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  • #46
    Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
    I can't provide any numbers but it was a fairly common occurance.

    It seems a lot of pilots felt shooting down sausages was a lot more dangerous than taking on enemy aircraft. The book on the "Arizona balloon-buster" Frank Luke (Terror of the Autumn Skies - Blaine Pardos) gives good description of what it was like flying through a gauntlet of AA & machine gun fire throwing up a tornado of lead, and followed up aircraft protecting the balloons. And most times failing to bring it down on the initial pass thereby having to circle around and try it all over again.

    Willy Coppens of Belguim was the top balloon buster of the war. He once bounced his aircraft off a balloon he was trying to bring down.
    Hi

    Attacks on the opposition's balloons became a standard part of any attack. For example the RFC's V Brigade Order No. 52 for 31st July 1917, Battle of Ypres states in paragraph 3 'Balloon Attack' that:

    "One squadron will be detailed to carry out the attack on enemy balloons which must be kept down throughout the day. The Activity Office should communicate direct with squadron concerned."

    For an overview of WW1 Kite balloon operations 'The Balloonatics' by Alan Morris is probably still useful, even though it was published in 1970. Appendix 'C' of this book lists leading 'Balloon Busters', see attached.

    Mike

    WW1no21sqncprpt006.jpg

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    • #47
      Originally posted by MikeMeech View Post
      Hi

      Attacks on the opposition's balloons became a standard part of any attack. For example the RFC's V Brigade Order No. 52 for 31st July 1917, Battle of Ypres states in paragraph 3 'Balloon Attack' that:

      "One squadron will be detailed to carry out the attack on enemy balloons which must be kept down throughout the day. The Activity Office should communicate direct with squadron concerned."

      For an overview of WW1 Kite balloon operations 'The Balloonatics' by Alan Morris is probably still useful, even though it was published in 1970. Appendix 'C' of this book lists leading 'Balloon Busters', see attached.

      Mike

      [ATTACH]72127[/ATTACH]
      The book contains significant errors - more tomorrow
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by MikeMeech View Post
        ...
        Mike

        [ATTACH]72127[/ATTACH]
        Looks like the totals are mostly accurate on the attachment but the mix of balloons to aircraft downed seems to be off.

        The Aerodrome credits Willy Coppens with 35 balloons and 2 a/c putting him at being No 1 balloon-buster while they credit Michel Coiffard with 24 balloons and 10 a/c (good for 3rd place).

        Comment


        • #49
          Originally posted by MarkV View Post
          The book contains significant errors - more tomorrow
          Hi

          Yes, the book does contain 'errors' as do his other books 'Bloody April' (1967) and 'First of the Many' (1968). This can in part be attributed to their age and the sources Alan Morris used, see the 'Select bibliography' in each book, which are even older and he used 'memoirs' quite heavily. A lot of work has been done since by other historians (which may still have errors in). However, I don't think that there is another book that gives an overview of WW1 Kite Balloon operations during WW1 so 'The Balloonatics' does give a base to work from.

          Rather worse for errors is 'The First of the Few' (1982) by Dennis Winter, with its 14,166 dead pilots from Britain and the Commonwealth air services, 8,000 who died in training. Ridiculous figures that are still repeated by rather more recent academic and popular historians. This is surprising as the 'pilots' will not be found on the CWGC website and 'Airmen died in the Great War 1914-1918' (DVD-ROM) has 9,350 total deaths all ranks, all causes,. men and women. This latter source has 2,844 killed while flying ie. accident, looking through those individual entries I have noted 1,600 or so killed during training. The KIA figure is 3,592 (not all air crew of course).
          Other 'errors' include the statement that "the camera gun, which looked like a Lewis" was invented by the Canadians, this device was known as the 'Hythe' camera for a reason!

          Mike

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by MikeMeech View Post
            Other 'errors' include the statement that "the camera gun, which looked like a Lewis" was invented by the Canadians, this device was known as the 'Hythe' camera for a reason!

            Mike
            Hi Mike,

            From what I could find out from the web was that the gun camera was named after the gunnery school at Hythe. I'm not saying you are wrong but as the school I'm sure would have staff and students from all over the Commonwealth the name might not suggest who actually invented it.

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
              Hi Mike,

              From what I could find out from the web was that the gun camera was named after the gunnery school at Hythe. I'm not saying you are wrong but as the school I'm sure would have staff and students from all over the Commonwealth the name might not suggest who actually invented it.
              Hi

              Winter uses the term "Canadian invention" on page 44, on page 43 he uses the term "pioneered in Canada" when referring to the camera gun. In 'Aviation in Canada 1917-1918' (1919) the author Alan Sullivan mentions that (in July 1917) "Camera guns turned up, and became instantly popular." That was in reference with the other equipment coming from 'England'.
              Obviously it was not 'pioneered in Canada', but it was used in the RFC/RAF training system in Canada which was, of course, following the techniques being used in the UK and Egypt.

