‘Naval Eight’ Chapter 1
Formation and Early Days in France
During the second half of 1915, the reorganisation and expansion of the R.N.A.S. in the Dover Patrol was taking place in accordance with the plans of Wing Captain (now
squadrons of 18 machines each, to have a central repair depot at Dunkirk, and to base a local defence and training squadron on Dover. Sites were chosen for aerodromes between Dunkirk and Bergues, and by April, 1916, No. 1 Wing was established at St. Pol, No. 5 at Coudekerque, and No. 4 Wing at Petite-Synthe. Whilst this expansion was taking place, Wing Captain Lambe had also succeeded in getting a new organisation approved which would bring the R.N.A.S. more into line with the R.F.C., and from this date onwards a flight became six machines, a squadron two or more flights, and a wing two or more squadrons.
During the summer of 1916, arrangements were made between Wing Captain Lambe and General Trenchard for R.N.A.S. squadrons to carry out a bombing programme in the northern area in order to divert air activity from the Somme front, and in the early autumn a further step was taken to relieve the pressure on the R.F.C. on this Front by obtaining Admiralty approval to lend a fighting squadron to the R.F.C., for duty on the Somme.
It was decided to form this squadron by taking one flight from each of the Dunkirk Wings, so No. l Wing provided six Sopwith “Pups,” No. 4 Wing six “Nieuports,” and No. 5 Wing six Sopwith “1½ Strutters."
Air Vice-Marshal Sir) C. L. Lambe who had assumed Command of the Air Forces at Dover and Dunkirk in August, 1915. In order to carry out a vigorous offensive in the spring of 1916, he had obtained approval to increase the Air Forces in the Command to eight