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David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

Article about: David Clendon Hale 1918 WWI Diary Aviator – Northern Bombing Group David Clendon Hale was a Naval Aviator that had training courses at M.I.T. then moved to Texas and later England for flight

  1. #1

    Default David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    David Clendon Hale 1918 WWI Diary
    Aviator – Northern Bombing Group

    David Hale - Northern Bombing Group
    David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    David Clendon Hale was a Naval Aviator that had training courses at M.I.T. then moved to Texas and later England for flight training. After training they moved to France and flew some missions with RAF bombing squadrons in Handley Pages. Eventually they received their first plane, purchased (actually bartered) from the Italians. The three engine Caproni flew one successful bombing mission before becoming a death trap. All of the other Capronis that were delivered had inferior engines (made by a different Italian company than the Capronis that had a solid performance for the Italians) that failed and killed and injured numerous crews. They eventually grounded the Capronis and spent the rest of the war waiting for American made Liberty DH machines which arrived too late.

    Below are just a few of his interesting entries (I’ll add more when time allows):

    Aug. 10 – “During the morning I took some pictures of the drome and around camp and in afternoon took a walk out to the wireless station. I was on orders to go over the lines tonight in 4581 [a Handley Page - he was flying as an understudy with the British at this point] with Lieut. Nichols pilot and Lieut. Bowen observer and raid the patrol boat shelters at Blankenberg. The front was very quiet tonight but the A.A. barrage at Ostend, Bruges and Zeebrugge was very intense and nearly twice as many search lights were operating in anticipation of our big 1660 pound bomb raid. The visibility was not very good and we had to glide in from the sea at 10,000 ft. to 4,000 ft. The lights did not get us and the shells burst over us and we saw no enemy scouts. I dropped two large rocks for I was in the rear cockpit and I had no bombs. Must give em something.”
    [On August 9 they had received their first Caproni bomber. It had been ferried to France from Italy.]

    Aug. 15 – “Today I began to have my taste of the U.S. Navy again so I begin to wonder how I can get back to the comforts of 214 again [the British squadron that he had been with]. This is a big day in my young life. Major Bradley recommended Wright and I as good for gunners in the first trip the Caproni is to take over the lines. I was at the old game of toss up a coin so I am to be one of a crew of three to carry out the first raid (night) that an officially American aeroplane has carried out. It is the beginning of action for the Northern Bombing Group. Ensign Taber is pilot and Ensign Fahey is observer. We were the last machine to leave the ground and flew to Ostend and made some very good hits on a repair station on the docks. The raid was very successful in every way though the visibility was not very good. My cage was very windy and the arrangement quite inconvenient but it can be improved. We were a long time on the way back and could not distinguish the channel lights until we were very near them. We landed on the drome at 12:30. The first machine to return and Lieut. Lovett was very pleased. Well I am lucky there’s no doubt about it. The crew of three was heartily greeted on the return and the C.O. took us to 214 in his car and then drove us to our quarters. While I was seated in the Cadillac I could not help asking myself “do you know who you are”. I was told at Killingholme what I officially was and there is no denying it but I am finding my level in spite of all the previous opposition to it. Oh this is a great day in my life. We saw not a single enemy scout but I was certainly ready in case there was one. Tonight I am sleeping at 214 again.”

    Rob M.
    (Always looking for good diaries!)

  2. #2

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    Hi Rob, thanks for taking the time to type all of this out for us to share. I loved the comment about the rocks!

    Cheers, Ade.

  3. #3

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    That's great! How long a period does he cover in the diary?


  4. #4

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group


    Great posting, I look forward to reading more!
    [B][COLOR=Black][SIZE=3][FONT=Book Antiqua][I] Steve[/I][/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/B]

    [CENTER][I][FONT=Georgia][COLOR=orange]Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?[/COLOR][/FONT]
    [SIZE=3][COLOR=lemonchiffon][I][CENTER][FONT=Georgia]"Fly on dear boy, from this dark world of strife. On to the promised land to eternal life"[/FONT][/CENTER]

  5. #5

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    There's two diaries. One is a five year diary covering 1913-1917. The other is a 1918 diary crammed full for all 12 months. There's actually one other memo book that he wrote several detailed pages about his first patrol over the North Sea. He says in it that he intends to write about each of his patrols in detail in this book. Sadly, very sadly, he didn't follow up.


  6. #6

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    Thank you for posting these entries. I look forward to reading more!

  7. #7

    Default Re: David Hale - Northern Bombing Group

    Here are some additional partial entries regarding the arrival of the first Caproni and the subsequent crash:

    Aug. 9 – “…in the evening our first Caproni biplane – three engine machine flew over and landed on the American drome. There was a general rush to view the new machine which was piloted to us by Spencer Grey colonel in R.A.F. …”

    Aug. 17 – “…I went up to our drome and attended to improvements on the after cage on the Caproni [the gunner’s “cage”]. Lieut. Lovett my C.O. gave me full permission to go ahead on it and has assigned me to the machine. There is a good crowd of mechanics, carpenters, etc. to carry out my ideas…”

    Aug. 19 – “Wright and I spend the morning and early afternoon on the range testing two English Lewis guns for the Caproni and then cleaning them…”

    Aug. 22 & 23 – “This morning we were very sorry to learn that Lieut. Fletcher had been killed when shot down off Ostend while acting as observer in the H.P. machine which Lieut. Hetherington piloting and Kennedy U.S. was gunner. During the day I was busy chasing around the drome getting my end of the Caproni ready for tonight and I had a hard job getting two English deflector bags. We stood by till eleven o’clock for the weather to clear and then pushed off on what was to be the last trip for B5 machine and Ensign Fahy and I for a time. Cheer-eo we made a good get away. We continued on our way to Zeebrugge and during the first half hour of this morning engine was so bad when we reached the lines that we made for Mardyck beach to land. Ensign Fahy told me to remain in the [gunner’s] cage, fortunately. We failed to straighten out in time and crashed on the beach. The noise of the crumbling machine is all I remember until I found myself staggering around on the beach and I caught a glimpse of the ruined machine out of my right eye, the left was completely closed up and the darkness and silence around the machine gave me fear that Taber and Fahy were badly injured until I heard Taber call to me and learned that Fahy was not seriously injured and Taber was o.k. We were carried to Queen Alexandera Hospital and as soon as I saw Sister Evans well cheer-eo.”

    (**always looking for good diaries!)**

    Photo of the Caproni showing a man standing in the gunner's cage:

    David Hale - Northern Bombing Group


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