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 4On Patrol—At NAS Dunkirk and with the RAF in Flanders March–May 1918 With months of instruction behind them and a massive German attack on the Western Front about to erupt, Ingalls, MacLeish, and Smith hurried down from Scotland, crossed over to France, and made their way to NAS Dunkirk, the navy’s lonely outpost on the shore of the English Channel,just a few miles behind the front.They arrived on March 21, the very day the enemy began its climactic assault. Eminent military historian John Keegan called this and the events that followed “the crisis of war in theWest.”1 When German forces broke through British lines,the commanding officer (CO) at Dunkirk, Godfrey Chevalier, offered pilots, observers, and ground personnel to overtaxed RNAS/RAF squadrons, and soon, a cadre of aviators, Ingalls among them, joined nearby units for combat duty.This allowed the British to replace some of the men who were previously transferred to squadrons at the point of attack that had launched nearly suicidal ground assaults in a desperate effort to stem the German tide.2 Meanwhile, the Americans spent much of April carrying 1. See John Keegan, The First World War (New York: Knopf, 1999), 392–406.The German spring campaign of 1918, designed to win the war by defeating the British army before U.S. troops reached the Western Front in large numbers, is known by many names,including Kaiserschlact (the Kaiser’s Battle),the Ludendorff Offensive,and Operation Michael, the first phase of the action. 2. Official communiqués issued during the opening weeks of the enemy drive reveal the intensity of Britain’s aerial response to the German attack. See, in particular, Chaz Bowyer,Royal Flying Corps Communiqués,1917–1918 (London:Grub Street,1998),  On Patrol—At NAS Dunkirk and with the RAF in Flanders out missions in the skies above Flanders, especially bombing raids against the submarine center at Zeebrugge.3 Ingalls, MacLeish, Smith, and Willis Haviland joined No.13 Squadron, RNAS, which was redesignated No.213 Squadron, RAF, on April 1, 1918. Despite flirting with death from antiaircraft fire, air-to-air combat, or long-range artillery bombardment and despite enduring the discomfort of high-altitude flying in subzero temperatures,theAmericans enjoyed their stay with the RAF.They found the work exciting and nerve-racking,exhilarating and exhausting.For the first time,they were putting their months of training to the test. Ingalls found his RAF messmates a congenial lot; several had months of service at the front. More than one was already an ace. In late April, with his British duty ended, Ingalls returned to Dunkirk and began patrolling over the Channel and the North Sea, hunting for U-boats. On one of these missions, flying a single-place Hanriot-Dupont pontoon scout, he got lost in the mist, made a forced landing in the Channel, and fortuitously obtained a tow by a French schooner into a nearby port, more than a hundred miles from his station.The only thing permanently damaged was his pride. No sooner did Ingalls settle into the new routine of antisubmarine missions, however, than rumors began to swirl about a great new navy program designed to bomb the Germans out of their Flanders bases. CO Chevalier asked for volunteers to be trained on land-based bombers, and Ingalls and several other station pilots and observers immediately stepped forward.They soon received orders to head for the U.S.Air Service bombing school at Clermont-Ferrand, France.  238–46. In five weeks of fighting, the RAF lost 1,302 aircraft.According to John H. Morrow Jr.,in The GreatWar in the Air:Military Aviation from 1909 to 1921 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993), 311, “One fighter plane flew so low it ran over a German company commander.” Christopher Shores, in Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Forces, 1915–1920 (London : Grub Street, 1990), 23, noted,“All available British squadrons were thrown into the defense, most units flying ground attack sorties.” 3.Belgian place-names represent something of a challenge.The country’s two largest ethnic groups are the Walloons, who speak French, and the Flemings, who speak Dutch.The RNAS and later the American Northern Bombing Group operated over the Flemish area, but their records often utilized French place-names.This was certainly true in Ingalls’s case.This manuscript incorporates the spelling from the original documents. In the case...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780821444382
Related ISBN
9780821420188
MARC Record
OCLC
826293796
Pages
350
Launched on MUSE
2013-02-13
Language
English
Open Access
No
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