Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

GillCatt

No 1 Fighting School Turnberry

Recommended Posts

GillCatt

I visited the Family History Fair at Epsom last Saturday and had a conversation with Chris Baker who suggested I contact this group. My grandfather Harold Wheatley (1888-1972) was a schoolmaster before the war and signed his attestation papers in 1916. He was promoted twice and was a rigger and on leaving the service was a chief mechanic. On his certificate of employment (Form 2.518) it says he was teaching at the No 1 fighting school at Turnberry prior to his discharge this is confirmed somewhat in a letter dated 1920 I have from G.B. Allen of Pembroke College Oxford enclosing a testamonial. Chris Baker had no knowledge of this school and so thought someone on this forum may be able to help.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nieuport11

No.1 School of Aerial Fighting formed 17.9.17 at Ayr

To No.20 Group 1.4.18

 

No.2 (Aux) School of Aerial Gunnery formed 1.17 at Turnberry

 

No.1 School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery was formed 10.5.18 from No.1 SoAF Ayr and No.2(Aux) SoAG Turnberry at Ayr and Turnberry

Redesignated No.1 Fighting School 29.5.18 in 25 Group at Turnberry and Ayr

Disbanded 25.1.19

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BillyH

The Great War Forum comes up trumps again, and in only 30 minutes as well!

Well done nieuport11

 

BillyH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chris_Baker

Good advice, eh?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GillCatt
20 hours ago, nieuport11 said:

No.1 School of Aerial Fighting formed 17.9.17 at Ayr

To No.20 Group 1.4.18

 

No.2 (Aux) School of Aerial Gunnery formed 1.17 at Turnberry

 

No.1 School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery was formed 10.5.18 from No.1 SoAF Ayr and No.2(Aux) SoAG Turnberry at Ayr and Turnberry

Redesignated No.1 Fighting School 29.5.18 in 25 Group at Turnberry and Ayr

Disbanded 25.1.19

Very many thanks for your prompt reply. Do you have details of what the "boys department" was and what they taught there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Richard Fisher

I have a copy of the training manual for the Machine Gunnery school available as a PDF.

 

https://vickersmg.blog/manual/machine-gun-training/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
GillCatt

Many thanks for all your help. I have  attached a photo I have in my possession which may well be of others associated with the Turnberry School. The image of the writing is in my grandfathers hand writing which is on the reverse of the photo. Hope it may be of help to someone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WW1.Turnberry.June1917.png

HaroldWheatley.WW1.Turnberry.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Apologies for jumping on this thread but did the training at No.1 Fighting School at Turnberry involve actual flying or was it more about the theory of air fighting?  I only ask because a relative was posted there on 3 July 1918 but he only stayed there 2 weeks and his flying logbook has no record of any flights during his time in Scotland.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marian2

Page 51 of C. G. Jefford's Observers and Navigators (2001; 2nd ed. London:  Grub Street, 2014) provides some background to the dates that Nieuport11 has supplied: 

 

"Since Loch Doon failed to open for business in January 1917, ... No 2 (Auxiliary) School of Aerial Gunnery [(Aux) SAG] was set up at Turnberry to provide pilots with some practical experience. ...  While this had solved the gunnery problem, there was still a requirement for tactical flying practice.  This need was not really satisfied until the autumn when Nos 1 and 2 Schools of Aerial Fighting were opened at Ayr and Driffield, respectively.  ...  in May [1918] the resources of Nos 2 and 4 (Aux) SAGs were pooled with those of Nos 1 and 2 Schools of Aerial Fighting to form Nos 1, 2 and 3 Schools of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery.  Thankfully, these rather cumbersome titles were short-lived and before the end of the month they had been redesignated as Nos 1, 2, and 3 Fighting Schools."  

 

My understanding is that at least through the end of April 1918, a pilot or observer physically / geographically at Turnberry was on the ground learning how to use machine guns.  Actual flying and aerial fighting training took place up the coast at Ayr.  I would guess that this geographical division of subject matter continued after the curricula of Turnberry and Ayr were combined in May 1918  to make the No. 1 Fighting School.  So it would make sense that Buffnut453's relative recorded no flights in his log book while he was at Turnberry in July 1918.  

 

Thank you, Richard Fisher, for the link to your web site and to the 1918 Turnberry manual!  From the Commandant's Address:  "While at Turnberry it is your last opportunity of receiving instruction in gunnery." 

 

If you go to this link  http://parr-hooper.cmsmcq.com/w2016/chapter-08.images.xhtml , there are some photos of Turnberry in late March 1918, including a distant shot of the Station Hotel with the steps on which the photo posted by GillCatt was posed, as well as a photo of the machine gun range; cf. the photos on pp. 46 ff of the 1918 Turnberry manual.  

