The Great War (1914-1918) was the first of its kind. No other war had involved so many
nations for so many silly reasons. Twenty eight nations on six continents were at each
other's throat, drawn in to that meat grinder known as World War I. It is estimated that
between 10 and 13 million combatants perished and beyond the dead, an additional 21
million persons were wounded. The political egos, entanglements, and intrigues are beyond
belief as are the bungling, incompetence, and mismanagement by the military of all the
contestants. I need only point to the Gallipoli campaign, where out of date tourist maps
were handed to General Sir Ian Hamilton and off he sailed without a plan for invasion. All
of this because the British were repaying a favor to Grand Duke Nicholas (Wren, 1971). Of
course who can forget General Joffre? This French main man, who insisted on two gourmet
meals per day and went to bed promptly at 10 PM. No one dared wake him...Verdun could wait
till the morning(Wren, 1971). Thus keeping in tune with the flavor of this history, we
embark to chronicle our squadron's history and impact on that little known theater called
Egypt/Palestine. When the guns of August 4 1914 were fired and "the lights of Europe
went out", we were there.......
Our story really begins in July 1914. It was a dark and stormy night...I mean ..at that
time the Ottoman Empire had ordered 15 Nieuport 6H seaplanes from France. These were
en-route to delivery in November when the Turks entered the war and sided with the Central
Powers(Davilla and Soltran, 1997; Wren 1971). Because the Turks were no longer
"friends", six of the N6H's were diverted and transferred to Malta via the
seaplane carrier "Foudre". The N6H's were unable to take off at full gross
weight and performed miserably. Sooo being totally disgusted with the aircraft, Admirall
Augusting Boure de Lapeyere, commander of the Armee Navale decided to get rid of them,
some how, some way. Meanwhile in Egypt, Lt. General Sir John Maxwell, commander of the
British Forces, and defender of the Suez Canal had need for reconnaissance aircraft to
keep an eye on the Turks in the area. Although the total British presence was one Indian
Brigade an air reconnaissance base was established in Port Said(Jones, 1935). The Royal
Naval Air Service then placed an order for 24 of the new Nieuport 10 two-seaters. As the
paperwork caught up to the French Procurement department, and thence to Admirall de
Lapeyere, there occurred some acquisition error, and a mix of N6, N10 and 12's were sent
to Port Said. The original paperwork allocated serial numbers 3163-3186 as N10 but further
research shows the French allocated serial numbers 3170-3173 as N12! (Davilla and Soltran,
1997). Our research suggests that one Jean Ballouer, shipping clerk, and son in law to
Admiral de Lapeyere, solved everybody's problem by artfully massaging the bill of lading
from the "Foudre". Thus in one fell swoop, he got his father-in-law out of a
jam, dumped unwanted aircraft on his personal nemesis, the British, and still managed to
supply needed aircraft.
We believe he went on to consult with the US government and founded the General
Accounting Office or the IRS, we are not sure, as Jean covered his tracks well. Now to
make things more interesting, the N12 that were delivered to Port Said were originally to
serve at Imbros, under No. 2 Wing, and scheduled to support the Gallipoli troops. However,
when Djemal Pasha and Baron Kress von Kressonstein attempted an attack on the Suez in Feb.
1915, all bets were off. Suddenly the British became very interested in maintaining a
presence in Egypt, and materials and troops poured into the area (Baldwin, 1962). Mucking
around Cairo during this time was a young archeologist, one T.E. Lawrence. Lawrence had
befriended many an Arab whilst digging for artifacts in Egypt and Palestine, and knew the
desert like the back of his sandals. He proved to be valuable to Sir John Maxwell and the
other commanders who followed. That replacement followed pretty quick, and General Sir
Archibald Murray was placed in charge of the Egyptian campaign.
There followed a curious letter from Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner to
Cairo, to Husain-Ibn Ali, Serif of Mecca, written Oct 1915.. a Tuesday afternoon. In part
it reads:...."Point 2- Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places.. against all
external aggression. Thus the stage was set for the formation of a little known, highly
valued reconnaissance squadron, formed under the 111 wing. This squadron, though unknown
to most of the western world became the legendary "Lost Squadron".
From Feb. 1915 till June 1916 many adventures befell the "Lost Squadron "or
"LS", as they were known to the military intelligence community. Although the
period of '15-'16 was a militarily quiescent time in Egypt, many recently declassified
reconnaissance missions were flown. The majority of these missions, as will be told, were
designed to keep an "eye on the Turk" but most importantly, as dictated by the
McMahon letter.. "to protect the Holy Places". Thus charged, our band of
fearless reconn flyers stumbled into the backwaters of history.
Commanded by Clive Thomas Heydor-Whetwissel, Cmdr, RNAS, the LS was composed of Cpt.
Reginald Boughton "Bunny" Osgood; Cpt. Thomas Edward "Pinkie" Heep;
1Lt. Lloyd Colin "Woody" Woodgate; 1Lt. Angus Dundee "Scottie"
McTavish and a French expatriot, one 2Lt Jacques Marie Dominique "The Mole" Levesque.
In December of 1915 the squadron was joined by Capt. Renee Vendrine, a French ace in search of
the deserter, Jacque Levesque. Sometime in late 1915, the Lost Squadron gained another (and actually decent) member in Winston Havelock.
Known to all as "Young Winston", Havelock served as "all round good chap" and animal keeper. Rank and official
military attachments are unknown