Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

FSL E.O.A. Andrews RNAS


Havana

Recommended Posts

Eric Andrews was my great-uncle. Recently, my mother gave me some wartime snapshots of him. They show him in what looks like an army officer's uniform, and a Flight Sub-lieutenant's uniform. He is also pictured sitting in the cockpits of a BE2c and a Pup. I've been investigating his wartime career and some hard info has emerged from the colossal studies of Sturtivant, Page and Bruce. But I have many gaps, and am looking in particular for information about the units he flew with.

According to his widow, Dorothy (Doll), Eric entered Cranwell (HMS Daedalus) in October 1916 and in about March 1917 was transferred to No. 4 Squadron RNAS in France. There is confirmatory mention of a forced landing near Bergues on 23 April 1917 in a Sopwith Pup (9929) in the book of that name by Bruce et al.

According to Doll, Eric unexpectedly arrived back from France at their lodgings in Essex in summer 1917, and enjoyed two weeks leave with her before being posted to Calshot, to convert to seaplanes. They then moved to Dundee, where he flew anti-submarine patrols for a short time before losing his life after his fuel caught fire while patrolling off Abbe's head, in October 1917. Apparently this type of fire was not uncommon with Short seaplanes at that time.

My hope in raising this with the forum is to be pointed at published material covering the training regime at Daedalus in 1916, the operations of 4 squadron RNAS during 1917, and likewise for the aircraft flown from Dundee.

Eric experienced an engine failure only two weeks before the fatal accident and was fortunate to be rescued, unharmed, with his observer by a Q boat. He had an air mechanic arrested and held on a charge of endangering his aircraft on the very day he died. According to Doll the man was still in clink awaiting a hearing when Eric was officially posted as KIA.

Oh, by the way, I'm a newbie here, so please be kind to me if I have missed out on posted information when searching through your Archives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eric Andrews was my great-uncle. Recently, my mother gave me some wartime snapshots of him. They show him in what looks like an army officer's uniform, and a Flight Sub-lieutenant's uniform. He is also pictured sitting in the cockpits of a BE2c and a Pup.  I've been investigating his wartime career and some hard info has emerged from the colossal studies of Sturtivant, Page and Bruce. But I have many gaps, and am looking in particular for information about the units he flew with.

According to his widow, Dorothy (Doll), Eric entered Cranwell (HMS Daedalus) in October 1916 and in about March 1917 was transferred to No. 4 Squadron RNAS in France. There is confirmatory mention of a forced landing near Bergues on 23 April 1917 in a Sopwith Pup (9929) in the book of that name by Bruce et al.

According to Doll, Eric unexpectedly arrived back from France at their lodgings in Essex in summer 1917, and enjoyed two weeks leave with her before being posted to Calshot, to convert to seaplanes. They then moved to Dundee, where he flew anti-submarine patrols for a short time before losing his life after his fuel caught fire while patrolling off Abbe's head, in October 1917. Apparently this type of fire was not uncommon with Short seaplanes at that time.

My hope in raising this with the forum is to be pointed at published material covering the training regime at Daedalus in 1916, the operations of 4 squadron RNAS during 1917, and likewise for the aircraft flown from Dundee.

Eric experienced an engine failure only two weeks before the fatal accident and was fortunate to be rescued, unharmed, with his observer by a Q boat.  He had an air mechanic arrested and held on a charge of endangering his aircraft on the very day he died. According to Doll the man was still in clink awaiting a hearing when Eric was officially posted as KIA.

Oh, by the way, I'm a newbie here, so please be kind to me if I have missed out on posted information when searching through your Archives.

Hi Havana

Eric Osterfield Arlies Andrews enlisted as an Air Mechanic 2nd class on the 17th August 1915. He was a former clerk born Harrow, Middlesex on 3oth November 1892. His Service number was F7693 and his trade was general mechanic. His Ships Book No at that time was 14/15/7634. He was commissioned on 23rd July 1916 as a Flight Sub Lieutenant and was at the Crystal Palace. He joined Cranwell on 12th August 1916 and Dover on the 28th February 1917having completed his flying training. (He was granted his Royal Aero Club Certificate No 5280 as a pilot at Cranwell on 18th July 1917.)He then served with No 4 Squadron until returning home on leave. Whilst with No 4 Squadron in France he would have worn a khaki version of naval uniform (as did all RNAS men serving on shore overseas) He joined Calshot on the 29th June 1917 and finally to Dundee on 7th September 1917. His accident was as described in Sturtevant, however I can add that at that he was accompanied by Air Mechanic Gilbert Winter Bickle, F9027 a w/t operator who also died in the crash. His death was witnessed by another aircraft from Dundee, flown by Flight Sub Lieutenant Norman Hargreave Woodhead, who landed in the sea in attempt to render assistance, but the crew were beyond help. This incident is recorded in Woodhead's Log Book which is held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at

Yeovilton in Somerset. There is a biog pack also held there but most of the bones of the contents are summaried here. One of Bickle's letters home to his mother (very much a schoolboys letter) is held in what is/was the Liddle Collection in Leeds University. Thats all the info I can manage.

