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SamCurt

Reserve Squadrons

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SamCurt

Could someone please tell me how Reserve Squadrons, which is what I assume the recorded term "RS" relates to, fitted into the Royal Flying Corp's scheme of things, and their relationship, if any, with similarly numbered fighter/bomber Squadrons?

As a specific example: Records for Robert Henry Sharp show him (after being attached from the Worcester Regiment), moving from Reading to 41 RS on 3 October 1916, to 15 RS on 18 December 1916 (for "higher inst"), then, after being appointed a Flying Officer, to 42 Sqd in France during March 1917, where he was to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valour.

While with 15 RS, he was elsewhere recorded as being "stationed quite near his home," which was in Doncaster, while details I have seen for 15 Squadron show them being in France from December 1915.

Thanks for your time,
Sam

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nieuport11

Reserve Squadrons were the training squadrons, and indeed subsequently changed their name to Training Squadron.

Later they merged into Training Depot Stations

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centurion

And there was no relationship with similarly numbered active squadrons

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quemerford

An 'higher inst' refers to higher instruction on the type of aircraft they were destined to fly operationally.

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centurion

An 'higher inst' refers to higher instruction on the type of aircraft they were destined to fly operationally.

True but the numbers do not connect

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nieuport11

There is no connection between the numbers, as centurian noted. Numbers were just allotted to new training squadrons as they formed: a higher number didn't imply a higher standard of instruction, and the operation squadrons had numbers in a parallel but unrelated sequence

No.41 TRAINING (EX RESERVE) SQUADRON
Formed 5.7.16 at BRAMHAM MOOR (TADCASTER) in 8th Wing;
16.8.16 to DONCASTER;
Disbanded into No.47 TDS 15.7.18.
Aircraft - (1) Shorthorn (A7035); Longhorn (A4075); Caudron GIII (A1899)
No.15 TRAINING (EX RESERVE) SQUADRON
Formed 15.12.15 at THETFORD in 6th Wing
1.1.16 to DONCASTER in 8th Wing;
12.16 establishment 6 504, 6 RE8, 6 FK3
15.9.17 SPITTLEGATE in 24th Wing
Disbanded into No.39 TDS 15.8.18.
Aircraft included - Avro 504/504A (A2633); Shorthorn (5882); Longhorn (4008); RE8 (A3419); FK3 (5537); FK8 (C8423); BE2c/e (2720); Scout C (5293); BE12/12a (A6316); H Farman (7431); DH6 (B4013); Camel (B7433); F2b (C855)
No.15 SQUADRON
Formed 1-Mar-15 at South Farnborough - nucleus from No 1 RAS
13-Apr-15 to Hounslow
Aircraft Apr-15 Henry Farman F.20 (Oct 15)
Aircraft Apr-15 Longhorn (Oct 15)
Aircraft Apr-15 Shorthorn (Oct 15)
Aircraft Apr-15 Avro 504 (Oct 15)
Aircraft Apr-15 Bleriot XI (Sep 15)
Aircraft Apr-15 BE 2C (Jul 17)
11-May-15 to Swingate Down
Aircraft Oct-15 Morane H (Dec 15)
Aircraft Nov-15 Morane L (Dec 15)
23-Dec-15 to St-Omer
5-Jan-16 to Droglandt
8-Mar-16 to Vert Galand
27-Mar-16 to Maneux
Aircraft Aug-16 BE 2D (Aug 17)
2-Oct-16 to Lealvillers (Clairfaye Farm)
Aircraft Oct-16 BE 2E (May 17)
Aircraft Jan-17 BE 2F (May 17)
Aircraft Jan-17 BE 2G (May 17)
Aircraft May-17 RE 8 (Feb 19)
6-Jun-17 to Courcelles-le-Comte
7-Jul-17 to La Gorgue det Clairmarais
8-Aug-17 to Savy
30-Aug-17 to Longavesnes
8-Oct-17 to Lechelle
30-Nov-17 to Bapaume
5-Dec-17 to Lechelle
22-Mar-18 to Lavieville
25-Mar-18 to Lahoussoye
26-Mar-18 to Fienvillers
10-Apr-18 to Vert Galand
14-Sep-18 to Senlis-le-Sec
2-Oct-18 to Lechelle (Quatre Vents Farm)
15-Oct-18 to Selvigny (Ferme Guillemin)
3-Dec-18 to Vignacourt
16-Feb-19 to Fowlmere as a cadre
31-Dec-19 Disbanded

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quemerford

True but the numbers do not connect

I disagree: 41 RS (Farman etc) to 15 RS (RE.8/FK.3 etc): seems like a natural progression for an Artillery pilot.

