WWI Aviator's footlocker group
Lt. John C. Duncan served with the 638th Aero Squadron in France flying a Spad VII. A history of the 638th is found at the end of this photo essay.
The footlocker of Lt. John C. Duncan, 638th Aero Squadron, 5th Pursuit Group, 2nd Army Air Service AEF France.
Note painted on the lid; name and unit, Air Service roundel, 638th Aero emblem, and fading but can still make out a Spad shooting down a Fokker!
Lt. Duncan's history as an aviator was contained within this footlocker!
Documentation inside includes these items
Lt. Dumcan's SPAD VII in France & the men of the 5th Pursuit group
Duncan's French made uniform with unique bullion pilot's wings, French made Air Service emblems, pants, overseas cap, and Sam Brown belt.
Rare 638th Aero Squadron pin and more!
Designed by Lt. Duncan and includes his original artwork sketch of the emblem done on the back of a wartime French map.
Victory medal, engraved bracelet, insignia,
Pilot's log book! You have to love entries like
"Tree top jazz along Toul road"
638th Aero Squadron trench art shell with squadron number & insisgnia!
Dozens of photographs with superb detail of the planes and aviators.
638th Aero Squadron Reunion invitation and ribbon.
Second Army Air Service unit history
Misc. from his footlocker...
German belt buckle, Masonic apron and presentation trowel, Air Service marked airplane instrument...
The 638th Aero Squadron was
organized in August 1917 at Kelly Field, Texas. In October, the squadron received orders for
overseas duty and proceeded to the Aviation Concentration Center, Mineola
Field, Long Island, NY and from there to
the Port of Entry, Hoboken, NJ in December where they boarded the Cunard Liner SS
Orduna bound for England. They
eventually arrived at the Morn Hill Rest Camp, Winchester on 1 January 1918 and
were detached to the Royal Flying Corps for advanced training. Following training, the squadron crossed the English
Channel to become a Pursuit Squadron equipped with sixteen British Sopwith Camel
F1's. On November 14th, together with
the 41st and 138th Aero Squadrons, the 638th
traveled to its new aerodrome at Lay-Saint-Remy and constituted the 5th Pursuit Group, Air Service, Second Army.
Despite the Armistice, the squadron
continued to be engaged in flying proficiency flights, training in formation
flying, patrols, in air combat drills and demonstration flying for various
events to demonstrate the capabilities of the Air Service. The pilots were skilled in
aerobatic flying and no accidents ever resulted from an exhibition.
On 15 April 1919, orders were
received that the Second Army Air Service was being demobilized and the 5th
Pursuit Group was ordered to Coblenz, Germany, to become part of the Third Army Air Service. The enlisted personnel moved by rail and truck
while the pilots ferried their aircraft to their new airfield in the Rhineland.
The squadron made itself comfortable in Fort Kaiser Alexander. The Fort
commanded a high ridge between the Rhine and Moselle rivers overlooking Coblenz. The groups flew their assigned aircraft and
also they were able to perform test flights on surrendered German aircraft.
The Air Service of the Third Army was
relieved from further duty with the Third Army on 12 May 1919 and ordered
demobilized. The squadron's Sopwith
aircraft were delivered to the Air Service Acceptance Park to be returned to the
British. After transport to New York
Harbor, the 638th Aero Squadron was sent to Mitchell Field, Long Island, where it was demobilized in July 1919.