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Chapter 43

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The First Yale Unit

by
Ralph D. Paine

printed at
The Riverside Press
Cambridge (Mass.)
1925

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 45
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

Vol. II
p251
Chapter XLIV

With McIlwaine, Beach, and Ames

Of the dauntless seven who had crossed the Atlantic together and learned in London a few things about wearing swords, McIlwaine and Beach may appear to have become lost in the shuffle since we said adieu to them at Moutchic. From all directions the members of the Unit were converging to join the Northern Bombing Group as the desired goal. These two were invited to take part after the customary instruction period at Clermont-Ferrand. McIlwaine remained perfectly amiable under Army discipline and regulations, unlike the more impetuous Ingalls, as previously quoted, and makes no mention of demerits or being kept within bounds. He appears to have been a model pupil.

When they reported to Lieutenant Gates at Dunkirk, Freddie Beach was detailed to 218 Squadron, R. A. F. near Calais, and Archie McIlwaine to 217 Squadron operating DH‑4s from the old Lafayette Escadrille field at Crochte. In Beach's party were Ensigns Moseley, Bassett, Johnson, and their observers. While at this station they flew in almost a dozen bombing raids over the German bases on the Belgian coast. It was a hard-working squadron which sometimes made two flights a day, with five or six hours in the air for the crews and at least two of them spent in a hurricane of anti-aircraft fire.

At that time most of the German fighting planes were further down the lines, as Freddie Beach relates it,

'and they bothered us only now and then. We always flew in close formation and had a good chance of driving off an attack until some of our escort could come up. The bombing p252itself was pretty crudely done as the sights were not of the best and the pilot had to drop them besides keeping in formation, dodging the 'Archie,' taking care of his motor and watching out for enemy planes. Beyond doubt, he was a fairly busy bird. Our machines were DH‑9s with Siddeley-Puma motors of much too small horse-power. They were fast on the level and handled beautifully, but climbed sluggishly and, when loaded, their ceiling was far too low for comfort. The British pilots in this outfit were youngsters of from seventeen to twenty‑two — nothing sluggish about them — a nervy, reliable bunch and always full of pep.'

Late in August, Beach was transferred to the immense American naval station base at Pauillac to test the Liberty motors which had just then begun to arrive. He found Kenneth MacLeish there and together they played the rôle of mechanical experts, pulling the Libertys down and making changes and additions which their practical experience suggested as necessary. They got on agreeably with the officers in charge and made a success of their work. They had many complimentary things to say of the Liberty motor, after they finished tinkering with it.

Beach left Pauillac on September 2d and went to the Eastleigh base which was then commanded by Lieutenant Chevalier. It was just at the trying time when the transfer from British to American control was in progress. Very anxious to rejoin Gates and the Dunkirk show, Freddie found a friend in Lieutenant Chevalier who was good enough to arrange it. There was a brief delay at Autingues on headquarters duty.

Gates had a snappy assignment waiting. The French Spad squadron known as l'Escadrille de Saint‑Pol was sadly in need of pilots. In fact, it had none at all. The commander, Captain Delsalle, was delighted to welcome Beach, Moseley, Van Fleet, and Campbell. It was a case of p253'Lafayette, we are here.' They were given new Spads, marvelous machines in their eager eyes. It was what they had been hoping for and they resolved to make the most of it. 'I shall never forget with what pride and enthusiasm we crawled into our machines,' exclaims Freddie, 'for our first patrol over the lines, and the good humor with which we took the bawling out from the French C. O. who thought our flying atrocious.'

'Di' Gates had been practicing in a Spad and could handle one with confidence and skill. He joined the flights of the Yankee Escadrille de Saint‑Pol, one of which Beach describes. The story finishes on a heartless note. It shows how a young man, regarded as quite humane on the Yale campus, can become incredibly calloused by the influences of war:

On one of the patrols, the four of us Americans went up, also two French enlisted pilots and the French captain. We were ordered to do what they called the middle patrol which was about 14,000 feet up. While climbing up there we saw some Huns diving but we couldn't get anywhere near them. The clouds were in the way. When we reached our 14,000 feet, the clouds were still heavy and hanging in fringes. Meanwhile the Huns were also climbing and we caught glimpses of them above us. We were then fifteen or twenty miles back of the German lines in Belgium. The two French pilots had dropped out with motor troubles.