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mickdavis

I do find it interesting that people can quote chapter & verse on what went on with the BEF and other overseas elements of the RNAS/RFC/RAF but don't find the events at home of equal interest. Sharp's attachment to 41 RS came at the time when the unit was converting from Caudron G.IIIs to MF Se.11s (it was probably the only RS to be fully equipped with the former type). It was classified as an Elementary Reserve Squadron - i.e. initial training. It makes sense that he then went to 15 RS - postings tended to be within the same Wing. 15 RS, as a Higher Reserve Squadron had examples of operational types on charge, mainly BE variants - yes a few FK3s but it didn't really receive these in numbers until after moving to Spittlegate, where it became one of the few RS (later TS) to concentrate on turning out pilots for the FK8 squadrons. The earliest date I have for RE8s with 15 RS is 4.1917, by which time Sharp would have been with 42 Sqn, converting from BEs to RE8s but I wonder whether he had any experience of the latter. To add a few more serials to the previous post (this website throws my file format into confusion - sorry):

41 RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 8th Wing at Bramham Moor 5.7.1916. To Doncaster 16.8.1916. Designated as an Elementary Reserve Squadron and establishment at 23.12.1916 set at 18 MF or GW XV. Disbanded into 47 TDS at Doncaster 15.7.1918.

Commanding Officers

Major BP Greenwood by 2.1917. Major S Grant-Dalton MC.

Representative Aeroplanes Caudron G.III A1892, A1893, A1894, A1895, A1896, A1897, A1898, A1899, A1900, A1901, A2121, A2123, A2124, A2993, A2995, A2997. Curtiss JN4 B1934. MF Se.11 7359, 7377, A331, A2198, A4062, A4063, A4065, A4066, A4073, A4075, A4080, A4081, A4082, A4086, A4087, A6809, A6810, A7034, A7035, A7036, A7059, A7060, A7061, B1974, B2010.

15 RESERVE AEROPLANE/RESERVE/TRAINING SQUADRON RFC/RAF

Bases

Formed in 6th Wing at Thetford 15.12.1915. To Doncaster and 8th Wing 1.1.1916. Designated as a Higher Reserve Squadron and establishment at 23.12.1916 set at 6 AW + 6 RE8 + 6 Avro. To Spittlegate and 24th Wing 15.9.1917 and disbanded into 39 TDS at that station 15.8.1918.

Commanding Officer

Major T Leigh-Mallory 10.5.1917 – 27.11.1917.

Representative Aeroplanes (* for HD duty)

AMC DH2 A2633.

Avro 504 784.

Avro 504A/J 4045, A2633, B391.

AW FK3 5509, 5522, 5523, 5524, 5530, 5532, 5535, 5537, 6205, A8092, B9525, B9535, B9537, B9540, B9541, B9542, B9544, B9547, B9548, B9560, B9594, B9608, B9609, B9633, B9640, B9647.

AW FK8 A9997, B291, B4120, B4176, B5811, C3568, C8425, C8549, C8615, D5017, D5025, D5049.

Bristol Scout C 5293.

Bristol F2B C855.

HF F.20 7431.

MF Se.7 2964.

MF Se.11 5882.

RAF BE2c 2620*, 2621, 2709, 2720, 2721, 4185, 4425, 4507, 4557, 5430, B9968.

RAF BE2e 6273, 6288, 6778, 7194, 7340, A1351, A2870, A2969, A3060, A3063, B9457.

RAF BE12 A6301, A6316.

RAF RE8 A3189, A3419, A3445, A3693, A3879, A4180, A4192, A4233, A4579, A4674.

Sopwith F1 Camel B7433.

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quemerford

Mick,

I fully agree: I find the RS/TS/TDS subject very interesting - probably the more so, since very little survives to make sense of it all.

And I should have realised that the '1916' dates would be pre-RE.8! Basic error.

In 1917 there was a directive that each Training Brigade would host an Artillery training station, but again there is no obvious indication (other than a particular unit's specialism onto one type) that any particular station was the one thus directed. From what I've seen, the same would appear to be true for Higher Instruction in Scouts and Bombers.

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SamCurt

Thanks to all who took the time in responding to my query.

From the information provided, it would appear that while being trained as a pilot, temp. Lt. Sharp went from elementary (41 RS) to advanced (15 RS) training by simply turning up at a different Doncaster Aerodrome hangar.

From what Mick has written above, it may be that he undertook some RE8 training while at Doncaster, which would have no doubt been advantageous when 42 Sqn changed type, although I found a Casualty Report entry detailing that he "underjudged landing from photography" on 5 April 1917 in a BE2e (Ser. No. 6269, AIR 1/847/204/5/382). Both he and Lt. R. P. M. Witham were recorded as being OK, although on 8 April the aircraft was considered not worth repairing by No. 1 Aircraft Depot and Struck Off Charge (AIR 1/988).

