Naval Air Station Eastleigh

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Lat/Long 50 57 00N /01 21 35W .Grid ref SU 452168 .37 feet ASL.4 Miles NNE of Southampton

RUNWAYS :Grass .

In the early part of 1918 the United States decided to set up a Naval aviation force with the objective of destroying the enemy submarine bases in Belgium.The method of destruction was to be continuous day and night bombing.The bombing force would be made up of Marine and Naval Squadrons and would be known as the Northern Bombing group.

The original intention was to 6 night and 6 day Squadrons operating from airfields in Northern France and to set up a supply and maintenance base in the same area.However due to aircraft shortages the planned force was cut to 4 day and 4 night squadrons in May 1918 and in addition , in June 1918 the proposed supply base location was changed to southern England .

The location chosen for the supply base was Eastleigh where the British Air Ministry were offering the use an Aircraft Acceptance Park on the site that would in later years become Southampton/Eastleigh Airport.An inspection of the site on July 4th 1918 revealed that construction of hangars and other buildings was well under way and the decision was made to accept the offer.

The US Navy formally took command on July 20th under Lt.G DeC Chevalier(Picture below)who on Oct 26th 1922 would be the first ever pilot to land on the USA's new Aircraft Carrier ,the USS Langley.The Base became known as Base B
It would appear that some operational flights were carried out from Eastleigh as the US Navy Records state the following with regard to one officer..."Lt. Kenneth MacLeish, USNR, was born in Glencoe, III., in 1894 and appointed ensign in the Naval Reserve Flying Corps 31 August 1917. In France he participated in many raids over the enemy’s lines before he was transferred in September 1918 to Eastleigh, England. On a raid with the RAF 14 October, his plane was shot down and Lieutenant MacLeish instantly killed. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for “distinguished service and extraordinary heroism."

In August 1918,the base commenced assembling 54 DH9a aircraft obtained from the British government. In addition US built DH-4s were assembled and modified for use in wartime conditions the first being delivered to the front on October 2nd 1918 .A very small number(possibly only one or two) of Caproni 3 three engined bombers arrived at Eastleigh for modification - but as they did not arrive until November 8th , they were too late for delivery to the front.

Caproni 3 similar to those used by the USN

On November 11th the Armistice ended hostilities. By this time the total number of aircraft on the strength of the Northern Bombing Group was 6 Capronis,12 DH4s and 17 DH9s ...however not all these aircraft were actually in commission

LEFT:DH-4 dropping bombs,RIGHT:DH-9 in RAF markings
Images from Rosebud
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The picture below (from Paul Scott) shows a group of U S Naval aviators at "US Navy & Royal Air Force Station, Eastleigh, England" standing in front of a DH.6 aircraft in 1918, with the note that all the men were from Washington DC. The man with the arrow was Paul's Grandfather Trueman R. Daw who was serving as a US Navy Aviation Force Foreign Service mechanic (rank MMIC).If you can add anything such as names for others in the picture please E-Mail me!

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The three images below, sent to me by Mary Parkis Mallery of Pleasanton , California show(top left ) her Uncle, Earl R. Parkis, who served at Eastleigh in 1918 as a "Seaman 2C". The second (top right) picture, taken in a "Stickybacks" photo studio at 74 Above Bar in Southampton , shows Earl on the left with an unidentified friend.

The lower photo shows a large group of US naval personnel in front of one of the hangars at Eastleigh. The paper being held up looks - in a magnified version- to possibly be a newspaper page with a large photo. Could the occasion be Armistice Day? Earl Parkis is probably in the picture , but Mary has been unable to pick him out .

Earl Parkis was born in Mackinaw City , Michigan on February 19 1897. He joined the U S Naval Reserve Force on May 31st 1918 and served until Honorably Disharged on Sep 30th 1921.He died in Detroit on February 4th 1963.One identified is Edward P Schultz of Bay City, Michigan(2nd row far right with cap tilted left- thanks to his great-nephew Joseph Martin for the identification).

As always,if you can add anything such as names for others in the picture please E-Mail me!

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With the end of hostilities the rundown of facilities was very rapid and on 10th April 1919 Eastleigh reverted to British command.The US Naval aviators would not return to Hampshire until just prior to D-Day in 1944 when VCS-7 would be based at Lee-on-the-Solent.The RAF occupied the base until January 1920 at which time it was closed-remaining officially out of use until re-opened as an airport in November 1932.

However for the next 12 years civil. aircraft continued to use the airfield as an unlicensed landing ground,and the buildings(known as Atlantic Park) were used to house immigrants en route to the USA.


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