In The Beginning 1914

The war started on August 3, 1914 and on the 4th Farmans of the Belgian Air service were involved in air reconnaissance over the German and Dutch border to detect the invading Germans troops. During the first weeks of the war, the main effort of the Germans was driven to defeat the French Army. During their march to the south, their first confrontation with the British army happened during the battle of Mons. The preliminary phase of this battle was the occasion of the first actions of the RFC. During these operations, the two first British airmen were killed in action between Brussels and Mons. The first of many airmen to fall in Belgium during two world wars.

Civil aviators who enlisted with their own machines supplemented the four original squadrons of the Belgian Air Arm. A fifth squadron was so created with a mix of Deperdussin monocoques, Blériot XI's and a Morane H. Amongst the volunteers who joined the Army Air component there were many pre-war celebrities as Crombez, Tyck, Olieslagers with his brothers and De Caters.

After the first battles along the Meuse river, the Belgian army slowly retreated to Antwerp. Aerial reconnaissances were mounted every day. Aeroplanes were also used to bomb the advancing Germans troops with iron arrows. Germans considered these attacks as "aerial terrorism", these crude weapons having the reputation to pass trough an horse and his rider to kill both.

After being defeated during the battle of the Marne, the Germans turned their eyes to the sea and besieged Antwerpen where the Belgian Army and its air service had retreated. During the siege of the town, the Belgian Farmans were extensively used to detect Germans artillery positions. French supplied aircraft and personal to reinforce the Belgian air service. Crews by a Belgian and a French were constituted, the first example of a multinational squadron. British send also troops and aeroplanes to help Belgium. Winsten Churchill being first Lord of the Admiralty send RNAS detachment to Oostende and Antwerpen.

The British decided also to mount the first aerial attacks on the zeppelin sheds in Germany (Keulen & Dusseldorf) from Antwerpen on 8 October 1914. The raid was a mitigated success but it was the first strategic bombing of the history.

The superiority of the German artillery leaded the Belgian Army to retreat again along the North Sea cost. A new defence line was established on the Ijser river during the first Battle of the Ijser. The villages and small towns of this region will became world know during the following three years: Ypres, Dixmude, Ploegsteert, Poelkappele.

The Belgian Air Arm retreated with the Army and tried to help as much as much as possible with the aeroplanes still available with air observation in support of the artillery. However the bad weather of the winter season did not help and reduce air activity.

The stabilisation of the front during the last months of 1914 permitted the Air corps to repair and replace existing machines. The French delivered new Bleriots and Farmans. A depot and rear base was established in Calais Beaumarais on the French territory and operational airfields in Houtem & Koksijde (where Seaking helicopters are still based today) on the Belgian soil.