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Thread: The Americans in Italy during WW1

  1. #16
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #17
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Last edited by menocchio; 12-25-2015 at 05:20 PM.

  3. #18
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Thank you very much Menocchio, real interesting pics.

  4. #19
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Thanks, DVX. I'm interested to Allied in Italy during WW1 (British, American, French Army). I live some hundred meters from the villa above (Villa Godi, by Andrea Palladio, 1542, British H.Q in Italy. during WW1). E. Hemingway spent some months here, in Schio e Bassano del Grappa, a great story. Here for you, the Prince of Wales and Lord CavanClick image for larger version. 

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ID:	7595 at Villa Godi.Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #20
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Hi, Ted!
    greetings from Asiago!
    Francesco

  6. #21
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    Default Re: The Americans in Italy during WW1

    Extracted from Naval Aviation in World War I by Adrian O Van Wyen, et. al., published by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in 1969. This passage starts on page 78. There are numerous mentions of US Naval Aviation and Italy throughout the entire document (about 90 pages). You can access the various chapters here:
    http://www.history.navy.mil/research...rld-war-i.html


    IN THE ANNALS of Naval Aviation in World War I, no exploit for daring of execution and success in pulling it off is exceeded by that starring Naval Aviator #1494, Ens. Charles Hazeltine Hammann, USNRF. He and his fellow pilots were a unit of Naval Aviators who operated out of
    Porto Corsini in Italian planes. This combination of American fliers and Italian aircraft had come about when the Italian government arranged for the U.S. Navy to take over and operate the air station at Porto Corsini, some 50 miles south of Venice. The take-over was accomplished July 24, 1918.

    Hoisting the flag, Lt. Willis B. Haviland, USNRF, put the new station in commission and air operations commenced. So successfully did the station carry out its mission that Admiral H. T. Mayo, USN, stated on the basis of his inspection November 10, 1918, that the station had “the distinction of being the most heavily engaged unit of the U.S. Naval Forces in Europe.”

    Lt. Haviland had come from Pauillac, France, in a special train which transported 331 men, certain officers and over 250 tons of supplies for the station. A detachment of officers and petty officer pilots arrived a little later from Lake Bolsena, 60 miles northeast of Rome, where they had been trained in the handling of Italian aircraft at the Naval Flying School. The school had been formally opened February 21, 1918, under the direction of Ens. W. B. Atwater. The courses, taught largely by Italians, included ground work and flying. Seventy-three men in all completed the curriculum. To back up maintenance, the Italian government had arranged for a special draft of mechanics selected from men training at the various Italian seaplane and motor factories.

    That the Austrians were aware of the Americans’ arrival at Porto Corsini was signaled by their carrying out a bombing attack, fortunately harmless, on the station on July 25th. In accordance with the agreement with the Italian government, the U.S. forces were supplied with everything but food and clothing for the personnel. In the beginning, three planes were made available and the number of planes quickly increased, but there were never more than 21 altogether.

    The planes the Navy used at Porto Corsini were Macchi types. Some of the bombing planes were M-8’s, two-seater flying boats capable of carrying four 24-pound bombs and one machine gun. The M-5 Macchi fighters were one-seater flying boats, carrying two machine guns; two light bombs were occasionally added.

    Porto Corsini was located in a strategic position in relation to Pola, the Austrian naval base which was, of course, the main objective of the U.S. Naval Aviators and their opposite numbers at the Italian Air Station in Venice. Since Venice was only about 50 miles north of Porto Corsini and 64 miles from Pola, air squadrons from both stations could rendezvous easily for a combined attack on the Austrian naval base. The battleships and cruisers of the High Sea Fleet were anchored at Pola and German and Austrian submarines went out from there in the Mediterranean campaign.

    The base and city were defended by 18 forts and batteries and there were no less than 114 antiaircraft guns in position. It was a formidable bastion. Though Porto Corsini was in the right spot to launch an offensive, it had one tremendous disadvantage. All landings had to be made on a canal about 100 feet wide. This, combined with the necessity of taking off and landing directly into the wind, made for a real handicap since the prevailing wind was at right angles to the direction of the canal. This disadvantage was counteracted to some extent by training the pilots at Lake Bolsena to land on an area, marked off by buoys, which equaled the width of the Porto Corsini canal.

