Command Structure (WWI)

RESEARCH NOTES

Royal_Flying_Corps_cap_badge

February 1916 to January 1917

No 35. Squadron was formed in February 1916 as “a Corps Squadron, capable of providing medium and short distance aerial reconnaissance for one of the Army Corps”.

At that time, the Royal Flying Corps was expanding rapidly and its structure was being adapted to cope with the increasing number of squadrons.

In the UK, a series of “Brigades” had been formed, each consisting of a number of “Wings” with each of these consisting of a number of “Squadrons”.

In May 1916, the UK “Wings” were reconfigured on a regional basis under the command of VI Brigade, which subsequently was renamed Training Brigade (20/07/1916)

As a result of the various changes, No. 35 Squadron came under the command of the following Wings / Brigades whilst it was training and working up to operational readiness from February 1916 to January 1917:

  • As at 03/02/1916: 6th Wing, VI Brigade RFC
  • As at 01/05/1916: 7th Wing, VI Brigade RFC
  • As at 20/07/1916: 7th Wing, Training Brigade RFC

January 1917 to 1919

When No. 35 Squadron mobilised to France in January 1917, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in France consisted of a Headquarters Wing with:

  • Aeroplane Supply Depot
  • Aircraft Depot
  • Engine Repair Shops
  • Brigades

Chart showing structure of RFC in France
[Courtesy of Mike Meech (Original Source not known)]

Each Brigade consisted of :

  • An Army Wing, consisting of a variable number of squadrons
  • A Corps Wing, normally consisting of one squadron per Corps in the Army
  • A Balloon Wing, normally consisting of one balloon company per Corps in the Army
  • An Army Aircraft Park (a mobile depot of stores and spare parts).

Each Brigade was allotted to a specific army (eg 1st Brigade to I Army, 2nd Brigade to II Army).

Chart showing structure of “Brigades”

No. 35 Squadron came under the command of the following Wings / Brigades whilst it was mobilised to France:

  • 7th Wing, Training Brigade (UK)
  • January 1917: HQ, RFC (France) (Attached to the Cavalry Corps [III Army])
  • xx/xx/1917: 12th Corps Wing, 3rd Brigade, RFC (Attached to the Cavalry Corps [III Army])
  • 09/03/1918: 15th Corps Wing, 5th Brigade, RFC (Attached to the 19th Corps [IV Army])
  • 05/04/1918: 15th Corps Wing, 5th Brigade, RFC (Attached to the 3rd Corps [IV Army])
  • 06/10/1918: 15th Corps Wing, 5th Brigade, RFC (Attached to the 13th Corps [IV Army])
  • 10/11/1918: 5th Brigade, RFC Advanced Force [Bethell’s Force])
  • xx/xx/1919: 91st Wing

It should be noted that the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was restructured when the Royal Air Force (RAF) was formed on 1st April 1918

Orders of Battle

The following information, which has been extracted from “Order of Battle of the British Armies in France (including Lines of Communication Units)” shows the structure of the RFC / RAF in France during 1917 and 1918. (All images are © Crown Copyright)

27th January 1917

27-01-1917

3rd March 1917

03-03-1917

14th April 1917

14-04-1917

1st July 1917

01-07-1917

1st August 1917

01-08-1917

16th September 1917

16-09-1917

9th November 1917

09-11-1917

22nd December 1917

22-12-1917

February 1918

02-1918