I happened to be flying with Gates at the rear of the formation. Looking ahead, we noticed that the French captain and two other Spads ahead of us had dived. This startled us. We glanced upward and saw a plane right over our heads. It was somewhat disturbing to see it come bolting out of the clouds. I recognized it as a new German plane, a Fokker D‑7, which was then a novelty.

Casting a pallid gaze behind me, I was even more astonished to observe twelve or thirteen German planes bursting out of the clouds. It was their habit to fly in squadrons in this area. They had some biplanes with tremendous speed on the level and first‑class diving qualities, also a type of triplane which was much p254superior to our Spads in climbing. I noticed that on this occasion they were after us with both kinds.

The rest of our squadron disappeared into the clouds in front of us. This left 'Di' Gates and me with a very lonesome feeling. I saw him go into a spin and streak down back of the German lines. I perceived that the dozen hostile planes were directly behind me, so I did a spin on my own account. Our machines were very good at getting away when you were in a hurry. They dropped like a stone. I was never so scared in my life. I had a great many thoughts while I went whizzing down a great many thousand feet.

When I came out of the dive, which was a plain act of Providence, I was fairly near the ground and not awfully far from the lines. I recovered my breath and my courage and flew madly about to find the rest of the squadron. Not a soul in sight! And 'Di' had vanished with the rest of them. Poor fellow, he had been hit or had failed to come out of his spin. It was rotten luck. I sailed back to the hangars, but found no Gates. My fears were confirmed.

I felt rather badly about it until I remembered that he had recently purchased a large box of cigars and had been a bit stingy with them. So I went to his room to rummage about for the cigars, and there he was — Artemus L. Gates alive and in the flesh! He loosened up with the cigars after that, and every evening for a couple of weeks we would smoke up and tell each other how scared we had been.

It was quite another matter for Freddie Beach when Gates was actually missing on October 4th, while they were flying their last patrol together. With spirits subdued, he continued the duty with the Spad squadron until November 1st. The German forces in Belgium were withdrawing from the coast until the lines were as far away as Ghent. This was beyond the effective range of the French and British combat patrols operating from the Dunkirk area.

Beach tarried at Autingues and then became a bona fide naval aviator for a little while. He was sent north to the Grand Fleet to join the Texas, of Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman's p255Sixth Battle Squadron. There were no planes on board, which made it a little difficult for him to figure out why a flying officer was assigned to this duty, but with Van Fleet and Johnson he solved the problem by spending most of the time ashore at Turnhouse, the flying base of the Grand Fleet. Here the British officers were delightfully cordial and provided their American guests with Camel planes and told them to fly when and where they felt so inclined.

They were extremely fortunate in being on board an American battleship to witness the surrender of the German High Sea Fleet. This was one of the great dramatic spectacles of the World War. Fortunate? As a spectator in the front row, Lieutenant Frederick Beach was fairly riddled with luck. And he rode home all the way to New York in the U. S. S. Texas, with a stop at Brest to take on aeroplanes.1

Archie McIlwaine had no reason to regret his sojourn p256with the British 217 Squadron. His summary is admirably compact. 'In all, I was in enemy territory twenty‑six times, had four fights — brought down one Hun (not officially credited), strafed trenches once, and in short, had a devil of a good time.' A few pages from his personal log, or diary, will afford glimpses of this young man's idea of a devilish good time.

Raid. 6‑8.30 P.M. July 29, 1918

Lt. Berthe leading. My position 1st right. Very misty. Climbed from 2000 to 8000 in dense fog. Two rear planes dropped out. Bombed Mole at Zeebrugge. No hits observed. Archies did not spot us until we had dropped and turned. Then they put up some good ones, behind leader's trail. Uneventful home trip.

