Mobilisation to France


35 Squadron leaving Narborough for France

On 18th January 1917, the squadron left Narborough Aerodrome and headed for Portsmouth.

The following extract is taken from an account of this journey entitled “The tale of the wanderings of 35 Squadron RFC from their aerodrome at Narborough, Norfolk, to Hesdin in the Land of France”.

“A dull cold cheerless morning with snow still lying on the ground. One of those unpleasant days, when by all the rules of the game, it ought to thaw properly and get done with it, but doesn’t. By the light of one candle and with almost freezing water a most imperfect shave is consummated and by 6.45 am one is in the mess eating a hasty breakfast and paying a more than exorbitant mess bill.

A rapid walk up to the aerodrome helps to restore circulation partially. The last of the Active Service Pay Books and one mobilisation blanket are just being doled out to the men. The remainder are busy starting up their lorries and fixing on their equipment.

Between 7.15 am and 7.45 am the C.O. walks rapidly round inspecting the men who are drawn up by their lorries.

At 7.45 am the 9 Crossley Light Tenders and their attendant P & M motorcycles and sidecars move off.

At 7.55 it is discovered that the second lorry has been started without filling up the radiator. The engine is stopped before any damage has been done and by 8.05 am the radiator has been filled and the engine restarted.

The convoy has been marshalled in order and files past the mess at 8.20 am. This is lucky because I have a bet with a certain Flight Commander that we shall do so before 8.30 am.

In such a manner did we start our long journey to the coast.”

Personnel and equipment were loaded onto the “SS Huntsland” at Portsmouth, which then set sail for Rouen (via Le Havre).


On arrival at Rouen, the convoy disembarked and travelled to the aerodrome at St André-aux-Bois, arriving on 3rd February 1917.

The squadron’s three flights of Armstrong-Whitworth FK8 (18 aircraft) were flown out from Narborough on 25th January 1917 and after a short stay at the RFC holding camp at St Omer (26th January to 3rd February) they joined the squadron personnel at St André-aux-Bois.

With the arrival of the squadron aircraft at St André-aux-Bois, personnel were able to resume their daily routine of :

  • Aircraft and Equipment Tests
  • Ground and Flying Training

1917 WebPage

Extract from Squadron Record Book