In a time of war
Officers of the Military Wing RFC at the Netheravon Concentration Camp 1914
Lt George Carmichael practising short landings in a Henri Farman H.F.20 at the RFC Concentration Camp, 11 of this type of aircraft would accompany the BEF to France in August 1914
RFC aircraft at the Concentration Camp, Netheravon
Two years after the formation of the RFC the Commanding Officer of the Military Wing, Col Sykes, decided to hold an exercise to examine the readiness of the Corps should a war take place. Commonly known as the Netheravon Concentration Camp, the Camp brought nearly all of the units in the RFC together.
The Camp would not only examine the aviation aspects of the Corps such as bombing, reconnaissance and aerial photography but trial mobilisations were also conducted with planned convoys for stores and equipment. Tests of the organisation's supply, maintenance, wireless communication and meteorology capabilities were all conducted under realistic conditions.
Lt Carmichael recalls the exercises that he conducted
'such as reconnaissance, locating a free large toy balloon, reporting possible landing places, testing height and speed, and landing distance needed over an imaginary hedge represented by tape at 20 feet stretched across poles,…Lectures and personal interchange of knowledge and experiences were also of great value. I was required to give a lecture on artillery observation and the procedure agreed with the Gunners…We all felt that we had profited by the time, and experience gained.'
As the camp broke up and the squadrons returned to their bases in July 1914, the exercise was deemed to have been a great success in preparing the RFC for any eventual mobilisation, which would come all too soon.