Sea Patrol. 5‑6.30 P.M. July 30

Lt. Shaw and myself. My position to rear and right. Dense fog at 1000 to 2000 feet. Went entirely by compass. Ran upon four Hun destroyers. We were less surprised than they. They fired usual Very pistols, white turning into red. We bombed at 1700 feet — they zigzagging. Shaw scored hit on stern of leading destroyer. I bombed the second one, but Rourke did not see bombs as he was emptying machine guns on their decks. Intense anti-aircraft fire.

Raid. 1‑3.05 P.M. July 31

Capt. Boyd leading. My position 1st left. Climbed to 14,000 and bombed seaplane base on the Mole at Zeebrugge. Immediately after release, met five DH‑4s which we at first took for Huns. Archie was concentrated on them, not on us, thank the Lord. On return trip saw two British destroyers dropping depth-bombs on subs and seven of the American seaplanes hovering around.

Sea Patrol. 5‑7 A.M. August 3

Shaw leading. Very misty weather prevented good patrolling. So we went on over Middlekerque and dropped our bombs on Hun depot headquarters. Large fires were seen to break out. In clear weather we should not have been able to do it on account of the Westende Battery.

p257 Sea Patrol. August 5

Special patrol, as high water prevailed on inner channels for subs. None sighted. I had motor trouble and flew back to drome and got another plane. Failed to locate Judge, my patrol leader, Noted large fire between Nieuport and Ostend.

Raid. 1‑3.45 P.M. August 10

Shaw leading. My position 1st right. Objective Zeebrugge. Came up with sun at our backs, 13,500 feet. Six hits out of ten bombs. Archie scarce, due to sun. One burst just off my wind. No perforations.

Sea Patrol. 6.30‑8.30 P.M. August 12

Shaw and myself. Spotted five seaplanes off Zeebrugge. Prepared to attack when five land machines came at us. We fired at long range and veered off with three of the seaplanes while the others followed us. We soon outdistanced them.

There was another merry session with a flotilla of German destroyers which contributed to McIlwaine's idea of a good time. He suggests that it may 'add a bit of local color to an otherwise humdrum narrative' (his notion of what is humdrum being rather odd to a looker‑on):

One morning six of us started on patrol just before daylight, getting off in pairs at ten minute intervals. Our duty was to sneak up along the Holland coast and return, skirting the three-mile limit, past Walcheren, the mouth of the Scheldt, Zeebrugge, etc., and try to spot certain submarine movements which had been reported to us on the preceding evening.

The sun was up and fiery red as we rounded Holland and flew toward the Mole. We noticed a number of black specks on the surface and went down to inspect. Then we made out twelve destroyers convoying four submarines. They were, if anything, inside the three-mile limit of the coast of Holland. As my companion plane and I had been the first to take off, we decided to wait until the other four planes should arrive and attack in concert. Soon one pair came along, and then the other.

Up to this point we had not been seen by the flock of German surface craft. As we approached them with the sun at our backs, they spotted us and began to break formation and zigzag. Anti-aircraft and pom‑pom stuff began whizzing up, but as yet nowhere p258near us. My partner and I piqued down, firing out forward guns in a stream to make the sailors on the deck take cover, and as we drew nearer it was funny to see them tumble down the hatches and companionways.

When five hundred feet up, we released our bombs and flew off at right angles, doing twists and turns to dodge anti-aircraft fire which had become pretty thick. The other planes followed us and we soon met and continued on home to report and send out more planes. My partner scored a direct hit on the bow of one destroyer which, we learned from the report of a later patrol, had to be towed back to the Mole.

The daily life of the British squadron appealed to McIlwaine as having none of the hardships of war. In fact he seemed to think his entire career as an aviator 'pretty soft.' He goes on to say:

If we were going on patrol in the morning, we slept on the field the night before. Then if the weather was favorable and everything in good shape, we were awakened to partake of our oatmeal, eggs and coffee, and the indispensable jam or marmalade. Sauntering out on the field, we waited until the motors were warmed up and we had received our instructions. Then away we sailed. It was distinctly de luxe. In fact, the Unit had found it pretty much that way from start to finish, including Peacock Point, Palm Beach, and Huntington.

The British had been in the war long enough to understand that aviators were not infantrymen and that they had to be handled differently, that flying was a test of nerves, a sport for which you had to be kept fit. Shave in the evening, take a hot bath, get your shoes shined whenever you liked — a perfect snap.

