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Madmeg

8th and 11th squadrons RFC early 1917

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Madmeg

Hi All,

Does anyone has any info on where these two squadrons would have been located January/february 1917?

My grandfather transferred from the army (getting promoted as he went) to the RFC- commissioned 2nd Lt 1/1/17. he was first posted to the 11th squadron and then very quickly afterwards to the 8th- he only lasted in the 8th for about four days (c10-13th Feb records vary slightly) before getting shot in the ankle and invalided back to England. the actual 

I'd be interested to know where he was when this ocurred.

I have a copy of his RFC record and the casualty card but they don't give the actual location. I assume France.

Thanks

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topgun1918

No 11 Squadron was based at Izel-le-Hameau, having moved there on 31 August 1916 and moving to La Bellevue on 1 June 1917.

 

No 8 Squadron was at Bellevue from 20 February 1916 until 2 February 1917 when it moved to Soncamp, remaining there until 8 May 1917.

 

Graeme

 

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Madmeg

Thank you- I'll look them up on a map. 

My grandfather was posted to the 8th on or about the 4th Feb- so that may be why they sent him to the 11th first- while the move of the 8th was underway? Or that once they had moved they sorted out new staff. Either way he didnt last very long.

Its a bit late tonight to check the full dates from his record... 

 

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fetubi

Would your grandfather be Observer 2Lt WJ Pearson, of 8 Sqn, WIA in the ankle on 14th February 1917?  It's just possible that he was shot up by a pilot of Jasta 3.  It's mentioned in my book The Sky Their Battlefield II.

Trevor

 

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pierssc

It looks as if Trevor may have identified him because the details from Pearson’s Officer’s Casualty Form fit nicely with what we have been told.  It may also his throw a bit more light on his flying career.  It records his promotion to 2/Lt in January 1917 (annoyingly the exact date isn’t clear) but neither his disembarkation nor his posting to No.11 as one might expect.  It DOES record that he was with No.11 when he went on leave between 22 January to 1st February.  This suggests to me that he may have already been with the BEF as a Sgt before the card was opened on his promotion and indeed it is possible that he was already with No.11 at that time on temporary attachment.  This could maybe be clarified from Squadron records at the NA - there seem to be quite a few possible lines of research.  What I’m thinking is that he may have had more experience as an observer than might at first appear.

 

For what it is worth the form gives 4th Feb as the date of his posting to No.8 and concurs with his wounding on the 14th, though he does not seem to have been admitted to hospital until the 20th and not sent home until the 25th.  

 

The form can be seen at https://www.casualtyforms.org/form/18456

 

Piers

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Madmeg
9 hours ago, fetubi said:

Would your grandfather be Observer 2Lt WJ Pearson, of 8 Sqn, WIA in the ankle on 14th February 1917?  It's just possible that he was shot up by a pilot of Jasta 3.  It's mentioned in my book The Sky Their Battlefield II.

Trevor

 

Yes that's him, he lasted about 4 days with his squadron after transferring to the RFC from the Duke of Lancaster's Own yeomanry atthe beginning of January. On the plus side it probably saved his life and meant that he got to meet my grandmother while he was convalescing :-)

I'd be REALLY interested in any details you have- his record and the Cas cards only state that he was shot in the ankle- nothing about the circumstances.

 

'

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Madmeg
7 hours ago, pierssc said:

It looks as if Trevor may have identified him because the details from Pearson’s Officer’s Casualty Form fit nicely with what we have been told.  It may also his throw a bit more light on his flying career.  It records his promotion to 2/Lt in January 1917 (annoyingly the exact date isn’t clear) but neither his disembarkation nor his posting to No.11 as one might expect.  It DOES record that he was with No.11 when he went on leave between 22 January to 1st February.  This suggests to me that he may have already been with the BEF as a Sgt before the card was opened on his promotion and indeed it is possible that he was already with No.11 at that time on temporary attachment.  This could maybe be clarified from Squadron records at the NA - there seem to be quite a few possible lines of research.  What I’m thinking is that he may have had more experience as an observer than might at first appear.

