3 April 1917 – A Baghdad Melon

Out in Mesopotamia, both sides have been suffering from a a lack of adequate e German Air Service has basically been grounded through a lack of aircraft. 30 Squadron RFC’s BE2s are showing their age at this point, and the lack of new aircraft will soon jeopardise their cooperation work with the army. In anticipation of German reinforcements, requests had been sent to the War Office asking for up-to-date fighters. Some SPADs had been promised, but these will take some time to transport from England. As a stop gap, a few Bristol Scouts have been transferred from Egypt as a temporary measure. These have arrived in Basra and are currently being erected. There is still a 750 mile trip to make to the front.

However, the Germans have already received nine new fighters (Halberstadts and Fokkers which were brought back from Germany by their commander on this front Oberleutnant Schultz. This did not go unnoticed by the British as Schutz recorded:

“In the meantime I myself had been to Germany to speed up the delivery of fresh supplies. I returned to Irak in April, 1917, with nine new Scouts. In order to confound the English by the unexpected appearance of a new type, I covered the 300 odd miles from the railhead of the ‘Baghdad line to the front in one day. But even this rapidity was of no use. On the same day an English machine appeared at a great height and dropped a tin of cigarettes with the following message: “The British airmen send their compliments to Captain S, and are pleased to welcome him back to Mesopotamia.We shall be pleased to offer him a warm reception in the air. We enclose a tin of English cigarettes and will send him a Baghdad melon when they are in season. Au revoir. Our compliments to the other German airmen. The Royal Flying Corps.”

Today, Lieutenant Lance St. Allard March Page and Lieutenant Arthur Rullion Rattray got their first taste of Schutz and the new aircraft when their BE2c (4585) was attacked by a Fokker. In a brief combat the two aeroplanes hit one another,                 wing-tip to wing-tip. The Fokker tore the Wing of the BE2c and then fell out of control, but was righted and flown back to Samarra, while the damaged BE2c reached its aerodrome at Kasirin.

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