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Salonika anti aircraft defences


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#26 alldog

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:36 PM

Hi Simon,

Thank you once again for taking the time to attach some more of your superb photographs. The bombs I am sure are not from the LZ85 - the bombs found in amongst the wreckage were spherical and I have not seen any other types of bombs in amongst my photographs that resemble the bombs in the photographs. They could very well be from the float plane or like you say from a British source. Hopefully I will get some time to go through a few books on the weekend to see if I can clarify anything. The photographs are very interesting and so it will give me something to do on the weekend.

The mirror that I mentioned in my last post appears to be nothing more than an Edwardian shaving mirror - at least it will give the experts something to laugh about :-) Mind you I am still hopeful that someone will tell me that it is the holy grail of anti Zeppelin mirrors - used as an early death ray - and it's worth a fortune......but then I am also still waiting to win the lottery.

I am not sure if you have mentioned how you come across these great photographs - I hope you do not mind my asking?

I hope that you decide to add some more :-)

I will try to find out some bits of information on the weekend also that I can add to the thread rather than just being on the take.

Take care,

Kind regards

Ian

#27 high wood

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 05:46 AM

We would need to see the war diary for the RNVR AA unit to get a good idea of what the photographs might show. It could be that that the RAF Squadron based on Thasos stored bombs in a local grove that was hit during an air raid, or, that the bombs came from a crashed aircraft. Either way the trees seem to be shattered and charred. It is known from a previous post that there were attacks against the British positions on Thasos.

This photograph is captioned: Remains of Gotha seaplane brought into Thasos with 8 bombs still attached.

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#28 michaeldr

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 10:05 AM

the RAF Squadron based on Thasos


R.N.A.S. surely

#29 high wood

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 06:48 PM

Of course; in my defence it was 6.46 this morning and I had not long been out of bed.

#30 Rockdoc

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 07:36 PM

Ian, you say that the bombs recovered from the Zeppelin were spherical. Do you have any idea why they were not the more conventional shape? A conventional bomb can have fins fitted which will give a degree of guidance as it falls and make it much more likely that the nose, carrying the fuze, will strike first. A sphere has none of those attributes.

Keith (wishing he'd found thermodynamics & fluids an easier subject as an undergrad!)

#31 alldog

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:25 AM

Hi Simon and Keith,

Sorry to take so long in getting back to you both.

Simon, thank you once again for the superb photograph that you have posted. I will certainly go through my records over the weekend to see if I come up with anything. It is unlikely that I will have anything and think that you are right that only a diary of sorts would be able to confirm the actual incident/s - but it is worth a dig around in my pile of oddities! You really have a unique collection of photographs and it is great that you have shared them.

Keith, very good question. I am unsure as to why the LZ85 only appeared to be carrying sherical bombs. A variety of bombs were available to the Zeppelins and I do not know if it was through personal preference of the Zeppelin commander or limited supply meant that they had to use whatever they could get hold of. I have seen a photograph of a delivery of bombs to Temesvar from whence the Zeppelin launched her raids, the delivery only consisted of spherical bombs of two different sizes - all the Army Zeppelin division could spare from their other operations? The Zeppelins did drop more aero dynamic bombs early in the war and so why the LZ85 used the spherical type may remain a mystery. I have attached a photograph of the bombs found in amongst the wreckage and displayed on the quay at Salonika.

Kind regards

Ian

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#32 Rockdoc

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 07:35 AM

The fuzes must have been time- rather than contact-triggered but that isn't necessarily a handicap, especially because the altitude and, hence, time of fall would be accurately known at all times. The problem with a spherical shape is that it's much less likely to lodge where it drops. OK, bomb-aiming was a pretty hit-and-miss affair in WW1 but these might roll anywhere after landing. As you can tell, I'm very puzzled by these!

Keith

#33 alldog

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Posted 23 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

Hi Keith,

I have some more information on the bombs....

The spherical bombs appear to have been issued to the Army Zeppelin division only.

The smaller bomb was 50lbs and 8.5" in diameter, the larger was 230lbs and 14" in diameter - the 14" bombs are shown in the photograph.

The steel cased bombs were painted black and had a clockwork fuse with a delay action of 0.5 sec.

Although unconventional and about as aero dynamic as a satellite the weight of a bus on an uncontrolled collision course with Earth, you would not want either of them landing on your head! Scatter enough of them on a town and you would have a real life game of marble madness - with my luck I would find the lowest point of the town to hide! :-)

Kind regards

Ian

#34 Rockdoc

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 09:31 AM

I had no idea that the Germans had clockwork fuzes so early in the war. The British couldn't produce one, even by reverse-engineering German ones, and they eventually sub-contracted the project to the Swiss. I believe they were ready for use just as the war ended.

