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dvosburgh

152 Squadron RAF A/C & Markings

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dvosburgh

Hello, all. I’m doing some research into Cecil Lewis’s last weeks of service in the Great War, which he spent as senior Flight Commander in the newly-formed 152 Squadron. In Chapter VI of Sagittarius Rising, he mentions that their aircraft were Sopwith “Comic” night-fighters, and writes with pride of the fact that he got all 18 machines and their pilots safely across the Channel and delivered to their new base in France a few weeks before the Armistice. 
 

Given the fact that 152 was only at the front for a matter of days, there’s understandably little info available, but I’m hoping someone might:

a) be able to confirm that the a/c were, in fact, the night-interceptor Camels, and

b) know what the squadron markings may have been. 


Fingers crossed, and thanks in advance!

 

Dave

 

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MikeMeech
11 hours ago, dvosburgh said:

Hello, all. I’m doing some research into Cecil Lewis’s last weeks of service in the Great War, which he spent as senior Flight Commander in the newly-formed 152 Squadron. In Chapter VI of Sagittarius Rising, he mentions that their aircraft were Sopwith “Comic” night-fighters, and writes with pride of the fact that he got all 18 machines and their pilots safely across the Channel and delivered to their new base in France a few weeks before the Armistice. 
 

Given the fact that 152 was only at the front for a matter of days, there’s understandably little info available, but I’m hoping someone might:

a) be able to confirm that the a/c were, in fact, the night-interceptor Camels, and

b) know what the squadron markings may have been. 


Fingers crossed, and thanks in advance!

 

Dave

 

Hi

 

Yes, No. 152 Sqn. was to be used for night fighting and was joining No.151 Sqn. that was already in France for that purpose.  It appears that neither squadron had squadron markings, at least according to Les Rogers in his 'British Aviation Squadron Markings of World War 1' book, or his 'Sopwith Camel Squadrons' Windsock publication.  Also there is some doubt they were 'Comic' Camels as relatively few appear to have been converted (see 'Sopwith Aircraft' by Mick Davies, pages 96-99 for the discussion) and they had rather less endurance than an 'ordinary' Camel.  The endurance was necessary for operations in France which would also include night 'intruder' operations as well as night defence operations.

 

Mike 

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dvosburgh

Thanks, Mike... I have none of those references, and I appreciate your looking it up! 

It’s always interesting in the course of research when a source writing seventy years later seems to contradict the testimony of eyewitnesses. Lewis specifically mentions that 152’s aeroplanes were special Camels, in which the positions of the pilot and the tanks had been reversed, a distinction he didn’t make when writing about the Camels he flew with 44 and 61 Sqdns earlier in the war.
 

I’m not saying Mr Davies is wrong; Sagittarius Rising was published in 1936, 18 years after the fact, but it makes one wonder. All the other details I’ve researched from the book have been pretty accurate. 
 

Anyhow, thanks again!

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MikeMeech
1 hour ago, dvosburgh said:

Thanks, Mike... I have none of those references, and I appreciate your looking it up! 

It’s always interesting in the course of research when a source writing seventy years later seems to contradict the testimony of eyewitnesses. Lewis specifically mentions that 152’s aeroplanes were special Camels, in which the positions of the pilot and the tanks had been reversed, a distinction he didn’t make when writing about the Camels he flew with 44 and 61 Sqdns earlier in the war.
 

I’m not saying Mr Davies is wrong; Sagittarius Rising was published in 1936, 18 years after the fact, but it makes one wonder. All the other details I’ve researched from the book have been pretty accurate. 
 

Anyhow, thanks again!

Hi

It does pay to check memoirs carefully.  In my copy (page 85) Lewis appears to state that the Klaxon was in use for Contact patrols prior to the Somme Offensive in 1916, however, in the archives there is an 'after action' report that refers to the introduction of the Klaxon at the end of July due to the troops on the ground not seeing the white Very light signal that they were using at the start of the attack.  The pre-Somme instructions for Contact Patrols also does not refer to the Klaxon.  I believe the author probably got confused over this.  Other memoirs are similar in respect that they can merge incidents or confuse use of equipment, not surprising really as they did not have a total view of the documents to remind them.  

