be things like Dh 6 and Avro 504 - battle planes may be a bit of a misnomer - and it sounds as if the Americans provided the ground-crews and the RAF the instructors. This fits with it not appearing in Wings of Honour which lists only pilots and other aircrew

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After a rather lengthy process I was able to get hold of digitised section of the Gorrell files for an Aero Squadron I was researching from the University of Texas.

There is a section on "Training" in Vol I of "The US Air Service in World War I" edited by Maurer Maurer (USGPO). This is sort of the "official report on operations" it's Ch10 p93-116

p103 there are a couple of paragraphs on training in British schools.

There is also quite a lengthy section on training in Toulmin (The Air Service American Expeditionary Force 1918: The development of America's Air Arm in World War I) but this focuses mostly on operations in France however p228-234 has a section on "The English Pool" which describes training in the UK and a provides a list of bases/locations where "US Air Troops were stationed Sept 23 1918" and Fowlmere is listed as a "Bombing" training location (I can provide this list if of interest) The USAS Training section was subdivided into Pursuit/Bombing/Observation training

There is no index reference to 165 Aero in Thayer (America's First Eagles: The official history of US Air Service AEF ISBN 0-912138-24-6)

I'll have a look and see if I can find a reference to 165 Aero in the Order of Battle -- but that may take a while!

Chris

Chris I would be interested in the list concerning bombing training at Fowlmere. Was the training with 31 TDS?

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No detail provided in the list I am afraid.

Simply a list of locations. If you PM me an email address I can probably get you copies of some of the other extracts if they are of interest.

Chris

USAS Base Listings UK.pdf

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I have downloaded the 'History of the 165th Aero Squadron' from an Aerodrome post. It is not very helpful. It does not even give the type of aircraft they flew.it concerns itself with sickness and feeding the men. It gives a list of enlisted men and the names of some commanding and medical officers. It does answer my question about training . They were trained by the RAF. The most interesting excerpt is as follows:

After seven days the Olympic pulled into dock at Liverpool England on March 5th and the troops disembarked the following morning. From there the Squadron proceeded to the American Boot Camp at Hornsey, Hants, remaining there ten days when the Squadron was divided and one part sent under the command of Lt. Benson to Fowlmere Cambs, and the other under Lieut. Russ to Narborough, Norfolk. Lieut. Farmer was transferred out of the Sqdn.

At these stations the work was similar to that done at Call Field. The men were trained under the direction of the Royal Air Force. Pilots were trained and the work was of purely mechanical nature in repairing ---- and carrying on the work necessary to keep the planes in the air. The planes were of several different British Types and were the first battle planes the Squadron had seen'

The narrative then goes on about movement until they arrive at Romorantin airfield in France on the 9th November. They were then given one days rest and assigned to their work. Then on the 11th the Armistice was signed.

I had to laugh when I read, "American Boot Camp at Hornsey, Hants" - poor OCR maybe?

Duncan

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I think I may the answer to the lack of information on aeroplanes flown by the 165th Aero Squadron. On the Aerodrome Forum I got this reply from 'Jim'

So far as I know they never had any aircraft of their own. They were a "Service Support" unit, not a flying unit. While they were in England they were in some places that experienced some air raids and I am sure they would have gone for the shelters along with everyone else. When they got to France they were issued rifles and helmets and similar gear. They finally arrived at Romorantin in France to begin their service support work on November 9, 1918 and two days later the war ended so their only combat type experience was being in places in England where there were some air raids.

The US Air Service's basic organizational unit during the Greast War was the 'squadron'. Not all squadrons flew aircraft. There were many support units that were called squadrons including service support, training units, supply units, repair units, etc. There were even a number of squadrons composed entirely of lumberjacks whose job was to work in the US cutting spruce trees for the aircraft industry. Every unit in the US Air Service back then was called a squadron
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I think I may the answer to the lack of information on aeroplanes flown by the 165th Aero Squadron. On the Aerodrome Forum I got this reply from 'Jim'

So far as I know they never had any aircraft of their own. They were a "Service Support" unit, not a flying unit. While they were in England they were in some places that experienced some air raids and I am sure they would have gone for the shelters along with everyone else. When they got to France they were issued rifles and helmets and similar gear. They finally arrived at Romorantin in France to begin their service support work on November 9, 1918 and two days later the war ended so their only combat type experience was being in places in England where there were some air raids.

