Frank P. Lahm - Air Service, AEF

Air Service, AEF

Lahm's assignment in England began with nine days of inspections of factories, depots, and training fields. On September 24 he flew the English Channel as an observer on a Bristol Fighter, landing at Saint-Omer and continuing on to Montrouge, where the 2nd Wing, 2nd Air Brigade of the British Second Army was situated. On October 2, Lahm reported to Col. Raynal Bolling, at the headquarters of the Air Service, Zone of the Interior, in Paris, then was summoned to General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force (GHQ AEF) in Chaumont. He made inspections of French balloon facilities before going to the headquarters of the French Sixth Army at Vauxbuin on October 15 to observe French Caquot balloons, slated for use by the Air Service, in battle at Soissons.

Lahm's orders to return to the United States were rescinded and he was assigned to organize the balloon section of the Air Service headquarters in Paris. After doing so, he found himself ranked out of command on November 23, 1917, by now-Col. Charles DeF. Chandler, who had arrived in France as part of the massive staff of Brig. Gen. Benjamin Foulois. Lahm went instead to Chaumont as the section's liaison to GHQ AEF until February 23, 1918, when he was moved to Colombey-les-Belles in the same capacity to the Air Service, Advance Section, Services of Supply, where he supervised the tactical training of balloon companies before their assignment to the front as artillery spotters.

On June 3, 1918, an air service for the soon-to-be-activated U.S. First Army was set up at Toul, with Foulois in command. Lahm was chosen to be his chief of staff, and remained so until after the Battle of Chateau-Thierry, when Foulois voluntarily turned over his command to Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell (who already had Col. Thomas D. Milling as his chief of staff) on July 27. Lahm was shifted to the headquarters of the First Army, which was about to be activated, as Air Officer to its G-3 (Operations) Section. On August 14, with the activation of the army, he was promoted to temporary colonel.

On October 12, the AEF expanded to two field armies, and Lahm was named to organize and command the Air Service, Second Army at Toul. He chose Lt. Col. John F. Curry to be his chief of staff. He remained in France in command of the Second Army Air Service until it was dissolved on April 15, 1919. His diary entry for that date stares:

Starting with an Air Service of three observation squadrons in Oct., it grew to two pursuit groups with a total of 7 squadrons, seven observation squadrons, a bombing group of two squadrons, three park squadrons, eleven balloon companies, 5 photo sections, a total of 700 officers and 5300 men.

Lahm remained on unassigned duty in France until July 30, 1919, when he sailed from Brest on the converted troopship SS Leviathan, arriving at Hoboken, New Jersey, on August 7. The next day he reported to headquarters of the reorganized Air Service and was issued orders to attend the General Staff College.

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