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TimCornish

No.1 Technical Training School, Reading 1917

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TimCornish

Hi,

We had a recent donation to the Museum the other week - it's a portrait of the No.1 Technical Training School of the Royal Flying Corps, dated May 1917. I have only managed to source that this was mostly set up at Coley Park Aerodrome near Reading, but can anyone shed further light on this, and if so, identify any (officers) in the photograph?

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It's in the original 1917/18 frame with backing, and original string to hang it to as well.. I'd assume it's been sitting in a loft for a while. There's 4 Australians and one Observer in the photograph on the top row. Can anyone shed light on this?

Regards,

Tim

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researchingreg

My Uncle Reginald William King 48245 was at the No1 Technical training school at that time, I cannot pick him out of the photos as the definition is not that good and right hand side of the photo does not show all the detail. However i have attached a photo of him in uniform as an aircraft man in the RFC and a close inspection of the photo might be able to pick him out. He joined as an engine fitter and was a cadet there and became a pilot and was commissioned as a 2nd/Lt in October 1917.

post-98977-0-63979500-1442861812_thumb.j

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quemerford

Reg: I doubt your man is there - the photo shows staff of the school only. Sadly I imagine the trainee men (as opposed to officers at the nearby SMA) wouldn't have warranted wasting a glass plate!

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researchingreg

Thanks Quemerford. I should have released it was just staff only, not trainees.

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HERITAGE PLUS

Tim

The following is from Action Stations - 9. Military Airfields of Central South and South-East by Chris. Ashworth.

Reading (Coley) Berkshire

During 1915 it was realised that the war was not going to be over quickly and that many more RFC squadrons would be required, bringing the War Office face to face with the need for enlargement of the training organisation. Before more training schools could be formed, however, instructors were need and during December 1915 the buildings of University College. Reading were taken over and the School of Instruction established.

It soon became, together with a similar school at Oxford, the initial training course for prospective pilots and observers and was renamed No:1 School of Military Aeronautics on October 27th 1916. Yeomanry House, Castle Hill was the HQ, the main classrooms were in Wantage Hall and accommodation was requisitioned in various parts of the town. By 1917 cadets were doing a four week course in artillery spotting, use of wireless, photography and machine gun instruction, practical training being by lodging old aircraft fuselages in tress lining the Upper Redlands Road near Wantage Hall.This startling sight was only matched by the activities on the playing fields alongside Elmhurst Road. where wingless aircraft were used to provide taxing experience.

It is probable that this instruction was combined with that given to trainees of the School of Technical Training (Men) which was also established at Reading. Advanced instruction for the latter took place at a small aerodrome built on the low lying ground near the River Kennet at Coley, by joining up two fields alongside the CWS jam factory off Beverley Avenue.

It is believed that the main aircraft in use was the Avro 504, but Martinsyde S1 biplanes and various Farman Longhorns and Shorthorns were also reported at. Reading.

The field was also used as a LG for visitors to both training organisations until September 1917, when the School of Technical Training (Men) started to move to Halton. Coley Park remained open, for it is recorded that Capt. Palethorpe, an RAE test pilot, force landed there on November 23rd 1918, during a flight form Farnborough in the temperamental BAT Bantham.

The aerodrome, plagued by river fogs, fell into disuse after the war and the land was released. All trace of it and the jam factory have long disappeared. It is now the site of an industrial estate.

I hope that this is useful background info.

Dave

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MikeMeech

This startling sight was only matched by the activities on the playing fields alongside Elmhurst Road. where wingless aircraft were used to provide taxing experience.

Dave

Hi

Does anyone know the actual source that the RFC used wingless aircraft for taxiing experience in their training. There is evidence for the French using it in part, also Americans training in France, using aircraft with shortened wings, not wingless. However, I can't recall anyone mentioning it in RFC memoirs (I may be wrong of course). Jack Bruce in his Profile (No. 151) on the 'de Havilland DH.5' has a photo of fuselage of this type at No. 2 School of Military Aeronautics, Oxford, he labels it then as a "...D.H.5 fuselage in use as a taxiing trainer...", however, some years after this when he has the same photo, and another similar, in Windsock Datafile 50, it is now labelled as "These photographs show two being used for training in engine starting and handling.", so in the intervening period he had changed his mind.

So has anyone 'primary' evidence that 'Penquins' were used by the RFC?

Mike

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quemerford

Mike,

It's a valid point, and probably another instance showing how much easier it can be to prove that something DID happen rather than the other way round.

