East Africa

To assist Major General Van Deventer and the South African troops under his command during the First World War, all personnel on detachment to mainland Africa from the naval base at Zanzibar were brought together under Squadron Commander Eric Nansen in April 1916 and named No.7 (Naval) Squadron. H A Jones, in the official history, "War in the Air", describes the birth of the Squadron:

"On taking over, Squadron Commander Nanson at once made arrangements to send petrol and spares to Kondoa Irangi. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gallehawk set out for Kondoa with 4 mechanics and 1,000 porters. The party paused at Lol Kissale for four days to make the beginnings of an aerodrome and then pushed on to Kondoa where, after a hazardous journey during which three porters were eaten by lions, they arrived on 28 May 1916. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gallehawk directed his men in cutting and burning of mealie fields until a passable aerodrome resulted".

Flight Lieutenant W G Moore and Flight Sub-Lieutenant N G Dawson took off [from Mbuyuni] on 30 May 1916 in two Voisins, to fly to the new airfield but faulty maps led them astray, forcing the pilots to land on the Masai Plateau instead and to make their way on foot to Ufiome. Fortunately the two aircraft were undamaged and were flown into Kondoa on 6 June 1916, one of them by Squadron Commander Nanson who had by this time reached Kondoa with some light transport.

The aircraft were immediately engaged in reconnaissance and bombing and reports soon filtered through that the enemy's porters were fleeing in panic whenever they sighted a Voisin, regarding the aircraft as giant birds of supernatural origin. Shortly afterwards, the enemy began to withdraw while the Voisins incessantly bombed their retreating columns.

However, such action was to be shorted lived. On 12 January 1917, the Squadron received orders to withdraw from the interior and to hand over its aircraft, transport and stores to No.26 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC). During those seven and a half months of operations, the pilots of No.7 Squadron (RNAS) had flown 85,000 miles (at an average groundspeed of 60 mph) without loss and without serious breakdowns.

please click 1917 Dunkirk