• Royal Flying Corps •

• The Departure of the R.F.C. Expeditionary Force •


The aircraft of No.s 2 and 3 Squadrons, and the Aircraft Park departed Dover in squadron order at 5 minute intervals commencing at 06:25 on the 13th August. No.4 Squadron and the Wireless Flight were delayed by fog at Eastchurch and commenced departing directly for Amiens via Boulogne at 10:00 on the 13th. No.5 Squadron left Dover on the 15th.

Each pilot had been instructed to climb to at least 3,000 feet in order to have a good chance of reaching shore in the event of engine failure over the Channel. In the event some climbed as high 8,000 feet. Each crew member had been issued with an inner tube to provide flotation in the event of ditching as life jackets had not been provided in time. The Navy positioned vessels across the Channel to rescue any downed machines.

Most aircraft took a mechanic as passenger to provide assistance in the event of mechanic problems. However some pilots were assigned another officer as passenger, an unpopular decision with some pilots.


The following senior officers remained in the UK:

Maj HM Trenchard (Acting OC )

Maj H Musgrave (DAD War Office)

Capt HC Jackson (GSO)

Capt R Pigot (Act Adj)

The following officers went by sea on the 11th August as an Advanced HQ:

Maj CAH Longcroft (Squadron Commander - No.2 Squadron)

Capt WGH Salmond

TLt M Baring

The above sailed from Newhaven to Boulogne on the SS Canterbury

The following officers went by sea on the 12th/13th August:

Col Sir D Henderson

Maj FH Sykes

Lt BH Barrington-Kennett (Adjt) (not to be confused with VA Barrington-Kennett who remained behind with No.4 Squadron)

Maj HRM Brooke-Popham (QMG)

2Lt OGWG Lywood (HQ W/T Officer)

2Lt DS Jillings (No.6 Squadron) is shown as embarking on the 12th. He was possibly a member of the overseas landing party.

Capt EW Furse joined the HQ party on the 19th August (ex No.5 Squadron)

No.2 Squadron

No.2 Squadron were the first to leave Dover commencing at 06:25 on the morning of the 13th August 1914.

Squadron Commander Maj CJ Burke departed first, followed by 'A' Flight in order of seniority within the Flight, with a gap of about 5 minutes between each aircraft taking off.

The first to land in France at 08:20 was Lt Harvey-Kelly, followed by Maj Burke (who ferried one of the Aircraft Park machines).

The following officers left by sea on the 12th August:

Lt CB Spence (OiC Transport)

Lt WHC Mansfield

Lt DSK Crosbie

2Lt GJ Malcolm

Capt AB Burdett (OiC Glasgow)

Lt CAGHL Farie

Lt TLS Holbrow

The above, together with the ground crew embarked on the SS Dogra on the 8th August at Glasgow Docks and arrived at Boulogne on the 15th.

The following officers went by air:


Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
327BE2aCapt FF Waldron/518 2AM GW SkerrittFlight Commander. (Skerrett in some sources)
368BE2aLt C Gordon Bell/536 1AM H WareGordon Bell was an Aircraft Park pilot
239BE2aLt MW Noel/*-*Possibly 403 1AM AE Hobson as passenger
471BE2aLt HD Harvey-Kelly/*557 2AM F Harris

*The War Diary indicates 2AM Harris flew to Dover on the 7th as passenger to Lt Noel and 1AM Hobson went with Harvey-Kelly. However the log book of BE2a 239 clearly shows Hobson went with Noel on the 7th. The diary of Maj Burke indicates Harris crossed the Channel as passenger to Harvey-Kelly. No passenger is shown for Noel. The official record for Hobson indicates he embarked for France on the 13th, suggesting he went by air.

368 had been flown to Dover by Lt ACE Marsh with 746 1AM Spallen. Marsh subsequently reported sick with a bad foot, and joined the EF in October with No.6 Squadron.

Lt Gordon Bell had previously ferried 396 to Dover, but the aircraft became unserviceable, and consequently he took over 368.

