By Eileen Lebow

The little-known American Balloon provider labored in wrestle to assist direct artillery fireplace extra properly and supply crucial intelligence on enemy troop activities in the course of international warfare I. German use of remark balloons to direct artillery fireplace in August of 1914 compelled the Allies to advance the same strength. With the U.S. access into the conflict in 1917, the balloon carrier, ranging from scratch, advanced into an efficient, disciplined battling unit, whose achievements are regrettably overshadowed by way of these of the flying aces. recollections from balloon veterans shape the root of this e-book, the 1st to photo lifestyles as a gasbagger within the 3 significant American engagements of the war.Amazingly, lifestyles as an observer suspended in a wicker basket below an elephantine hydrogen balloon proved much less lethal than piloting an plane. From his grandstand seat, the observer saved tabs at the struggle lower than him and telephoned important details to headquarters command. those stories have been usually the one actual intelligence on hand. Balloonists take into account the battle as a good experience, one that lots of them lived to inform approximately.

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Extra info for A Grandstand Seat: The American Balloon Service in World War I

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The preservers were clumsy affairs of canvascovered rows of cork blocks, suspended from the shoulders by two straps and tied in front. They were hot, smelly, bulky, and thoroughly uncomfortable, especially when seated, when an additional three inches in girth were added, front and back. At night, officers could remove them to sleep, but kept them within reach. Enlisted men didn't have that luxury; sleeping was pure hell. When the first AEF contingent, led by General Pershing with young Cap- 42 A GRANDSTAND SEAT tain George S.

FRENCH REQUESTED YOU LAST JUNE TO SUPPLY FIFTY COMPANIES. UNDERSTOOD YOU WOULD DO SO . . 1 y It was an impossible order, given the newness of the service, the lack of effective organization, and the shortage of instructors with military experience. Observers were easier to supply than the noncommissioned officers and specialists who manned the telephones, repaired balloons, were skilled with ropes, and operated the winch. Many more of them were needed to supply a company than observers, and the instructors to train men in these specialties were few in number, the majority of them overseas.

Damage and loss of life were widespread, hidden beneath a blanket of snow. Rescue parties were still searching for bodies as awestruck Americans gazed at the wreckage and forgave their poke of a train, for it possibly saved their lives. The stop at Halifax allowed mail to go ashore. Company officers had their first experience with censorship, with lonesome men who filled pages with details that could not pass, and wondered how long the stop would last. What would happen with the letters was far from certain.

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