 

best,

---Marian 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Heid the Ba
On ‎29‎/‎08‎/‎2019 at 14:43, GillCatt said:

Many thanks for all your help. I have  attached a photo I have in my possession which may well be of others associated with the Turnberry School. The image of the writing is in my grandfathers hand writing which is on the reverse of the photo. Hope it may be of help to someone.

A couple of thoughts:

If McCudden told me things I would listen.

Turnberry Hotel and military flying have been in the news a lot lately.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mickdavis

Two weeks was the standard length of the Turnberry course, and that at Marske. Flying most definitely took place. The amount of flying undertaken was weather dependent and both SW Scotland and NE England aren't exactly renowned for settled weather. 1 & 2 (Auxiliary) SAGs were set up pending the projected opening of the Loch Doon school, hence the 'auxiliary' in their titles.

 

The flying aspects of the 2 (Aux) SAG Turnberry course in 1917 involved time on FE2bs and Vickers FB9s for Lewis gun training - shooting at raft targets which were moored off the lighthouse and at flag targets towed by the station's RE7s. Aerial use of the Vickers machine gun was undertaken on a handful of BE2cs which were fitted with this weapon. Most flights, from logbook evidence, were of short duration - c.25-30min. It should be noted that not every scout pilot attended the Turnberry course - many received basic fighting and gunnery training on their Training Squadrons.

 

1 & 2 SAF were set up to train tactics, not weaponry. 1 SAF and 2 (Aux) SAG combined to form 1 SAFG but the section at Ayr was short-lived, with machines transferring to Turnberry from the end of May 1918, presumably in anticipation of the formation of the flying instructors' school at Ayr.

 

The SAFG and then FS course remained a two-week one. Aerial firing continued to use the raft targets and some logbooks also mention 'roller targets'. The establishment at Turnberry was given in AIR1/452 as 68 machines - 24 Avros, 8 BF, 16 DH4/9 & 20 Camels - but there were other types; SPADs, SE5as, Pups, Dolphins, Bristol M1Cs and even a DH2 (!!) and an Albatros D.I. The amount of flying undertaken by pupils in 1918 was still variable - for example, at Turnberry 2Lt HV Battle accrued 5hr 25min flying time in 12 flights on Dolphins, Pups, Avros, a M1C and the Albatros, while 2Lt SLG Beaufoy managed 11hr 20min on Dolphins, Pups and Avros. 

 

 

Incidentally, there's no sign of McCudden in the photo on this thread - his logbook (microfiche copy in RAFM) shows him to have been at Joyce Green throughout June 1917.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Thanks for the responses.  If the standard course-length at Turnberry was 2 weeks, then the Wikipedia entry for RAF Turnberry is clearly incorrect (no surprises there, I guess!).

 

After Turnberry, my relative was posted to No.1 (Obs) School of Air Gunnery, which is a slightly odd posting for a pilot.  His first full week there was spent flying with many different observers shooting at rafts.  The next few days were spent on cross-country trips to Brooklands, Lydd, Lympne, Ivychurch and Hastings.  His flights from 22 July thru 5 Sep appear mostly to be solos (unless he didn't record the observers...although he did record a few during this period).  There's a real mixed bag of raft shooting, "stripping" (presumably practicing clearing blockages in the air), and cross-country flights. 

 

I'm wondering if he may have failed Turnberry or, alternatively, he couldn't attend the course for some reason and so he was sent to No.1 (Obs) SAG to obtain the training he would have completed at Turnberry.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mickdavis

Six weeks seems an abnormally long time for such a course and the unit title explains who it was for. I wonder if he was posted there as a pilot rather than as a pupil. Where was he posted afterwards?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

After 1 (Obs) SAG he went to France to join 11 Sqn.  Perhaps the SAG posting was to give him some additional practice before joining an operational unit?  He certainly lacked the quals to be an instructor given that he went from 8 TS to Turnberry and then straight to 1 SAG.  His trajectory certainly seems a little odd, hence my questions.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mickdavis

I wasn't thinking of him as an instructor, rather a pilot who ferried trainee observers into the air for their firing practice - somebody had to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

That's probably a fair assessment.  He was very busy during his first few weeks, performing 31 flights in the week 15-21 July 1918.  Almost all were raft sorties  with a broad array of observers, which would align with the theory that he was a taxi driver for the trainee gunners.  After 22 July, his sortie rate tapers off and he only flies twice more with observers; all his other flights, some 39 in number, were solos (or, at least, he failed to record the observer if he carried one). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mickdavis

I'm assuming that most, or all, of those flights were in BFs, which superseded in FK3 in 1 (Obs) SAG from the early summer of 1918 - that, combined with his training on 8 TS, which operated the type, would have stood him in good stead for a POSTING TO 11 Sqn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Yes, entirely agree.  Apart from a couple of flights in a DH6 and one flip in a Sopwith Pup it was Brisfits all the way at Hythe/New Romney.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mickdavis

These are the BFs I have for the unit - can you add any others?

