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mhaselden

11 Sqn Brisfit Markings Sep-Nov 1918?

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****Changes the Topic Title because of information provided/discovered that help with many of my previous questions.  I'm retaining the original posts for reference but changing the focus onto aircraft markings****

 

This is more "real aviation" than aircraft modelling, but given the focus on WWI I thought it better to post here in hopes one of the cognoscenti here might be able to help.

 

I recently discovered that a relative, James Gamble (a cousin of my Grandmother), served in the RFC and RAF 1915-1918.  The very limited records I've found contain the following:

 

Service Number:  3594

Enlistment Date:  4 Feb 1915

Ranks and Promotions:

  • 4 Feb 15 - 2/am (presume that's Airman Second Class?)
  • 1 Jun 16 - 1/am (presume that's Airman First Class?)
  • 1 Jul 16 - Acting Cpl
  • 1 Oct 16 - Cpl (substantive)
  • 1 Jan 17 - Acting Sgt
  • 1 Jul 17 - Sgt (substantive)
  • 1 Apr 18 - Transferred to RAF as "Sergt. Mech"

Trade Classification:  Initially "Turner" but then he remustered from Sgt Mech to Sgt Pilot on 30 June 1918.

Postings:

  • 31 May 18 - from 2 Group to 8 TS (presumably 8 Training Squadron at Witney)
  • 3 Jul 18 - from 8 TS to 1 FS (presumably 1 Flying School at Farnborough)
  • 13 Jul 18 - from 1 FS to 1 SAG (R) (presumably 1 School of Air Gunnery)
  • 7 Sep 18 - from 1 SAG (R) to 11 Sqn (embarked to France 7 Sep 18, at which time I believe 11 Sqn was flying Bristol Fighters)
  • 31 Jul 19 - from 11 Sqn to RAF Depot P See (?)
  • 20 Sep 19 - from RAF Depot P See (?) to RAF Halton
  • 18 Oct 19 - Transferred to RAF E Reserve
  • 9 Apr 21 - Recalled from Reserve
  • 12 Apr 21 - From E Reserve to Henlow Reserve Pool
  • 4 Jun 21 - Transferred to RAF E Reserve
  • 3 Feb 23 - Discharged

 

I'm keen to learn more about where he served.  Sadly, I can find nothing for the period 4 Feb 15 thru 31 May 18 in terms of units or locations but his service was presumably all in the UK because the only embarkation record is for his posting to 11 Sqn on 7 Sep 18. 

 

Clearly the 11 Sqn ORB would be a good place to start (if anybody has a digital copy for the period of his service with 11 Sqn I'd be hugely grateful!).  I believe the Sqn was based at Le Quesnoy at the time James Gamble joined the Sqn.  From there, the Sqn moved to Vert Galand on 19 Sep 1918, Mory on 15 Oct 1918 and then Bethencourt on 1 Nov 1918.

 

Also, can anyone advise what and where RAF Depot P See might have been? 

 

Any and all insights would be most welcome.

 

Many thanks,
Mark

Edited by mhaselden

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Probably not a lot of help but:

 

2a/m and 1a/m are Air Mechanic Second Class/First Class.

I think 1 FS is No 1 Fighting School at RAF Turnberry.

There were several units that might be referred to as '1 School of Aerial Gunnery", see this list. I'ld take a guess that it might possibly be Hythe, with the 'R' in brackets standing for 'Romney'.

Yes, 11 Sqn flew Bristol Fighters. Its bases during this period were:

 

At 7 Sep 18 - Le Quesnoy

19 Sep 18 - Vert Galand

15 Oct 18 - Mory

1 Nov 18 - Bethencourt

18 Nov 18 - Aulnoye

19 Dec 18 - Nivelles

20 May 19 - Spich

 

I'm afraid I've no idea about RAF Depot P See. Sgt Gamble would have arrived at Halton about the time that No 1 School of Technical Training moved there from Cranwell, though it was a training school for mechanics from 1916.

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Actually, that's a great amount of help.  I had the airfield assignments up to and including Bethancourt but not beyond.  The details about correct rank definitions is also helpful, as is the additional details on his assignments.