 

For what it is worth the form gives 4th Feb as the date of his posting to No.8 and concurs with his wounding on the 14th, though he does not seem to have been admitted to hospital until the 20th and not sent home until the 25th.  

 

The form can be seen at https://www.casualtyforms.org/form/18456

 

Piers

I am trying to find out more about his flying career. I have extensive records of other parts of his life but am trying to fill in those military gaps.

Bold and italic indicate the bits I especially want to fill in.

 

He was born in NZ but the family moved to NSW when he was a child- c1892.He married in c1907 to 1) Lily Almeda Sanday (NSW BMD) and they had one child - William James bc1908 (my "uncle" (half uncle) Jim).The marriage went west at some stage after that, However, it appears they were still together in 1913 when WJ Pearson , manufacturer, with Wife and Child arrived in England from NSW (to set up a branch of the family soap making company ).

 

Then I have a little gap .. the soap factory was in Salford in later years but WJ joined the DoLOY in 1914 (his number was 3400 which indicates that date- I don't have his service record for then). Rather than being in A squadron which was Manchester he was in D squadron (Blackpool) - I am working on this! I don't know why he would be in the Blackpool squad.

 

Piers- the reason you can't find his arrival in France is because he was already there :-). He arrived in France with DoLOY D squadron 22 or 23/May 1915 (dates are different on different records) . His MIC never mentions him being a private - could he have been joined up straight away as a Corporal?? He is mentioned on the D squadron nominal roll in the War Diary as Corporal by the end of 1915.At some stage before 1917 he must have been promoted to Sgt- no record of that found as yet.

At some stage he also got a transfer to the RFC - he received his commission on 1-2 of Jan 1917. 

 

I'm assuming that as he was already in France he just toodled along for duty with the RFC from his unit? Research seems to show that that was what happened.There is that little time with 11th (why?) then off to the 8th to get wounded in time to miss the worst of the bloodshed in April 1917.

 

His RFC record shows he was sent to ?(Reading) hospital and returned to his unit in June 1917- to be sent on an observer training course- location unknown (by me at least :-) ) . He got sick again in October (pneumonia) and was sent to first Napsbury and then ?( cheveley- sorry don;t have the record in front of me at the moment). My grandmother's sister Fanny Mabel was married to Arthur O'Neill the medical supervisor at Napsbury so my grandmother may (or may not) have visited him there (no records)

 

What the military record does NOT show is that during the spring of 1917 he went to Bournemouth (to convalesce) where he met my grandmother. He was also in Bournemouth for New Year's eve 1917 and through the first days of January. He got 6 months home leave and left for Australia in (c Apr- will have to check that- it's on his record) returned later that year and was demobbed in Apr/May 1919.

 

He then returned to Aussie, and started divorce proceedings which took several years. Once he was divorced my grandmother emigrated to Aus- c 1921 and they married. They had one child in Australia and then c 1930's came back to England again to run the soap factory. My mother was b in Cheshire but my grandfather died when she was about 18 months old so she never knew him. My grandmother didn't talk much about him- I knew they met during her time working in Bournemouth when he was injured and there are some photographs of that time, my uncle had a few vague stories (he was about 13/4 when his father died and it was obviously traumatic for him). We have some contact with the Australian half relatives who knew him much better. My grandmother stayed in England after his death so lost a lot of contact with that side of the family . There was also a big age gap - his first granddaughter by his son Jim is slightly older than my mother (her aunt). "Uncle" Jim did some family research many years ago which his family let me have but it is entirely unsourced, not always accurate and has nothing about my grandfather's War time career (fair enough Uncle Jim would have been very young at the time, living with his estranged mother and probably didn't like to ask when he was older.)

 

He is probably the William James Pearson on the general list on the TNA index- I have downloaded his RFC record but it starts in january 1917, and the Army records are not available online. I live in NZ so I am unable to check them myself ;-(

If you have any knowledge of the transfer procedure for an army sgt to the RFC I would be interested- how long it took, procedure etc.

