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THE FIRST WORLD WAR

By 1914 the threat of war with Germany and Austria was seen as a possibility in Britain and, together with her allies,
unprovocative preparations had been made for the
eventuality.

However, it was the speed of the war's onset that caught Belgium, France and the UK by surprise.

June 28, 1914 - Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,
heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb anarchist.

July 28, 1914 - Austro-Hungary, with the
Germany, declared war on Serbia. Russia mobilised her forces in support of Serbia.

August 1, 1914 - Germany declared war on Russia.

August 2, 1914 - Germany then invaded Luxemburg.

August 3, 1914 - Germany declared war on France and Belgium denied permission for German troops to pass
through its territory to the French border.

August 4, 1914 - Germany then invaded Belgium. Britain protested at the violation of Belgian neutrality with whom
it had a treaty of support. As a result of no response from Germany Britain was forced to declared war.

In all, the First World War started in only 38 days from the Archduke's assassination.

Unfortunately, Britain's flying services, the Royal Flying Corp (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS),
were ill prepared for war their combined strength being well below that of Germany. As a result the Army and the
Navy immediately placed large orders with A. V. Roe and Co. and other aircraft manufacturers for aeroplanes; the
race for control of the skies had begun.

The Royal Flying Corps AVRO 504s

Initially, 12 Avro 504s were ordered by the Army in April 1914 and later 50 more followed.

The first deliveries were sent to France with No. 5 Squadron (RFC) of the Expeditionary Force at the
outbreak of war and these were followed by others being sent to Nos 1 and 3 Squadrons.

The 504s drew praise for their serviceability under the adverse conditions of being kept in the open during the early months of the initial retreat against the German advance.

Ground personnel of No. 5 Squadron (RFC) maintaining Avro 504 No. 637 in France during the early months of the First World War. Initially, the 504s were
successfully used to search areas of Belgium and Northern France to locate the advancing German Army which
was eventually halted just before Paris and repulsed to theRiver Marne

Despite requests from the operational units for more Avros, and although it had a slightly better performance
than the Aircraft Factory designed BE2c, the Senior Staff atthe War Office in England had decided to standardise on
the latter for its reconnaissance squadrons in France.

However, small numbers of 504s continued in Front line service until July 1915, by which time sufficient BE2cs had
become available to fully re-equip the operational squadrons in France.

The remaining 504s were then withdrawn and relegated to training roles in the UK.

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