Lewis may or may not be correct about 'Comic' Camels but it appears that No. 151 Sqn. did not use them in France for their operations due to the problems mentioned previously although I think they had used some before going to France back in Britain.  As No. 152 Sqn. were going to engage in the same type of operations it is likely that they would have had to use 'ordinary' camels as well.

 

Mike 

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dvosburgh

Thanks, Mike. Very interesting about the Klaxons. Out of curiosity, are you aware of any other apparent contradictions Lewis may have included? 

 

The weight of evidence definitely seems to be on the side of 152 using ‘regular’ F.1 Camels, as disappointing as that is to me personally. I’ve been working on some illustrations for the book, and kind of had my heart set on a painting of an F.1/3 over the Ypres salient “abomination of desolation” that Lewis writes about in Chapter VI.

 

Oh well, at least I won’t have to try to decide whether to depict it as being painted in NIVO. 

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mickdavis
Spoiler

 

Once again, this Forum plays havoc with my MS Word files but it should be possible to deciphers the entry from my Camel file posted below. I can only find 4 Comics on 152 Squadron's books.

 

152 SQUADRON RAF

Bases

Formed in 6 Bde at Rochford 1.10.1918 with with Le Rhone Camels and nucleus from 37 Sqn & 61 Sqn. Joined the BEF in 54th Wing, 9 Bde, at Carvin as Night Fighting unit 18.10.1918. Detachment at Harlebeke early 11.1918. Transferred to 82nd Wing, 8 Bde, 27.11.1918. To Liettres in 82nd Wing, 8 Bde, 29.11.1918. C Flt at Aerial Ranges, Berck sur Mer by 31.1.1918 until 1.1919. Transferred to 91st Wing, 1 Bde, 19.1.1919. Served as Demobilisation Squadron for 3 Sqn, 46 Sqn & 73 Sqn. Cadre returned to Gullane 21.2.1919 and disbanded 30.6.1919.

Commanding Officers  

Major E. Henty from 1.10.1918 until 16.11.1918 (hospitalised). Major W. Sowrey DSO MC from 24.11.1918 until 2.1919.

Unit Markings

None known

Flight Markings

None known.

Known F1 Camels (* ‘Comic’)

B2402*, C6744, C6748, C8353, D6423, D6465, D6603, D9465, D9571, E5148, E5164, E5168, F1311*, F1323, F1379*, F1381*, F1890, F1891, F1961, F1989, F1991, F2149, F2152, F6105, F6111, F6122, F6370, F6376, H742, H745, H6847.

0030, 2660.

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dvosburgh

You’re a gentleman and a scholar, Mick, very kind of you to dig that out. Thank you. 
 

So if I’m not being thick-headed here (an ever-present possibility, Lord knows), you’re saying 152 did have some F.1/3s on strength? If so, then Lewis, as Senior Flight Commander, might well have appropriated one... and my idea for the picture might still be viable. 
 

I have the photo of B2402 in service with 44 Sqdn in Mr Bruce’s Vintage Warbirds No. 5: The Sopwith Fighters and, in fact, used it as reference when I did my original rough sketch of the idea (see attached). Still looking for other possibilities, though. 
 

Cheers, and thanks again,

 

Dave

34172908-6D61-4122-A5A9-FDFE04C38278.jpeg

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nils d

as a night flying unit theres little need for unit markings.

Note 152 Sqn did fly operationally  though they had no victories.

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dvosburgh

Thank you, Nils. I can see why unit markings would be unnecessary in a night-interceptor/interdiction unit.
 

But, there again, apparently No 44 (HD) Squadron used them, judging by the twin white or pale blue fuselage bands on Comic B2402 referenced above...?

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