Lille Junction – May 1917

Lee-Pub2

 

Mapdate: Sunday 20th of May, 1917
Maptime: 05:00AM

Weather Report:

  • Temperature: 13° C / 55°F
  • Wind: 3Bft / 3-5m/s / 10-16ft/s
  • Direction: WSW (247°)
  • Clear Sky with ground fog

 

German Luftstreitkraefte

  • Jasta 28, Airfield Wasquehale
    4x Albatros D.III
  • Jasta 30, Airfield Phalempin
    8x Albatros D.III
    8x Albatros D.II

Orders for German Luftstreitkraefte

  • Intercept enemy 2-Seater, defend railroad facilities near Lille.

 

Royal Flying Corps

  • No. 46 Sqn, Airfield La Gorgue
    10x Sopwith Pub
  • No. 1 Sqn, Airfield Bailleul
    8x Nieuport 17.C1 GBR
  • No. 42 Sqn, Airfield Bailleul
    5x RAF R.E.8
  • No. 53 Sqn, Airfield Bailleul
    5x RAF R.E.8

Orders for Royal Flying Corps

  • Destroy West Railroad Bridge
    Photo Recon of destroyed West Railroad Bridge (3 Photos)

bridge

  • Destroy Lille Central Station
    Photo Recon of destroyed Lille Central Station (3 Photos)

station

  • Destroy Lille Railroad Depot

depot

  • Destroy Train Phalempin-Roubaix

The primary bridge, station and depot targets have to be destroyed prior the according photo reconaissance missions. Every available Two-Seater can be equipped with photo camera equipment and be used as a reconaissance aircraft to fulfill these objectives!

LilleJunctionMap

 

Balloons, airfields and targets will signal near enemy planes with a yellow flare, an attack with red flares.
Balloons, airfields and targets are protected by Anti-Aircraft-Artillery e.g FLAK and MGs.
Frontline is protected by Anti-Aircraft-Artillery e.g FLAK.

German side wins if primary objectives are not accomplished after 2 hours.
Entente side wins if  primary objectives are accomplished within 2 hours.

 


 

Historical background

The idea to this map came to me when I was investigating some facts for my blog. On September 23rd, 1915, the RFC flew some air raids against the railroad facilities around Lille to support their autumn offensive. Lille junction and the surrounding facilities were, for sure, a strategic target for the Entente forces during the whole war. So one could imagine, that these attacks maybe were repeated later in the war as well. While currently reading the book “Open Cockpit” by Arthur Gould Lee, I had the idea to let him and his comrades from No. 46 Sqn, La Gorgue, and some other chaps from No. 1 Sqn, No. 42 Sqn and No. 53 Sqn stationed at Bailleul Airfield, fly some bombing, reconaissance and escort missions against that prominent railroad junction in northern France.

 

Lille

Lille had been occupied by German forced back in October 1914 and was an important base for the German 6th Armee in northern France.

Lille after occupation by German forces, Oct. 1914
Lille after occupation by German forces, Oct. 1914

Between summer 1915 and summer 1916 this area was the playground of first German fighter aces Max Immelmann, Kurt Wintgens and Oswald Boelcke.

Lille was liberated almost four years later in October 1918.

Liberation of Lille by British troops, Oct. 1918
Liberation of Lille by British troops, Oct. 1918

Until today, Lille is an important crossroads in the European railroad network and so it was back in 1917. In East-West direction it lies on the route between Brussels and Calais. To the South it connects to other major centres in France such as Marseille, Lyon, and Toulouse. Therefore the main targets for allied forces were the railroad facilities around Lille in order to interrupt German supply and reinforcement chains.

One crucial point was for sure the junction point east of Lille city as well as the Central Station.

Aerial photography from February 1917
Aerial photography from February 1917

 

Gare Saint Sauveur in the eastern part of the city.
Lille Central Station in the eastern part of the city.

The South-Eastern part of the city back in 1917 was an industrial area and today there’s still a lot of industry around the Lille Airport which is about 8Km SSE of the center of the city. Traditionally the area around Lille and Roubaix is well known for its textile industry, but there’s also a stron mechanical engineering industry like the Compagnie de Fives-Lille pour Constructions Mécaniques et Entreprises, est. 1865, was a famous Locomotive building company.

