Excerpts from 59 Squadron's Work Record Book
The Squadron arrived at Cagnicourt from St Omer on Monday 26 February 1917. At that time there were 21 pilots and 17 observers using 12 aircraft.
On 27 February 1917 Major R. Egerton is recorded as having took Second Lieutenant Andrew Ormerod on a practice flight in an R.E.8, number A3430. They took off at 2.15 p.m. and landed back at the airfield at 4.30 p.m. having had a successful but uneventful flight in misty conditions.
On 28 February 1917 Andrew teamed up with Second Lieutenant Arthur Horace Tanfield, with whom he was to die some six weeks later. They used R.E.8 A4164, but reported bad visibility on their test flight, which took place between 3.25 p.m. and 4.00 p.m., in dull conditions with low clouds.
Thursday 1 March 1917 saw Andrew fly with Captain F.J. Roberts in R.E.8 A3417. They were flying to test the gun on this aircraft, which jammed when operated. They brought the aircraft back after a very short flight of five minutes - between 10.25 a.m. and 10.30 a.m.
Having had the gun repaired they took off again at 11.45 a.m., returning at 12.15 a.m. having had a successful flight and reporting the "gun OK".
Thirty minutes later Andrew was observer in R.E.8 A4163, when Second Lieutenant B.W. Hill made a successful test flight from 12.45 p.m. until 2.00 p.m.
A misty morning changed to bright intervals on the afternoon of 2 March 1917, allowing Andrew to team up with Second Lieutenant Philip Bentinck Boyd, in R.E.8 4164, on a patrol of the lines between 3.15 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. Although they had a successful flight they had nothing to report on their return.
There was no flying on 3 March 1917 due to low clouds and bad visibility, but on 4 March 1917 Andrew went on another line patrol, again in R.E.8 4164. This time Second Lieutenant G.A.D. Hancock was the pilot.
The flight, which was recorded as a successful practice with nothing to report, lasted from 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m.
In the afternoon Andrew and Arthur Tanfield took the same aircraft up in "generally fine weather but poor visibility" for a Panneau test between 3.30 p.m. and 4.55 p.m.
Another Panneau test took place on 6 March 1917, when Lieutenant Hancock and Andrew carried out a successful test in R.E.8 A3426 between 2.45 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. in fine weather.
Dull weather and strong winds prevented flying on 7 and 8 March 1917, but fine weather on the morning of 9 March 1917 allowed another successful Pannea practice, from 10.05 a.m. to 10.35 a.m. in R.E.8 A3426 with Lieutenant Boyd Snow.
Acting as observer to Captain Roberts, in R.E.8 A3417, Andrew set off on a practice flight at 10.40 a.m. on the morning of Sunday 11 March 1917, but a "missing engine" meant that they had to return for repairs, landing at 11.00 a.m.
In they afternoon they took off in the same plane - at 2.30 p.m. - on a reconnaissance of the trenches. On their return at 3.10 p.m. Andrew reported "at 2.54 p.m. a green Very light was fired from a German communication trench at approximately W24c 3.0 just north of Monchy au Bois, The trench and the surrounding trenches were watched for about 10 minutes but nothing was seen. Fires were seen (about 8) just south of above villages. Reconnaissance stopped on account of rain."
Monday 12 March 1917 saw low clouds at 800 feet all day, with weather stopping all but two patrol flights in the morning.
Tuesday 13 March 1917 saw a slight improvement in the weather allowing Andrew to go on patrol with Captain Robert in R.E.8 A3417 - although at the end of the flight it was reported that the weather was too misty for accurate observation.
The flight began at 3.20 p.m. and on their return at 4.35 p.m. Andrew reported "No flashes seen. A large number fires observed all along the line about 5,000 yards back, principally round villages. At 4.26 p.m. a very large column of thick white smoke was seen to rise from behind Ablainzeville, approx F23d or 24c. This was still smoking at the end of patrol". The weather for the day, reported by T.H. Nesbitt, the Recording Officer for the Squadron, was "Weather poor - better towards the evening visibility Nil."