'B' Flight

Commenced departing at 06:45

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
233BE2aCapt GE Todd/313 Cpl WC AttrillFlight Commander. Left at 06:45
468BE2aCapt UJD Bourke/95 1AM F Shelton
385BE2aLt RB Martyn/332 1AM WH Roberts
232BE2aLt ERL Corballis/448 1AM T Bennett


Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
383BE2aCapt GWP Dawes/514 2AM H ParkerFlight Commander
372BE2aLt L Dawes/-
236BE2aLt RM Rodwell/284 2AM AV SmithDeparted at 07:30
384BE2aLt WR Freeman/-

Machines ferried for the Aircraft Park

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
228BE2aMaj CJ Burke/-Squadron Commander
234BE2aCapt A Ross-Hume/-Capt GWP Dawes ferried the machine to Dover.
329**BE2aLt W Lawrence/-
466BE2aLt KR Van der Spuy/-

Lt KR Van der Spuy crashed on landing at Dover - with a Flt Sgt as passenger - but continued to Amiens.

Capt A Ross-Hume returned to UK 26th September, embarked again 7th October with 440 and returned on the 17th.

**There is no further official trace of 329 after arrival at Dover. However it appears in the personal diary of Maj Burke as being the aircraft Lawrence flew to France. It is not on the list of queries raised by the War Office as unaccounted for in France, but its engine (42219WD196) is on hand at the Aircraft Park on 31.12.14, consequently it is assumed the aircraft went to France and was subsequently abandoned or broken up.

No.3 Squadron

No.3 Squadron suffered the loss of Lt Skene and AM Barlow on departure from Netheravon on the 12th August.

The rest of the Squadron arrived at Dover at 8am on the 12th August. Lt Emmett sideslipped and wrecked his aircraft (BE2a 348, being ferried for the Aircraft Park) upon arrival, injuring passenger 289 1AM AV Collett.

The following officers went by sea on the 12th/13th August:

Maj JM Salmond (Squadron Commander)

Capt AG Fox (Flight Commander) [unconfirmed]

Lt A Christie

Lt DL Allen

Lt GL Cruikshank

Lt VSE Lindop

Maj LB Boyd-Moss (scheduled as passenger to Herbert in 352)

Lt AM Read

LT WF MacNeece

2Lt A Hartree

Lt AS Barratt (observer-possibly flew as passenger) [unconfirmed]

The ground crew sailed on the RMSP Dee from Southampton to Boulogne (the RMSP 'Nageria' is also mentioned in the War Diary - probably Nigeria).

The following officers went by air:

'A' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
606BleriotCapt LEO Charlton/Capt LP EvansFlight Commander
388BleriotLt VHN Wadham/349 Cpl FC Whenman(?)

* Lt WCK Birch (with 582 1AM OTV Bowyer) and 2Lt EW Copeland Perry were the other pilots

'B' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
352H FarmanCapt PLW Herbert/126 Cpl J WaelandFlight Commander
351H FarmanLt AR Shekleton/243 1AM N Carlyle
274H FarmanLt EN Fuller/422 1AM C LittlejohnNew engine at Dover. Left on 16th
295H FarmanLt WR Read/unknownWas supposed to take Carlyle as passenger.

'C' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
616Bl ParasolLt EL ConranActing Flight Commander
389BleriotLt PB Joubert de la Ferte/386 1AM HJ Gardiner
296BleriotLt GF Pretyman/102 Sgt AC RobinsWrecked on landing Amiens.
260Bleriot2Lt RR Skene/331 1AM RK BarlowCrashed on takeoff Netheravon 12th. Both killed

No.4 Squadron

The Squadron rolled their machines out of the hangars at 6am ready to start, but fog at Eastchurch prevented their departure until 10:00. 'B' Flight left first. The Squadron flew overhead Dover and crossed the Channel to Boulogne, landing to refuel before flying on to Amiens. Capt Shephard was sent first to head south from Gris Nez and find a landing ground.