There was one amusing adventure while I was day bombing. It rated a hearty laugh. A little Canadian named Shay and I were assigned to bomb the German headquarters at Middlekerque, about fourteen miles east of Nieuport where their lines passed through to the sea. It was a foggy day and the clouds were very low. We found our target and were only 250 feet above the buildings in which the brains and strategy of the German army staff were supposed to be concentrated. Shay dropped a bomb and I let one go. We noticed a couple of fires break out, p259Then we turned so as to get a better mark for our second bombs. Just then there came striding out of the building to the terrace a large, fat German war lord in his nightshirt.

It was unusual to see a German general parading in such a costume as this. Of course we tried our best to bomb him out of his nightshirt. But a lot of machine guns were trying to pot us by this time and we were flying mighty low, as I say, so we couldn't be as careful as we wished in depositing our last bombs. However, we did put the fear of God into the German general and he beat it from the terrace with the tail of his nightshirt standing out straight behind him.

When I was an innocent little boy, before I went to college and fell into bad company and joined the Unit, my mother took me one time to the Casino at Ostend. And I played roulette for small stakes, just as a pastime. When I was out on one of these patrols along the Dutch coast, we went over to Ostend to drop our bombs. We were not very high up and there were five Hun seaplanes sitting on the water. Our patrol leader waggled his wings and we followed him down to try to bag these birds, but they rose too soon and flew over the land and escaped. It struck me as a diverting thought that as a kid I had played roulette in the Ostend Casino, and here I was a dozen years later flying about over this same Casino on such a very different errand. Life, indeed, consists of one thing after another, and there you are, what, what?

On October 14th, McIlwaine was detached from his congenial 217 Squadron and ordered to headquarters duty with the Northern Bombing Group. He made one trip to Eastleigh to pilot a DH‑4 for delivery to Captain Hanrahan's force at Field 'E.' On December 7th he was transferred to the U. S. Army Aeroplane Station at Orly, France, where his duty was the delivery and installation of planes for the aviation equipment of the battleship Texas. This took him to Brest to meet the ship there and to remain on board. She touched at this port on her way home from service with the Grand Fleet. Freddie Beach was riding along and these two comrades of the Unit worked together in putting on board two Camels and a Sopwith p260which were to be flown from the turrets. Eddie McDonnell was in charge of the operation and took passage in the battleship in order to test out the scheme and perfect the details. He hoped to be able to make a flight when the Texas entered New York harbor, but a snow storm thwarted him. This was the first American battleship to be equipped with scout planes for spotting and observation.

This was Archie McIlwaine's first opportunity to be with the American Navy at sea, and he was tremendously impressed with the smartness, efficiency, and discipline of a first-class battleship. He piad it the compliment of saying, 'It was a beautiful machine and made me take off my mental hat to our regular Navy.'

Such had been the verdict of Admiral Sir David Beatty as conveyed in his farewell speech when Rear Admiral Rodman's ships were homeward bound from the Grand Fleet:

I want, first of all, to thank you, Admiral Rodman, the captains, officers, and ships' companies of the magnificent squadron, for the wonderful coöperation and the loyalty you have given to me and my admirals; and the assistance that you have given us in every duty you have had to undertake. The support which you have shown is that of true comradeship; and in time of stress, that is worth a great deal. You will return to your own shores; and I hope in the sunshine which Admiral Rodman tells me always shines there, you won't forget your 'comrades of the mist,' and your pleasant associations of the North Sea.

This message is worth repeating. There were times when the members of the First Yale Unit felt inclined to be critical of the naval organization of which they were a part. They were apt to forget that aviation was an unfamiliar and untraditional kettle of fish. It was important to winning the war, but, after all, secondary in importance to the duties and responsibilities which the United States Navy had to undertake in its own native element. And, p261forgetting the flaws and blunders in the creation and sudden expansion of their own branch of the service, the rest of the Unit heartily echo the words of Archie McIlwaine, 'Hats off!'2

Somewhere during the complexities of establishing new air stations and bombing the daylights out of the enemy and knocking the tops off the Alps with balky Capronis, an engaging young officer by the name of Allan Ames has been circulating here, there, and everywhere. Abroad he continued the habit formed at home, where he had been seeing America first, alighting briefly in Texas, New Orleans, Dayton, Washington, Norfolk, and other points of interest. A desk in the Navy Department enslaved him for a little while, but he pried off his shackles in time to sail for England on July 13, 1918. In London he reported to Atlee Edwards who had been selected as Aviation Aide on the staff of Admiral Sims. 'Alphy' appears to have had no trouble with his sword.

