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Autreville Airdrome

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Type  Combat Airfield
Built  1918
Battles/wars  World War I
Condition  Agricultural area
In use  1918–1919
Autreville Airdrome
Controlled by  Air Service, United States Army

Autreville Airdrome was a temporary World War I airfield in France. It was located 1.9 miles (3.1 km) SSW of Autreville-sur-la-Renne, in the Haute-Marne department in the Champagne-Ardenne region in northeastern France.

Overview

Autreville Airdrome was one of the first airfields selected in the Toul sector for the Air Service. However, since it was 45 kilometers from the front at the time it was chosen for development, was used by the United States First Army Air Service as both a long-distance strategic reconnaissance airfield as well as for battlefield tactical reconnaissance.

The Airdrome was obtained by the Air Service on 7 March 1918. It consisted of 268 acres of land, with a capacity of four aero squadrons and one-half a Park (Support) squadron. Buildings were constructed in a forested area next to the airfield for camouflage from enemy aircraft. On the Airdrome at the time of the November 1918 armistice consisted of 33 barracks and mess hals, two maintenance shops, 6 supply warehouses and a total of twenty-one French Bessonnenux aircraft hangars. There were a total of eight administration buildings, and a small medical clinic.

The airfield was mostly completed by the summer of 1918 with the exception of hangars, as the construction of the flying field was given priority. In the first week of August, Royal Air Force Handley-Page bombers arrived at the airfield from Ochey, after a bombing raid there had caused considerable damage. The British erected five hangars on the field. From Autreville, the RAF carried out a night bombing raid on Cologne before returning to Ochey by the end of September.

In mid September, the first United States units began to arrive, although without any aircraft. Two more squadrons arrived in late September, along with Salmson 2A2 and Dayton-Wright DH-4 aircraft being flown in from the 1st Air Depot, the squadrons taking part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

In preparation for a joint drive by the American Second Army and the French on Metz in November, arrangements were made for two additional French hangars to be shipped to Autreville from Lay-St. Remy. On 11 November some French squadrons moved in, however the Armistice prevented any combat flights over the front lines.

Known units assigned to Autreville Airdrome were:

  • 86th Aero Squadron (First Army Observation), 18 September 1918 – 29 October 1918 (Salmson 2A2)
  • 354th Aero Squadron (VI Corps Observation), 30 September 1918 – 25 October 1918 (Dayton-Wright DH-4)
  • 278th Aero Squadron (VII Corps Observation), 1 October 1918 – 10 November 1918 (Dayton-Wright DH-4)
  • Shortly after the armistice in November 1918, the American squadrons were reassigned and the airfield was abandoned. It was turned over to the 1st Air Depot for de-construction. All hangars and other structures were dismantled and all useful supplies and equipment were removed and sent back to the Depot for storage. Upon completion, the land turned over to the French government.

    Eventually the land was returned to agricultural use by the local farmers. The site today is a series of cultivated fields located on the south side of the Départmental 674 (D674), about 2 miles north-east of Martigny-les-Gerbonvaux, with no indications of its wartime use. The wooded area to the west of the Airfield remains a forested area.

    References

    Autreville Airdrome Wikipedia


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