25 February 1917 – Fallback

Yesterday, a German prisoner had reported that orders had been issued for the German troops to fall back, by successive stages, to the Siegfriedstellung (or Hindenburg Line as it was known to the British). Construction of the new defensive position in France was begun by the Germans in September 1916, to make a retirement from the Somme front possible, and to counter an anticipated increase in the power of Anglo-French attacks in 1917.

Today, six Sopwith Pups from 54 Squadron RFC got through to the Hindenburg Line and their pilots brought back news of great fires burning in dumps and villages as they passed on their way, proving that the fall back has commenced.

3 Wing RNAS carried out a further bombing raid on the ironworks at Brebach. During the raid, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Lewis Ewing Smith and Air Mechanic Richard Stretton Portsmouth were shot down in their Sopwith Strutter (9739) by  Gottlieb Vothknecht from Jasta 24. Both men were killed.

Also killed today was Lieutenant Jack Gordon Barrymore Baines from 23 Squadron RFC who was up on a practice flight when his SPAD VII (A6705) was seen to go into spinning nosedive from 1000 feet. Baines was killed in the crash.

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