              As for the 'inventor' (usually more than one person is generally involved in equipment or tactic/procedure development) two names have come from different sources; Jefford on page 52 of his 'Observers and Navigators' (2nd edition) mentions the device being "Devised by Maj D Geddes,...", while an internet source mentions 2 Lt (later Major) Henry Chancy.

              Mike

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              • #52
                OK its been a while but I finally read Armour Against Fate - British military intelligence in the first world war - Micheal Ocleshaw and
                Haig's Intelligence: GHQ and the German Army, 1916-1918 - Jim Beach.

                Both are great books but Beach's book is mostly concerned about how that intel was used to support the British army's efforts. Which would also include what was provided by the RFC/RAF, primarily of course via photo recon. It is mentioned that the RFC also was involved in intel gathering for its own purpose i.e. what their opposite number (GAF) was up to but that wasn't the focus of his book.

                Does anyone have any recommendations on intel gathering about each other amongst the aerial combatants?

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
                  OK its been a while but I finally read Armour Against Fate - British military intelligence in the first world war - Micheal Ocleshaw and
                  Haig's Intelligence: GHQ and the German Army, 1916-1918 - Jim Beach.

                  Both are great books but Beach's book is mostly concerned about how that intel was used to support the British army's efforts. Which would also include what was provided by the RFC/RAF, primarily of course via photo recon. It is mentioned that the RFC also was involved in intel gathering for its own purpose i.e. what their opposite number (GAF) was up to but that wasn't the focus of his book.

                  Does anyone have any recommendations on intel gathering about each other amongst the aerial combatants?
                  Came across this title in my local Chapters/Indigo for $10 which may be a good starting point for you:
                  https://www.amazon.ca/Eyes-All-Over-...0562251&sr=8-1

                  51JJN6eDoWL.jpg

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post

                    Came across this title in my local Chapters/Indigo for $10 which may be a good starting point for you:
                    https://www.amazon.ca/Eyes-All-Over-...0562251&sr=8-1

                    51JJN6eDoWL.jpg
                    Thanks Carpy much appreciated but I've already bought and read this one. It too is focused on how aerial recon supported the army. Nothing I can recall regarding intel gathering of one air service on another.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Canuckster View Post

                      Thanks Carpy much appreciated but I've already bought and read this one. It too is focused on how aerial recon supported the army. Nothing I can recall regarding intel gathering of one air service on another.
                      NP!
                      I'll poke around my bookshelf and see if I have anything more useful!

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Canuckster View Post

                        Thanks Carpy much appreciated but I've already bought and read this one. It too is focused on how aerial recon supported the army. Nothing I can recall regarding intel gathering of one air service on another.
                        Hi

                        The book 'The British Army and Signals Intelligence During the First World War' edited by John Ferris, has Chapter III 'Aircraft Intelligence' that gives some information on how British and German air arms gathered information on each other through wireless intercept. Other means were the 'usual' POW interrogations (there are many in UK National Archives), capture of documents on air arm procedures were captured from the Germans not long after they had been issued and were published in the British 'SS' series of publications, the 'allies' sent information gathered to each other. Technical reports from crashed/captured enemy aircraft. Air Photos of airfields with reports of new airfields or movements of enemy units to different airfields regularly published and distributed. Cross & Cockade Journal recently had a series of short articles on German hangars based on information from RFC/RAF intelligence reports.
                        Markings reported on aircraft that could identify units, from combat reports etc. This also meant that air arms would try to 'confuse' the enemy, for example when the German Spring Offensive of 1918 took place the RFC/RAF removed all squadron markings from Corps aircraft and changed the markings on fighters almost over night.
                        Unfortunately I don't think all these methods are put down in a simple form in one book on the subject.