The US Air Service's basic organizational unit during the Greast War was the 'squadron'. Not all squadrons flew aircraft. There were many support units that were called squadrons including service support, training units, supply units, repair units, etc. There were even a number of squadrons composed entirely of lumberjacks whose job was to work in the US cutting spruce trees for the aircraft industry. Every unit in the US Air Service back then was called a squadron

Fits with the info so far posted and my conjecture in post10
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  • 4 weeks later...

Paperwork has come to light in respect of a report that states American Cadets were arriving at Stow Maries Aerodrome in late 1918. They were not allowed to fly unaccompanied. Does anyone have any info on American Cadets being allocated to RAF stations late in the war? All help appreciated.

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I can't find American Cadets training at Stow Maries which was the Home of 37 Sqn RFC and a Canadian pilot shot down a Zeppelin flying from there:"

Americans were training at South Carlton and Scampton in Lin colnshire

Americans training in Britain were at different airfields. I have this extract from 165th Aero Sqn Diaries

the Squadron was divided and one part sent under the command of Lt. Benson to Fowlmere Cambs, and the other under Lieut. Russ to Narborough, Norfolk. Lieut. Farmer was transferred out of the Sqdn.

At these stations the work was similar to that done at Call Field. The men were trained under the direction of the Royal Air Force. Pilots were trained and the work was of purely mechanical nature in repairing ---- and carrying on the work necessary to keep the planes in the air. The planes were of several different British Types and were the first battle planes the Squadron had seen'.

There was also this extract concerning C' flight of 153rd Pursuit Sqn from 153rd Aero Sqn Diaries :

"C" Flight arrived at Wye Kent,England, on March 1. 1918, and

Squadron

was attache d(sic) to the 42nd. Training Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. This Air drone at Wye is located in the garden spot of England and fifteen miles fron(sic) the famous Canterbury Cathedral of Chaucer's day. The trai-ning here was as elsewhere except that on the Farnum Experimental plane of the Pusher Type. The American Flight on this field was composed of"C" Flight, 153rd Aero Squadron and personnel from the 165th Aero Sqn 
The record of all Air dromes in England is held by the Wye Air Drome for the greatest amount of flying accomplished for a given period Although not an exceptionally large field the amount of flying done here was tremendous. On August 16. 1918, this flight was transferred to Weston-on-the-Green, Oxford, England, and after a few days training on  

this field it was transferred to Winchesterm(sic) there to rejoin the squadron.

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Maurer Maurer (The US Air Service in WWI) has a couple of pages on cadets (pp94-95) He makes no specific reference to any locations but does talk about the general situation.

There was an issue regarding the status of cadets - many arriving from the US were commissioned whilst those(ie volunteers from the AFS etc) who were already in Europe had to jump through lots of hoops - despite the fact that many who were already in Europe had gone into French and British organized training schemes.

(If you are interested drop me a line and I can provide this couple of pages - I'll also have a look in Toumlin but my recollection is the focus there is almost exclusively on the training bases established in France (Tours, Issoudun, and Clermont-Ferrand)

Just to give an idea of the scale of things: The US had agreed to send 100 cadets per month to Europe starting on July 1, 1917. The official figures indicate @2,300 cadets (without any preliminary flying training) were either sent from the US or enlisted in Europe.

The figure that I find most amazing: When the US entered the war in April 1917 there were only 65 flying officers in the US Army, most of whom were recent graduates from the flight school in San Diego (or were still under instruction there) and none of whom had flown anything but aircraft long obsolete by Western Front standards. No observers or bombers had been trained.

I find the training agreements between the US and France and the UK really interesting and something I hope to devote some proper attention to soon, they appear to me to be in many respects early examples of modern multi-national training missions with considerable attention given to inter-operability and coordination of efforts which in many ways are a far cry from how other aspects of the AEF training and organization was handled. In addition to the training of aircrew there was an agreement in Dec 1917 regarding the training of mechanics (15,000) in British schools and factories.

Chris

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