Samson and the Dunkirk Circus: 3 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service, 1914-15 (Paperback)
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This is the story of a small unit of 150 men of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and 450 men of the Royal Marines in the first few months of World War One, who travelled about France and Belgium terrorizing the German Army, to the extent that the Germans put a price on their heads This RNAS unit was commanded by a man small in stature who was phased by nothing: he and his men just wanted to fight the Germans. They never had enough aircraft for all the pilots, so they started to look for a new way to take the fight to the Germans. They had heard about armoured cars in Belgium and set about designing their own. Lieutenant Commander Charles R Samson and his two brothers took the car out and went looking for a fight. They covered a lot of ground picking up intelligence and they had such fun doing it that they convinced the Admiralty to build them more armoured cars so they could take the fight to the enemy. They helped rescue thousands of French troops trapped in Douai and Belgium Troops trapped in Antwerp. They then helped push the German Army back at Ypres, during the First Battle of Ypres. Once the trenches had reached the coast there was not the freedom to roam looking for Germans, but they still carried out a lot of operations supporting the Belgian Army in attacking the enemy. In March 1915 the unit was pulled out of France and sent to the Dardanelles. This small unit was highly decorated for their bravery and yet they are in no official or unofficial histories. Their story has not been told and the development work they carried out has been ignored. The British Army and the Royal Air Force have taken credit for a number of the RNAS actions, innovations and discoveries, while the Royal Navy have just wiped their hands of these men.