No 2 Squadron RFC
Diaries 1915 -1918
Captain William Allcock's diary No 2 Squadron RFC 1915-16
Sep 1915 to Oct 1915
Editor's note: Lt. Allcock's first operational appointment was to No 2 Squadron at Hesdigneul, nr Bethune, in France. The Squadron was equipped with BE2c machines plus one Bristol Scout and operated in a reconnaissance and artillery support role but also conducted occasional bombing missions. He served with the Squadron from September 1915 through to February 1916.
The extracts from the RFC communiqués quoted are from two books by Christopher Cole and Chaz Bowyer covering the period 1915-18.
Joined No 2 Squadron RFC at Hesdigneul, France, CO Major Becke.
1 hr First test flight on 70HP BE2C - practised landings.
BE2c of No 2 Sqn, Summer 1915 (Picture © airwar1.org.uk)
Test flight with mechanic. 45 m
Observer Lt. Brown. Counter battery work. Very misty and rainy, 1.15 hr
Editor's note: Lt. Brown referred to was Lt. Arthur Whitten Brown who together with John Alcock (no relation) was the first to fly the Atlantic in June 1919.
Test flight. 2 hrs
Observer Lt. Brown. Hun patrol between La Bassee & Grenay. 2 hrs
Test flight & landings on 90 HP Factory BE2C. Lt. Murray's machine in the morning. 2 hrs
The afternoon with Lt. Russell as passenger took 4 photographs over the lines. They came out very well. 1 1/2 hrs
Flew 70 HP BE2C to St Omer and brought back a Bristol made Factory, very fast machine doing the 25 miles in 15 mins. 1 hr
Tested Capt. Caruthers' machine and did Artillery Observation with Lt. Russell as Observer. Successful. 3 hrs
Testing my new machine found satisfactory. Mechanics as passengers. 1 hr.
Testing engine with Sgt Craven 30 mins
Artillery observation with Lt. Brown. While so doing we were hit at 8,000 ft by shrapnel over Hulluch. My engine gone [sic] dud. I turned for our lines, when just crossing them the machine caught fire at 6,300 feet. I immediately put her nose down; the flames burst out and spread along the fuselage behind the pilot's seat. Brown threw the ammunition overboard and climbed along back nearly into my cockpit as the whole front of the machine was a blazing mass. In the meantime we were speeding to earth at 120 mph. Brown was trying to keep the fire down from burning his clothes while I kept my eye on the pitot tube, the ground and the flames, pushing the joy stick further forward until we were nearly nose diving. Every minute I thought would be the last for I expected the whole machine to collapse from strain as a number of wires were broken. Eventually I saw the ground not far below and found myself going straight at a village so I turned to the right and spying a ploughed field decided to land there, cutting through telephone wires and a tall hedge, missing a horse and plough by inches. A few feet from the ground I levelled out and the machine took the ground at 70 mph. A perfect landing but the undercarriage being burnt, the machine ran a few yards and collapsed, digging her nose into the plough, and turned over. I was thrown right out 10 yards ahead, putting out my hands saved me but I lay dazed a little, in the meantime the tail came down and hit me on the head. Staggering round to find Brown I found him hunting for me. He had fallen under the engine and just managed to crawl out a few seconds before the bearings broke and the engine fell on the spot. Looking on the wreckage we saw a mass of flame with every few seconds shots going off from the revolvers. A huge crowd collected but putting a Sergeant in charge with some men, we left in a tender for our aerodrome and reported to the officer commanding, Major Becke. From the wreckage we got a few souvenirs - revolver, compass and a piece of the engine bed which had been melted by the heat.
Landed East of Noeux les Mines.
Went to St Omer in a light tender and flew a new machine to the Squadron doing the journey in 20 minutes. She is a good climber but not fast. 30 mins
Week's leave - Oct 7th to 16th. Returned to France after Leave
Artillery Observation with Lt. Rice. Successful knocking out Hun batteries. 2 hrs
Artillery observation, with Lt. Brown. Attacked an Albatross over the lines, we came up on the right and put in a drum from the R-hand bracket. After chasing the Hun for some time he dived away, while we returned to our Artillery. 3 hrs
Artillery Observation with Lt. Rice. Successful.
Hun patrol with Lt. Chapman. Aire, Hazebrouk, Cassel, Dunkirk, Ypres, La Bassee, Lens. 2 3/4 hrs
Diary © Guy Griffiths