I don't have any primary source evidence to prove the suggestion, but it does beg the wider question regarding the use of airframes by SoMA at Coley Park. Jeff Jefford asks a related query in the latest CCI magazine: was any flight training done there? (WE Johns seemed to indicate it, but also bent the odd truth a bit)

Therefore, might it be easier to ask exactly what cadet pilots did at Coley Park, or indeed with other instructional airframes? My early 1918 Reading SoMA guide just shows location but doesn't explain any related activity, whereas it does for other dispersed activities within the School. The best it manages is a few photos showing officer cadets receiving open-air Engine lectures at Coley Park, and an Engine Running Demonstration with the Engine Section. Neither activity would require taxiing.

Likewise, period correspondence from this time doesn't mention anything, and also the log books I've looked at don't make a mention - which makes sense I suppose.

In the absence of anything concrete, my assumption is that these aircraft were used for general familiarisation and basic maintenance/rectification, such as locating, removing and cleaning-up oiled plugs: the type of stuff which would put you down and require a quick fix to get one going again.

But again, I've yet to see a prospectus or anything indicating that. My October 1918 Syllabus for a Six Weeks' Course at Schools of Aeronautics only mentions that students will be given instruction in engine running, which again would not require the need to practice taxying or anything requiring it (like being practically taught theory of flight - if that makes sense: in any case you'd only be able to learn basic effects of rudder surely?)

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HERITAGE PLUS

I've checked the book that I quoted and sadly it is not referenced.

Dave

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Moonraker

Great photos. I'm sure that others have already Googled, but for those who haven't there's some good archive footage of Russian cadets

here

Given the clues provided by Dave in Post 5 above, it might just be possible to ID some of the buildings in the background.

Airfield Information Exchange

Discussed on GWF

Local website

Sorry if you knew about all this.

Moonraker

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quemerford

I've checked the book that I quoted and sadly it is not referenced.

Dave

Dave,

I think Mike was looking for a primary source, rather than a published book.

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quemerford

Great photos. I'm sure that others have already Googled, but for those who haven't there's some good archive footage of Russian cadets

here

Moonraker

Hadn't seen this - very interesting. A mix of cadet pilots and mechanics, all of which received ground tuition at Reading prior to dispersing to the Training Sqns. Right at the end I strongly suspect one of the chaps in the truck is Alexandre Vinogradoff, later killed in a BE.2e at Yatesbury.

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HERITAGE PLUS

Quemerford

I agree hence the check fior a source reference in the book :)

Cheers

Dave

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HERITAGE PLUS

No apology necessary :)

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Moonraker

Hi,

We had a recent donation to the Museum the other week ...

Tim

I may have missed something but out of interest, which museum would that be, Tim?

Moonraker

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TimCornish

I may have missed something but out of interest, which museum would that be, Tim?

Moonraker

The Museum in question, the one I volunteer for is the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection.

Thank you all for your replies, more the merrier if you have any further information. I'm currently collating all of this so I can reference it for when it goes on display alongside our Battle of Britain display.

I'm happy to get more detailed photographs if needed with my SLR camera, for the ones posted I used my phone so not the greatest quality.

I have done a bit more info myself, and found that a Maj/Lt. Col Guy C de Dombasle was the CO of the Military Aeronautics School in Reading 1917-18. I'd ideally like to track down the officers along the front row, two majors, Lt. Col and the rest are captains it seems. I believe I have tracked down one of the chaps, taken from here;

http://www.flyingclothing.co.uk/pg005.html

Tim

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quemerford

Tim,

The SoMA was a separate entity to the Tech School: I have a few portaraits of SoMA staff if required however. In the meantime I'll have a look and see if any of the staff officers were common to both.

And surely you're putting the photo next to your BE.2c, not Battle of Britain stuff?

Nice museum by the way - visited during the recent show!

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quemerford

I have done a bit more info myself, and found that a Maj/Lt. Col Guy C de Dombasle was the CO of the Military Aeronautics School in Reading 1917-18. I'd ideally like to track down the officers along the front row, two majors, Lt. Col and the rest are captains it seems. I believe I have tracked down one of the chaps, taken from here;

http://www.flyingclothing.co.uk/pg005.html

Tim

Tim,

I think you're on a bit of a blind alley there: Crutchley was SoMA, not Tech Trg School.

