A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 1916: British Air Raid on Constantinople

Lts. Savory and Dickenson on Mudros with one of the B.E. 2c bombers
I haven't been noting every centennial date for the First World War in the Middle East, but one event which marked its anniversary a few days ago deserves note: on the stormy night of April 14-15, 1916, three aircraft of the British Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) bombed Constantinople and Adrianople.
Operating from Mudros, two aircraft of C Flight attacked the Zeitunlik powder mills and the Demirkhan gun factory, while a third aircraft bombed the railway station at Adrianople (Edirne). The bombers were the B.E. 2-c.

Leading the raid was Squadron-Commander Joseph Ruscombe Wadham Smyth-Piggott (left), the other fliers on the raid were Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Stevens Savory, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Richard Sebastian Willoughby Dickinson (the two shown above), and Flight Sub-Lieutenant I.H.W. "Jacky" Barnato, a Jewish airman.

There had been other air raids against Smyrna and Gallipoli from Mudros and elsewhere in the Aegean, but this raid was a rund rip of 300 miles and drew attention at the time, though it would be overshadowed by another raid in 1917.  While doing little damage at the time, it reportedly alarmed the population of he Ottoman capital.

Later in the war, the RNAS was merged with the Royal Flying Corps, ancestor of the RAF.


Anonymous said...

Did you know that the first black air force pilot was Turkish? Can't remember his name, but he was the son of slaves that had to follow their Muslim owners when they had to leave Crete. His family, like many of the Afro-Turks, settled in the Izmir area especially after extracting themselves from agricultural work on the cotton farms. He got an education and made his way into the military school and the rest was history.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Interesting. A future post inshallah.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

OK. Ahmet Ali Çelikten. This will be a post soon.I'll glad[y credit you if you want to drop the Anonymous label.