20 December 1916 – Close to the front

On the days when flying has been possible this month, German pilots have been unusually active and aggressive and have been engaging British pilots over the front, rather than behind the lines.

Today, 29 Squadron was on the end of this new approach when they were jumped by 5 Albatrosses from  Jasta 2 led by Manfred Von Richthofen. Captain Arthur George Knight DSO MC was shot dead and his DH2 (7927) was seen going down in a spinning nosedive east of Adinfer Wood. Knight had been under attack when Oswald Boelcke was killed back in October

2nd Lieutenants OMC Ball in DH2 (A5228) and Arthur Norman Benge in DH2 (5956) were both forced down damaged but got back to their aerodrome. HB Hurst suffered the same fate but crashed on landing back at the aerodrome in his DH2 (A2552).

18 Squadron, in their FE2b’s also suffered a beating losing three aircraft from a patrol. 2nd Lieutenant Lionel George D’Arcy and Sub Lieutenant Reginald Cuthbert Whiteside in A5446 Were last seen recrossing the lines over Le Transloy. They were later reported shot down and killed. Lieutenant Reginald Smith and 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Guy Ffiske in 4884 were shot down in flames by two enemy aircraft. Both were killed. Lieutenants CYril Hugh Windrum and John Augustus Hollis in A5452 Were hit in the engine and forced to land behind enemy lines near Gommecourt. They were both taken prisoner.

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