As a result of the interview he was sent to Paris, in high hopes of being actively connected with the Northern Bombing Group in the field. Eddie McDonnell made superhuman efforts to bring this about, but there was p262nothing doing. An officer answering to Ames' description was needed at the Naval Aviation Headquarters in Paris. Thither he sadly wended his way while McDonnell and Harry Davison bade him good‑bye on their way to Italy. Harry reveals what might be called the human side of Lieutenant Ames in a couple of pastels in prose, to wit:

With the exception of two little episodes in France and England, I remember nothing of interest on the other side. Just after we landed in France, Alphy, Eddie McDonnell, and I were in a train compartment going from Havre to Paris. The train was very crowded, so some Belgian Red Cross nurses came in and sat down with us. We soon started up a conversation with them. After talking a while, I noticed that the prettiest one had fastened her gaze on Alphy. Finally she leaned over and touched his eyes with her hand and exclaimed that he has such wonderful eyes. No one but a woman had a right to such wonderful eyes, said she. Alphy blinked and stared out of the window.

The other episode happened in London. Alphy took me to a dance at the Grafton Galleries the night after the Armistice was signed. We knew nobody in the crowd, but this never stopped Alphy for a minute. About midnight I saw him suddenly wave to a girl on the other side of the room [Of course Alphy maintains the girl waved first]. She rushed over to him and they immediately began dancing. After half an hour or so, I got a chance to ask him who she was and where he had met her. He had never seen her before, he blandly replied, and had no idea what her name was. A perfectly nice girl, but completely fascinated, as I doped it. About one‑thirty in the morning I got tired of being the waiting bystander and told Alphy I was going home. He was still turning up the maximum revolutions. What a man!

Lieutenant Ames had a sterner side. Duty and he were twin brothers. In Paris he was in Operations under Lieutenant Fearing whom he considered 'a corker.' Yearning to shake that loose foot and be on his way, Allan concocted so many excellent reasons for sending him to the front that Fearing dubbed him 'the Bolshevist.' Persistence scored. The Operations section encountered delays in organizing p263itself which offered a valid excuse for Lieutenant Ames to obtain general travel orders that he might visit all the American naval air stations in France. This he did, making an extended tour before returning to Paris to report his observations. The effect upon the other members of the Unit whom he chanced to meet was very beneficial. The sight of 'Alphy' was enough to buck them up and to restore them to the best of spirits. Having passed along, as welcome as letters from home, he was sent to London, on August 24th, to shoot a few rays of sunshine into the headquarters at Grosvenor Gardens.

Of course he used those general travel orders to stop over at St. Inglevert and say howdy to Bob Lovett and his other friends, and then walked in on 'Di' Gates and the Dunkirk crowd. At this station he instigated a personally conducted visit to the British battle front. With him, in an official flivver, went 'Shorty' Smith and the naval doctor. They went through Poperinghe to Ypres where they were under shell fire and Alphy called it the best day he had enjoyed in the war. They saw a company of American doughboys going up to the trenches and watched British batteries in action.

On the morning I arrived at Dunkirk [he informs us] I was sitting in the C. O.'s office and 'Di' was signing some reports. There came a terrific roar as if several shells had arrived simultaneously. The building shook itself almost off its foundation and the few window panes that were left went A. W. O. L. My cap was spun around three or four times on my head. Nearly all the expensive filings in my back teeth were started. 'Di' never missed a stroke of his pen. I don't remember that he even looked up. When the tremors had subsided from my voice and knees, I asked, in what was meant to be a careless manner, how about this Dunkirk earthquake? Gates, the man of iron, replied that at ten o'clock every morning they exploded all the mines that had been swept up in the channels and collected. Nobody paid any attention to it.

