1st Pursuit Group

185th Aero Squadron
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Rembercourt France 1918
NAME 185th Aero Squadron LOCATION Rembercourt Aerodrome, France JOB Night/Interceptor Fighter Unit SUBJECTS WWI | U.S. Army Air Corps

The First
1. 1st 90-Day Wonders 2. 1st Pursuit Group 3. 1st Army 4. 1st Night Flyers

Night Chase

The roar of our Camels grew fainter As farther and farther in flight The Huns, those hospital raiders Were chased by our Pilots each night
~ printed on 185th Squadron Postcard 1918, shown right ~

On May 8, 1917, the First Officers Training Camp [FOTC] was established just north of Anderson Hill at Camp Funston twenty miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas. Two days later, Frank M. Dougherty reported for training. He completed the course on August 14, 1917 to become one of the first “90-Day Wonders.” Trainee PFC Frank M. Dougherty served in the first U.S. aviation squadron to reach France --- the 1st Aero Squadron, which sailed from New York in late August 1917 and arrived at Le Havre on September 3, 1917. The Air Service Concentration Barracks at Saint-Maixent received all Air Service troops and distributed them to 26 training centers in central and western France. Of the nearly 1,500 airmen sent to Europe that year, virtually all had yet to be fully trained. By 1918, 1st Lt. F.M. Dougherty was assigned to the 185th Aero Squadron --- the first and only American night fighter/interceptor unit to serve

Burning Flare

Barracks at Saint-Maixent received all Air Service troops and distributed them to 26 training centers in central and western France. Of the nearly 1,500 airmen sent to Europe that year, virtually all had yet to be fully trained. By 1918, 1st Lt. F.M. Dougherty was assigned to the 185th Aero Squadron --- the first and only American night fighter/interceptor unit to serve in France during World War I. The 185th Aero Squadron used the Camel as a night fighter on the American Front during the last month of the war. The Sopwith Camel was the most successful fighter plane of WWI. It shot down more enemy aircraft than any other fighter of any of the warring nations. Yet because of its tricky handling characteristics, more men lost their lives while learning to fly it than died using it in combat. Training-to-fly was a constant. Front-line squadrons trained as well as fought. It was individualistic, high-risk, and in an innovative era in the history of flight and warfare. The airplane & the evolutionary direction of manned flight were new. These military men had to invent a definition for it and for themselves as airmen. The U.S. military aviation experience created a culture that set it apart from its parent, and glorified the individual, specifically the warrior-pilot who flew against extremely dangerous odds in training as well as in combat. In his novel, Guard of Honor, James Gould Cozzens, describes the high-wire act that was integral to this culture: “those who flew were joined in the bond of their undefined, informal co-operative effort to shut their minds to the plain fact that if the war continued they were all going to die perhaps by enemy action, perhaps by accident; perhaps this week, certainly next month.” On May 5, 1918, the 1st Pursuit Group was formed and immediately sent into action. The poem on the 1918 postcard refers to a May 19, 1918 German night raid of 15 bombers who aimed at the Bridge at Etaples and missed as the 185th night flyers pursued them. The German bombs destroyed surrounding camps and a hospital. On being informed of their hits, one captured German was indignant that hospitals should be placed near targets of strategic importance. Dummkopf! ...it was the deterrent to bombing the bridge. Sorry Pal, no treatment for your wounds. The Air Service First Army was activated August 26, 1918, marking the commencement of large scale coordinated U.S. air operations. On September 1st, the 1st Pursuit Group of eighteen of the American squadrons participated in support of the Allied drive on St. Mihiel located to the east of Rembercourt. The next day, 13 American & 8 French colonial divisions

Burning Flare

1st Lt. Frank M. Dougherty

1st Lt. F.M. Dougherty, left, and 2nd Lt. Talbot T. Pendleton Discuss a Bomb

operations. On September 1st, the 1st Pursuit Group of eighteen of the American squadrons participated in support of the Allied drive on St. Mihiel located to the east of Rembercourt. The next day, 13 American & 8 French colonial divisions totaling 264,000 troops launched their attack against 75,000 German and Austro-Hungarian troops, known as the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, led by Commander-in-Chief General “Black Jack” John J. Pershing. An air armada of 1,481 combat planes from the U.S., France, Great Britain,and Italy Air Service, under the direct command of Major Billy Mitchell, comprised the largest collection of combat aircraft ever gathered for a single operation. Within 30 hours, the Allies had grabbed 13,250 prisoners and 460 enemy artillery in exchange for 8,000 casualties. Combat losses included 289 airplanes and 48 balloons. It was a tremendous success. The St. Mihiel salient had been cut off, the lines shortened and the Germans were given a big bloody nose. Archived film of the 185th Aero Squadron at Rembercourt:
http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675049109_185th-AeroSquadron_World-War-I_Sopwith-Camel_flare_Salmson-2A2-airplanes

185th Aero Squadron Rembercourt Aerodrome

1st Lt. F.M. Dougherty [right of center] 185th Aero Squadron Rembercourt Aerodrome France 1918

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