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106 Squadron

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    Posted: 03 Sep 2009 at 16:45

106 SQUADRON RFC/RAF 1917-1919

106 Squadron was formed from an element of 49 Training Squadron at Spittelgate in Lincolnshire on 23 September 1917. It was intended that the squadron should be equipped with light bombers as part of the proposed expansion of the Royal Flying Corps, which would have been facilitated by the anticipated increase in aircraft production following the introduction of innovations devised by the Ministry of Munitions. Originally these squadrons were to be equipped with the Geoffrey de Havilland designed DH4, but this was supplanted on the production lines by a revised design called the DH9. The DH9 featured a different cockpit layout from the DH4, with the pilot’s cockpit being moved behind the main fuel tank to be next to the gunner’s cockpit. This was an attempt to improve communication between the crew. The other main difference between the DH4 and DH9 was that the former could be fitted with a variety of different engines, whereas the latter was to be fitted with a Siddeley-Deasy 300-hp development of the 200-hp BHP engine. In the event production difficulties, particularly relating to the casting of the aluminum block, prevented the Siddeley-Deasy engine from attaining much more than 230 hp and the underdeveloped engine suffered chronic unreliability. Delays in setting up the National Aircraft Factories and an interruption in the supply of aircraft grade spruce, caused by competition from American aircraft manufacturers and ‘unrestricted warfare’ by U-boats, further restricted the supplies of the DH9.

 

On 3 October 1917 106 squadron moved to Weyhill, near Andover, to join 36 Wing and began to receive a few DH4 bombers for training. Unfortunately the Squadron suffered its first fatality when B5472  (or possibly B5492) broke up in the air on 30 January 1918 as the pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas Le Messurier, was spinning out of a loop.

 

By April 1918 the promised DH9 bombers had still not arrived and it was decided to move 106 Squadron to Ireland. Another Andover based light bomber squadron, 105, was selected to move to Ireland also. This new posting involved a change in role to that of Army co-operation reconnaissance and communication duties, in effect a policing role operating in support of the civil powers against the Irish Republican movement. For this role 106 Squadron was to be equipped with the RAF RE8.

 

These began to arrive in April 1918 and the two squadrons were fully re-equipped by late May.  The changeover was marked by two fatal accidents, the first of which may well be attributable to ‘high jinks’. Lieutenant Henry Morley Whitcut, 5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment & RAF, was killed while piloting DH4 B5489 on 25 April. Also killed in the crash were Second Lieutenant George Jamieson Downey, 3rd attached 11th Battalion Kings Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, and Second Lieutenant Frank Arnold Richardson, attached to the 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment. Presumably the two army officers were both passengers in the gunner's cockpit and were indulging in ‘joy-riding’. Two days later an RE8 crashed. This was C2424 piloted by 26 year old Lieutenant Norman Charles Kearney, East Surrey Regiment & RAF, from Wimbledon.

 

 

 

The change in role resulted in some posting in and out of personnel. Major EAB Rice arrived in May to take over as commanding officer. Rice had been recovering from a wound sustained while serving with 55 Squadron, Independent Force. He was to stay with 106 Squadron until 22 November 1918. Among those posted out was Roy Edward Dodds, an American born in Buffalo New York on 19 September 1891. Dodds had joined the RFC in Canada in 1917, traveled to Britain, arriving on 24 December 1917, and was commissioned on the General List attached RFC. After a brief period with 106, Dodds was posted to the BEF and arrived at DH9 equipped 103 Squadron on 26 May 1918. Dodds went on to claim seven aircraft ‘out of control’, was recommended for the DFC on 24 October 1918, with the award  ‘gazetted’ on 8 February 1919.

 

Prior to going to Ireland just over a week (21 May to 30 May 1918) was spent at Ayr, presumably to attend a course at No 1 School of Aerial Fighting prior to going 'on active service' in Ireland.  No 1 School was in the process of moving to Turnberry from 11 May. This was necessary due to the decision to expand the School to offer courses for two-seater crews. 106 Squadron aircrew were probably among the first to undertake this new course.