 

Many thanks to both of you- I'm blown away by how much help I have had on this site and I have advanced my research greatly over the last couple of months.

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Madmeg

I just went to check the War Diary again and went straight to a page which I didn't see before- the pages for the start and middle of Jan 1917 are out of order so although I had looked for the relevant time period I missed it!- serendipity:-)

Anyhoo- D squadron were at Beaucourt- 

3/1/17 (yet another different date!)- Sgt Pearson D squad commissioned RFC.

This is presumably his date of acceptance? but could he have already been seconded there?

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pierssc

Whoa!  Information overload!

 

For his pre-RFC service you would be best opening a thread in “soldiers”.

 

You mention a War Diary - presumably of the DoLY.  Have you checked it for some months BEFORE January 1917?  

 

I don’t think he would have just “toodled along” to the RFC exactly - that sounds as if he just wandered onto the aerodrome - but it isn’t likely to be far off reality.  He presumably volunteered and was attached temporarily to see how he got on.  We have to assume that it was a success and he was promoted and the arrangement made more formal.  Do you see what I’m saying?  He may have been with the RFC for some time before his promotion in Jan 1917, with 11 Sq or otherwise.  The difficulty is that NCOs tend to be a bit “under the radar” in the RFC and that until Jan 1917 he was still officialy with the DoLY rather than the RFC.  You MIGHT be lucky and pick up a reference to his attachment to the RFC in their War Diary.  Otherwise you might find him in 11 Squadron records, such as their Squadron Record Books, combat reports, and other records some of which survive at TNA and may have been digitalised - or you may find that someone here has researched them in detail and can look him up.  Squadrons kept records of every flight made so you should be able to pick him up IF the record survives and you can find it.  If the record isn’t referenced under the Squadron a duplicate may nevertheless survive under the relevant Wing or Brigade records.  I appreciate that if you are in NZ that is a disadvantage from the research point of view so your best hope may be that someone else has researched them in detail and sees this thread.

 

 

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Madmeg

I kept the original brief as I was wanting to have a general look at his service- I'm amazed the pair of you managed to identify him from so little info ! So for the prevention of anyone spending a lot of time researching stuff I already know I thought I'd better complete the picture some more.

 

I have looked through the DoLOY war diary for the preceding months back to August- but can't see anything. There are various movements of named officers but there wasn't anything about an attachment of an other ranks to the RFC- that I could see. He is named at the end of 1915 along with all the other men (all ranks) of the D squadron DoLOY.

I have checked re RFC War diaries but TNA does not list them by squadron as far as I can see making it a bit difficult to know where they are on the site or if they have been digitised. I'm not familiar with the structure/organisation of the RFC at the moment- still learning.

 

Information from other sources indicates that a man already in France transferring to the RFC would not return to England but be allocated in France- hence my "toodle along" comment.

 

It would make more sense if he had been attached for some time- otherwise his promotion and quick movement to being operational  all happens in a big rush with no time for training.

 

My assumption is that he would have needed some sort of training (to become an officer and a gentleman ,Don'cher know,  What! ) but there isn't any time for that in the records. Also like you say he is popped into an aircraft to be an observer remarkably quickly, which again is odd. He did attend an observer training course in 1917 post his injury but I think they were getting more organised and formal about training generally by then so this might have just been catching up with loose ends.

 

I am trying to look at big picture items as well as the nitty gritty- why did he join up so soon (service number indicates probably late August 1914 according to Paul Nixon's site) - was he trying to get away from his marriage- or had the missus already left and he was getting away from the aftermath- or did she leave after he effectively abandoned her and their son in a strange country?

 

And then why did he join the RFC? The early War diary records show that the DoLOY were initially used for support and police duties- did he get bored and want more action? but then by the end of 1916 it starts to look like they were being used in the trenches more- did he want to get out of there and into the great blue yonder?

Of course it's unrealistic to expect full answers but I'm hoping getting down to grips with all the details I can find will give me more of an idea.

 

 

 

 

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