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6 Squadron WW1 Facts 3 - Footnotes taken from my book, 'For God, England & Ethel'

Footnotes are inserted throughout For God, England & Ethel where I felt extra explanation would be of interest to some readers. They are printed 'en masse' as Endnotes after the Epilogue, but are not essential to the story. Though many relate to the operations of 6 Squadron over the western front during WW1, many refer to other interesting facts about the flying and the Western Front. Displayed below are four examples :


19 The Royal Aircraft Factory FE2 (Farman Experimental No 2), or 'Fee' as it was commonly referred to by its crews, was a two-seater 'pusher' engine fighter biplane. Though designed before the war, it was not introduced into service until the latter part of 1915 when five aircraft were delivered to 6 Squadron in Abeele. The FE2 proved more than a match for the Fokker Eindecker and was used to protect reconnaissance aircraft like the BE2 from being attacked by enemy scouts. It could carry three Lewis machine guns which were able to be fired in any direction except directly to the rear, where the engine and propeller were mounted. the FE2 was most successful when fighting with other FE2s in a circular formation, each one protecting the aircraft in front.


88 As at 8th July 1917, the date at which Major James addressed the men of his squadron, the most successful British pilot in the Great War was Captain Albert Ball who, at the date of his death on 6th May 1917 had already claimed 44 victories. Captains Fred Thayre (pilot) and Francis Cubbon (observer) had claimed 20 and 21 victories respectively, most scored whilst flying together, before both men were killed in action by an anti-aircraft shell whilst flying a FE2d for 20 Squadron on the 9th June 1917. Also by the 8th July, Canadian pilot Captain Willy Bishop had claimed 31 of his eventual 72 victories, his compatriot Lieutenant Raymond Collishaw 31 of his eventual 60 victories (6 enemy aircraft being downed by him on a single day) and Australian pilot Lieutenant Robert Little 27 of his eventual 47 victories. Other British pilots flying at the time who were to later become WW1 aces were Lieutenant Edward McMannock who had already claimed 2 of his eventual 61 victories and Captain James McCudden, who with 5 claimed victories flying as a flight sergeant had recently been promoted to flight commander and would eventually claim 57 victories. Of all these men, only Lieutenant Colonels 'Billy' Bishop and 'Collie' Collishaw and Major William John Charles Kennedy Cochran-Patrick would survive the Great War.


98 The most commonly used British Army trench maps in WW1 had a scale of 1 : 40000 and were used by both pilots and observers as they were small enough to fold and clip on to the cockpit dashboard while still providing sufficient detail for accurate spotting. The maps of Belgium and France were divided into rectangular Sheets, each Sheet being given a number (e.g. Sheet 28 for the area around Ypres) and representing a width of 36,000 yards. Every Sheet was then divided into 24 smaller rectangles or zones, 6,000 yards wide and either 5,000 or 6,000 yards deep (depending upon the particular Sheet) and identified by a letter of the alphabet (A to X). These rectangles were further divided into squares of 1,000 yards and numbered 1 to 30 or 1 to 36 depending upon the size of the larger rectangle. Each square was then divided into four quarters, labelled 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', which in turn could be further divided into 100 squares, the side of each square representing 50 yards. By estimating a position within one of the small squares (ie. number of tenths) it was possible to report a position to an accuracy of 5 yards (e.g. Sheet 28 J22c.54.67). For a graphical example of mapping coordinates refer to the diagram in this book - Grid System Used by Aircraft & Artillery.


105 The morse signal for J11AR2BBB represented ' J' for 6 Squadron, ' 11' for Thomas Rogers' personal identifier, ' AR2' for the battery call signal and ' BBB' for "Are you receiving signals?"

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