The men moved forward from the quiet zone around Toul to the small village of Touquin (variously called Melon Field or Touquin - Pezarches after the town adjacent to Touquin), south of the Marne River and east of Paris. This move was executed toward the end of June, 1918. Touquin had been previously used by the Royal Air Force. Trucks were used to start moving the squadrons on June 26th. The four squadrons - pilots and aircraft - actually flew between Toul to Touquin on June 28th.
Late in June the Americans moved as planned to the Marne-70 planes of the pursuit group one day, observation squadrons close behind. "The best groups in German aviation were in front of us," wrote Colonel Mitchell; they were the "red-nosed pursuit group" until recently commanded by Richthofen and two other Jagdstaffeln that Mitchell considered equally good. Mitchell's French counterpart urged that American planes be used in defensive patrols along the front. Mitchell protested this discredited tactic, but he went along with it until he realized that it was "merely suicide" for patrols of five or six planes to stand up to German formations of 20 to 30.
The men enjoyed their new housing in Touquin and sought female companionship from American nurses as well as French village women.
The 95th Squadron set up a saloon on the Marne, "The Chateau 95." Nearby was a hospital with live American female nurses. Only officers were allowed to date them. Of course the aviators, from "the most dangerous branch of the service," vied for the nurses' virtue and bodiesâ€¦ Those squadrons not finding such willing females began to impregnate French country girls in the vicinity of the flying fields. Babies appeared in time with names like Foch, Woodrow Wilson, Pershing; there is even record of a Charlot (Chaplin).
Chateau de la Malvoisine, Touquin. This is where the pilots stayed in Touquin and was also known as Chateau 95. Photo Claude Barriere
While the officers were in the chateau, the enlisted men were billeted in private homes.
July 5, 1918
Eddie Rickenbacker ferried the first Spad XIII from Orly to Touquin. His aircraft, painted with a large "1" becomes the first Spad XIII in American service. However, it didn't have guns yet and he almost got court-martialed for bringing the Spad without having gotten approved by officials higher up.
He flew the Nieuport 28 for a few more days until his Spad had its guns mounted.
Touquin, which had been first used by the Royal Air Force next prepared for large number of British aircraft using its aerodrome again. To make room for them, the American squadrons next relocated to the aerodrome of Saints and made arrangements for billeting in Mauperthuis.
Note: RAF units such as the 54th Squadron and 73rd Squadron were there in July, 1918. The 2nd Squadron, for instance, was based in Touquin from September 3-4, 1918, before going to Melun September 4-7 before returning to Touquin on September 7-9. From there it went to the other nearby town of Coulommiers for three days from September 9-12, 1918. 4th Squadron was there in September as well.
Learn more about the United States Air Service's 1st Pursuit Group:
Toul, Touquin, Saints and Mauperthuis and Rembercourt, "American Eagles" - 345 page illustrated history of US Combat Aviation in World War I