Keith

#35 alldog

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:45 AM

Hi Keith,

I have some drawings of the bombs somewhere in amongst my research material - I will try to dig them out for you.

Kind regards

Ian

#36 Rockdoc

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 02:02 PM

Thanks, Ian. I'll be pleased to see them. It might be better to upload them to somewhere like Photobucket, though, and paste links into this thread so that everyone gets the benefit.

Keith

#37 alldog

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:57 PM

Hi Simon and Keith,

Sorry for the delay in getting drawings of the bombs and further AA information - I have been very busy for the last few days, and my research material is in right royal mess!!! Will have something posted soon.

Kind regards

Ian

#38 Rockdoc

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:01 AM

We would need to see the war diary for the RNVR AA unit to get a good idea of what the photographs might show. .....


I know absolutely nothing about the Navy's contribution to AA work in WW1 so please excuse me if this is a daft question! Was the RNVR the only part of the Navy that operated AA guns in their spheres of influence? I know that there was a 3-in 20-cwt gun at Stavros and found a photo of it at the IWM but I don't know where to start looking for any information o the work it did.

Keith

#39 high wood

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:57 PM

I am really not sure is the honest answer. I have other photographs in my collection of a London based RNVR AA section Petty Officer which I posted elsewhere on the forum. If I remember correctly his unit were set up to defend against raiding Zeppelins. If you go on to the National Archives, documents on line, search facility and look for RNVR personnel with AA prefixes, a suprising number come up, 3,031 mainly London Division RNVR so I imagine that there must have been a large number of small AA batteries scattered about.

The caption to this photograph reads, after an action.

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#40 Kate Wills

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 07:04 PM

As is customary on the first saturday in October, the Salonika Campaign Society will be making our annual act of remembrance at The Cenotaph for those lost in the Macedonian theatre of war, followed by our AGM at the Civil Service Club.

Everyone is very welcome to join us at The Cenotaph at 11.30am

SCS website

#41 Rockdoc

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Posted 30 September 2011 - 07:37 PM

If you go on to the National Archives, documents on line, search facility and look for RNVR personnel with AA prefixes, a suprising number come up, 3,031 mainly London Division RNVR so I imagine that there must have been a large number of small AA batteries scattered about.


At the star of the War, the Navy was given the task of aerial defence around London so I'm not at all surprised that there are many London men in your list. I believe that the Army took over this operation later on but I'm not sure when or whether the Navy men continued at the same sites. I don't believe that the Army took over the defence of Naval establishments at any point in the War so there must have been some kind of RN AA organisation throughout the conflict. I have had no reason to research the Navy so I've no idea of how its organisation differed from that of the Army in the way Diaries or their equivalent were kept, for example.

Kate,

I'll see you at the Cenotaph tomorrow.

Keith

#42 Airman_Thasos

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 12:52 PM

Dear friends,

I have just joined the “Great War Forum” and, honestly speaking, it was this thread that prompted me to do so. Being a Greek aviation enthusiast, leaving just opposite to the aerodrome at Thasos (or at least where it used to be) and very close to Drama, Stavros, Xanthi and Gereviz, I am currently researching the history of air operations in this region (including the Salonica front and the NE Aegean theater) during the Great War…

Please let me offer an explanation of the scene of destruction around the aerodrome at Thasos, as shown in photographs “post-6480-0-16612300-1316500762.jpg”, “post-6480-0-58675900-1316500951.jpg” and “post-6480-0-63441800-1316500852.jpg”.

a) According to the war diary of Captain Augustine Francis Marlowe (R.N.A.S.): “Thasos appears to have had a nasty accident while I was away – accidental bomb explosion, killing and wounding several and destroying ten aircraft". This statement appears under the date of 27 August 1917. Marlowe left the Aegean theater of operations for Malta (Bighi Naval Hospital) on the 20th of April 1917. He had to recover from a bad Nieuport crash at Imbros salt lake that occurred on the 18th of March 1917. He returned at Mudros on the 24th of August 1917 and reported to Wing Captain Scarlett. So, according to Marlowe, between the 20th of April and the 24th of August 1917 there was a “nasty accident” at Thasos. But was it an accident?



