11 March 1917 – Losses mount

After the poor weather of the last few days, the fighting int he air intensified again on the Western Front. In the event four major engagements took place.

Just after 10am 6 aircraft from 32 Squadron RFC and 12 from Jasta 12 clashed to the east of Bapaume. In the ensuing fight, 32 Squadron claimed to have downed one German aircraft and Jasta 12 claimed.

The Jasta 12 pilot was Leutnant Erkenbrecht who was shot at by Lieutentants Charles Edward Murray Pickthorn in DH2 7898, Gilbert Howe and Arthur Clunie Randall in DH2 A2548. Pickthorn and Howe both subsequently crash landed after being shot up. 2nd Lieutenant John Hassall Cross was also brought down in DH2 A5025.

Jasta 1 and Jasta 5 seem to have joined the fight and three more DH2s were shot up,  forced down and crashed. 2nd Lieutenant William Arnold Gemmell Young in DH2 7903, Captain James Milne Robb in DH2 A2535 and Lieutenant Randall. Remarkably none of the 32 Squadron pilots were killed though they all suffered injuries.


Horace Bowden


Eric Lubbock

While this was going on 45 Squadron and Jasta 18 clashed over Ypres. Jasta 18 came off best downing two of the patrol – 2nd Lieutenant Horace George Cecil Bowden and 2nd Lieutenant Douglas Baptist Stevenson in Sopwith Strutter A1071, and Captain The Hon Eric Fox Pitt Lubbock MC and Lieutenant John Thompson in Sopwith Strutter A1082. Leutnant Josef Flink claimed A1071 and Leutnant Paul Strähle A1082. All four men were killed.

The third big fight of the day took place between Jasta 1 and 5 and a flight of FE2bs from 18 and 23 Squadron RFC who were providing cover for photography.Two 23 Squadron aircraft were forced down with the crews taken prisoner. These were 2nd Lieutenant Charles Arthur Robert Shum and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Cecil Coops in FE2b 7713 and 2nd Lieutenant A Holden and 2nd Class Air Mechanic A G Walker in FE2b A5443. 2nd Lieutenant John Eric Lewis and Lieutenant Richard Mayberry from 18 Squadron were both wounded when they were forced down in their FE2b (A785). Their colleagues Sergeant Henry Philip Burgess 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Marshall Headley were less lucky and both were killed after their FE2b (A5475) was shot up and crashed.

Finally Jasta 11 got the better of the BE2s of 2 Squadron. 2nd Lieutenant George Chandos Hoskins and 2nd Lieutenant George William Betts Hampton in BE2c 4541 were sent down in flames in a spinning nosedive in the Loos Salient by Leutnant Karl Schaeffer. Manfred von Richthofen claimed to have brought down 2nd Lieutenant James Smyth and 2nd Lieutenant Edward Gordon Byrne in their BE2d (6232). Al four were killed.





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