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Balloonatics Over Cambrai

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NickForder View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 09:19

From WW1 Discussion List :

I am doing some research and writing on training and operation of the RFC Balloon Observation officers, especially during the latter half of 1917. My particular interest is just how the balloon companies attached to the III Corps and IV  Corps planned and executed one of the fastest and deepest penetrations of the German lines during WW I. At this moment I don’t even have the identification of the balloon groups attached to the Corps.

 

In particular, I’m interested in finding out what procedures were implemented to compliment the artillery plan of unregistered opening barrage (to achiever surprise) and then how balloon companies, normally  located perhaps a mile behind the front line, were moved forward during the initial phases of the battle where BEF troops in some sectors advanced over five miles. The demands on the Balloon Observation organization must have been substantial. Added to the complexity, rapid forward movement, and a significant use of tanks there was a considerable snow fall after the second day.

 

At a more detailed level, what was the target identification protocols that were used? I assume that land lines were direct from the balloon observation officer, through balloon company base, to the artillery gunnery officer to which the balloon company was attached. Were the tank regiment commanders connected to the balloon observation officers?

 

References and specific comments would be appreciated.

 

Carl Hunter

deraedt@XSALL.NL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 14:09

The only WWI USMC balloon unit listed in McClellan's THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS IN THE WORLD WAR is the "Balloon Company, Marine Barracks, Quantico Va." with 3 N-9 and R-6 seaplanes and 4 Caquot and kite balloons" on strength as of November 11, 1918.

 

McClellan also notes that Marines received training in observation balloons after the US entered the war in 1917, and that 2 officers and 10 enlisted men were sent to the Army balloon school at St. Louis, Mo, and later to Omaha Nebr. for training.

 

Chapter XXI "Aviation"

 

McClellan's book can be downloaded from Internet Archive:

 

http://www.archive.org/details/unitedstatesmari00unit

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 14:10
Further from the list "

Aerial observation could not be increased before the attack started. More balloons would have given the game away. On the day, the weather was pretty awful to begin with. Aircraft had a difficult time; balloon observers would have been equally hampered.

 

Bad weather continued to cause problems throughout the subsequent campaign.

 

The build-up to the German attacks was observed in both the northern and southern sectors. Appropriate actions were taken in the north, which stopped the German attack there. Inappropriate measures were taken in the south, which enabled the Germans to succeed there.

 

The amount of ground captured by the Germans in the south was nowhere near as much as the British captured in their initial attacks. The British abandoned the forward slopes of Flesquireres' ridge, as they had planned to do before the German assault was launched. The British, however, retained the ground of tactical importance (GTI), which was the high ground of the ridge itself in the area of Flesquieres.

Robert"

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