32 Squadron RAF
No 32 Squadron RAF 1918 cont'd
September - November 1918 cont'd
On 3 September on a routine patrol over the lines the squadron was taken by surprise by a German formation which attacked Capt. Flynn's flight. Capt. Flynn and 2nd Lt. Pacey were killed in action. Capt. Jerry Flynn, a flight commander at 18, was a very popular member of the Squadron and his demise (being shot down in flames) had a profound effect on morale. His close friend and fellow flight commander Wilf Green was deeply affected and after one further patrol went to pieces and was sent home (he had served nearly 10 months with the squadron).
The following day, as part of the 1st and 3rd Army offensive against the Drocourt-Queant Switch (Hindenburg Line), IX Brigade day bomber squadrons attacked Valenciennes, Douai and Cambrai stations escorted by 32 and 62 Sqns; in fierce fighting nine enemy aircraft were claimed destroyed and seven OOC with seven British losses. Lt. Hale claimed a Fokker DVII destroyed and another OOC. Capt. Green and Lt. Carson each claimed EA OOC. A further seven aircraft were claimed by 62 Sqn.
On 6 September Lt. Rogers went on an individual morning patrol to look for reconnaissance aircraft. At 20,000 ft he found one, a Rumpler C, which having climbed to 21,000 ft he eventually brought down OOC East of Roisel. In the afternoon the squadron was on bomber escort again and was attacked by 6 EA, engaging these from above at 14,000 ft Lt.s Rogers and Lawson each claimed a Fokker DVII destroyed over Holnon (West of St Quentin). 2nd Lt. Bowen (USAS) was brought down and captured but died of wounds.
Poor weather inhibited flying from 7 to 13 September and there was little enemy activity.
Hale, Reese, Lawson, Maj Russell (CO), Callender, Rogers, McBean
(© Earl Rogers from the collection of Capt. Bogart Rogers RAF)
On 16 September the squadron conducted an early morning patrol. Later Lt. Rogers and two colleagues went off looking for two-seaters, taking an hour to climb to 20,000 ft, but found none. In the afternoon the squadron repeated the morning's offensive patrol but this time encountered an enemy formation of Fokkers high above them. After a lot of manoeuvring the stand off between the two formations was broken by another British formation arriving and unwittingly presenting themselves as a target. The Germans dived on this formation which allowed 32 Sqn to get above them and in turn dive to join the ensuing scrap. Lt. Hale claimed a Fokker DVII destroyed over Brunemont and Capt. Callender and Lt.s Rogers and Lawson each claimed Fokkers OOC over Sancourt and Marquion (NW of Cambrai).
On 24 September an afternoon escort for a returning bombing raid tangled with about 30 EA which had attacked the bombers. Eight Fokker DVIIs were claimed OOC, Capt. Callender claiming two. Lt. Atkinson's aircraft was shot up and crashed.
On 27 September 32 Sqn was escorting bombers (27 Sqn) to bomb Emerchicourt aerodrome when they were attacked by 15 EA (Jasta 5). Lt. Rogers claimed one Fokker DVII destroyed in flames, Lt. Lawson destroyed two in flames, one being Ltn Fritz Rumey who's top wing hit Lawson's undercarriage. Rumey attempted to parachute unsuccessfully (1). Lt.s Tancock and MacBean each claimed one EA OOC. In the afternoon a further escort patrol was conducted and they met the returning bombers in close formation with 62 Sqn in escort, pursued by some 40 EA. In the ensuing combats Lt. Hale claimed a Fokker DVII destroyed and a further two OOC over Cambrai. 2nd Lt. Cawley was credited with one EA OOC but was brought down and taken prisoner.
32 Sqn SE5as possibly at Pronville (serials no.s & flt markings removed by censor & here retouched); Photo public domain
Poor weather for much of October (6-26) reduced flying and few enemy aircraft were encountered. The squadron moved to Pronville (West of Cambrai) on 27 October, a desolate place near the old German trenches. There was a lot of war debris around including mines and booby traps. The aerodrome was described by Lt. Rogers as "a bumpy little field". They were accommodated under canvas.
On 30 October 14 SE5as of 32 Sqn escorted 14 DH9s of 49 Sqn to bomb St Denis near Mons. The formation was attacked over Ghislaine by 30 Fokkers including Jasta B (2). Capt. Veitch claimed 1 EA destroyed and Lt.s Carson and Spicer each claimed an EA OOC. Capt. Callender and Lt. Farquhar were killed and Lt. Amory brought down and taken prisoner. Callender's death was a sad loss of an experienced pilot with 8 Victories to his name.
The Squadron's last casualties were on 1 November. On an escort mission 9 SE5as encountered 30 Fokker DVIIs over Valenciennes. Lt.s Burden and Wilson (Can) were killed in action. Capt. Veitch claimed a Fokker DVII destroyed and another OOC, Lt.s Carson and Rogers each claimed a Fokker DVII OOC in this action. These were the last claims by the squadron.
On 2 November a large part of the squadron was down with flu and reduced to nine pilots and seven aircraft. The squadron had moved the day before to La Brayelle, West of Douai (former home of Richthofen's Jasta 11). It remained there until the Armistice was signed, and had been due to escort a raid on Charleroi on the 11th November.
On 16 November the squadron moved to the well established aerodrome at Izel-le-Hameau NW of Arras.
Note: EA = enemy aircraft; USAS = Unites States Air Service
I am very grateful to Earl Rogers (co-editor of "A Yankee Ace in the RAF") for permitting me to use a number of photos from his father Bogart Rogers' collection.
(1) The Jasta War Chronology by Franks, Bailey & Duiven
(2) Airfields and Airmen Arras by Mike O'Connor, p.61