18 March 1917 – Bombers repelled

The arrival of a German bomber squadron on the Salonika has caused much consternation amongst Britiish commanders as well as actual damage. The performance of many of the British aircraft is not even enough to keep up with the bombers never mind any accompanying scouts they may have.

Lieutenant-General Milne has requested from Vice- Admiral Sir Cecil F. Thursby, commanding the RNAS Eastern Mediterranean Squadron for assistance. Thursby has agreed to send four Sopwith Strutters and a Sopwith Triplane. In the meantime, Milne has put together a composite fighter unit with the best available aircraft. These include four BE12’s from 17 and 47 Squadrons and two DH2s from 47 Squadron.

These aircraft are at least of comparable performance to the bombers if still inferior to the German scouts. Today, they had their first success. A German bombing formation of Friedrwichshafen G aircraft twice crossed the lines today to make a raid, but the British fighter pilots took off in time to attack the bombers on their inward journey and forced them to retreat without attacking their targets.

Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green

Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green

During the fight, Captain Gilbert Ware Murlis-Green, in a BE12, attacked the last of the six bombers from below at 30 yards. He fired off two drums from his Lewis gun, crippling the bomber which then crashed in ‘no-man’s land’ and was subsequently shelled.

He then attacked another bomber. After three drums of ammunition, petrol streamed from the aircraft and one member of the crew fell across the side of the cockpit over which he was still hanging as the bombing aeroplane fled. This is Murlis-Green’s 5th and 6th victories, and his 5th in the BE12, making him the first (and in fact only) ace in the type.

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