                        Mike

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by MikeMeech View Post

                          Hi

                          The book 'The British Army and Signals Intelligence During the First World War' edited by John Ferris, has Chapter III 'Aircraft Intelligence' that gives some information on how British and German air arms gathered information on each other through wireless intercept. Other means were the 'usual' POW interrogations (there are many in UK National Archives), capture of documents on air arm procedures were captured from the Germans not long after they had been issued and were published in the British 'SS' series of publications, the 'allies' sent information gathered to each other. Technical reports from crashed/captured enemy aircraft. Air Photos of airfields with reports of new airfields or movements of enemy units to different airfields regularly published and distributed. Cross & Cockade Journal recently had a series of short articles on German hangars based on information from RFC/RAF intelligence reports.
                          Markings reported on aircraft that could identify units, from combat reports etc. This also meant that air arms would try to 'confuse' the enemy, for example when the German Spring Offensive of 1918 took place the RFC/RAF removed all squadron markings from Corps aircraft and changed the markings on fighters almost over night.
                          Unfortunately I don't think all these methods are put down in a simple form in one book on the subject.

                          Mike
                          Hi

                          Further to the above, from the sources that were available the British Intelligence system produced a 'summary' of what the German Air Arm was like. In the October, 1917 publication SS. 188 'Offence versus Defence in the Air' Part II was the German Air Service, as at July 1917 (Part I was on the RFC Organization).

                          Examples of captured documents that were translated and distributed include:

                          SS.560 'The Employment and Duties of Artillery Aeroplanes in Position Warfare', originally issued by the Germans 10 Feb. 1917, this was captured, translated and then issued by the British on 16 May, 1917. Its replacement, that became SS. 649 'The Artillery Aeroplane and the Artillery Balloon', issued by the Germans on 10 Jan. 1918 and by the British in May 1918.

                          Another example is: SS. 563 'Communication Between Infantry and Aeroplanes or Captive Balloons', originally issued by the Germans on 1 Jan. 1917, and by the British 25 May, 1917. Its replacement was SS. 619 'The Infantry Aeroplane and The Infantry Balloon', German issue was 1 September, 1917, and issued by the British 7 December, 1917. All these original documents were marked "Not to be taken into the Front Line." and "Secret".

                          An example of a POW report is attached, from these and other methods previously mentioned a 'good guess' of the enemy air organization and methods could be produced and distributed to those that needed it.

                          1916POWrpt001.jpg

                          Mike

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                          • #58
                            Thanks Mike, much appreciated.

                            I'm doing some searches when I get the chance on the SS publications etc you provided. It may take a day or two.

                            I do recall from the Armour Against Fate - British military intelligence in the first world war - Micheal Ocleshaw that the RFC alone had two networks of its own spies on the western front. The Army had five. I need to check my notes once home. It was an inter-library loan of that book.

                            One thing I remember is they gave examples of how the RAF/RFC knew within days of which plane of theirs was shot down, what happened to the pilot/observer etc. Since my notes aren't handy at the moment I can't recall if that was specifically from their spy network. Or is it possible they got that info from info provided via the Germans themselves? Initially in the war it seemed to have been seen as chivalrous to let the other side know about that sort of stuff but at some point I would imagine upper brass would put an end to that practice. Maybe they got that info through the Red Cross as to who was taken prisoner?

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
                              Thanks Mike, much appreciated.

                              I'm doing some searches when I get the chance on the SS publications etc you provided. It may take a day or two.

                              I do recall from the Armour Against Fate - British military intelligence in the first world war - Micheal Ocleshaw that the RFC alone had two networks of its own spies on the western front. The Army had five. I need to check my notes once home. It was an inter-library loan of that book.

                              One thing I remember is they gave examples of how the RAF/RFC knew within days of which plane of theirs was shot down, what happened to the pilot/observer etc. Since my notes aren't handy at the moment I can't recall if that was specifically from their spy network. Or is it possible they got that info from info provided via the Germans themselves? Initially in the war it seemed to have been seen as chivalrous to let the other side know about that sort of stuff but at some point I would imagine upper brass would put an end to that practice. Maybe they got that info through the Red Cross as to who was taken prisoner?
                              Hi

                              I don't think the RFC ran ran their own spy networks as they were part of the Army and it was GHQ BEF or the 'Secret Service' who ran the networks (as well as the French and Belgians), there were arguments between GHQ and the 'Secret Service' over this.

                              The 'Intelligence' system remained in 'army' (Intelligence Corps) hands even after the formation of the RAF, this included the Branch Intelligence Sections on Corps Squadrons and Army Wings (after some discussion), I have attached a note from the time reference this.

                              1918RAFbio001.jpg

                              Reference the fate of RFC/RAF casualties over the enemy lines, this would have come from a variety of sources including their squadron colleagues who may have witnessed their fate during the combat, front line troop/balloon observers reports, enemy dropping messages (probably not as common in the latter part of the war), the red cross, as well as the 'spy networks' etc. Some would remain 'missing' until after the war.

                              I hope that is of use.

                              Mike

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