4 January 1917 – A bad start for Naval Eight

There hasn’t been much flying so far this year on the Western Front due to poor weather conditions. 4 Sopwith Pups from  8 Squadron RNAS finally got up today but Got into a fight with seven aircraft from  Jasta 2.

Things started well as the Pups had the height advantage. Flight leader Flight Sub-Lt E R Grange dived on the rear aircraft of the formation and it was seen to descend badly damaged. He then attacked two more aircraft, again forcing one down.

At some point, Flight Sub-Lieutenant John Clifford Croft was forced down in his Pup (A626) – Its not clear why. Ltn Friexdrich Mallinckrodt, Ja10 made a claim but this would have required Robert Alexander Little to fly 125km south. Either way, Croft was taken prisoner.

Allan Switzer Todd

Allan Switzer Todd

A little later Flight Lieutenant Allan Switzer Todd in Pup N5193 was attacked by three enemy aircraft including Manfred von Richthofen who shot him down. Richthofen wrote of the combat:

“One of the attacked us and we saw at once that it was superior to ours. Only because we were three against one did we detect the enemy’s weak points.

I managed to get behind him and shoot him down. The aeroplane broke up while falling.”

Todd crashed and was killed. Richthofen now has 16 victories which will earn him the Pour Le Merité.

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Robert Alexander Little of the same patrol saw Todd’s plane crashed in a field surrounded by Germans.




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