On Thursday 15 March 1917 R.E.8 3433 was reported as having a faulty radio when Andrew and Lieutenant Lindley took it for a test flight between 10.35 a.m. and 11.00 a.m.
In the afternoon the same crew took R.E.8 4164 on a practice patrol from 3.15 p.m. to 3.55 p.m.
The weather was still causing problems for the Squadron. On Friday 16 March 1917 it was fine all day, but with poor visibility in the morning, and in the afternoon this prevented photographs being taken, when Andrew and Lieutenant Boyd took R.E.8 A3426 on a reconnaissance flight between 2.15 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. Andrew's report on his return stated that they had seen smoke at Forest Lodge, Adinfer Wood - "Further observation prevented by clouds."
A note in the Work Record stated that Lieutenant Muirhead was killed on that same day.
On his next flight, on Saturday 17 March 1917, Andrew reported "Large columns of smoke seen at Ablainzeville & Boury. At 1.50 p.m. numerous fires seen around above villages". The patrol with Lieutenant Lindley in R.E.8 A4164 lasted from 12.35 p.m. to 2.55 p.m.
Andrew did not fly again until 25 March 1917, and may have been ill or injured in some way.
On 17 March 1917 the number of observers available to the Squadron was noted as 15, 1 on leave and 2 in hospital.
On 18 March 1917 the number of observers available was noted as 13, 1 on leave and 2 in hospital.
Andrew Ormerod did not fly again until 25 March 1917, when the number of observers available was 15, 1 on leave and 1 in hospital.
At 08.40 a.m. on 25 March 1917, when Lieutenant Hancock and Andrew, in R.E.8 3433 provided escort to the crews of A3421, A3426 and A3422 on a photographic mission. The formation flew at 4000 feet from Cagnicourt to Vis en Artois in very misty conditions. Captain Burney and Lieutenant Mackinnon, in their report of the patrol, said that at "9.00 a.m. Scout escort fired red Very Lights, 3 machines seen falling. Hostile machines observed (at least 8 in number). Several of the hostile machines dived on one of our machines in rear of formation. This machine went down in flames."
Four aircraft of the Squadron practiced formation flying on Tuesday 28 March 1917, and Arthur Tanfield and Andrew performed an escort duty in R.E.8 A4164 from 10.50 a.m. to 11.50 a.m.
Although the weather was fair that day , the visibility was reported as bad. The weather got worse and low clouds and rain prevented any flying on 29 March 1917.
Arthur Tanfield and Andrew appear that have been teamed up at about this time, as many of Andrew's remaing flights were with Arthur.
In R.E.8 4164 they had a successful practice photography flight on 3 April 1917 between 2.40 p.m. and 3.30 p.m., and on their return they were able to report that they had taken eight photographs.
On Thursday 5 April 2003, in R.E.8 A3433 they took off on a photographic mission at 11.55 a.m., but were forced to return to the airfield at 12.15 p.m. because of poor visibility. A second attempt in the afternoon between 2.35 p.m. and 3.15 p.m., again in R.E.8 A3433, proved no more successful - visibility being poor.
The Work Record for 5 April 2003 was signed by Major Egerton (Officer Commanding), rather than T.H. Nesbitt.
A photographic mission on 6 April 1917, in R.E.8 A4164, also ended unsuccessfully, no exposures being made on account of H.A. (Hostile Aircraft) and H.A.A. (Hostile Anti-Aircraft) guns.
A formation of four aircraft, including Arthur Tanfield and Andrew in R.E.8 A4614, took off for a line patrol on 7 April 1917 at 12.30 a.m., but returned at 12.55 p.m. because one machine had fallen out of formation.