The following officers went by sea, departing Southampton on the 12th and arriving Boulogne at 3pm.

Capt HRP Reynolds (Squadron Commander 'C' Flight) (no date recorded) [unconfirmed]

Lt AFA Hooper (observer -possibly went by air) [unconfirmed]

Lt RGD Small (OiC Transport)

Lt RP Mills

2Lt AL Russell

The following officers of 4Sq remained in the UK with 'C' Flt:

Lt EF Chinnery

2Lt GN Humphreys

Lt RJF Barton

Capt CF Murphy

Lt BH Turner

Capt GP Wallace

2Lt VA Barrington-Kennett

Capt HC MacDonnell

Lt TG Hetherington (RNAS)

The Maurice Farman aircraft of 'C' Flight were not considered 'war' machines and deemed unfit to cross the Channel. The Flight, augmented by 2 aircraft from the CFS, were left behind and carried out coast patrols between Dungeness and North Foreland during August.

The following officers went by air:

'A' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
321BE2aCapt AHL Soames/257 Sgt HHJ VaiseyFlight Commander
318BE2aLt WGS Mitchell/436 Cpl AH Simpson
242BE2aLt GW Mapplebeck/Capt de la G PitcherLeft at 10:30. f/l Etaples due fuel pump
314BE2aLt PHL Playfair/466 1AM AB Hemmings
237BE2aLt CG Hosking/655 1AM STC Roberts
248BE2aLt KP Atkinson/856 1AM GW HalsteadLanded Equihien and broke flywheel on t/o

'B' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
320BE2aCapt GS Shepherd/Lt IM Bonham-CarterFlight Commander. First to leave at 10:05. Damaged landing.
317BE2aLt TW Mulcahy-Morgan/320 Sgt H JamesSmashed u/c landing Equihien.
249BE2aLt HJA Roche/53 Cpl HV Jerrard
231BE2aLt FJL Cogan/750 1AM S AbramFlight Commander. Broke skids in landing Equihien.
474BE2aCapt HL Reilly/728 1AM GS Chapman
299BE2aMaj GH Raleigh/546 1AM CRS EvansSquadron Commander. Last to leave

Wireless Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
240BE2a2Lt SCW Smith/AM Hamilton(?)
336BE2aLt BT James/982 1AM WH Nixon
475BE2aLt DS Lewis/1082 2AM H Jamesonf/l at Caudron factory Rue with broken inlet spring

No.5 Squadron

The Squadron left Gosport (Fort Grange) on 14th for Dover. Capt Carmichael wrecked his aircraft at Gosport and continued to Dover by train. There he picked up a spare BE8 which he ferried across for the Aircraft Park the following day. 2Lt Wilson broke a valve at Gosport and did not cross the Channel until the 16th. Two of the Henry Farmans were wrecked near Shoreham and struck off. Lt H le M Brock force-landed at Salmer and crossed the Channel on the 18th. The remaining 7 aircraft departed for France on the 15th (although 2Lt Strange is not reported as arriving until the 16th).

The following officers went by sea on the 14th:

Maj JFA Higgins

Capt DG Conner (Flight Commander)

Capt BC Fairfax (obs - possibly by air with C Flt)

Capt HA Boger (obs - shown as embarking 11th)

Lt FG Small

2Lt CC Rabagliati

2Lt LDaC Penn-Gaskell

2Lt DC Ware (replaced Furse)

The ground crew sailed on the SS Chevington from Southampton to Boulogne.

