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World War I was the first war in which air power was a strategic force. Recognizing its significance, Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick, Chief of the Air Service, instructed Col. Edgar S. Gorrell, Assistant Chief of Staff of the Air Service, to gather all information that would "assist in establishing Army aeronautics on a sound basis for the future." In May 1918, the historic project was launched. Explore the results in this publication of 282 bound volumes of historical narratives, reports, photographs, and other records that document administrative, technical, and tactical activities of the Air Service in the American Expeditionary Forces.
Read the descriptive pamphlet for Gorrell's History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917-1919, Publication M990, provided by the National Archives, to learn the story behind the project and a full list of its contents.
"Writing history does not appeal to them"
On page 2 of NARA's description for this publication, is an all-too-human reaction to orders to members of the Air Services in the AEF to provide historical information before they return home:
All Air Service units were instructed to send historical information before they dispersed, returned to the United States, or demobilized. One of Captain Jones' subordinates highlighted the difficulties encountered when he wrote shortly after the Armistice, "The Z. of A. has no further interest in the war. The squadrons have but one idea%u2014getting home. Writing history does not appeal to them."
Table of Contents
Series A: Early History and General Organization of the AEF Air Service
1: Report on the organization of the AEF Air Service; History of the early activities of the AEF Air Service; Air Service lessons learned during the present war, by Brig. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois, Jan. 29, 1919; Histories of Air Service headquarters at Paris, Chaumont, Tours, and Beaumont Barracks.
2: Histories of the Boiling mechanics, the Joint Army-Navy Aircraft Board,
and the Interallied Aviation Committee; Reports on the establishment of Air Service headquarters overseas.
3: Report of the Air Service to July 31, 1918; Statistical information on AEF Air Service organization.
4: Weekly progress reports on Air Service activities, June 30-Oct. 30, 1918; Information on accidents, casualties, supplies received, squadron locations and strength, operations, and fatalities per flying hour.
5: Weekly progress reports on Air Service activities, Nov. 6 and 11, 1918.
6: Weekly progress reports on Air Service activities, Dec. 11 and 25, 1918, and Jan. 8, 1919.
7: Histories of various AEF Air Service organization projects.
8: History of the Air Service Advance Section in the Zone of Advance.
9: Office memorandums of the Office of the Chief of the AEF Air Service, Sept. 1917-Jan. 1919.
10: General orders and bulletins of GHQ, Line of Communications, Service of the Rear, and SOS, 1917-19.
11: History of the Coordination Staff and the Executive Section, AEF Air Service.
12: Tables of organization for units of the AEF Air Service.
13: AEF Air Service Station Lists 1-50, Feb. 1918-Jan. 1919.
14: Suggested changes in Air Service tables of organization.
15: Reports by Air Service officers on lessons learned during the war.
16: Short histories of Air Service technical and administrative organizations.
17: Cablegrams exchanged between GHQ and SOS, AEF, and the War Department relating to airplanes and engines.
18: Cablegram exchanges between GHQ and SOS, AEF, and the War Department relating to equipment and personnel.
19: Monthly and weekly reports of the Director of Military Aeronautics in Washington, D.C., to the Chief of the AEF Air Service, Apr.-Nov. 1918.
(The cables described in the following three volumes were exchanged with the War Department in Washington and relate to aeronautical topics.)
20: Cablegrams sent by the SOS (S series); Cablegrams received by the SOS (X series); Courier cablegrams sent by the SOS (CS series); Courier cablegrams received by the SOS (CX series).
21: Cablegrams sent by Colonel Boiling (E series); Cablegrams sent by GHQ, AEF (P series); Courier cablegrams sent by GHQ, AEF (CP series).
22: Cablegrams received by GHQ, AEF (A series); Courier cablegrams received by GHQ, AEF (CA series).
23: Air Service organization tables and correspondence and reports on organization tables.
24-26: Organization charts, tables of organization, maps, flow charts, and descriptions of functions of various Air Service offices, programs, and organizations.
27: Notes on proposed changes in Air Service tables of organization.
28: Recording and accounting for the Air Service property developments in the AEF.
29: Final report of the Chief of the Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces, Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick, sometime in early 1919.
Series B: Air Service Activities With the French, British, and Italians
1: History of the Air Service in Italy and of American pilots on the Italian front.
2: History of the Air Service in Great Britain.
3: History of the American Aviation Office in London: Technical data, specifications, and photographs of airplanes, engines, and instruments.
4: History of the Air Service Flying Training Department in England.
5: History of the training of American Air Service mechanics in England.
6: History of the Night Bombardment Section in France; History of the Handley-Page program; History of the Strategical Section, AEF Air Service.
7: Statistical analysis of aerial bombardment prepared by the Statistical Branch of the War Department General Staff.
8: Schedule of spare parts for Handley-Page bombing machine, prepared by the British Air Ministry.
9: Development of the Handley-Page program in England.
10: Plans and specifications for the construction of Royal Flying Corps facilities.