All the hangars and buildings had been shot ragged with shell p264fire and bombs. One long-distance shell had dropped plunk in the middle of the station. When that happened I suppose 'Di' turned in his chair and said 'come in,' thinking that somebody had knocked at the door.

At our other stations I had heard of the splendid work he was doing at Dunkirk, and the same thing was told me by his own officers. There was a remarkably fine spirit among his personnel. I was proud of the fact that he was not only one of my friends but also one of the Unit.

He arranged it so I could cross to England in the 'duty destroyer' which carried mail and naval passengers between Dunkirk and Dover. It was a rough trip but a sadder experience awaited me in London. Bad news! No service at the front for me! I was anchored to the aviation outfit at Headquarters and there I stayed until the finish. Captain Cone and his staff moved from Paris a few days after I reported. After he was injured in a torpedo steamer between Holyhead and Dublin, Lieutenant Allen Edwards took his place. I was still under Lieutenant Fearing who took charge of what they called the 'Planning Section.' It was really another name for Operations. I assisted him and also developed the intelligence work in so far as it was of use to our office.

This brought me into personal contact with the staff officers of the Royal Air Force and with some of the people in the Admiralty. I shall never forget their courtesy and kindness and sincere endeavors to coöperate in every way possible. Knowing so much more of the game than we did, they were always patient and generous. I never did stop fidgeting to get to the front, but those months in London were very interesting, nevertheless.

It would be wrong to leave the impression that I stayed in one spot like a barnacle. There were little trips to break the routine. After a few days in London, for instance, I went out to Hendon and had a flight with Captain Hucks, R. A. F., in a DH‑10. He was the first English flier to loop the loop. In this flight of ours he tried a loop in a DH‑10. I stayed with it. Soon after this I had the pleasure of flying over London in a Handley-Page.

Afraid that I might get rusty for lack of practice, I was attached to a British pilot's school at Dartford, through the efforts of Charley Fuller. The field was only an hour from London so it was possible to run out there quite often. This was a bright spot p265of my period of duty in London. There were Camels, SE‑5's, DH‑4's, DH‑9's, and Avros, and I was allowed to fly any type of machine I liked and as long as I wanted to. The C. O., Major Clark, an Australian, and his officers couldn't have been more cordial to their own people.

I made one trip to Killingholme, Commander Kenneth Whiting's big station which was running like a clock. I had a good time with 'Lotta' Lawrence and Frank Lynch who were doing great work there. I visited Dunkirk and the Northern Bombing Group twice more. The first time was before 'Di' Gates was captured. This was not eventful. During the last visit, however, shortly before the Armistice, Captain Hanrahan very kindly let us have a Cadillac and we set out from his headquarters near Calais. The Germans had evacuated the Belgian coast and we went to Lille and Menin, then up to Bruges, Zeebrugge, and finally past the last Belgian guard on the road leading to Ghent, where we just escaped being made targets for a Hun machine‑gun.

At Zeebrugge it was fascinating to go out on the Mole with a British naval officer who had been in the show with Captain Carpenter and the Vindictive. Of all the stories of the war, this thrilled me most. It was a German squadron from this seaplane station which had shot down 'Al' Sturtevant. After seeing the fortifications and machine‑gun emplacements, it was marvelous to think that the British vessels had been able to make their landing and partly block the canal.

On October 4th, I called up 'Di' Gates from London and 'Shorty' Smith answered the phone. He told me 'Di' had gone out with a French Spad squadron and had been missing for several hours. I can truthfully say that I never wavered in my belief that the old Indian was going to come out of it alive. It looked pretty dark at the time, I will admit. The official report, of course, did not come in for several days. Meanwhile I called up Bob Lovett and other friends in the Northern Bombing Group. The Sunday following 'Di's' capture was the longest day I ever spent in my life while we waited in London for a message from France telling us the results of the investigation.