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quemerford

Did a check and it's possible that the chap in centre (above 'School') with peaked hat is Dombasle, but you'd need to check if he was CO of both TTS and SoMA. None of the other key 1918 SoMA staff appear to feature in the lineup, but that's understandable I guess, since they were not TTS staff.

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TimCornish

I'll do a double check, I'm ideally aiming to find some records on the line up of the TTS and SoMA. I have an Ancestry.co.uk membership so I shall be cross referencing there; it may not be the best of resources for this, but it's the most I have currently.

I have found one historian, Andy Bird, from the Reading Museum that I will contact for further information primarily focused on Reading aviation, however.

https://airpictorial.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/reading-museum-magnificent-men-in-their-flying-machines-no1-school-of-military-aeronautics-reading-1915-to-1918/

Thanks for the help so far everyone - it's hugely appreciated.

Tim

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quemerford

Tim,

You might try these at the National Archives. Mainly No.1 School of Military Aeronautics, but if you're looking at all Reading Great War RFC/RAF units, then probably some interesting reading:

AIR 1/121/15/40/100 Allotment of aeroplanes to R.F.C. School at Reading-correspondence. 1915 Nov.-Dec.

AIR 1/123/15/40/139 School of Technical Training, Reading - correspondence. 1917 Apr.11 Aug.13
AIR 1/136/15/40/271 No.1 School of Instruction - Reading - R.F.C. training. 1916 July 17-1917 Feb.20.
AIR 1/160/15/123/10 Correspondence on, and amendments to syllabuses for Oxford and Reading Schools of Military Aeronautics. 1916 July 17 1918 Mar.11
AIR 1/160/15/123/8 Reports and suggestions concerning the schemes of instruction at Oxford and Reading Schools of Military Aeronautics. 1916 June 22-1917 Sept.17
AIR 1/161/15/123/14 Memorandum on aerial tactics, strategy and artillery co-operation from 1 School of Aeronautics, Reading. 1918 Nov.
AIR 1/1830/204/204/1 Schools of Military Aeronautics (Reading and Oxford). Syllabus for short courses. 1917 Mar.
AIR 1/1830/204/204/2 Schools of Military Aeronautics (Reading and Oxford). Records of officers undergoing instruction. 1916 July - 1917 Sept.
AIR 1/1831/204/204/3 Schools of Military Aeronautics (Reading and Oxford). Programme of work returns. 1917 July - 1918 Jan.
AIR 1/1831/204/204/7 Schools of Military Aeronautics (Reading and Oxford). Strength returns. 1916 May - June
AIR 1/1831/204/204/8 Schools of Military Aeronautics (Reading and Oxford). Establishment of school and instructors. 1916 Sept. - 1917 Mar.
AIR 1/1964/204/262/46 Armament School (Uxbridge) Wing. Miscellaneous lectures at R.A.F. Armament School, Uxbridge, and aerial observations at Denham and Reading. 1918 July - 1919 Feb.
AIR 1/2265/209/66/1 School of Military Aeronautics Reading. Training syllabus for Fitter and Rigger Course of Instruction at School of Military Aeronautics, Reading. 1916
AIR 1/815/204/4/1271 Headquarters, R.F.C. Proposed establishment of 1 Officers School of Instruction, Reading. 1916 May
AIR 29/732 Operations Record Book 3 School of Technical Training (TT) Reading, Edinburgh, Halton, and Manston (UK). Includes historical data and Establishment lists.

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TimCornish

Blimey - thank you! That's a great find. I shall reconvene with my colleagues at the Museum and see whether we can get copies of the records that we require to hopefully build up a further picture of the TTS & SoMA, and hopefully identify those officers in the photograph.

I shall be taking my SLR in tomorrow to get better photographs if that helps everyone here.

Tim

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Moonraker

Biggles learned to fly there, according to this

local news website

It does go on to explain that it was Captain W E Johns who was based there: "The experiences at the No 1 School of Aeronautics of William Earl Johns (Captain WE Johns) the pilot who created Biggles, are thought to have inspired the book Biggles Learns To Fly."

Moonraker

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quemerford

Biggles learned to fly there, according to this

local news website

It does go on to explain that it was Captain W E Johns who was based there: "The experiences at the No 1 School of Aeronautics of William Earl Johns (Captain WE Johns) the pilot who created Biggles, are thought to have inspired the book Biggles Learns To Fly."

Moonraker

Recent discussion on this in the 'Fabric' section of the CCI magazine: I think Johns was mistaken.

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TimCornish

Quemerford, is the magazine available to view online?

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