Regards Duncan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Duncan, thanks for that resume.

I'm intrigued to see you have access to information that I travelled to RNAS Yeovilton to obtain, including Eric's service records and an extract from FSL Woodhead's log book. Is this information accessible online or published elswhere?

I am still in the dark about the exploits of 4 squadron RNAS in France. I gather they were based at Bray Dunes in 1916-17 but most of the info I can find relates to No 4 wing, not specifically to his squadron. I am getting rather stuck trying to uncover the larger picture. Similarly with Dundee.

As a sideline I am interested in what aircraft he might have worked on during his time as an Air Mechanic, presumably in Essex as his family lived in Clavering. Do you know how I can discover where he was based and what types were being flown from there?

Regards, Andrew

Btw his last given name is Arliss (not Arlies). Apparently, George Arliss, the actor, was an uncle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Havana,

With regard to the published activities of Naval 4 you are going to be out of luck, there will be the odd article in Cross & Cockade International relating to individual pilots, and a few photographs of Naval 4 Sopwith Camels in books such as Les Rogers' "Sopwith Camel Squadrons" available from Albatros Productions.

The real problem with Naval 4 from a publishing point of view is this relative lack of photographs. Publishers and readers want photographs! Taking photographs whilst on active service was a court martial offence, luckily for us, most Commanding Officers turned a blind eye to the practice (indeed, some were avid photographers themselves). Every now and again some jobsworth or strict disciplinarian rose to be CO and strictly upheld the military rules, which explains why some squadrons have no known photographs. In the case of Naval 4, they were the first squadron to be equipped with the Sopwith Camel and orders were issued from Dunkerque HQ that the "No Photograph" rule was to to be rigidly enforced for security reasons - the ruling affected both Naval 4 and Naval 6 with the result that we have no early Camel shots from these squadrons.

Naval 4 remained under RNAS control and was based in the Dunkerque area throughout 1917 and the first three months of 1918 (until the squadron became 204 Sqn RAF). Most of the other RNAS scout squadrons, Naval 1, Naval 3, Naval 6, Naval 8, Naval 9 and Naval 10 all spend periods of time on secondment to the RFC. Therefore Naval 4's duties comprised Port Protection, Fleet Protection, Reconnaissance and Bombing escort for both British and French patrols along the coast as far as the Dutch border, fighter patrols in the coastal region (probably extending inland as far as Dixmude) and Hostile Aircraft patrols (where pilots were scrambled to intercept intruders reported by WT).

The squadron had a good record and deserves more attention, it is on my list of "things to do" but I doubt my publisher would take it due to the photograph situation.

One thing I would say, I don't want to disillusion you but if an RNAS pilot was remustered to seaplanes it was becuase he was considered unsuitable for "fast scouts". At Cranwell, pilots were classified by ability, some going to seaplanes, some to 2-seaters, some to fast scouts. Then after a period with an active service unit, some adjustments might be made after the CO had had time to evaluate a new pilot's skills. The term used was "washed out on scouts".

I'll let Duncan tell you why he has access to the FAAM stuff! :D

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Mike, I find that very helpful.

The only picture I have of Eric in the Scout is composed tight in on the cockpit (with him in it) and no visible background, which ties in with the security restrictions you mention. You certainly have one buyer for your unwritten book on Naval 4 photos or not, if that makes a difference to your publisher!

I had sort of guessed that there might be an explanation of the kind you mention for his transferring to seaplanes. Having trained alongside other pilots in days gone by I am familiar with the individual differences that make up their aptitudes (mine was for doing silly things in the air rather than getting home safely...). I guess from Eric's p.o.v. it gave an opportunity to be back in Blighty with his new wife so I don't suppose the move to seaplanes came too hard.

That leaves the Dundee posting. Do you have anything on what that was about?

Am I able to get direct access to these records too, Duncan? Without travelling to Somerset?

Regards, Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew,

Dundee was obviously a seaplane base. there is a tiny thumbnail sketchmap in Sturdivant and Page's "Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Units".

There are a couple of books, "The story of a North Sea Air Station" and "The Spiders Web" which might give you some of the flavour of flying anti-submarine patrols over the North Sea. Both will have to be tracked down second hand.

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike, I've come across references to both those works before so not to overlook another opportunity, I've ordered them through Abe Books today. 'The Story of a North Sea Air Station' is coming from the USA while 'The Spider Web' is available in the UK, both at reasonable prices.