The weather that day was described as "fine, low clouds and winds". In the evening, between 6.00 p.m. and 6.25 p.m., Andrew and Arthur Tanfield provided escort, in R.E.8 A4614 for a photographic mission that had to be abandoned because of the cloud cover.
Early on Sunday 8 April 1917, using the same aircraft, they provided escort to a patrol which took place between 6.40 a.m. and 7.40 a.m. In the report made by Lieutenants Horne and Chalk, who were flying R.E.8 4178, the route taken by the patrol was given as Neuville St Vaast and Thelus to Vancourt. They also reported dropping two bombs on Riencourt.
Andrew teamed up with Lieutenant Hancock in R.E.8 A3433 on an escort to a photography mission later that day.
This mission was unsuccessful, as clouds prevented any photography during the flight, which lasted from 10.00 a.m. until midday. Using the same aircraft they took off again at 2.30 p.m. on the same photographic mission, which this time was successful - with 18 plates exposed.
They landed at Le Hameau at 3.20 p.m., and left there at 4.40 p.m., arriving back at their home airfield of Cagnicourt at 4.50 p.m.
9 April 1917 saw Andrew as observer for Lieutenant Craig in R.E.8 A3203 on a line patrol from 12.45 p.m. to 2.45 p.m. A red flare was observed at 1.40 p.m. at B27c, and Andrew reported seeing "Troops near railway cutting at B26". At Waincourt they saw clouds of smoke rolling along the ground.
Although the Work Record shows the same flight with Lieutenant Craig landing at 2.45 p.m., it also shows Andrew taking off again, in the same aircraft, at 2.15 p.m. for a successful practice flight with Arthur Tanfield which lasted until 3.30 p.m. The purpose of this flight was to contact 88 Brigade on the ground.
R.E.8 A3203 was used by Lieutenant Craig and Andrew on April 10 1917, for a patrol from 3.35 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. 2 flares were seen approximately between "main road and village of Fanpoux H17c" at 4.20 p.m. and another at H24c. Andrew reported that they could not accurately locate them owing to a snowstorm.
The weather that day at Cagnicourt was recorded as "strong winds and snow - bright intervals."
On April 12 1917 Arthur Tanfield and Andrew were recalled by ground control after taking off in R.E.8 A3210 for escort duty at 9.45 a.m. They landed back at the airfield at 10.10 a.m. They made another attempt at line patrol in R.E.8 A3225 between 5.40 and 6.05 p.m., but had to return early because of rain and bad visibility.
The R.E.8 they used on this flight and the following day had only been delivered to the Squadron the day before. Lieutenant Boyd had collected the machine from 2AD, and flown from the Dispersal Centre at 6.30 p.m., landing at Cagnicourt at 6.45 p.m. He reported the test flight satisfactory.
The aircraft had made two other flights on April 12 1917, both logged as practice - between 11.15 a.m. and 11.45 a.m. by Lieutenant Lea, and from 12.00 p.m. until 12.20 p.m. - and both recorded as satisfactory.
Friday 13 April 1917 was Andrew's last day. He and Arthur Tanfield took off in R.E.8 A3225 on escort duty in support of 5 other aircraft - A3203 with pilot Lieutenant Philip Bentinck Boyd and observer Lieutenant Philip Oliphant Ray; A3199 piloted by Lieutenant Watson, with obsever Lieutenant Law; A3416 with Captain George Bailey Hodgson and observer Lieutenant Charles Herbert Morris; A3190 with Captain James Maitland Stuart as pilot and Lieutenant Maurice Herbert Wood as observer; and A4191 piloted by Lieutenant Herbert George McMillan Horne with Lieutenant Chalk as observer.
The note against each of these aircraft in the Squadron Work Record reads "Machine not returned owing to casualty."
With the exception of Lieutenants Watson, Law and Chalk, all the pilots and observers are listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register as having died on 13 April 1917.
|The entries in 59 Squadron's Record Book for Friday 13 April 1917|