 

I did find one pointer to an accident he was involved in on 17 October 1917 when the engine of his Bristol Fighter (serial F6131) failed and he force-landed near Inchy during a recce mission to Le Cateau.  His observer on this occasion was Sgt Mech E C Taylor.  Sadly, photos of 11 Sqn Bristol Fighters seem pretty thin on the ground so it's tough to know how this specific airframe was marked.

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So...having changed the topic title, I was wondering if anyone out there has info on 11 Sqn markings during the late WW1 period so that I might build a model of Bristol F.2B F6131 that my relative flew on 17 October 1918? 

 

The few photos I've seen online for 11 Sqn Brisfits show standard PC10/natural linen for the fabric areas and national markings with white surrounds for the upper wing and fuselage roundels.  The key question is whether 11 Sqn retained the unit markings seen on photos taken in 1917 such as these below into late 1918:

 

Bristol+F2.B+Brisfit.jpg

 

ww3_2707450c.jpg

 

Clearly, there are differences between these 2 airframes possibly regarding the colour of the engine cowling but definitely in terms of airframe identification (one having an individual letter and the other a number).  Are there any references that might explain the change from numbers to letters (or vice-versa) and whether the Sqn markings of 2 diagonal stripes were continued into late 1918? 

 

Any info/suggestions would be gratefully received. 

 

Many thanks,
Mark

Edited by mhaselden

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From Les Rogers' "British Aviation Squadron Markings of WW1": 11 Sqn used the inward sloping white bars from 26 Aug 17 until 22 March 18. They were removed as a security measure in response to the German offensive of 21 Mar 18, and there are (undated) photos in the book of F2Bs with either a single white letter or number behind the roundel and no squadron marking. "Some Bristols were also marked on the centre section", though unsurprisingly none of the photos were taken from an angle that would show this.

 

E2586 - '6'

E2428 - 'Y'

Serials not visible - 'W' and '4'. In the same photo as 'W' is an F2B with a serial I can't quite make out but it's 'F??0?'

 

A Flight used 1-6; B Flight A-F and C Flight U-Z.  The flights were also distinguished by white, red and blue wheel covers, respectively.

 

One other thing: serial number presentation tended to vary between manufacturers - which might not be an issue, as I think all Falcon-engined F2Bs (which 11 Sqn's were) were built by Bristol, not another company. The problem is that F6131 wasn't, at least not exactly. The serial number doesn't belong to any contract: the aircraft was a rebuild, performed by an RAF depot.

 

Edited by AWFK10
Additional info

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On ‎18‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 2:56 PM, mhaselden said:

12 Apr 21 - From E Reserve to Henlow Reserve Pool

He was there when my Grandad was, Flt Sgt Airframes, Handley Page V 1500s for part of his time there, he was the NCO I/C scrapping them at Henlow. He also went to Hythe school of Gunnery but I suppose nearly everyone did.

That was interesting about No8 TS Witney .I take it that's the Witney near Brize Norton ,think that would have been on the Burford Road, where Smiths Instruments ended up later. They had aircraft there at some point. Some thing to do with British Interrupter gear development for firing though the propeller arc, had tie down pans for ground range firing.

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2 hours ago, Dave Fleming said:

Don't have a copy, but this would be my first place to look. I do have the specials and can look later.

 

https://www.windsockdatafilespecials.co.uk/115-bristol-fighter-226-p.asp

 

Thanks Dave.  I may look into getting that.  If you find anything in the specials, please do let me know.

 

 

1 hour ago, AWFK10 said:

From Les Rogers' "British Aviation Squadron Markings of WW1": 11 Sqn used the inward sloping white bars from 26 Aug 17 until 22 March 18. They were removed as a security measure in response to the German offensive of 21 Mar 18, and there are (undated) photos in the book of F2Bs with either a single white letter or number behind the roundel and no squadron marking. "Some Bristols were also marked on the centre section", though unsurprisingly none of the photos were taken from an angle that would show this.

 

E2586 - '6'

E2428 - 'Y'

Serials not visible - 'W' and '4'. In the same photo as 'W' is an F2B with a serial I can't quite make out but it's 'F??0?'