As others here have said, the training of aircrew should be of interest, as it was something which all those flying must have undertaken at some stage.

While going through items at the RAF Museum, I noted that flying instructors nicknamed their students "Huns" because they were considered as dangerous as the enemy. Accidents were common, and for most of the war casualties sustained at training units were even greater than losses in action. Perhaps someone could confirm this?

Even those who survived their training were not immune from later incidents... one of the other men I am researching, Leonard Turnell Carruthers:

had two forced landings while training in Egypt during 1918 - one between the graves in a plague camp, the other where he was left for several hours in the sun to stew after coming down short of the airfield - arriving in France just as the Armistice was signed;

was seriously injured after crashing at No. 1 AAP, Coventry, in 1919 during a Mono Avro 504 acceptance check, leading to him being invalided out;

ran a knitted goods manufacturing company in Nottingham;

rejoined as a pilot in 1926, and in thick fog crashed his 9 Sqn Vickers Virginia into a bus and car on the road running through RAF Manston;

while a Flight Commander, was dismissed from the Service after a Court Martial in 1934 ("He told the flight storekeeper to place two tins of petrol in a suitcase which was in the back of his car.");

was involved in a fatal mid-air collision over Blackpool while flying a Westland Wessex as part of Cobham's 1935 season, all occupants of the 3-seater Avro 504N which flew into him being killed (on a previous occasion having been involved in a collision just a few feet after take-off with a landing Airspeed Ferry);

became a flying club CFI;

lived on a motor cruiser when conscripted as a sergeant pilot during 1940 (which was repossessed by the owner for non-payment of hire purchase, so Carruthers "recovered possession" and sailed off to Nottingham);

after only four month’s RAFVR service became Chief Test Pilot for Percivals, where on one occasion his aileron controls had been crossed, which wasn't picked up until in flight (!?!), another where the cockpit floor of his Proctor IV caught fire in flight, and a crash after double-engine failure on take-off (repaired Q6 at Broxholme);

raced Prentice Gulls during the mid-40s (his 1946 Folkestone Race aircraft is currently suspended from the airside arrivals ceiling inside Auckland Airport’s Jean Batten International Terminal).

In 1911, the School magazine had awarded him a title of Knight of the Most Eminent Order of Negligency, later recording that while on a School cycling trip to Wales in 1912, "Carruthers, however, never did manage to tie everything securely [to the bike], with the result that something was always falling off, either a camera, or a mackintosh, or sometimes even Carruthers himself."

Retiring to run a caravan park in Devon, his affiliation with flying didn't end. Flight magazine reported in April 1951 about a new type of folding caravan built on his site which was "capable of being stowed with ease into the hold of a Bristol Freighter".

Sometimes front-line wartime escapades are just the beginning, as in farmer Sharp’s case. An accomplished sportsman, after the war he went on to play cricket for Essex, which must have hurt a little bit as he was a Yorkshireman!

Once again, thanks for the replies,
Sam

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MikeMeech

Hi

'Greater losses in training than in combat' appears to be a bit of a long running 'myth'. Peter Dye in his PhD on RFC Logistics (available on archive.org I believe) has total of Pilots, Observers and Air Gunners killed as 6.933. With just over 2000 pilots killed in training.

The Official History 'War in the Air' Appendices Volume page 160, Appendix XXXVI, has total British Air Service killed from all causes as 6,166, that is 4,579 Officers and 1,587 NCOs and men. The German air service killed (from Reicharchiv, Potsdam) has a total of 5,853, that is 2,397 Officers and 3,456 NCOs and men. The German Air Arm used more NCO pilots of course than the RFC/RNAS/RAF.

There are much higher figures for British killed in some books but the original sources for these appear to be a bit vague!

I hope that is of use.

Mike

Correction 21st Oct. - Peter Dye's PhD is available on the British Library's ethos site not archive.org.

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Adrian Roberts

Mike, presumably British Air Service would include Empire servicemen not just British, but do you know if it includes Australian Flying Corps?

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SamCurt

Mike,

Thanks for the Peter Dye PhD reference, I've downloaded it and will peruse over the weekend.

Sam

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MikeMeech

Mike, presumably British Air Service would include Empire servicemen not just British, but do you know if it includes Australian Flying Corps?

Yes, it should do the AFC was fully integrated with the RFC/RAF so the casualties will be in those figures. Indeed if I remember correctly in one 3 Squadron AFC letter they address themselves as '3 Squadron, AFC, RAF.' This is incorrect officially but they probably thought themselves as part of the whole thing and not some separate organisation in the reality of fighting the war.

Mike

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researchingreg

Sam

I read your section in your post

"While going through items at the RAF Museum, I noted that flying instructors nicknamed their students "Huns" because they were considered as dangerous as the enemy. Accidents were common, and for most of the war casualties sustained at training units were even greater than losses in action. Perhaps someone could confirm this?"

