11 November 1916 – “Our brave and chivalrous enemy”.

Whilst the troops on the ground slog it out in mud and rain, they may not be too pleased to learn that in addition to warm beds and good food, the Royal Flying Corps continues to observe the niceties of chivalry. It appears that some at least do not share the hatred of the “hun”.

Flight Magazine reports that an unreported member of the 3 Squadron RFC dropped a wreath behind the German lines with the following message:

“In memory of Captain Boelcke, our brave and chivalrous enemy.—The Royal British Flying Corps.”

A note attached to the wreath read:

“To the officers of the German Flying Corps at this front. We hope you will find this wreath. We regret that it comes so late, but the weather prevented us from sending it earlier We mourn with his relatives and friends. We all acknowledge his bravery. Please remember the Morane Squadron to Captain Evans and Lieutenant Long.”

The aforementioned are Captain Alfred John Evans and Lieutenant Howard Oakey Long from 3 Squadron RFC who had both been shot down and taken prisoner on 16 July 1916.

It’s unknown whether the respect for Boelcke stems from the fact that he is the most famous pilot of his day or because he was known to treat captured enemy airmen well – often visiting them in hospital and inviting them to his Squadron’s mess. Given the background of most of the officers of both the RFC and German Flying Services this is probably not surprising.

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