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 7Eastleigh and Home October–December 1918 In early October, an exhausted David Ingalls departed No.213 Squadron to take up duties as flight officer and head of the Flight Department at Eastleigh, the Northern Bombing Group’s massive supply, assembly, and repair facility situated a few miles from Southampton on the southern coast of England. He replaced Ken MacLeish in this job, the latter headed to Flanders to fill Ingalls’s old slot with the British. Ingalls spent the next month decompressing from his recent combat tour, testing aircraft assembled at Eastleigh, teaching several enlisted men to fly, and happily pursuing a very active social life. He also met Adm.William Sims and Capt. Noble Irwin, the director of naval aviation, during his extended tour of Europe. Ingalls, who had been rather caustic about Irwin earlier that year, seemed more impressed with the senior officer after their personal encounter. By this time, the original tiny American naval aviation contingent of April 1917 had morphed into an enormous military force of approximately 40,000 personnel; 2,000 aircraft; and more than 48 patrol stations, training facilities, and supply and repair bases on both sides of the Atlantic .This force compared quite favorably with those of other participants in the conflict. When the guns stopped firing in November 1918, German naval air forces stood at 16,000 men and 1,500 aircraft and airships. France counted 11,000 men and 1,300 flying machines, and Italy tallied 690 aircraft and airships and 4,382 trained personnel. Only Great Britain’s RNAS, with approximately 55,000 men and 3,000 aircraft (as of March 1918) exceeded the U.S.effort.Yet even the 40,000 American sailors of the  Eastleigh and Home air were dwarfed by the expansion of the U.S.Air Service, which by November counted approximately 20,000 officers and 175,000 enlisted men, 58,000 of them in Europe.1  October 4, 1918. This morning was the worst ever. Went over to see Di [Gates] in morning, but when patrol returned he was missing. We didn’t begin to worry until night.2  October 4, 1918 Dear Mother: To start off with, today has been an awful day. I have detached from my squadron and I suppose I’ll have a sedentary position or do some rotten job for a change. Needless to state I am very sorry to leave. And 1. R. D. Layman, Naval Aviation in the FirstWorldWar: Its Impact and Influence (London : Chatham Publishing, 1996), 206–8. The scope of the American naval aviation campaign was prodigious. Nearly ten thousand officers and bluejackets staffed four principal European supply and repair bases at Pauillac and Brest, France; Eastleigh, England; and Queenstown, Ireland; this was almost as many as the entire French force and twice the size of the Italian effort. For a full discussion of the American effort in Europe, see Geoffrey Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat: U.S. Naval Aviation in Europe in World War I (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010). For the even greater growth of the U.S. Air Service, see James Hudson, Hostile Skies:A Combat History of the American Air Service inWorldWar I (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1968), and especially Maurer Maurer, ed., The U.S.Air Service in World War I, 4 vols. (Washington , D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1979), the air force’s official documentary history of that conflict. 2.Yale Unit charter member Di Gates commanded NAS Dunkirk for several months, but with activity winding down in the autumn of 1918, he received permission to fly temporarily with the French Escadrille St. Pol, piloting SPAD pursuit ships.American aviators George Moseley, Freddy Beach, and William Van Fleet joined him there. In a wild encounter with more than a dozen enemy scouts on October 4, Gates was shot down, but he survived largely unhurt. Captured and imprisoned in Germany, he made several unsuccessful escape attempts and was finally repatriated on November 26, 1918. Gates’s great “adventure”is detailed in Ralph D.Paine,The FirstYale Unit:A Story of Naval Aviation, 1916–1919, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1925), 2:329–49. See also Marc Wortman, The Millionaires’ Unit:The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power (NewYork: Public Affairs, 2006), 245–48, 255–57.  oc tob e r – de c e m b e r 1918 now the really bad news! Good old Di Gates had just started...


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