Several days after 'Di' disappeared, 'Ken' MacLeish came to London. He told me he was going to relieve Dave Ingalls who had been with an English squadron near Dunkirk. 'Ken' didn't know it, but he was on the last lap of his road to glory. And I p266didn't know it when we shook hands and said au revoir in London.

To be perfectly honest, I think that my contribution toward helping to win the war in London failed to amount to a hill of beans. I continued to be the most pestiferous 'Bolshevist' at naval aviation headquarters. It was a great satisfaction, however, to work directly with Fearing, Charlie Fuller, Roger Poor, and with Guggenheim, Ellsworth, Captain Cone, Atlee Edwards, and the rest of them.

The contribution of Lieutenant Allan Ames to the record of the Unit amounted to a good deal more than the 'hill of beans' at which he appraises it. In his Fitness Reports you will find him praised by his superior as 'an officer of exceptional ability, reliable, and thoroughly capable of any duty he may be called upon to perform.' More than he may have suspected, he was also a morale officer overseas, for wherever he went his personality, his enthusiasm, and his devotion to the task in hand left their imprint.3


The Author's Notes:

1 From the Fitness Reports, Navy Department:

Lieutenant (j.g.) Charles F. Beach

Period from 20 September to 30 September, 1918:

An excellent pilot and officer. Very careful and reliable. Made a very good record while attached to 218 Squadron, R. A. F., for six weeks on bomb raids over the lines. A student of Aeronautics and a good knowledge of mechanics.

Artemus L. Gates, Lt. R. F.

N. A. S. Dunkirk, France

Period from 5 September to 13 September, 1918:

Very good pilot, very capable.

G. de C. Chevalier, Lt. Cdr. U. S. N.,

N. A. Repair Base, Eastleigh, England

Period from 16 October, 1917, to 6 February, 1918:

Ensign Beach was appointed engineer officer of the station. Upon his arrival he knew little of the characteristics of French motors. He, however, applied himself and not only became master of his subject in a very short time but developed a group of mechanics who were excellent and able to handle any ordinary repairs to motors. All testing of seaplanes came under his jurisdiction as well as their assembly and the excellent work performed by his men in record time deserves mention.

G. C. Dichman, Lt. Cdr., U. S. N.

Commanding Moutchic-Lacanau

[decorative delimiter]

2 From the Fitness Reports, Navy Department:

Period from 16 October, 1917, to 6 February, 1918:

Ensign McIlwaine as chief Pilot has fulfilled all his duties in a most satisfactory manner. At the time of his arrival in Moutchic the majority of the pilots knew little of the theory of flight and might have been classed as 'aeroplane chauffeurs.' He took them in hand, and expended much energy in laying out courses for study for them, also lecturing to them. The ground and flying which he established were excellent.

G. C. Dichman, Lt. Comdr., U. S. N.

Commanding Moutchic-Lacanau

Period from 1 July to 30 September, 1918:

Has not come under my observation except for a very short period on special detail at Paris when he performed his duties in a very able manner. He was previously attached to active British Squadrons in the field for training as pilot. Is an exceptionally fine pilot.

D. C. Hanrahan, Captain

Commander Northern Bombing Group

[decorative delimiter]

3 From the Fitness Reports, Navy Department:

Lieutenant A. W. Ames

Period from 1 October to 19 November, 1918:

A very good and conscientious and capable officer.

Lieutenant Commander W. A. Edwards, U. S. N.

Aide for Aviation, Staff of Vice-Admiral W. S. Sims, U. S. N.

Period from 29 July to 30 September, 1918:

A very capable officer.

Lieutenant G. R. Fearing, U. S. N.

Planning Section, Headqtrs., Paris and London

Period from 27 April to 28 June, 1918:

Lieutenant Ames is an excellent pilot and is extremely conscientious and thorough in the performance of his duties.

Captain N. E. Irwin, U. S. N.

Director of Aviation

Period from 24 December, 1917, to 18 February, 1918:

The officer reported upon herewith, is one of exceptional ability, reliable, and thorough capable of any duty called upon to perform commensurate with his rank. Highly recommended for Foreign Service.

Wm. Masek, Lieut. U. S. N.

Commanding Naval Air Station,

Bay Shore, L. I.


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Page updated: 11 Sep 13