 

A Flight used 1-6; B Flight A-F and C Flight U-Z.  The flights were also distinguished by white, red and blue wheel covers, respectively.

 

One other thing: serial number presentation tended to vary between manufacturers - which might not be an issue, as I think all Falcon-engined F2Bs (which 11 Sqn's were) were built by Bristol, not another company. The problem is that F6131 wasn't, at least not exactly. The serial number doesn't belong to any contract: the aircraft was a rebuild, performed by an RAF depot.

 

 

Thanks for those details AWFK10.  Who'da thunked that the Sqn would employ single letter and single number identifiers at the same time.  I'd have put money on it being one or the other (which means I'd have lost some dosh, I s'pose).  I'll probably have to dig out the Operations Record Book to see if it has any clues as to the flight to which James Gamble was assigned, although that may be a long shot.  I may just have to settle for a plain-Jane Brisfit with just the serial number...which leads to the next interesting piece of info you provided.  I'd seen reports that F6131 was a rebuild so presumably the marking of the serial number is open to debate.  Military regularity might suggest the Sqn would ensure all its aircraft were marked the same way but we all know that simply isn't the case, certainly not in operational environments.

 

 

56 minutes ago, bzn20 said:

He was there when my Grandad was, Flt Sgt Airframes, Handley Page V 1500s for part of his time there, he was the NCO I/C scrapping them at Henlow. He also went to Hythe school of Gunnery but I suppose nearly everyone did.

That was interesting about No8 TS Witney .I take it that's the Witney near Brize Norton ,think that would have been on the Burford Road, where Smiths Instruments ended up later. They had aircraft there at some point. Some thing to do with British Interrupter gear development for firing though the propeller arc, had tie down pans for ground range firing.

 

Small world, huh?  I do hope to uncover more details of his life but, sadly, we've lost touch with that side of the family.  James' brother, George, was in the Rifle Brigade during WW1, serving first in France and then Salonika.  He enlisted on 2 Sep 14 and rose through the ranks to Sgt before being selected for commissioning which duly happened in July 1917 (not bad for a lad born in a 2-up/2-down in the industrial northwest of England).  He went back to France in Aug 17 but lost his life on 24 Sep during an attack by German soldiers on his trench.  We're just coming up to the centenary of his death.  I'm just glad I found out these details about my relatives (my great-grandmother was a sister to William Gamble, father of James and George). 

 

 

Thanks all for the inputs gents.  Great info as always.  I truly appreciate all the insights...and it makes me glad I focus on WW2 'cos research into 1914-1918 is far more difficult (IMHO).


Cheers,
Mark

Edited by mhaselden

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Just a couple of final dumb questions on this topic (assuming there are no further inputs on markings)...is the Eduard 1/48 kit the best around in that scale?  I believe Revell reboxed it with markings that could be pretty easily modified to represent my imaginings of how F6131 might have looked.  Are there any major gotchas with the kit?

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I think that the Revell/Eduard kit is probably the best kit there is of the Brisfit in 1/48. The difference with the Revell version is that you don't get the PE fret that Eduard supply but other than that it is the same beastie. Can't say I recall any headaches at all with the two Eduard Brisfits I built.

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Thanks Beardie.  That's what I figured.  I'd really like to try the WNW kit but am reluctant to outlay that kind of money when the markings I want to depict (a) are rather boring and (b) involve more speculation than fact. 

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Did you know that his AIR 76 ('officers' record - though he was a Sgt pilot) shows a move from 1 FS of F to  109 Sqn on 13th July 1918?

 

'RAF Dep See' is RAF Depot Section by the way. Can't recall what 1 FS of F is but it has a North West Area annotation next to it on his card.

 

Edit: he  has a second set of 'officer' records, thus:

 

Fit as pilot 9 November 1917

1 School of Aeronautics, Reading 24 November 1917

24 TS Netheravon 21 January 1918

8 TS Netheravon 13 February 1918

No.1 Fighting School Turnberry 4 July 1918

No.1 (Observers) School of Air Gunnery (Hythe if memory serves) 14 July 1918

to BEF 7 September 1918

 

Edited by Sabrejet

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15 hours ago, Sabrejet said:

Did you know that his AIR 76 ('officers' record - though he was a Sgt pilot) shows a move from 1 FS of F to  109 Sqn on 13th July 1918?