    On August 21, the station at Porto Corsini carried out its first mission, In the middle of the morning, five fighters and two bombers set out with the purpose of dropping propaganda leaflets on Pola across the Adriatic. So popular had this mission become on the Italian Front at this time that the Austrians had announced that anyone caught engaged in this activity would be regarded as a spy and summarily executed.

    After the seven-plane group had been underway for about 15 minutes, one of the bombers and one of the fighters had to return on account of motor trouble. One bomber and the four fighters, the fighters flown by Ensigns George H. Ludlow, E. H. (Pete) Parker, Dudley A. Vorhees and Hammann, continued on, approaching Pola from the south in order to avoid fire from AA batteries at the harbor entrance.

    At 1120, the fighters arrived over the city at 12,000 feet, but the bomber was only able to get up to 8,000 feet. The leaflets were thrown down and the Austrians sent up AA fire. Five fighters of the Albatross type immediately took off, two seaplanes following them. The latter were soon lost to sight, but the enemy landplanes climbed rapidly and in five minutes neared the Navy’s Macchi fighters. The enemy was coming in two sections, the first of which was made up of three planes. Ens Ludlow gave the signal to attack to protect the bombing plane. Followed by Parker, Voorhees and Hammann, Ludlow went into a dive toward the three Austrian planes and the dog fight was on at 8,000 feet.

    Ludlow attacked the lead plane with a quick burst of fire, then swung over to engage the plane to his left. Parker then took on the leader who tried to escape by diving. Parker followed him down. His right gun jammed, so he pulled out, firing from his one good gun on another Austrian which swept into view, and broke out of the fight.

    Vorhees no sooner got into action than his guns jammed and he was forced to leave. The bomber also departed. This left Ludlow and Hammann to carry on the fight. While Hammann took on the two planes of the second section, Ludlow was in a fight with three. He drove one down smoking and in the next instant he himself was shot down. He took hits in his propeller and engine, oil streamed out and broke into flames. He went into a spin but managed to pull out of it and make a landing five miles off the harbor entrance.

    Looking down, Hammann saw Ludlow’s wrecked plane in the water and determined to try rescuing him, an exceedingly daring decision since the wind was blowing at the rate of about 20 miles per hour and the sea was choppy. To land his plane in such a sea was bad enough, but worse still was the fact that Hammann’s flying boat was damaged and he might not be able to take off. Furthermore, he was near the harbor and enemy planes were still in the vicinity. It seemed unlikely in these circumstances that Hammann could rescue Ludlow and make a getaway, for the enemy might easily capture them and the fate of spies would be theirs - execution.

    Undeterred by these considerations, Hammann spiraled down and drew up beside Ludlow’s crippled plane. Thereupon Ludlow opened the port in the bottom of the hull, kicked holes in the wings to make the Macchi sink faster and jumped over to Hammann’s plane. He climbed up behind the pilot’s seat and sat under the motor holding the struts to keep from being swept into the propeller or off into the sea. The tiny Macchi was built to carry but one man. How he was going to get into the air, Hammann had no idea. The bow of the plane, already damaged by machine gun fire, was smashed in as the craft gathered speed, but finally the little seaplane got off.

    After becoming airborne, Hammann fired his remaining ammo into the wrecked plane and watched it sink; he was not going to leave the enemy that trophy. He began his 60-mile flight back to Porto Corsini, momentarily expecting to be attacked.

    For reasons never discovered, the Austrians made no attempt to follow the damaged plane, a pursuit they could have undertaken with no hazard to themselves. At Porto Corsini, Hammann made a good landing in the canal, but the water poured through the bow and turned the Macchi over, a complete wreck. The fliers climbed out with the assistance of boats that had come to help them. Ludlow had suffered a bad gash on his forehead and Hammann was badly bruised, but both were fit for duty within a few days.

    The Italian government awarded the Silver Medal of Valor to Ens. Hammann and a similar bronze medal to Ens. Ludlow. Ens. Ludlow also received the Navy Cross. The President of the United States presented Hammann the Medal of Honor, the first awarded a U.S. Naval Aviator. He was cited for heroism in landing on the water alongside Ludlow’s disabled airplane. “. . .Although his machine was not designed for the double load to which it was subjected and although there was danger of attack by Austrian planes, he made his way to Porto Corsini. . .”

    It is one of life’s bitter ironies that less than a year later, on June 24, 1919, Ens. Hammann met his death in a Macchi plane of the same type he had used in his exploit over Pola.

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