A Grandstand Seat: The American Balloon Service in World War by Eileen Lebow

By Eileen Lebow

The little-known American Balloon provider labored in wrestle to aid direct artillery fireplace extra properly and supply crucial intelligence on enemy troop activities in the course of international battle I. German use of commentary balloons to direct artillery hearth in August of 1914 compelled the Allies to boost the same strength. With the U.S. access into the battle in 1917, the balloon carrier, ranging from scratch, developed into an efficient, disciplined struggling with unit, whose achievements are regrettably overshadowed via these of the flying aces. recollections from balloon veterans shape the root of this ebook, the 1st to photograph lifestyles as a gasbagger within the 3 significant American engagements of the war.Amazingly, lifestyles as an observer suspended in a wicker basket less than an elephantine hydrogen balloon proved much less lethal than piloting an plane. From his grandstand seat, the observer saved tabs at the battle under him and telephoned very important info to headquarters command. those stories have been usually the one actual intelligence on hand. Balloonists keep in mind the struggle as a very good experience, one that lots of them lived to inform approximately.

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As they climbed out of the basket, they were met by a group of farmers with rifles and shotguns, who were sure they had a German Zeppelin surrounded. No amount of talking convinced them of the group's identity. The five prisoners were handed over to National Guard officers from a nearby camp, who thought it a huge joke to have five "Regulars" as prisoners and promptly released them. Shortly after July 4, a new group of cadets arrived, raising the total number to eighty-six. The new arrivals were put into a second class for training and saw little of the earlier cadets except after duty.

Fleischmann advised his officers to get clothes and equipment ready to move on short notice; a flurry of shopping and fittings followed as uniforms, bed rolls, warm blankets, and foot lockers began to fill the space in quarters. Charles Hayward, one of the Columbia group, was appointed Supply Officer for Company D, then for the entire squadron. His duties took him into Omaha five and a half days a week to buy supplies and equipment—some of it of special design like the rolling cook stoves—sign contracts, and arrange for deliveries.

On December 15 at half past three in the afternoon the Tunisian lifted anchor and headed for the open sea to form a convoy with seven other ships, all camouflaged. Four of the convoy were troopships, three were smaller freighters, one of them a mystery ship that aroused considerable speculation—it was an armed cruiser, a disguised warship, certainly the fastest ship in the convoy. Once land was left behind, the ships formed a line behind a lead ship, proceeding at a good rate. Two days out, a zigzag routine varied the convoy's course, the lead ship suddenly swinging out to form an S, followed by the ships behind.

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