6 Squadron WW1 Facts 5

Extract from my book Over the Western Front 

April 1917

Aircraft on Charge with 6 Squadron beginning April 1917 (Abeele, Belgium)

7 BE2e, 6 RE8, 4 BE2g and 1 BE2f  – Total 18

BE2e A2746, BE2e A2752, BE2e A2759, BE2e A2768, BE2e A2781, BE2e A2848, BE2e A2858, RE8 A3197

RE8 A3198, RE8 A3215, RE8 A3226, RE8 A3438, RE8 A4195, BE2g 6278, BE2g 7130, BE2g 7160, BE2g 7175, BE2f 2555

Additions

BE2g 6281, RE8 A3169, RE8 A4197, RE8 A4198, RE8 A111, RE8 A3228, RE8 A3448, RE8 A4196, BE2e A2762

RE8 A3231, RE8 A4211, RE8 A4206, RE8 A4210, RE8 A91, RE8 A3194, RE8 A3214, RE8 A3248, RE8 A4243, RE8 A4594

Struck off Charge / Transferred / Returned to Aircraft Park

BE2e A2759, BE2e A2752, BE2e A2848, BE2e A2858, BE2g 6281, BE2g 7130, RE8 A3197, BE2g 6278, BE2e A2768

BE2e A2762, BE2g 7160, BE2e A2746, BE2e A2781, BE2g 7175, BE2f 2555, RE8 A3228, RE8 A4195, RE8 A3169

Aircraft on Charge with 6 Squadron end of April 1917 (Abeele, Belgium)

19 RE8 – Total 19

RE8 A91, RE8 A111, RE8 A3194, RE8 A3198, RE8 A3214, RE8 A3215, RE8 A3226, RE8 A3231, RE8 A3248, RE8 A3438

RE8 A3448, RE8 A4196, RE8 A4197, RE8 A4198, RE8 A4206, RE8 A4210, RE8 A4211, RE8 A4243, RE8 A4594

6 Squadron Casualties – April 1917

KIA / DOW, POW, WIA, Died Acc / Illness, Inj Acc / Illness

1 (19 Total), 0 (4 Total), 1 (12 Total), 0 (7 Total), 0 (12 Total)

Full details of 6 Squadron's share of Royal Air Force casualties during WW1 can be found at the end of the book.

The weather in April was a distinct improvement over the recent winter months and 6 Squadron machines took part in several bombing raids concentrated on enemy railway lines, trains and ammunition dumps. Most of the raids were during the day but some were carried out at night. In addition to daytime artillery observation missions, 6 Squadron aircraft carried out several successful night-time flash reconnaissance sorties, using zone calls to direct allied artillery on to enemy gun flashes as well as moving trains.

By the 14th of April, the task of converting the squadron from the ageing BE2c to the RE8 was completed, involving the unusually high number of thirty-seven aircraft movements in and out of the squadron over a single month. This total was never surpassed by the squadron in the whole of WW1, though August 1918 came close with thirty-six movements and both September 1917 and October 1918 had thirty-four aircraft movements. An equal number of aircraft (eighteen) left the squadron during the chaotic months of August 1918 and October 1918 as took place in April 1917, but for far more sinister reasons than simply being exchanged for newer models.

The changeover to the new type did not come without problems, however, as four brand new RE8s, Serials A3197, A3228, A4195 and A3169, were struck off charge in accidents due to pilot error or through mechanical and structural problems, on the 7th, 27th, 28th and 30th April respectively. The destruction of A3169 was through no fault of its 6 Squadron pilot, as the aircraft was struck whilst parked by one of the sheds by an FE8 scout of 41 Squadron that was coming in to land. On the positive side, an observer in one of the new RE8s out on photographic escort duties on the 26th April succeeded in driving down an enemy aircraft out of control, an unusual feat for a reconnaissance-bomber and one which resulted in Flight Sergeant Alan Cardno being ‘Mentioned In Despatches’.

Of the remaining fourteen aircraft movements out of the squadron during April, thirteen were transferred to other squadrons and one, a BE2e Serial A2752, was wrecked after suffering engine failure on take-off on the 4th April and crashing on to a railway line. BE2e Serial A2759 was transferred to 4 Squadron on the 3rd April, Two days later, BE2e Serial A2848 was transferred to 8 Squadron, BE2e Serial A2858 to 13 Squadron and BE2g Serial 6281 to 12 Squadron. On the 7th April, BE2g Serial 7130 was transferred to 13 Squadron. On the 11th April, BE2g Serial 6278 was transferred to 12 Squadron, BE2e Serial A2768 to 2 Squadron and BE2e Serial A2762 to 4 Squadron. On the 12th April, BE2g Serial 7160 was transferred to 8 Squadron, as were BE2e Serial A2746 and BE2e Serial A2781. On the 13th April, BE2g Serial 7175 was transferred to 4 Squadron. On the 14th April, BE2f Serial 2555 was transferred to 8 Squadron.

Not recorded in the above figures is the addition of a detachment of RE8s that came from 42 Squadron to Abeele during April (the actual number of aircraft involved and the duration of the attachment with 6 Squadron is unknown).

There was one fatality at 6 Squadron during the month, when Air Mechanic 1st Class Walter H Bond died of gunshot wounds and a badly fractured femur on the 2nd March. Further details are not recorded, but it is likely he was flying as an observer and was injured during a mission. The only other casualty was Captain J G Selby, who was wounded by ground fire on the 6th April during a night-time bombing mission when he dropped two 112 lb bombs on a train travelling on the Menin-Verviq line.

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