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 6Hero of the Angry Sky—Serving with No.213 Squadron August–October 1918 Between early August and the beginning of October 1918, David Ingalls served with his old mates at No.213 Squadron, flying Sopwith Camels over Flanders. His stay coincided with the final Allied push of the war. During a fifty-six-day period, he compiled a combat record unequaled by any other American naval aviator in World War I, performing the feats that earned him the British Distinguished Flying Cross, the American Distinguished Service Medal, and the French Légion d’Honneur. By his own accounting, he flew 108 hours, 45 minutes; conducted sixty-three flights over the lines; engaged in thirteen planeto -plane combats; and carried out two low-level attacks on aerodromes, one against the Zeebrugge mole, and ten against German soldiers, transports , supply dumps, railroads, and artillery. In the process, he downed at least six enemy aircraft and kite balloons and emerged from the war as the navy’s first and only ace. If any military organization suited Ingalls’s bold temperament, it was the RAF.The British air arm fostered a culture and doctrine of seeking out and destroying enemy forces from the air. John Morrow, in The Great War in the Air, described the RAF as “an aggressive, offensive arm that emphasized fighting and, increasingly, bombing and carried the fight to the Germans regardless of the consequences,”and it had done so for several years. Of course, such policies often entailed enormous losses.The force suffered seven thousand casualties on theWestern Front in 1918, including  Hero of the Angry Sky—Serving with No.213 Squadron more than thirty-seven hundred from combat, far more than the force of any other country.1 By the time Ingalls rejoined the RAF inAugust 1918,the tide of battle had turned against Germany, and Allied flyers became increasingly assertive , even reckless, in their tactics, seeking out the enemy and daring him to fight.2 Retreating enemy forces offered a wealth of targets,but they also constituted a great danger.Wood and canvas aircraft skimming along at a hundred miles per hour, fifty or one hundred feet above the ground, were tempting and vulnerable quarry for machine gunners and even infantrymen . In one instance, a cornered German soldier damaged a plane flown by a member of Ingalls’s unit by throwing a brick at it. Such missions, whether strafing trenches, supporting assaults, or attacking columns and cantonments of enemy forces, had long been a high priority. Morrow noted,“Ground-attack aviation was well developed by mid-1917,and that year and the next saw numerous actions in which aerial assault affected the fate of ground units ranging in size from squad to division .”The Germans introduced their Sturmflieger (storm fliers) in 1917, utilizing a variety of aircraft, including armored “infantry planes,” such as the Junkers J1 “Möbelwagen” (meaning “furniture van”).The RFC employed similar tactics before the battle of Ypres in the summer and fall of the year, assigning fighter pilots to such raids.The British made extensive use of these measures during the German advance in the spring of 1918 and again during the Allied offensives from August onward. Due to the resulting heavy casualties, many of the pilots Ingalls served with in April were gone—wounded, missing, or dead. During his second tour of duty, from August to October 1918, at least fifteen squadron members were shot down and killed or captured, and many others were severely injured, 1. John H. Morrow Jr., The Great War in the Air: Military Aviation from 1909 to 1921 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993), 235–36, 273, 317, 346–47. 2.The British assault across the old Somme battlefield on August 8 forced the German army to retreat back to the shadow of the Hindenburg Line by the end of the month.Gen.Erich Ludendorff called it“the black day of the German army.”See John Keegan,The FirstWorldWar (NewYork:Knopf,1999),410–12,and Martin Gilbert,The First World War:A Complete History (NewYork: Henry Holt, 1994), 450–57.Although the Allies did not launch a major attack against theYpres salient and along the Belgian coast until late September, French and British aviation forces (including Ingalls’s unit) used the intervening weeks to initiate heavy raids against German aerodromes and conduct continuous patrols along the lines.  au g u st – oc tob e r 1918 reassigned, or returned to England—an entire squadron’s worth of...

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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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