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This Week in 1918 | First Loss...

Updated: Nov 11, 2018


13 - 19 May

Tuesday afternoon, 14 May, flying a mission over the Toul Sector near Vignot, France, Lt Angell and Lt Emerson drifted into a low hanging cloud bank. After a brief moment, their aircraft ripped through the clouds in a steep dive before vanishing behind the horizon. The sickening moment lingered as witnesses held their breath desperate to see the plane reemerge. It never did. Angell and Emerson's aircraft was found in a soft field, its nose buried four feet in the ground. Presumably, they were brought down by enemy fire. Only four days into combat, death's icy hand plunged into the heart of the 12th Aero Squadron claiming two souls. Death made its introduction refusing to remain a stranger.


Pilot, 2nd Lt. Cyril M. Angell, M.I.T. graduate and Massachusetts native was 23 years old. After enlisting in August 1917, Angell trained at the University of Illinois and with the Canadian Royal Flying Corps in Desertino, Canada and at Hicks, Texas. On 29 April 1918, he joined the 12th Aero Squadron. Not much else is currently known about this young man who gave his all in defense of his country.


His observer, New Yorker 2nd Lt. William Key Bond Emerson Jr. was 24 years old.

Bill joined the war in 1915 during his Junior year at Harvard. For six months he served in France with the American Field Service. In 1916, Bill returned to Harvard successfully completing his studies that same year. In January, 1917, he re-enlisted in the Ambulance Service this time serving in France during the Champagne offensive. He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his courage. When the United States finally joined the war, Lt. Emerson received a commission in the U.S. Army. He immediately began training in France as an Aerial Observer. He graduated top of his class and on 26 April,1918, he joined the 12th Aero Squadron. Bill was known to his classmates as a man with a big heart who never met a stranger. To his commanders, he was courageous, loyal and devoted to duty.

They were not the last to sacrifice their lives, but for the 12th, they were the first.

 

LETTER FROM WILBUR KENNEDY TO CARMELITE MILLER]. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2018, from http://mof.omeka.net/items/show/6296Museum of Flight

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 12 May 2018), memorial page for Lieut Cyril M Angell (9 Apr 1895–May 1918), Find A Grave Memorial no. 43229966, citing Vignemont Churchyard, Vignemont, Departement de l'Oise, Picardie, France ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) .

The Technology Review Relating to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(1st ed., Vol. XX). (1918). Cambrige: The Alumni Association of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

New England Aviators 1914-1918 . (1919). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

(Seymour, J. D. (Ed.). (1921). Memorial Volume of the American Field Service in France "Friends of France 1914-1917. Boston: American Field Service.

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

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