Porte des Postes and Porte d'Arras, Lille South, May 1917
Porte des Postes and Porte d’Arras, Lille South, May 1917

 

German Luftstreitkraefte

In May 1917 there were two Jastas stationed near Lille. The Jasta 28 was located at Wasquehale airfield between March and August 1917. Jasta 30 was stationed at Phalempin airfield from January until August 1917.

Jasta 28

Jasta 28 was a fighter squadron of the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg (South-West Germany). The Jasta was quite successful during the war scoring about 100 aerial victories but only nine casulties and and a few wounded or captured.

Jasta 28 at Wasquehale, Hptm. Otto Hartmann in the lighter Jacked in the middle. Photo must have been taken bewtween June and September 1917
Jasta 28 at Wasquehale, Hptm. Otto Hartmann in the lighter Jacked in the middle. Photo must have been taken between June and September 1917

In May 1917 the Jasta 28 was equipped with Albatros D.III aircraft, which was the standard figther aircraft of the German Luftstreitkraefte at this time. In late August the squadron was transferred to Varsenare airfield, Belgium.

Jasta 28 at Varsenare airfield
Jasta 28 at Varsenare airfield

The squadron markings were a black-yellow striped elevator and stabilizer. With Rise of Flight historical skin packs are several personal skins of Jasta 28 members available. On the Lille Junction map you will only find the skin of Karolus Baerenfaenger who served the Jasta 28 in May 1917. VzFw Baerenfaenger flew an Albatros D.III with an almost brown painted fuselage and the white silhouette of a bear behind the cockpit. During an encounter overLangemarck, on May 25th, he downed  a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, A963,  piloted by RFC 2nd Ltn. James Johnstone, No. 45 Sqn, and his observer 2nd Ltn. Thomas S. Millar. Johnstone was wounded and became a prisoner of war.

According to a Royal Armee map, Wasquehale airfield was near the railroad track in the middle between Lille and Wasquehale, North-East of Lille.

Map of Lille North region, Dec. 1917
Map of Lille North region, Dec. 1917

 

Aerial reconnaissance photo, Lille, Jul. 1917
Aerial reconnaissance photo, Lille, Jul. 1917 – Highlighted area marks the location of Wasquehale airfield

 

Jasta 30

The Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 30 was formed in Dec. 1914. Served the whole war until its end in 1918, the Jasta 30 srored about 63 aerial victories with 12 casulties.  During its lifetime some well known German pilots served the Jasta 30 like Hans-Georg von der Marwitz, Hans Bethge, Hans Buddecke or Joachim von Bertrap.

Ltn. Joachim von Bertrab
Ltn. Joachim von Bertrab

Joachim von Bertrab (IC) was known of having shot down four Martynside Elephants within one day in his black painted Albatros D.III. Later he was shotdown by RFC Ace Mick Mannock. On 12th August, 1917, Mannock flew an offensive patrol, taking off at 1440 hours. At 1510 hours he spottet von Bertrabs dark painted Albatros. In his diary he wrote:

19 August 1917 (Sunday)
Had a splendid fight with a single-seater Albatross Scout last week on our side of the lines and got him down. This prooved to be Lieutenant von Bartrap (sic), Iron Cross, and had been flying for eighteen months. He came over for one of our balloons – near Neuville – St – Vaast – and I cut him off going back. He didn’t get the balloon either. The scrap took place at two thousand feet up, well within view of the whole front. And the chreers! It took me five minutes to get him to go down, and I had to shoot him before he would land. I was very pleased I did not kill him. Right arm broken by a bullet, left arm and left leg deep flesh wounds. His machine, a beauty, just issued (1 June 1917) with a 220 h.p. Mercedes engine, all black with crosses picked out in white lines – turned over on landing and was damaged. Two machine guns with one thousand rounds of ammunition against my single Lewis and three hundred rounds! I went up to the trenches to salve ‘bus’ later, and had a great ovation from everyone. Even Generals congratulated me. He didnt’t hit me once.