 

'RAF Dep See' is RAF Depot Section by the way. Can't recall what 1 FS of F is but it has a North West Area annotation next to it on his card.

 

Edit: he  has a second set of 'officer' records, thus:

 

Fit as pilot 9 November 1917

1 School of Aeronautics, Reading 24 November 1917

24 TS Netheravon 21 January 1918

8 TS Netheravon 13 February 1918

No.1 Fighting School Turnberry 4 July 1918

No.1 (Observers) School of Air Gunnery (Hythe if memory serves) 14 July 1918

to BEF 7 September 1918

 

 

I wasn't aware of this second set of records.  Thanks so much for pointing me at them.  It certainly helps add some detail missing from the other records.  More to follow once I've had chance to see the records for myself.

 

Cheers,
Mark

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I've had a look and corrected a few unit designations (e.g. 1 SofA was 1 SoMA by the time your man was there etc), and this is the gist of all three sets of records, which generally agree:

 

James Gamble, b. St Helens 23 September 1894

Civilian occupation – fitter & turner

 

Enlisted in RFC 4 February 1915, aged 20 yrs and 5 months, engagement 4 years ‘C’, 4 years in Reserve with rank 2/AM, service no. 3594 as turner.

 

appointed 1/AM 1 June 1915
appointed a/Cpl 1 July 1916
Promoted Cpl 1 October 1916
appointed a/Sgt 1 January 1917
Promoted Sgt 1 July 1917
Graded fit as pilot 9 November 1917

 

To 1 School of Military Aeronautics, Reading 24 November 1917

 

To 24 Training Sqn, Netheravon 21 January 1918

 

To 8 Training Sqn, Netheravon 13 February 1918  

 

Transferred to RAF as Sgt Mech 1 April 1918

 

8 TS moved to Witney 1 April 1918 under 21 Wing    

 

HQ (T) 2 Gp, Oxford to 8 TS 31 May 1918 (auth 21 Wing) – I think this is just a paperwork catch-up showing him now with 8 TS which came under 21 Wing after its move to Witney (2 (T) Gp responsible for units in South Eastern Area)

 

Remustered as pilot (to Sergeant Tech) 30 June 1918 (probably the date on which he gained his wings)

 

To No.1 Fighting School, Turnberry 3 July 1918 (or 4 July)

 

To 1 (Observers) School of Aerial Gunnery, Hythe 15 July 1918 (mention of 109 Sqn on this date - 109 Sqn with DH.9 was at Lake Down, but disbanded on 19 August; also “1 SAG (R)", which seems to be confusion of 1 (O) SAG): it's possible that he was with 109 Sqn until it disbanded, but I guess we'll never know.

 

To 11 Sqn 7 September 1918 at Le Quesnoy (Bristol F.2b)
- moved to Vert Galand 19 September 1918
- moved to Mory 15 October 1918
- moved to Bethencourt 1 November 1918
- moved to Aulnoye 18 November 1918
- moved to Nivelles 19 December 1918
- moved to Spich 20 May 1919

 

To RAF Depot, Halton 31 July 1919 upon return from France

 

Medical Board – Awd GCB 1 August 1919 (I should know what this means but can't remember :()

 

To Dispersal Centre Halton 20 September 1919

 

To Reserve 18 October 1919 as pilot, Supr

 

To Class E Reserve 4 June 1921

 

Recalled from Reserve 9 April 1921 and to Henlow Reserve Pool 12 April 1921

 

Discharged 3 February 1923 – total service 8 years, with 4 years 311 days towards pension.
 

Edited by Sabrejet

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Hi Sabrejet,

 

Any chance you could ping me the reference for his second set of "officer" records?  I've found his airman's record (AiR 79/46) and the officer record that mentions the posting to 109 Sqn (AIR 76/175/22).  I can find no reference to his grading as fit for pilot training or the Aeronautical School reference etc. 

