17 March 1916 – Mass brawls

There was intense activity in the air today.

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Arthur Elsdale Boultbee

This morning the biggest scrap involved 18 aircraft – 43 Squadron RFCwere on a photo reconnaissance mission over Beaumont covered by 25 Squadron RFC- and 17 enemy aircraft including 9 from Jasta 11. The British claimed six aircraft downed, but the German’s did not report any losses. The RFC lost three aircraft. Manfred von Richthofen claimed his 27th victory in Lieutenant Arthur Elsdale Boultebee and 1st Class Air Mechanic Frederick King from 25 Squadron, though accounts at the time suggested their FE2b (A5439) was actually crippled by AA fire before von Richthofen finished it off. Both men were killed. 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Constable and 2nd Lieutenant Charles Duncan Knox from 43 Squadron were shot down in their Sopwith Strutter (A1097) by Leutnant Kurt Wolff from Jasta 11. Their colleagues, 2nd Lieutenant James Cook Rimer and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Herbert Lownds in Sopwith Strutter A1111 were shot down by Leutnant Karl Allmenroder. All four were killed.

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George Macdonald Watt

Late in the day around 1600, Manfred von Richthofen claimed a second victory when he claimed to have shot down 2nd Lieutenant George Macdonald Watt and Sergeant Ernest Adam Howlett from 16 Squadron RFC in BE2c 2814. Both men were killed.

It wasn’t all scout victories as Wilhelm Hippert and Heinrich Klose from FFA227 shot down Lieutenant W Anderson and Lieutenant Duncan B Woolley from 20 Squadron in their FE2d (A27). They were taken prisoner.

11 Squadron RFC and Jasta 2 clashed with Jasta 2 getting the better of the fight. Lieutenant Archibald Campbell Woodman and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Charles Cox claimed to have shot down one enemy aircraft but were in turn shot down in their FE2b (4979). They crashed near Grevillers and totalled the aircraft, Cox was wounded but Woodman was unhurt. Lieutenant Norman Hatfield Read and 2nd Lieutenant Larry William Nevile-Smith in FE2b 7694 were also brought down but escaped unhurt. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Russell Wilfred Cross and Lieutenant Christopher Fryers Lodge were less lucky as they were shot down and taken prisoner in their FE2b (7695). Werner Voss and Heinrich Gontermann both made claims but there is some confusion as to who did what though Cross and Lodge is traditionally attributed to Voss.

Voss also made a later claim to have shot down Lieutenant Theodore Algernon Cooch from 32 Squadron RFC in his DH2 (A2583). The aircraft was completely wrecked near Bapaume and Cooch was wounded in the back.

4 Squadron RFC were up on an artillery patrol when 2nd Lieutenant John Thwaytes and 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Hugh Temple Bourne in BE2c 2755 were brought down, most likely be anti-aircraft fire. Their plane was totally wrecked and both were killed. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Norman Hay Colson and 2nd Lieutenant Harold Bagshaw Mann in BE2d 6740 were attacked by 6 enemy aircraft and shot down. Colson was injured but Mann escaped unhurt.

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Aaron Appleton

Jasta 18 made 2 claims. At around 1020, 2nd Lieutenant Alex Ivan Gilson from 1 Squadron RFC was shot down in spinning nosedive near during a combat with 8 enemy aircraft. Leutnant Paul Strähle claimed the victory. Two hours later, 2nd Lieutenant Aaron Appleton and Corporal Albert Cooper from 6 Squadron RFC were shot down in flames  in their BE2d (6241) following an attack by 5 enemy aircraft. Oberleutnant Heino Grieffenhagen claimed the victory. All four were killed.

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