Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Pilots diary during the Somme


buritonian
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I wonder if anyone can help with jargon busting... A pilot diary has entries from his time on the Somme, above Pozieres mostly in No. 4 Squadron, (C Flight we think).

Example diary entries read as follows: "engaged F.19 with the 41st siege" and another reads "engaged 141 with the 33rd Siege and knocked out 3 pits" . 

another goes: "shot on 146 with the 80th Siege. Found several new battery positions. We were up on 6731. We dropped them a message bag". 

 

Questions:

What might F.19 & 141 be? What is a "pit" (ammo dump?)?

"Shot" I take to mean photographing? and 6731...no idea? 

 

We have lots of entries spanning the whole period on the Somme. He mentions bomb dropping and reconnaissance, mentions "registering on a sunken road" which I take to mean assisting the artillery. He seems to always have an observer.

 

Not a peep about dog fighting...

 

Any help understanding what we have would be great. it seems a real mine of info but until we crack the jargon its hard to relate to the ground below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, buritonian said:

Hello,

 

I wonder if anyone can help with jargon busting... A pilot diary has entries from his time on the Somme, above Pozieres mostly in No. 4 Squadron, (C Flight we think).

Example diary entries read as follows: "engaged F.19 with the 41st siege" and another reads "engaged 141 with the 33rd Siege and knocked out 3 pits" . 

another goes: "shot on 146 with the 80th Siege. Found several new battery positions. We were up on 6731. We dropped them a message bag". 

 

Questions:

What might F.19 & 141 be? What is a "pit" (ammo dump?)?

"Shot" I take to mean photographing? and 6731...no idea? 

 

We have lots of entries spanning the whole period on the Somme. He mentions bomb dropping and reconnaissance, mentions "registering on a sunken road" which I take to mean assisting the artillery. He seems to always have an observer.

 

Not a peep about dog fighting...

 

Any help understanding what we have would be great. it seems a real mine of info but until we crack the jargon its hard to relate to the ground below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi

 

No. 4 Squadron was part of the Third (Corps) wing of the IV Brigade RFC in July 1916 (I presume this is the period of the diary).  Flying in aeroplane number 6731, which is a Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2d or 2e but more likely the former.  At the start of the Somme the squadron had 17 BE.2c and 1 BE.2d, according to Appendix IV of Volume 2 of 'War in the Air'.  The Corps squadrons were involved in supporting the troops on the ground, in this case it appears on artillery shoots on various probable 'map references' with 'siege' or heavy artillery hitting gun pits.  They also appear to have located some new German gun battery positions and dropped that information using a message bag and streamer.  The 'scouts' (fighters) were meant to keep the German fighters away so the Corps aeroplanes could carry out their work, apparently successfully in this case.  The RFC had almost  air superiority over the Somme until the autumn.

 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, that's very helpful, much clearer.

Any idea what the location F.19 was?

Another couple of curious entries in the diary read: "did a trench registration while I sent some zone calls which were answered", and later wrote, "passed my preliminary buzzing exam today (ie. sending at 12 and receiving at 6)". any thoughts?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It should be possible to work out where F19 was - I'm sure someone can come up with some suggestions.  It means targets within a particular map area of course.  I have my grandfather's maps from that area in 1917 so we should be able to find it, though we may not know what exactly the target was - artillery, supply dumps, crossroads, or whatever.  There are maps online somewhere if I could find the reference...

 

Subject to correction by those better-informed, I think a trench registration would be ranging shots on a trench so that notes could be made of the gun settings so that the gunners could find the target quicky in future.  A zone call was a general call to a number of batteries to concentrate fire on a target of opportunity (rather than one which had been decided on in advance).  The artillery in this case responded (it seems they didn't always) which the writer may have found gratifying.

 

A buzzing exam here means a morse code test - sending at 12 words per minute and receiving at 6 wpm.  

 

You will probably find more in the diary about "archie" (AA fire) than scraps with the hun in 1916.  Do you know who the diary's author was?  

 

Keep the questions coming!

 

 

cheers

Piers

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, buritonian said:

Hi, that's very helpful, much clearer.

Any idea what the location F.19 was?

Another couple of curious entries in the diary read: "did a trench registration while I sent some zone calls which were answered", and later wrote, "passed my preliminary buzzing exam today (ie. sending at 12 and receiving at 6)". any thoughts?

 

 

Hi

Zone Calls were used to put artillery fire onto targets that had not been 'known' previously.  A 1/40,000 map was divided up into 'lettered zones' (details in attached material). The following information is from the December 1916 edition of SS. 131 'Co-operation of Aircraft with Artillery'.

 

Mike

WW1ss131zone004.jpg

WW1ss131zone005.jpg

WW1ss131zone006.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, buritonian said:

Hi, that's very helpful, much clearer.

Any idea what the location F.19 was?

Another couple of curious entries in the diary read: "did a trench registration while I sent some zone calls which were answered", and later wrote, "passed my preliminary buzzing exam today (ie. sending at 12 and receiving at 6)". any thoughts?

 

 

HI

As mentioned previously, the 'buzzing exam' was the  end of training exam for using wireless.  The observer had been responsible for the artillery spotting and sending the information by Morse wireless, during 1916 it became either the observer or pilot could send messages (hence the training) depending on the situation.  Later it became mainly the pilot due to being able to get the aeroplane into the best position to undertake the shoot, the observer then being able to keep a better look out for enemy aircraft.

For the beginning of the Somme battles No. 4 Sqn. was supporting X Corps, its allotment of aeroplanes to various tasks was: 9 to Counter-Battery work, 3 to Contact patrol, 4 to Trench Flights (Close Reconnaissance and destructive bombardments) and 2 to Special Missions (Destruction of Kite Balloons, close photography, etc. and reserve).

 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

Thank you very much. The pilot in question is Francis Oswin CAVE, born 27th Aug 1897

I'll add more soon.

One entry, reads that he went to Amiens and had his moustache curled - Sign of the times...

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm wondering if something is amiss... if I take the reference (F.19) and use the maps at this link  http://maps.nls.uk/view/101465314 from above (thank you) we seem to be behind our own lines?? I totally agree with all the above but wonder if the reference does in fact correspond to the maps squares on the maps after all?

This is the area he was in (near Albert) and during the Somme push 1916.

I suggest this, as the diary entry for October 16th is as follows:

"Oct 16th: engaged F.19 with the 41st siege. However we did not get onto it very well, as it was rather a long range for them".

According to my map reading this is around Carnoy (roughly) which is behind our lines (a of July!) where some of our artillery where based (not where the enemy were in October). 

 

One thought I had was that he is referring to a message drop spot... the reference F.19 being where message bags would be dropped with updates on the 41st Siege's firing accuracy??

Could that be it?

 

He also refers to another target as "145"... but perhaps we've misinterpreted an "i45" reference (or do some maps have that many squares per Letter)?

 

Any thoughts?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a quick note on the map issue. The map linked to in an earlier post may the correct area but is an Aug 1918 edition. Maps used by the British I've seen for Carnoy area in the summer to autumn 1916 were based on French maps using a different reference system so F.19 may need translating to the British system. The infantry diaries tend to use trench numbers as references to locations rather than eg F.19.c.5.5.

TEW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...