Joachim von Bertrab and his black Albatros D.III
Joachim von Bertrab and his black Albatros D.III

Bertrab survived this fight and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner. Hi died in July 1922.

Oberleutnant Hans Bethge was the leader of Jasta 30 between December 1916 and November 1917. He scored about 20 aerial victories and died  in action at the age of 27 on March 17th, 1918 near Passchendale.

Rttm. Manfred von Richthoven (left) and OLtn. Hans Bethge (right)
Rttm. Manfred von Richthoven (left) and OLtn. Hans Bethge (right)

Jasta 30 was located at Phalempin airfield between January and August 1917. Until August 1917 the were equipped by a mixture of a few Halberstadt D.II and D.III fighter aircraft, maily used as trainers, and Albatros D.II and D.III aircraft. Starting in August 1917 these aircraft were replaced by the new Pfalz D.III and D.IIIa aircraft which the Jasta 30 flew until March/April 1918. The standard squadron markings were a yellow nose and a yellow rhombus on the fuselage. But according to known photographs of Jasta 30 aircraft, most of them have had individual markings.

Albatros D.III of Jasta 30 at Phalempin airfield - Not von Bertrab's aircraft, sixth from the top
Albatros D.III of Jasta 30 at Phalempin airfield – Note von Bertrab’s black Albatros, sixth from behind

Phalempin airfield was about 12 Km South of Lille center. Jasta 30 was located there twice, from 25 January 1917 to 19 August 1918.

Aerial photography of Phalempin airfield
Aerial photography of Phalempin airfield

 

Phalempin Airfield
Phalempin Airfield – Note the readiness hut in the middle of the photo

The airfield was based on the farm at 85 Rue J B Lebas, which is still owned by the same family today. There still remains a First World War concrete bomb store.

Pilots readiness hut at Phalempin airfield
Pilots readiness hut at Phalempin airfield

 

Royal Flying Corps

The Royal Flying Corps have had several squadrons in the area around Lille. One of them was the No. 46 Sqn at La Gorgue airfield, well known because of the books “Open Cockpit” and “No Parachute” by Arthur Gould Lee (MC). Other noteable squadrons were the No. 1 Sqn which served together with No. 42 and No. 53 Sqn at Bailleul airfield.

No. 46 Sqn

No42SqnCOANo. 46 Sqn was formed in April 1916, and has been disbanded and re-formed four times before its last disbandment in August 1975.  It served in both World War I and World War II. They were originally equipped with Nieupoprt 12 and B.E.2 2-seater aircraft when the were transferred to the Western Front in October 1916. The squadron was used for artillery cooperatioon and reconaissance operations until they were equipped with Sopwith Pub’s in May 1917.

At La Gorgue airfield the squadron was located between May and July 1917. During that time the mainly flew high level offensive patrols and escort missions over the front and into German territory.

lee
Lt. Arthur Gould Lee

Arthur Gould Lee started his career in 1915 in the Royal Armee at Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment, a Line Infantry Regiment. Later he transferred to the RFC where he was posted to No. 46 Sqn, La Gorgue, France after he finished his flight training. He scored 7 aerial victories during his active service ant No. 46 Sqn. Later during WWI he was promoted to the rank of a Captain and became a flight instructor. He remained in the Royal Aif Force and became an Air Vice-Marshal during Word War II. He retired in 1946 and started a second career as author. He wrote four authobiographic books, two of them, “Open Cockpit” and “No Parachute” about his time with No. 46 Sqn.

2Lt Charles W. Odell
2Lt Charles W. Odell

In his books, Lee mentioned the names of his comrade Odell several times. In Rise of Flight we have the historical skins for the Sopwith Pub of Lee and Odell as well as the personal skin of Capt. Stuart Harvey Pratt.

