List of Air Service American Expeditionary Force aerodromes in France

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Air Service recruiting poster, 1917–1918
see also: Organization of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force

When the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917, the Air Service of the United States Army existed only as a branch of the Signal Corps, and was known by the name of Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. It consisted of 1,120 personnel, of which 65 were officers. The Army was not ready for the deployment of aviation forces to Europe, and it became necessary to prepare after President Woodrow Wilson's declaration of war.[1]

Overview[edit]

Locations of major Air Service, United States Army stations in France, 1918

As part of the buildup of forces, aviation units were formed into aero squadrons primarily at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, with additional units being formed at Rockwell Field, San Diego California.[1] Once formed, and prior to their deployment to Europe, Camp Taliaferro, north of Fort Worth, Texas and several airfields near Toronto, Ontario, Canada were used by the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) to perform flight training for the new aero squadrons. Camp Hancock, near Augusta, Georgia was used for training service squadrons of aircraft mechanics as well as flight training.[2]

When ordered to deploy to Europe, units departed though Garden City, New York, which was the primary port of embankment. Units there were loaded onto transport ships for the transatlantic crossing. Liverpool, England and Brest, France were the primary ports of disembarkation, although other ports were used. Some aero squadrons arriving in England received additional training from the Royal Flying Corps (later Royal Air Force (RAF)), then were attached to RAF squadrons and deployed with them to France. Others received training and were sent to Winchester, Hampshire where they awaited their cross-channel transfer to France, using the port of Southampton.[1]

Upon their arrival in France, St. Maixent Aerodrome was the primary reception center for new aero squadrons assigned to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). There, units were classified as pursuit, bombardment or as observation units. Once processed, units were sent to the 1st Air Depot at Colombey-les-Belles Airdrome where the initial supply and equipment was issued to the units. If necessary, units were assigned to one of several Air Instructional Centers (AIC) for additional combat and gunnery training provided by the French, then once prepared for combat, Gengault Aerodrome (Toul) was used as assignment center for the new squadrons, from which they were transferred to their initial combat station.[1]

8th Aero Squadron (Observation), Saizerais Aerodrome, France, 11 November 1918

Operating from primarily French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air (ALA) aerodromes (airfields), the deployed units of the Air Service, United States Army operated from these grass facilities. Many of the locations of these aerodromes are approximate, given the fact they were all temporary facilities and today many are agricultural fields that have been in production for nearly a century since their wartime use. Locations have been ascertained via aerial photography, maps and other ancillary information.[2]

After the 1918 Armistice, an almost complete demobilization of the Air Service was accomplished within a year. The National Defense Act of 1920 created the United States Army Air Service on a permanent basis being formed with new units. Later, some of the temporary wartime units were consolidated to retain the lineage and honors of their wartime service with the AEF.

Stations[edit]

Below is a list of the airdromes used by the American Expeditionary Force that were sent to France during World War I.[3]

American Sector[edit]

Command and Control[edit]

Organized at: La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Île-de-France, 10 August 1918
Moved to: Ligny-en-Barrois, Lorraine, 25 August 1918
Moved to: Souilly, Lorraine, 21 September – 11 November 1918
Organized at: Toul, Lorraine, 12 October – 11 November 1918

Combat Airdromes[edit]

Support Aerodromes[edit]

Headquarters, Commanding General, Services of Supply
1st Air Depot. 48°31′51″N 05°53′02″E / 48.53083°N 5.88389°E / 48.53083; 5.88389 (Colombey-les-Belles Depot)
Airfield: 48°31′28″N 05°54′28″E / 48.52444°N 5.90778°E / 48.52444; 5.90778 (Colombey-les-Belles Airfield)
Initial supply and equipment depot for new units. Army personnel/medical center
Located 0.6 miles (0.97 km) WNW of Colombey-les-Belles, Lorraine[2]

Training Schools[edit]

British Sector[edit]

[2] [4] [5]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, National Archives, Washington, D.C. via http://www.fold3.com
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Reference for Geographic coordinates of Aerodromes
  3. ^ www.usaww1.com
  4. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1978), The US Air Service In World War I, Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF
  5. ^ Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. 

External links[edit]