There is a lot of misleading information around, which backs up what MikeMeech has said in his reply post, that the original source figures are vague. In Robert Morley's M.A. Thesis entitled 'Earning their Wings: British Pilot Training 1912-1918' He uses figures that seem to conflict each other. For it states that the RAF/RFC had trained 22,000 pilots during the war and that 15,000 had been casualties. Then states at the wars end the RAF strength was 17,000 planes and 30,000 pilots. If you read the 'CONCLUSION' pages 116 to 117.

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quemerford

Sam

I read your section in your post

"While going through items at the RAF Museum, I noted that flying instructors nicknamed their students "Huns" because they were considered as dangerous as the enemy. Accidents were common, and for most of the war casualties sustained at training units were even greater than losses in action. Perhaps someone could confirm this?"

There is a lot of misleading information around, which backs up what MikeMeech has said in his reply post, that the original source figures are vague. In Robert Morley's M.A. Thesis entitled 'Earning their Wings: British Pilot Training 1912-1918' He uses figures that seem to conflict each other. For it states that the RAF/RFC had trained 22,000 pilots during the war and that 15,000 had been casualties. Then states at the wars end the RAF strength was 17,000 planes and 30,000 pilots. If you read the 'CONCLUSION' pages 116 to 117.

The perils of considering such documentation as primary source data!

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MikeMeech

Hi

For the record the full Appendix XXXVI 'Total Casualties, all causes, to Air Service Personnel, British and German, 1914-18' has (Killed or died in previous post):

British -

Wounded or injured; Officers - 5,369, NCOs and men - 1,876. Total - 7,245.

Missing or interned - 2,839. 373. 3,212.

German -

Wounded or injured; 3,129. 4,173. 7,302.

Missing or interned - 1,364. 1,387. 2,751.

Total Casualties

British - 16,623

German - 15,906.

Always remember 'casualties' does not mean 'dead' as is sometimes assumed in some publications (and as we see occasionally when 1st July 1916 is talked about with 'casualties' becoming the 'dead' on the 1st day of the Somme).

Mike

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SamCurt

Following a quick initial speed-read, for those interested and to add to Mike's post above, here is the relevant section of Peter John Dye's 2013 Thesis regarding training versus front-line casualty numbers:


Air Power’s Midwife - Logistics Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on The Western Front 1914-1918, p.29.

"The RFC’s flying training system improved significantly during the course of the war, both in standards and in scale (this included dedicated flying training schools in Canada, Egypt and the USA). Nevertheless, a shortage of pilots continued to delay the planned growth in frontline squadrons. A proper understanding of this subject, and its actual influence on the RFC’s contribution to the Western Front, has been impeded by a degree of misrepresentation and confusion. Denis Winter, The First of the Few (1982) exaggerates the losses in training fourfold and states that they exceeded those suffered in combat. He is also in error over the total number of casualties suffered by the RFC.[102] Unfortunately, these claims have been repeated in subsequent studies and appear to have become part of the mythology of the air war.[103] Wherever possible, therefore, original records are employed to support this analysis.

FOOTNOTES
102. 6,933 British airmen (including observers and air gunners) were killed while flying in the First World War rather than the 14,166 pilots claimed by Winter. This may have been a transcription error but there is no credible explanation as to why Winter adds that 8,000 died in training. In fact, the number of pilots killed in training accidents between 1914 and 1918 was just over 2,000. D. Winter, The First of the Few (London: Allen Lane, 1982), pp. 36-37. C. Hobson, Airmen Died in the Great War 1914-1918 (Suffolk: J.B. Hayward, 1995). C. Hobson, ‘The First Air War - The Casualty Records’, Cross & Cockade International Journal, Vol. 30, No 4 (1999), pp. 204-209.

103. This includes Ian Beckett, The Great War (London: Pearson Education, 2007), p. 256 and more recently, Joshua Levene, On a Wing and a Prayer (London: Collins, 2008), p. 63."

[Edited to insert italics]

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Jim Mitchell

Just noticed your post. There is a photograph of Capt R.H. Sharp DFC in the Doncaster Chronicle 25th April 1919 page 2. Regards. Jim

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George Smith

Robert Henry Sharp DFC was my step-mother's father, but I never met him. I see SamCurt has been researching him, and Jim Mitchell refers to a photograph. I would be very interested in any information and photos you may have about him, especially his war career. I know he was a pilot officer in the second world war as well. I know about his playing cricket for Essex, and he played golf as well because I have inherited a couple of his trophies. His brother, Stephen Oswald Sharp, was killed in action on the Somme in 1916. George Smith, Cape Town

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