The following officers went by air:

'A' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
397AvroCapt R Grey/unknownFlight Commander
398Avro2Lt CW Wilson/114 1AM JM HamiltonBroke inlet valve Gosport. Crossed Channel 16th
390Avro2Lt V Waterfall/359 1AM J Dewberyf/l Calais after exhaust fittings broke.
377BE82Lt AAB Thomson/375 1AM JE Smith

'B' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
393H FarmanLt RM Vaughan/unknownf/l Boulogne and wrecked on takeoff.
284H FarmanLt RO Abercromby/unknownWrecked at Shoreham 14th. Did not cross Channel.
364H FarmanLt Lord C Wellesley/unknown
341H Farman2Lt LA Strange/75 2AM FV Wells*Broke longeron Dover. Left on the 16th

'C' Flight

Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
350H FarmanCapt GI Carmichael/unknownFlight Commander. Broke struts Gosport 14th and SOC.
461H FarmanLt H le M Brock/AM Harrisonf/l Salmer 14th. Crossed Channel on 18th
294H FarmanLt HF Glanville/unknownWrecked Shoreham 14th. Did not cross Channel.
346H FarmanLt AE Borton/unknownDamaged at Dover but continued. Changed engine at Boulogne.

*2AM Wells was a last minute replacement for 976 2AM J Faldon - it was his first flight.

Lt Vaughan force-landed nr Boulogne and wrecked the aircraft. He was suspected of being a German spy by the French and imprisoned for a week!

Aircraft Park

Some of the Aircraft Park machines left on the 13th August in the main fleet, with the spare machines for No.5 Squadron leaving on the 15th. Lt Stodart had technical problems at Farnborough and abandoned the aircraft there. He eventually travelled to Dover on the 25th August to ferry BE2a 396 which had also been scheduled to cross the Channel with the original force but had suffered mechanical problems. Lt Bryan damaged his aircraft at Dover and did not cross the Channel until the 16th. Lt Emmett wrecked his machine landing at Dover - 1AM Collett was admitted to hospital and the aircraft SOC. The Henry Farman and BE8 aircraft left with No.5 Squadron on the 15th August

The following officers left by sea on the 16th August:

Maj AD Carden (Squadron Commander

Maj Hon CM Moore-Brabazon (Asst to Squadron Commander)

Capt WD Beatty (OiC Stores)

Lt GB Hynes (OiC MT)

Lt RH Verney (OiC Workshops)

Capt E Unwin (OiC Railhead) [unconfirmed]

The following officers went by air:
Serial Type Pilot/Passenger Notes
220BE2aLt GT Porter/270 FltSgt J MeadAircraft Park pilot. Left 13th
229BE2aLt AL Bryan/unknownNo.3 Squadron pilot. Damaged Dover - to France on 16th.
241BE2aLt DE Stodart/unknownNo.2 Squadron pilot. Technical problems Farnborough - aircraft did not go to France.
348BE2aLt EC Emmett/289 1AM AV CollettNo.2 Squadron pilot. Crashed on landing Dover - did not go to France.
396BE2a2Lt C Gordon Bell/536 1AM WareAircraft Park pilot. Needed maintenance so switched to 368 (no.2 Sqn)- Aircraft to France 27th with Lt DE Stodart
460BE2aLt NC Spratt/59 1AM J LonghurstAircraft Park pilot. Left 13th (Officially recorded as 22nd)
455H FarmanLt CGG Bayly/unknownNo.5 Squadron pilot. Left on 15th
456H FarmanLt C Creed/unknownNo.5 Squadron pilot. Left on 15th
462H FarmanLt R Cholmondeley(?)Aircraft Park pilot. Left on 15th
391BE8Capt GI CarmichaelNo.5 Squadron pilot. Left on 15th (aircraft flown to Dover by Capt GH Cox)
625BE82Lt R Smith-BarryNo.5 Squadron pilot. Probably left on 15th (Officially recorded as 16th)

The following aircraft were sent in cases:
Serial Type Notes
362TabloidSent by rail from Farnborough in case.
386TabloidSent by rail from Farnborough in case.
387TabloidSent by rail from Farnborough in case.
611TabloidSent by rail from Farnborough in case.


A total of 70 aircraft formed the final fleet. Of these, 6 machines were left in the UK due to crashes or technical problems. A further 6 were delayed and left after the main force. 4 were sent in crates.

43 machines departed on the 13th August (28 left from Dover and 15 from Eastchurch) and the remainder (11) on the 15th from Dover.