A World War Remembrance

By Guest Contributor October 13, 2016 11:26
L.D. Larson

L.D. Larson

A World War Remembrance

By Bill Edwards

One hundred years ago, my father-in-law L.D. Larson, was sent to England as a member of the 11th Aero Squadron which subsequently shipped over to the First World War battleground in Maulan, France. He flew in the De Havilland DH-4 day bombardment aircraft as a rear gunner. He saw combat during the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.

He was a draftsman by trade and took numerous photos of the flight crews and aerial pictures of the battle areas, including the bombing of Montmedy, France, which was occupied by the “Bosch” (Germans). He meticulously kept these photos with captions, including group photos of squadron members, identifying each airman in them, individually!

11-bomb-squadronIn November 1918, the squadron was moved back to England with their aircraft. The officers left for the U.S. and the enlisted aircrews remained at an English airfield, sleeping under their airplanes.

When July 4th, 1918 rolled around, the idle aircrews decided to celebrate by setting a bunch of petrol (gasoline) containers on fire in the middle of the airfield. The next morning they were summoned to the English base commander’s headquarters to suffer his admonitions.

Their first sergeant marched them to that facility and put them at ease. The English adjutant appeared and called them to attention. No one moved. They were told that they were required to come to attention in the presence of an Allied (English) officer. The first sergeant responded, “I will not call my men to attention to be chastised by you for celebrating the anniversary of the date we kicked your tails in 1776.” They then marched off to their aircraft.

At dinner time, they marched to the English dining hall and upon entering there was a sign posted saying, “Yanks, this line.” They were serving some kind of “mush” as my father-in-law told me, but the other regular line was serving lamb chops, potatoes and other goodies to the “Limeys”, the favorite name for their English hosts.

The “Yanks” decided to ignore the sign and going down the line, they were refused to be served by the cooks. The first “Yank” reached for a lamb chop and was stabbed in the hand by one of the servers. All hell broke loose, and the “Yanks” barricaded themselves in the kitchen and plates and cups started flying from both sides. The English ate off china plates, so when all the melee was broken up by the military police, it was all smashed to smithereens.

Their marching orders conveniently came to subsequently board the USS Henry R. Mallory from Bordeaux, France on April 21, 1919 at 3:10pm arriving at Brooklyn, New York on May 1st at 10am, for its last Atlantic trip.

I have the album containing many photos, documents, and accountings of other activities the airmen engaged in upon return to the United States.

11th Squadron officers

11th Squadron officers

curtiss-b-2-condor-formation-flight

Curtiss B-2 Condor formation flight; aircraft were assigned to 11th Bombardment Squadron

bill-edwards-photo-for-readers-journal-copyBill Edwards, 86, is a Tuolumne resident and pilot who has “walked away” from two airplane crashes, earning him the nickname “Crash”.

By Guest Contributor October 13, 2016 11:26
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