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 5The Navy’s Big Show—The Northern Bombing Group May–August 1918 For many months,the navy had been analyzing the failure of its aerial patrols to intercept enemy submarines entering and exiting their lairs in Zeebrugge, Ostend, and Bruges. Patrolling was tedious, sporadic, and ineffective. Military planners had the same reservations and endured the same frustrations as Ingalls and other pilots, observers, and personnel at Dunkirk. After considerable debate on both sides of the Atlantic, the Department of the Navy decided to implement a vast new program to attack the U-boat bases through sustained heavy bombing, operating both day and night squadrons. Planners initially envisioned a force of twelve squadrons and several thousand officers and enlisted personnel.The proposed organization, known as the Northern Bombing Group, ultimately emerged as naval aviation’s largest single offensive effort of the war.1 The First Yale Unit’s Bob Lovett played a central role in the development of this organization, interviewing Allied officials and personnel, compiling reports, participating in several bombing raids across the lines, and drafting and refining policy proposals. He eventually departed Paris headquarters to be named wing commander of the Northern Bombing Group’s night bombing squadrons. Lovett’s support for the concept of strategic bombing only increased with time:duringWorldWar II,from his 1. See Geoffrey Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat: U.S. Naval Aviation in Europe inWorld War I (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010), 314–44, see especially Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), 202–9.  The Navy’s Big Show—The Northern Bombing Group position as assistant secretary of war for air, he played a pivotal part in the nation’s vast air campaign. Bored to tears with monotonous and unproductive patrol duties, Ingalls jumped at the chance to join the new initiative. In mid-May, he and several others received orders to proceed to the Army Air Service school at Clermont-Ferrand, known as the Seventh Aviation Instruction Center and located ten miles west of Lyon in south-central France, for instruction in day bombers.Training there on Breguet 14B.2 aircraft proceeded in fits and starts, punctuated by occasional squabbles with the army and a few hair-raising incidents.The ever-opinionated Ingalls found the aircraft tiresome to fly and army instructors inexperienced and pompous. His accommodations lacked the comforts of Paris or even Dunkirk. Ingalls and Ken MacLeish joked about leaving the program and returning to the United States to conduct flying tours to benefit the Red Cross, including sham dogfights with Sopwith Camels over New York City. Negative attitudes and poor morale were not limited to the navy contingent, however.According to aviation historian Morrow, many army trainees and instructors suffered from similar dissatisfaction and “complained that pursuit aviation received excessive publicity, and that training for observation and bomber aviation was undervalued, neglected, and used as a threat for poor fighter pilot trainees.”At the command level,Col. Thomas Dewitt Milling, Chief of the Air Service, First Army, recalled, “The school was in very poor shape, discipline lax and morale poor.”2 Day bombers such as the Breguet required a two-man crew, a pilot and an observer-gunner-bombardier who sat in the rear cockpit and operated twin machine guns. The navy paired an officer-pilot and an enlisted observer for both the training course at Clermont-Ferrand and later duty at the front. David Ingalls, for example, paired with Machinist Mate Randall R. Browne. Most of the enlisted men, from the First Aeronautic Detachment, trained first at St. Raphael, Moutchic, Cranwell, and Eastchurch /Leysdown and then carried out combat patrols at NAS Dunkirk. Unfortunately for the navy fliers,while at Clermont-Ferrand they learned Washington had assigned the day bombing role in the Northern Bombing 2. See John H. Morrow Jr., The Great War in the Air: Military Aviation from 1909 to 1921 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993), 339–40. Milling was quoted in Maurer Maurer, ed., The U.S.Air Service in WorldWar I, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1979), 4:8.  may – au g u st 1918 Group to the Marine Corps,leaving Ingalls and other newly qualified aviators without hope of promotion to flight or squadron leader—and even without a mission.Nonetheless,upon completion of the training program, they returned to Dunkirk and joined Nos.217 and 218 Squadrons,RAF,to carry...


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