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This Week in 1918...Armistice

1 - 11 November 1918


The last days of the war were evidently very exciting ones for the 12th. Details are scarce but four members were awarded the Silver Star for their actions on 1 November: 1Lt Clifford E. Gregory, 2Lt Frank Over Jr., 2Lt Maurice C. Owen and 1Lt William C. Thomas[1].


The very next day, November 2nd, 1st Lt Kenneth Holden and his observer 2nd Lt Clinton S. Breese were on an infantry contact mission when they were attacked by four Fokkers. Holden managed to escape the onslaught but knowing the importance of their mission, the crew turned back, attacked the formation sending one to the ground and finished the mission [1].


Deteriorating weather prevented flying after Nov 6th giving the men of the 12th some much needed rest [2].


At 11:00 A.M. on 11 November 1918, World War I was finished.The worst war humanity had ever experienced was finally over. Roughly 9 million soldiers were killed and 25 million wounded. An estimated 5 million civilians lost their lives in the conflict not to mention millions more displaced [3].


Nations around the globe celebrated the end of this horrific conflict.

Lt. Kennedy was in Paris as part of a panel investigating aircrew parachute systems when the Armistice was announced. He and his good friend Keith celebrated with the Parisians for two days straight. He described crowded streets, cheering crowds, guns booming and flags hanging everywhere. At night, for the fist time in four years, every light that could be found was lit to its fullest extent [4].



Americans in the midst of the celebration on the Grand Boulevard on Armistice Day for World War I in Paris, France, on November 11, 1918. # AP / U.S. Army Signal Corps

The 12th Aero Squadron was the second American observation squadron and the fourth American squadron to begin combat operations at the front. In eight months they moved eleven times flying in poor weather on muddy fields through hostile conditions. The 12th earned seven campaign ribbons and five aerial victories [5]. Fifty-two of the 12th's aircraft were lost or destroyed from forced landings, crashes or enemy action [4]. Eight of those were shot down behind enemy lines [4].


12th Aero Squadron 12 November 1918 Joulvecourt, France

Of the 124 identified officers flying with the 12th, eight were killed in action, three killed in accidents, five captured and at least seven confirmed wounded in action [2].


Combat records for the 12th are incomplete, however, from 10 August to 11 November the 12th flew 503 combat sorties and fired 25,000 rounds at enemy troops [6]. The 12th built a reputation of excellence and dedication as evidenced by the sixteen Distinguished Service Crosses and fifteen Silver Stars awarded to her crews [1].


What should be said of the men of the 12th Aero Squadron?

May they ever be remembered for their selfless acts of courage and dedication to the cause of freedom. May they ever more be remembered as human for they were fathers, husbands and sons. All members of humanity eventually perish. It is not the length but how we choose to live our lives our existence. Let it be said of these men that they were fearless. Let it be said that they truly lived. I leave you with the words of the 12th's own Lt. Sigourney Thayer on this 100th anniversary of the Armistice.


The Dead


“I Feared the lonely dead, so old were they, -

Decrepit, tired beings, ghastly white,

With withered breasts and eyes devoid of sight,

Forever mute beneath the sodden clay;

I feared the lonely dead, and turned away

From thoughts of somber death and endless night;

Thus, through the dismal hours I longed for light

To drive my utter hopelessness away.

But now my nights are filled with flowered dreams

Of singing warriors, beautiful and young;

Strong men and boys within whose eyes there gleams

The triumph song of worlds unknown, unsung;

Grim death has vanished, leaving in its stead

The shining glory of the living dead.”


1Lt Sigourney Thayer, 12th Aero Squadron [7]



12th Aero Squadron University of Texas Dallas Special Collections George H. Williams, Jr. Collection, 4GHWC-25-10-PB041 Box 25 Folder 10


Campaigns


 

Lorraine

Ile-de-France

Champagne-Marne

Aisne-Marne

Champagne

St. Mihiel

Meuse-Argonne



Assigned Airfields

 

Ourches, France

Flin, France

Saints, France

Francheville, France

Moras Ferme France

May-en-Multien, France

Coincy, France

Chailly- en-Brie, France

Toul, France

Remicourt, France

Julvecourt, France



Aerial Victories

 

1Lt Dogan Arthur & 1Lt Howard Fleeson

3


1Lt John C. Miller & 1Lt Stephen W. Thompson

2


Capt Elmer Haslett (Unconfirmed)

1


1Lt Kenneth Holden (Unconfirmed)

1



KILLED IN ACTION

 

2nd Lt. Cyril M. Angel

14 May 1918


2nd Lt. William Key Bond Emerson

14 May 1918


Captain E. P. Hinds (Accident)

