Early in 1917 the "Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte" (German Air Force) started the construction of the first of two airfields very close to the town of Aartrijke (also Aertrycke on old -French language- maps). The first airfield was situated along today's Aartrijksestraat (Torhoutstraat in 1917) near the actual Sint-Aarnoutstraat (position 51°06'42N - 003°05'26E) and became operational on in April 15th, 1917. The first unit stationed here was Albatros D.III equipped I. Marine Feldjagstaffel commanded by the legendary Oberleutenant Gotthard Sachsenberg. In the summer of 1917 work started on a second airfield situated only one mile to the South West of the first base, along today's Zeeweg Zuid at position 51°06'05N - OO3°04'57E. Several fighter units were based here most of them equipped with Albatros or Fokker D.VII fighter aircraft. On the night of 30 to 31 October 1917, nine Handley Page H.P. O/400 heavy bombers from Squadrons N° 7a & 7(N) RFC bombed the airfields at Aartrijke and Lichtervelde, plus the Torhout railway, and were engaged by an enemy night fighter, though this was driven off. Both bases were finally abandoned at the end of World War I in November 1918.
Position of the North-Eastern part of Aartrijke - Sparappelhoek airfield on a today's Google Earth map. Notice the triangular shaped aircraft tents.
Overlay on a today's Google Earth satellite view of a reconnaissence picture of Aartrijke-Sparappelhoek South-West airfield (along the Zeeweg-Zuid) taken by the crew Cpt. Jaumotte
(pilot) and Lt. Wouters (observer) on 3 July 1917 from an altitude of 4.900 meters. At least 6 aircraft can be seen near the marker pin.
Last updated 13/06/12 13:51 Daniel Brackx