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Andrew S

Identification of British Aerodrome in France

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Andrew S

Hi,

I wonder if anyone could please help me identify the unnamed British Aerodrome in the attached photo? 

I’m putting together a ‘100 years ago’ blog and website (gregswar.com) based on my grandfather’s pilot's log book, diary of active service and collection of photos and memorabilia. He flew RE8s with 42 Sqn RAF from June 1918, mostly around the Lys. In his time, 42 Sqn was successively located at Rely, Chocques, Ascq, Marquain (Belgium), Aulnoy (near Valenciennes), Saultain and Abscon. So it’s possible that the photo is of one of these airfields, but I can’t confirm it. Also, there are various photos in the collection that evidently came from other people, so it might be somewhere else entirely, though I suspect still on the Western Front. Prior to Rely, the squadron was (in reverse chronological order) at Trezennes (near Aire-sur-la-Lys), Chocques again, and Fienvillers, to where the squadron had returned to France from Italy. 

 

Quite where the airfield is on the photograph, I'm not entirely sure. I had rather taken it to be space on the mid-left edge - to the left of and in front of the factory chimneys - with the rest of the airfield being off camera. But that's a bit of a guess. The absence of visible aircraft doesn't help. I had thought that the chateau on the edge of the woods (mid right) would be a useful clue, but in spite of scouring what has seemed like hundreds of old images of chateaux in the Pas-de-Calais/Nord regions I haven't yet found anything that looks like it.

If you can plausibly identify the aerodrome, you’ll earn my deep gratitude and an honourable mention on the blog - but not, alas, earthly riches. 

I’d be grateful if the photo wasn’t publicised too widely until I’ve posted on the blog - which I would aim to do around 100 years after it’s likely to have been taken, so probably sometime in the period from June to November 2018. 

Thanks in advance for any help.
Andrew Sheard

H-13a.jpg

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ICM - RAF Retd

Andrew, I can't tell you where it is but I can assure you that it's not Chocques.

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Andrew S

Thanks, ICM.  Can you tell me precisely where Chocques aerodrome was in relation to the village?  My usual go-to site for localisation (http://www.anciens-aerodromes.com/?p=29830) doesn't mark it on a map.

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Michelle Young

I have had a look at Chateau De La Houssiere at   Aulnoy, it looks similar to that in your photo 

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Andrew S

Thanks, Michelle.  There is a certain similarity, but unfortunately it's the wrong Aulnoy!  Chateau de la Houssiere is at Aulnoy near Coulommiers, east of Paris and home of the delicious Brie de Coulommiers, whereas the Aulnoy where 42 Sqn was stationed is near Valenciennes in the Nord and is sometimes identified as Aulnoy-Lez-Valenciennes on maps.

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Michelle Young

Drat! And double drat! 

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ICM - RAF Retd

Andrew:  As regards Chocques, I think it's much better to think of the Château de Werppe that sat (and, however rundown, still sits) across the road from the field that was the airfield, or of Gonnehem, the commune of which I believe the location was part.  Both names were used in earlier days as regards 10 Sqn, but with Chocques somehow taking over.  This screenshot should help.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 12.14.01.png

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Andrew S

Thanks for this, ICM. Very illuminating. I understand now why you said that my photo can't be Chocques.  And having now found your thread from 2012 here, I see that the Château de Werppe was the former HQ and Officers' accommodation.

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Roger Austin

I showed this to Jacques Calcine of Anciens Aerodromes and he identified the location as Flexicourt which is 20 km NW of Amiens just North of the Somme.   Certainly the chateau and the circular tower are there but much of the surroundings has been modified by a new factory and a motorway.   Jacques knows of no aerodrome or logistics unit in this place so, if anyone does, we would be very interested.

Roger Austin.

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Roger Austin

Sorry, that should have been Flixecourt.   RA.

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Regulus 1

Flixecourt was at some time 4th Army HQ (1918), so an aerodrome close to it would be logical

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Andrew S

Belated and many thanks for this identification, Roger. Looking at Google maps, I can see that Flixecourt is indeed the answer to my question.  So I'm grateful to you and Jacques Calcine.

 

I'm now puzzled by the reference to a British aerodrome there!  My grandfather didn't fly around the Somme, as far as the available records show, but he did have some aerial photos from the area (particularly of Bray-sur-Somme and Mametz from 205 Sqn RAF and Cantigny from Escadrille SPA.42) -  see https://gregswar.com/tag/somme/.  So maybe this one was given to him and misidentified as an aerodrome somewhere along the line. Or perhaps, as Regulus 1 suggests, there was an airfield there briefly; but I haven't yet found any reference to one.

 

I shall publish the photograph along with a few other undated/unidentified ones in the closing weeks of the Greg's War blog, and will of course gratefully acknowledge your identification.

 

Andrew

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Andrew S

I should have explained the reason for my apparent discourtesy in not replying earlier.  I had asked to be notified of replies to my original post, so I thought I didn't need to check the thread manually.  But for some reason none of the replies of 31 March triggered a notification.  So either I had misunderstood how the notification flag works, or there was a system glitch.  I now wish I had checked the thread myself several months ago, of course!

 

Andrew

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Sylvie

Hi Andrew, 

 

Chocques Airfiled is actually in the village of Gonnehem , not in Chocques, next to Château de Werppe. 

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