24 June 1918


1st Lt. A. J. Bradford

25 July 1918


1st Lt. Alfred N. Joerg

25 July 1918


2nd Lt. John Cooper Lumsden

28 July 1918


1st Lt. John C. Miller

28 July 1918


1st Lt. Alvin C. Goodale (Accident )

14 September 1918


1st Lt. Edwin Orr (Accident)

14 September 1918


1st Lt. Wistar Morris

29 September 1918


1st Lt. Sidney W. Beauclerk

29 October 1918



Prisoners of War

 

2nd Lt. Alfred B. Baker

28 July 1918


1st Lt. Cassius H. Styles

29 September 1918


1st Lt. Robert A. Patterson

29 October 1918


2nd Lt. John F. Foy

30 October 1918


1st Lt. Harold D. Muller

30 October 1918



Wounded in Action

 

1st Lt. Armin F. Herold

24 June 1918


2nd Lt. Samuel A. Bowman

4 October 1918


1st Lt. Ralph C. Keely

7 October 1918


2nd Lt. Herbert Souder Bean

19 October 1918



Distinguished Service Cross

 

Captain William Harrison Saunders

25 May 1918


1st Lt. Benjamin P. Harwood

5 July 1918


1st Lt. Edward Orr (Posthumous)

28 August 1918


1st Lt. Phil A. Henderson

28 August 1918


Captain Dogan H. Arthur

12 September 1918

2nd Lt. Howard T. Fleeson

12 September 1918


1st Lt. Robert C. Paradise

26 September 1918


1st Lt. Burdette S. Wright

26 September 1918


Captain Elmer R. Haslett

28 September 1918


2nd Lt. Samuel Bowman

4 October 1918


1st Lt. Justin P. Follette

15 October 1918


Captain Stephen H. Noyes

15 October 1918


Captain Dogan H. Arthur

18 & 30 October 1918


2nd Lt. Howard T. Fleeson

30 October 1918


2nd Lt. Clinton S. Breese

2 November 1918


1st Lt. Kenneth H. Holden

2 November 1918



Silver Star

 

Captain William Harrison Saunders

25 May 1918


1st Lt. Eugene E. Stuck

23 July 1918


2nd Lt. Clinton S. Breese

1918


1st Lt. Sigourney Thayer

13 September 1918


1st Lt. Leslie McClurg

13 September 1918


1st Lt. Cassius H. Styles

16 September 1918


1st Lt. Robert C. Paradise

24 September 1918


1st Lt. Burdette S. Wright

26 September 1918


1st Lt. Robert L. Davidson

17 October 1918


1st Lt. Leslie McClurg

18 October 1918


1st Lt. Robert L. Davisdson

18 October 1918


1st Lt. Clifford E. Gregory

23 Oct & 4 Nov 1918


2nd Lt. Frank Over Jr.

1 November 1918


2nd Lt. Maurice C. Owen

1 November 1918


1st Lt. William C. Thomas

1 November 1918



Commanders

 

Major L. G. Heffernan

2 June 1917


1st Lt George F. Hughes

18 Oct 1917 – 23 Jan 1918


Major Harry M. Brown

28 Jan 1918


Major Lewis H. Brereton

29 Mar 1918


Captain Stephen N. Noyes

1 July 1918


1st Lt Robert C. Paradise

25 Oct 1918


Captain Dogan H. Arthur

25 Feb 1919?


Major John C. Kennedy

No date


Major William Harrison Saunders (Unconfirmed)

No date



Citations

 

1. (2016). Retrieved from Hall of Valor: http://valor.militarytimes.com

2. Gorrell. (n.d.). Gorrell's History of the A.E.F. Air Service Section E. Vol 3. Squadron Histories.

3. Overview of World War I Digital History ID 2919. (n.d.). Retrieved November 11, 2018, from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/era.cfm?eraid=12&smtid=1

4. (2018) The Wilbur D. Kennedy Collection/The Museum of Flight retrieved from https://mof.omeka.net/items/show/15758

5. AFHRA. (2015, November 11). USAF Squadron Fact Sheet 12th Reconnaissance Squadron. Retrieved from Air Force Historical Research Agency: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet_print.asp?fsID=9796&page=1

6. James J. Sloan, "The 12th Aero Observation Squadron" American Historical Aviation Journal Spring 1965 p.47-52

7. Thayer, H. J. (2013, August). Wartime Pilot, Poet, Episcopal Minister and Theatrical Producer Sigourney Thayer Lived. Thayer Quarterly , 21(2).




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