 

On 30 May the 105 Squadron arrived at Omagh and 106 Squadron arrived at Fermoy. Fermoy was one of a number of airfields the sites for which had been selected by Major Sholto Douglas during the early summer of 1917.  These were to house Training Depot Stations to facilitate the planned expansion of the Royal Flying Corps. Detachments of 106 Squadron were sent from Fermoy to Athlone between January and October 1919, to Birr between August and September 1919, and again in October, and to Oranmore. Offensive air patrols were not mounted despite the original plans and 106 Squadron concentrated on training. This was largely uneventful, though in October 1918 a fierce gale blew across the aerodrome at Fermoy and destroyed a number of aircraft, including some RE8 s. One of these was C2657. On Sunday 9 March 1919 Bristol Fighter F4352 is recorded as having collided with a cow and force landed in a bog known as ‘The Marsh’, near Skibereen in County Cork. The event was reported in “The Cork Examainer.”

 

The changing situation in Europe allowed 105 Squadron to be re-equipped with Bristol Fighters in December 1918 and 106 Squadron followed in January 1919. These aircraft were retained until disbandment. During the latter half of 1919 a "Defence of Ireland Scheme" was formulated based on two Army co-operation squadrons. Instead of using any of the five squadrons already in Ireland cadres of two squadrons with distinguished wartime service were sent to Ireland in August 1919. From then on 106 Squadron, together with the other four existing squadrons, was run down. Aircraft and personnel were either transferred to the two new Squadrons or were returned to England. Some 106 Squadron aircraft were transferred to 2 Squadron, which was formed at Oranmore on 1 February 1920. This may explain why there are records of Bristol Fighters serving with 106 Squadron in 1920 and 1921 despite the fact that the squadron officially disbanded on 8 October 1919.

 

Aircraft operated by 106 Squadron include :

 

Type

Serial

Notes

AMC DH4

B5472

Built by Vulcan Motor and Engineering Company Ltd., Southport

AMC DH4

B5489

Built by Vulcan Motor and Engineering Company Ltd., Southport

AMCLOTTERY GRANT FOR JET AGE MUSEUM  DH4

B5492

Built by Vulcan Motor and Engineering Company Ltd., Southport

RAF RE8

C2424

Built by the Daimler Company Ltd, Coventry

RAF RE8

C2657

Built by the Daimler Company Ltd., Coventry

RAF RE8

D6816

Built by Coventry Ordnance Works Ltd.

RAF RE8

E57

Built by Siddeley-Deasy Motor Company Ltd., Coventry

Bristol F2B Fighter

E2553

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd.

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4352

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd.

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4352

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd.

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4373

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd. Arrived 1920

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4380

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd. Arrived in 1921 from 105 Squadron

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4479

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd. Arrived 1920

Bristol F2B Fighter

F4796

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd.

Bristol F2B Fighter

H1441

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd. Arrived 1920 from 105 Squadron, moved to 2 Squadron December 1920 – 1921

Bristol F2B Fighter

H1442

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd. Arrived 1920

Bristol F2B Fighter

H1488

Built by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources :

Aeroplanes of the Royal Aircraft Factory, Paul R Hare (Crowood)

 

A History of the RAF and USNAS in Ireland 1913-1923, Karl Hayes (Irish Air Letter) 1988 (ISBN 0 9508231 1 2)

 

AirCo : The Aircraft Manufacturing Company, Mick Davis (Crowood)

 

Airmen Died in the Great War 1914-1918            , Chris Hobson

 

Bristol F2B fighter : King of Two- Seaters, Chaz Bowyer (Ian Allan)

 

British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson (PSL) 1979

 

Flying Units of the RAF : The Ancestry, formation, disbandment of all flying units from 1913, Alan Lake, (Airlife) 1999

 

RAF Aircraft Serials J1-J9999 and WW1 Survivors, Air-Britain

 

RAF Squadrons : A Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of All RAF Squadrons and Their Antecedents Since 1912, Wing Commander CG Jefford (Airlife) 1988

 

The View from Above, Donal McCanon

 

Years of Combat, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside

 

Air-Britain eGroup

 

Cross & Cockade eGroup

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brasilmum View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brasilmum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Apr 2010 at 20:33
Lt Henry Whitcut
 
Nick
 
I have been looking through my grandfathers old photo album and found a picture of Lt Whitcut in the DH4 on the fatal day. My grandfather has written underneath 'DH4 going up with Lt Whitcut on it's last trip'
My grandfather was a keen photographer and took quite a few photos starting 1918.
 
Regards
 
Sian
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