 

Many thanks,
Mark

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AIR 76/175/23. He's shown as 'JA' but his service number etc is corrrect and the 'A' is crossed out on the header card.

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Brilliant!  Thanks for all this info.  I'd have never thought of looking in the officers' files, nor that his file might be mis-titled.  Truly appreciate all your help with my quest.

 

Cheers,

Mark

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Mark,

 

I've been thinking about that posting to No.1 (Observers) School of Air Gunnery and it doesn't make sense. As its title suggests, No.1 (O) SAG's function was to train observers and so yes if he'd been a Brisfit observer he'd have gone there, but rare for a pilot. The Turnberry course was the pilot equivalent of Hythe for observers.

 

It's possible that he might have gone to Hythe as one of the School's permanent staff, but his experience at that time seems to put this in doubt.

 

It would therefore make more sense to imagine him going to 109 Squadron during its working-up phase, to gain experience prior to going to the front. I have a copy of the log book of another 109 Sqn pilot at this time and his path through training is similar to Gamble's. This man flew DH.4, DH.6 and DH.9 with 109 Sqn and when it was disbanded he was posted to the BEF with 49 Sqn on DH.9s. I can easily imagine that others might have been re-routed to BF's after serving on 109.

 

Just a thought.

 

On another path, have you enquired with the RAF Museum for photos of 11 Sqn BF's? They have a VERY extensive photo library and a very good cataloguing system. They will usually send you a PDF breakdown of their photo holdings with a thumbnail of each relevant photo.

 

I'd also ask the RAFM for Gamble's casualty form: even airmen who survived the War had a casualty form, and it's often worth a look. Ditto his medical record if it exists.

 

SJ

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7 hours ago, Sabrejet said:

Mark,

 

I've been thinking about that posting to No.1 (Observers) School of Air Gunnery and it doesn't make sense. As its title suggests, No.1 (O) SAG's function was to train observers and so yes if he'd been a Brisfit observer he'd have gone there, but rare for a pilot. The Turnberry course was the pilot equivalent of Hythe for observers.

 

It's possible that he might have gone to Hythe as one of the School's permanent staff, but his experience at that time seems to put this in doubt.

 

It would therefore make more sense to imagine him going to 109 Squadron during its working-up phase, to gain experience prior to going to the front. I have a copy of the log book of another 109 Sqn pilot at this time and his path through training is similar to Gamble's. This man flew DH.4, DH.6 and DH.9 with 109 Sqn and when it was disbanded he was posted to the BEF with 49 Sqn on DH.9s. I can easily imagine that others might have been re-routed to BF's after serving on 109.

 

Just a thought.

 

On another path, have you enquired with the RAF Museum for photos of 11 Sqn BF's? They have a VERY extensive photo library and a very good cataloguing system. They will usually send you a PDF breakdown of their photo holdings with a thumbnail of each relevant photo.

 

I'd also ask the RAFM for Gamble's casualty form: even airmen who survived the War had a casualty form, and it's often worth a look. Ditto his medical record if it exists.

 

SJ

 

Hi SJ,

 

Yeah, I pondered the purpose in James being posted to the Observers' School of Gunnery.  The only rationale I could come up with was to team up pilot/observer crews but, AFAIK, this was a period before the establishment of such regular pairings.  It's entirely possible that the (O) SofAG entry was a clerical error. 

 

I may try to dig out the Operations Record Books for 109 and 11 Sqns in case they include any info about new pilot arrivals or perhaps flight allocations. 

 

Thanks for the suggestion about RAFM.  I'll give them a try, too...for both documentation and photos.

 

Kind regards,
Mark

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Mark,

 

Found a photo of an 11 Sqn Brisfit in the Windsock book (late 1918/1919): standard markings with just a number on the fuselage. I will post it later on today.

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Oh that's just fantastic!  Thank you, SJ.  Great pic showing specific configuration for an 11 Sqn machine.  Agree with the assessment about the overwing machine gun.  Almost need a stepladder to get up there and change it!

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