Sopwith Pub Scout of Capt. Stuart Harvey Pratt
Sopwith Pub Scout of Capt. Stuart Harvey Pratt

 

 

No. 1 Sqn

No1SqnCOAFirst in all things – Their Motto is programm. No. 1 Squadron’s origins go back to 1878 when its predecessor, No. 1 Balloon Company, was formed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich as part of the Balloon Section. On 1 April 1911 the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers was created. The battalion initially consisted of two companies, with No. 1 Company, Air Battalion taking responsibility for lighter than air flying.

In May 1913 it was one of the first squadrons of the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. Taking part is almost every major military operation since Word War I, No. 1 Sqn is still active today, now equipped with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Back in May 1917 they were stationed at Bailleul airfield 25Km WNW of Lille together with No. 42 Sqn and No. 53 Sqn.

Nieuport 17.C1 of No. 1 Sqn at Bailleul airfield
Nieuport 17.C1 of No. 1 Sqn at Bailleul airfield

In 1917 the squadron was mainly equipped with the RFC variant Nieuport 17.C1 and some Nieuport 27.C1 single seaters. The squadron markings were a red and white striped cowling on a Silver-White painted aircraft. These squadron markings were replaced later by a vertical black stripe behind the roundel on the fuselage.  As of December 1917, all aircraft were painted in a camouflage green, probably the famous PC10. In January 1918 the outdated N17 were replaced by the modern RAF S.E.5a.

W. C. Campbell
W. C. Campbell

Notable airmen of No. 1 Sqn were  Capt. William Charles Campbell who scored 23 aerial victories. Serving with No. 1 Squadron during 1917, he was a notable balloon buster, being the first British ace to down five enemy observation balloons. He also claimed eleven aircraft destroyed, and seven, including two shared, ‘driven down out of control’. For his service at RFC he was honoured with the Military Cross, the Bar to Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order.

Being wounded and shotdown by German Ace Eduard von Dostler at July, 31st, 1917, he survived the war and resumed his business career in the food industry. He died in February 1958 at the age of 68.

Philip Fletcher Fullard
Philip Fletcher Fullard

Another noteable pilot of No. 1 Sqn was the later Air Commodore Philip Fletcher Fullard. Honoured with the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Military Cross and Bar (MC*), Air Force Cross (AFC) and the Belgium Croix de Guerre for scoring 40 aerial victories he was the second highest scoring British fighter pilot to survive the war.

He served with No. 1 Sqn during May 1917. Later, during Word War II, he commanded the 14th Fighter Group as part of the British Expeditonary Force in France. He retired from the RAF in November 1946. After the war he served as Chairman in several engineering companis. Fullard died in April 1984 at the age of 86.

 

No. 42 Sqn

No42SqnCOANo. 42 Sqn was formed in April 1916 and send to the Western Front immediatly. From April 1916 to April 1917 they flew B.E.2 2-seaters that were replaced by RAF R.E.8 Harry Tate beginning with May 1917. No. 42 Sqn mainly flew photo reconaissance missions during World War I at the Western Front and later also at the Austro-Italian Front. In May 1917 the were stationed together with No. 1 Sqn and No. 53 Sqn at Bailleul airfield near Lille.

The RAF R.E.8 aircraft of No. 42 Sqn were usually painted in camouflage Green with a white square behind the roundel on the fuselage as squadron marking.

The squadron was disbanded in 1919 but reformed in 1936 and served during Word War II, the Falklands 1982 and at the Gulf War 1991. It was disbanded again in 2011.

No. 53 Sqn

N53SqnCOAFormed at Catterick on 15 May 1916, No. 53 Sqn was planned to use it in the training role but in December it was sent to France in the Corps reconnaissance role.  The squadron operated B.E.2 until April 1917, when these were replaced by RAF R.E.8, which they continued to use for the remainder of the war.  No. 53 Sqn returned to Old Sarum in March 1919, where the squadron was disbanded on 25 October 1919.

The RAF R.E.8 aircraft of No. 53 Sqn were usually painted in camouflage Green with a lying white hook behind the roundel on the fuselage as squadron marking.

No 53 Sqn was reformed in 1937 and served until its final disbanding in 1976 as a Bombing, Reconaissance, Anti-Submarine and Anti-Shipping Squadron.

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