18 February 1917 – Challenge Defeated

Owen

James Collins Farish Owen

Out on the Salonika Front, Captain Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green and Lieutenant James Collins Farish Owen of 17 Squadron set out this morning for the German aerodrome at Drama to challenge German pilot Rudolf von Eschwege.

Von Eschwege had originally served with the 3rd Mounted Jäger Regiment on the Western Front, transferring to the flying services in February 1915. He flew two-seaters on the Western Front before being transferred to Macedonia in Summer 1916. The Germans were greatly outnumbered by French and British aircraft and Von Eschwege was one of the few fighter pilots in the area. He has already claimed three official victories at this point including RNAS pilot Arthur John Whetnall on 19 November 1916.

Murlis-Green had a similar career to Von Eshewege, originally serving on the Western Front with the London Regiment before transferring to 5 Squadron RFC. He came to the Salonika Front in the summer and has claimed four victories to date.

Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green

Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green

As Murlis-Green and Owen arrived at Drama, von Eschwege was already rising to meet them in his Fokker EIII. Murlis-Green and Owen dived on von Eschwege. Green’s single gun jammed and he was forced to break off to unjam it. Owen and von Eschwege then fought each other with von Eschwege eventualy putting the engine in Owen’s BE12 out of action.

Lieutenant Owen was forced to land near the Drama airfield. He was able to set fire to his aircraft before von Eschwege landed and took him prisoner. The Bulgarians attempted to court-martial Owen for burning his aircraft, and he only got off because he was vigorously defended by von Eschwege.

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