On another matter, I learned that some crews flying from Dundee believed that the reason machines were being lost to inexplicable fires while on patrol was that the W/T transmission aerial was mounted directly onto/above the fuel tank and that poor insulation risked a fuel vapour explosion. This may have been a pilot's myth, of course. But this and his earlier forced landing at sea may explain why at that time Eric was concerned about what he considered poor maintenance standards at Dundee. According to his widow he had two mechanics up for endangering aircraft by adopting sloppy practices. I don't know whether there would be any record of this and only have her account of things.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew,

if you feel like a trip to Kew, the National Archive has the following files:

AIR 1/188/15/226/5 Dover, Skegness, Newcastle, Dundee, Fort George, Scapa Flow, Killing-holme, Wormwood Scrubs and Kingsnorth - daily reports of operations. 1914 Aug.15-Dec.31.

AIR 1/355/15/227/11 Inspecting Captain of Aircraft, Sheerness Office - correspondence and papers relating to Felixstowe, Dundee, Fort George and Kingsnorth stations and to the Central Office 1914 July - 1915 Feb.

AIR 1/420/15/246/3 Appreciation of services. Dundee Air Station 1918

AIR 1/434/15/268/1 R.N.A. Station, Dundee: monthly flying reports 1914 Dec. - 1917 Apr.

AIR 1/632/17/122/63 Allocation of anti-submarine aircraft at Dundee Air Station. 1917 Feb. - Apr.

AIR 1/668/17/122/771 Patrol reports R.N.A.S. Station, Dundee. 1915 June

AIR 1/772/204/4/295 Request for official information by American Vice Consul, Dundee. 1913 Nov. - Dec.

Can't guarantee they will be of any use of course!

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike,

It would give a picture of what they were up to. Shame none of it specifically covers the dates between August and October 1917, tho would there be something in your ref AIR 1/420/15/246/3 Appreciation of services. Dundee Air Station 1918?

Btw have you any idea where I might start to look for the annals of Royal Navy 4 Squadron?

Thanks for your help.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AIR 1/42/15/9/14 R.N.A.S. 4 Squadron 1917 Sept.-1918 Mar.

AIR 1/177/15/211/2 4 Squadron, R.N.A.S. - daily reports of operations. 1917

Mar.1-1918 Mar.9

The following are all 204 sqn RAF but I note from the dates that several of the files are relevant to 4 Sqn RNAS

AIR 1/1679/204/118/2 Record book. 1918 Mar. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1679/204/118/3 Bomb dropping reports. 1918 Sept. - Oct.

AIR 1/1679/204/118/4 Pilots flying time book. 1918 Apr. - Oct.

AIR 1/1679/204/118/5 Record of enemy aircraft brought down. 1917 Apr. - 1918 Oct.

AIR 1/1679/204/118/6 Combat reports. 1918 Apr. - Nov.

AIR 1/1680/204/118/7 Weekly flying log. 1917 Feb. 1918 Feb.

AIR 1/1680/204/118/8 Officers flying times. 1918 Oct. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1680/204/118/9 Officers flying times. 1918 Sept. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1680/204/118/10 Signals log book. 1918 Mar. - June

AIR 1/1680/204/118/11 Signals log book. 1918 Oct. - Dec.

AIR 1/1680/204/118/13 Signals log book. 1918 Aug.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/14 Signals log book. 1918 Dec. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/15 Signals log book. 1918 Aug. - Oct.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/16 Particulars of officers on joining. 1918 Apr. - 1919 Jan

AIR 1/1681/204/118/17 Particulars of officers. 1917 Apr. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/18 Particulars of officers. 1918 Feb. - 1919 Jan.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/19 Movement of officers. 1918 Apr. - 1919 Feb.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/22 Field returns. 1918 Apr. - Sept.

AIR 1/1681/204/118/23 Aeroplane flying times log book. 1917 Nov. - 1918

Dec.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mike, That's great. The one I most want to see is AIR 1/177/15/211/2 4 Squadron, R.N.A.S. - daily reports of operations. 1917 Mar.1 - 1918 Mar.9.

Would it give a picture of what 4 squadron was up to - what sort of detail should I expect to find?

Btw did you follow the story of 109 year-old Henry Allingham (ex-RNAS) on his recent visit to France on remembrance day?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Allingham

He completed training as an Air Mechanic in Chingford and served with RNAS Great Yarmouth and then on to France with 12 Squadron RNAS from September 1917 working on Pups, Trips and Camels. Bit startling to find there is a living link in 2005 with my (very) late great uncle and many others who flew 1914 - 1918!

Thanks again for the leads.

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andrew,

the files should state who flew what, where and when. The type of mission, any damage sustained and a precis of any combat activity. Sometimes the combat reports are interleaved with the ops reports.

You should certainly find out where he was flying, who his flight commander was etc.

Henry Allingham - amazing man!

Mike

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
×
×
  • Create New...