No 2 Squadron RFC
Diaries 1915 -1918
Captain F W Smith's diary No 2 Squadron in 1915
No 2 Squadron RFC, Merville, France
Apr 9th Fri:
Reported to CO No 2 Sqn. at aerodrome, situated about midway between Merville and La Gorgue. Surprised to find CO to be Maj. Webb Bowen who was Assistant Commandant at CFS when I first arrived there.
Am posted to 'B' Flight, the machines of which are fitted with wireless sending apparatus. Capt [Wilfred] Freeman flight commander. Meals during the day are taken in a farmhouse nearby, but dinner at the Mess in Merville in the evenings.
Apr 10th Sat:
Am taken for a joy ride by de Havilland to see the country around. I got my first glimpse of the trenches from Neuve Chappelle-north to Bois Grenier.
[Editors note: Hereward de Havilland brother of Geoffrey the Chief Aircraft Designer at the Royal Aircraft Factory and designer of the DH aircraft.]
BE2 of NO. 2 Sqn RFC
Apr 11th Sun:
Machine No.336 B.E.2a is handed over to me. I take my first flight and practice landing in the aerodrome which is rather difficult as it is bounded on one side by canal which has a row of trees along it except where they are cut away opposite the aerodrome.
At 5.30 this morning I went out with the wireless tender to the 119th Batty of 4.7 guns, to see it fire & note how messages were received from the aeroplane observing for it.
Apr 12th Mon:
Practiced sending wireless messages from aeroplane.
Apr 13th Tues.
Took up Sergeant to tune in wireless, my first passenger.
Apr 14th Wed:
Observing artillery fire, passenger Lt Whiteman, Neuve Chapelle & Bois de Biez. Fired at by 'Archie' for first time. (from Log)
Apr 15th Thurs:
Took up Lt Whiteman as observer to work with artillery. As clouds came up we were obliged to descend.
No. 2 Sqn RFC Officers including Lt Moorhouse VC
BE2b 666 behind
No. 2 Sqn RFC Officers (?May 1915):
Back row: Secker, Wallace, Whiteman, Leighton, Milne, Lees, Smith
Front row: Collins, Lloyd, Sweet, James
Apr 16th Fri:
Whiteman as passenger observed for 119th Batty, we were fired at by German anti aircraft guns the shells of which are known here as "Archies"
Apr 17th Sat:
Went up alone to observe for artillery, wireless apparatus went wrong (belt came off dynamo) was obliged to descend.
Apr 18th Sun:
Slept at aerodrome last night being Orderly Officer, and did the early reconnaissance, with Lt Ashly as passenger. The area reconnoitred was Bois Grenier-Armentieres-Lille-Beaucamps-Fournes-Herlies-Bois de Biez-Aubers. We were heavily fired at but not hit.
At 3.45 I went up on BE2C machine of Lt. Smith to observe targets at Herlies, Fournes & Fromeiles for 119 Batty. Was fired at constantly while doing target at Herlies, but moved further north for target at Fournes & was not fired at. While doing target at Fromeiles engine commenced to misfire and I was obliged to return. It was a treat to fly a BE2c again after the 2a of my own.
Apr 19th Mon:
Sick leave with measles sent to hospital in Boulogne.
May 2nd Sun:
Granted sick leave & proceeded home by boat leaving Boulogne 3.0 pm arriving Dover 4.50 pm. It took a considerable time to entrain all the wounded, and we did not arrive London, Charing Cross, until 10 pm. Col. Wiltshire, Lt. Gracey. Lt. Moony & I had travelled across together & were sent by cars on reaching London to the City of London Military Hospital, in Homerton, - what was before the London workhouse infirmary, there we spent the night.
Copyright © 2004 in the diary text and photos from 1915 is held by Maj.or Smith's family. Copyright © 2004 www.airwar1.org.uk