B) Lieutenant General G.F.Milne, Commanding-in-Chief, British Salonica Front, in his “Summary of Information concerning the allied forces on this front for the month of August”, reports that:

“On August the 4th news was received from Thasos that the aerodrome there, belonging to the R.N.A.S., had been heavily bombed by hostile seaplanes. I offered a bombing squadron of the R.F.C. to the Vice-Admiral to carry-out, in conjunction with the R.N.A.S., a raid in retaliation on the enemy seaplane base at Gereviz, S.W. of Xanthi…”

So, according to Milne, the aerodrome at Thasos was heavily bombed on the 4th of August. But, was it bombed by the German seaplanes of the Xanthi (Gereviz) Seeflugstation?



c) Hauptman G. Heydemarck, in his famous book “War flying in Macedonia”, records a heavy night attack on Thasos aerodrome, planned and executed “on the spot” by Ltns Eschwege and Koning during a farewell party for their CO (i.e. Heydemarck) who was on leave to Uskub to recuperate from malaria. It was at least a “four weeks sick leave” as ordered by Captain von Blomberg. Then, Heydemarck would “take command of the Staff Photography Section until complete recovery”. Actually, Heydemarck took command of the Staff Photography Section on the 23rd of September 1917.


Therefore, going backwards in time and quoting Heydemarck, it is safe to suppose that early in August 1917, when an evening farewell party was going on at Drama’s officers’ mess, there was a partially successful night attack at Drama’s aerodrome by a single R.N.A.S. machine that had taken off from Thasos. A “heavy bomb fell close to the one-seaters tent. Halberstadts damaged by air pressure”. Eschwege proposed an immediate retaliatory attack on Thasos and offered Heydemarck the opportunity to bomb the allied aerodrome for the last time before his leave. However, Ltn Koning (who was to succeed Heydemarck in the command of the Drama FA30 section) held him back since he was “still too shaky” from his malaria and volunteered to “do the job”. There were “four explosive bombs stowed in the rack and two incendiary bombs in the cockpit” of their Rumpler. They took off around midnight, they reached Thasos approximately half an hour later, Koning shot up a searchlight which was scouring the air, they avoided “the gleaming phosphorus shells” of a “quickfirer”, spotted the “gleaming Bessoneau hangars at the edge of the mulberry plantation” that “flanked the aerodrome in a wide semi-circle” and left the explosive bombs which fell close to a hangar. Then, in another approach Koning dropped the two incendiary bombs on a hangar and, although at first they spotted no bursts, suddenly as they were heading for Drama, the two bombs went off in a spectacular way destroying the hangar. According to Heydemarck, “…a hangar containing six machines blazes up to heaven like a huge torch. The incendiary bombs have fired it! …Moreover, the grass – dry as hay – has taken fire. The English soldiers are trying to extinguish the blaze on the aerodrome. That, of course, they must not do! Eschwege puts his machine on her nose, and fires as he whirls down towards the aerodrome. Then he circles round the scene of conflagration so that Koning can take it with his pivotable gun. The English retreat under the hail of bullets; the fire spreads outwards until it reaches the mulberry plantation… And then – a mighty explosion hurls sheaves of fire up into the sky; the flames have reached the bomb depot and sent its contents up”. On the following morning, Heydemarck sends Koning and Corporal Keller to Thasos, with Eschwege as an escort, “so that they could photograph the scene of the conflagration”.



Conclusion

That lengthy and detailed report of the attack on Thasos aerodrome occupies a whole chapter in Heydemarck’s book and leaves little doubts as to what actually happened there in August 1917. But why, did everyone on the allied part, assumed that the attack was an all out German seaplanes’ affair? My personal opinion is that, the Xanthi Seeflugstation, had already been responsible for a number of daylight attacks (or attempts to attack) on Thasos. Only two days earlier from the date in the aforementioned report of Ltn Genaral Milne (i.e. on the 2nd of August 1917), Flt Ltn Moraitinis, CO of the Greek “Z” squadron, flying a Sopwith Pup, shot down near Kavala one enemy seaplane (of a formation of three) attacking Thasos. Moreover, the attack on Thasos was executed at night (though at full moon) and it would have been extremely difficult for the defenders to make out the types of the visiting enemy aircraft. Regarding Captain Marlowe’s war diary – again according to my humble opinion – the statement concerning the “Thasos accident” is either based on wrong information in respect of the actual cause of the destruction there, or he simply confuses it with the accidental explosion that wiped out “F” Squadron at Marian on the 27th of May, just days before it’s planned withdrawal to Thasos. But this is another story…

Hope, this helped a little...
Best Regards,
Paschalis



#43 Rockdoc

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:41 PM

Welcome to the Forum and thanks for your contribution. It's always good to have a local's perspective on events.

Keith



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