6 April 1917 – Heavy Losses

Today saw one of the heaviest days of fighting in the air of the war so far. The RFC suffered 28 aircraft shot down, whilst claiming to have destroyed 15 enemy aircraft and forced down another 16.

At this point in war, the British pusher types were now completely outclassed by the new German fighters.on 3 April, IV Brigade had ordered that FE2bs were not to be flown over the lines. However necessity entailed there use at the cost of many losses. For example, 57 Squadron equipped with the marginally better FE2d, was attacked by a number of Jastas and five of its aircraft shot down.

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Thomas Frank Burrill

First, Jasta 5 got in on the act with Leutnant Heinrich Gontermann shooting down Lieutenant Thomas Frank Burrill and Private F Smith in FE2d A1959, and Edmund Nathanael shooting down 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Douglas Hamilton and Private E Snelling in FE2d A6388. All four were taken prisoner.

A few minutes later, Jasta 12 arrived and Leutnant Otto Splitberger shot down Lieutenant Douglas Clarkson Birch and Lieutenant Jonathan Keith Bousfield MC in FE2d A21, followed by Hauptmann Paul Hennig von Osterroht shooting down Captain Arthur Claud Wright and Private R Sibley in FE2d A1952. Birch and Bousefield were taken prisoner but Wright and Sibley limped back over the lines before crashing. Wright was wounded.

Finally, Lieutenant Raymond Terrance Brymer Schreiber and 2nd Lieutenant Martin Lewis in FE2d A22 –were shot down and taken prisoner by Obleutnant Adolf von Tutscheck from Jasta 2.

During the battle Oberleutnant Hans Berr and his wingmate Leutnant Paul Hoppe collided and were killed.

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Theophilus Chater Vernon

On the plus side, a five-man patrol led by Flight Commander Theophilus Chater Vernon, 3 Naval Squadron were carrying out an offensive patrol in their Sopwith Pups when they met four enemy aircraft attacking a BE2 formation, and shot them all down. Those claiming victory were the other four – Flight Commander Lloyd Samuel Breadner, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Stewart Temple Fall, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Alfred Williams Carter, and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Frederick Carr Armstrong.

 

 

 

 

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