 

A7262, A7275, B1104, B1304, B1320, B8922, C4548, C4648, C4649, C4703, C4704, C4766, C4791, C4797, C4798, C4799, C4822, C9854, D8009, D8010, D8016, D8020, D8067, E2484, E2487.

 

Or Pups in addition to A6220, B1815, B9440.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453
8 hours ago, mickdavis said:

These are the BFs I have for the unit - can you add any others?

 

A7262, A7275, B1104, B1304, B1320, B8922, C4548, C4648, C4649, C4703, C4704, C4766, C4791, C4797, C4798, C4799, C4822, C9854, D8009, D8010, D8016, D8020, D8067, E2484, E2487.

 

Or Pups in addition to A6220, B1815, B9440.

 

My relative had the rather poor habit of only recording the numerals of his aircraft.  However, the following appear in his logbook:

 

BFs:  899, 4649, 4822, 8422, 8947.  I suspect 4649 and 4822 are C4649 and C4822 respectively but the others don't appear to match any of your other serials.   

 

DH (perhaps DH6?): 3206

 

Sopwith Pup:  2193

 

Hope this helps a little.

 

Cheers,
Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
topgun1918

Regarding the serials without a letter prefix:

 

899 – C899 was Bristol Fighter (H899 was allocated to Gloucester Aircraft Company, part of a batch of 250 Bristol Fighters, but H834 to H925 were cancelled)

 

4649 – C4649 was a Bristol Fighter; I have a note that this machine was with No 3 Squadron AFC in June 1918

 

4822 – both C4822 and F4822 were Bristol Fighters

 

8422 – there was no Bristol Fighter with the number 8422 (I suspect a mis-recording of 4822)

 

8947 – B8947 was a Bristol Fighter rebuilt at No 3 (Western) Aeroplane Repair Depot

 

3206 – both D3206 and H3206 were DH9s

 

2193 – B2193 was a Sopwith Pup; F2193 was a Camel rebuilt at No 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot

 

Graeme

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453
1 minute ago, topgun1918 said:

Regarding the serials without a letter prefix:

 

899 – C899 was Bristol Fighter (H899 was allocated to Gloucester Aircraft Company, part of a batch of 250 Bristol Fighters, but H834 to H925 were cancelled)

 

4649 – C4649 was a Bristol Fighter; I have a note that this machine was with No 3 Squadron AFC in June 1918

 

4822 – both C4822 and F4822 were Bristol Fighters

 

8422 – there was no Bristol Fighter with the number 8422 (I suspect a mis-recording of 4822)

 

8947 – B8947 was a Bristol Fighter rebuilt at No 3 (Western) Aeroplane Repair Depot

 

3206 – both D3206 and H3206 were DH9s

 

2193 – B2193 was a Sopwith Pup; F2193 was a Camel rebuilt at No 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot

 

Graeme

 

 

That's great input, Graeme.  Thank you!!!  I had wondered if 8422 was a mis-recording of 4822.  Any chance you could look up some others from his time with 11 Sqn?

 

775, 807, 1073 (possible transcription for C1037), 2421, 2565, 2569, 

 

Many thanks,
Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
topgun1918

Hi Mark

 

775 – C775; served with No 11 Squadron from March to October 1918. Lieut N B Scott & 2nd Lieut L W King claimed three victories on 16 August flying this machine.

 

807 – C807; served with No 11 Squadron from March to November 1918; 2nd Lieut D W Beard & Sergt V H Davies claimed two victories in this machine on 9 May 1918; it crashed due to engine failure on take-off for a reconnaissance on 9 November 1918 when being flown by 2nd Lieut E W C Sharpe & 2nd Lieut G H Dixon

 

1073 - H1073; I have no details of this machine’s service

 

2421 – D242; I have no details of this machine’s service

 

2565 – both D2565 and E2565 were Bristol Fighters; E2565 ran into a hole on take-off for a travelling flight on 22 April 1919 when being flown by Lt J P Cox & Lt P C Bayley

 

2569 - both D2569 and E2569 were Bristol Fighters; E2569 made a forced landing in a ploughed field in the dark 4 miles north of Doullens due to engine failure after a forced landing at Monteland with petrol trouble during a reconnaissance on 27 September 1918 while being flown by 2nd Lt E T Clacey cut & 2nd Lt A Nisbett

 

Graeme

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buffnut453

Many, MANY thanks Graeme.  That's a huge help.  I transcribed my relative's logbook so having accurate serial numbers is a good frame of reference for future research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...