12 April 1917 – 3 Naval hit back

The weather remained poor which restricted flying. Nevertheless a few got up between the storms. A photographic reconnaissance mission by four F.E.2b’s from 18 Squadron under the protection of four Sopwith Pups from 3 (Naval) Squadron, was attacked by six enemy single-seater fighters from Jasta 12.

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Oswald Thomas Walton

Early on, Lieutenant Oswald Thomas Walton and 2nd Class Air Mechanic J C Walker from 18 Squadron were shot down in their FE2b (4995) by Leutnant Adolf Schulte for his ninth victory. Walton was killed and Walker taken prisoner

Schulte did not get long to celebrate his victory as he was shot down and killed shortly afterwards. A number of aircraft contributed including Walton and Walker themselves, 2nd Lieutenant Edward Wallis Alleyne Hunt and 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Fearnside-Speed both from 18 Squadron and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Frederick Carr Armstrong from 3 (Naval) Squadron.

Shortly after this, Flight Commander Robin Gordon Mack from 3 (Naval) Squadron in Sopwith Pup N6172 (Black Tulip) was seen to attack an Albatros Scout which broke up in the air. Mack failed to return and it is believed there was some sort of collision himself and he landed in enemy territory. Hauptmann Paul von Osteroth claimed victory. His aircraft was captured intact and later used painted in German markings.

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Black Tulip shortly after being captured

Armstrong and other naval pilots Flight Sub-Lieutenants Edmund Pierce in Sopwith Pup N6171 (Black Arrow) and Arthur Treleor Whealy (Black Prince) then claimed to have forced down another two enemy scouts. Armstrong wrote:

‘Attacked HA from behind and above (HA was attacking FE) firing about 30 shots into him at 70 yards range. He went straight over and down head first. He turned over so quickly and in such a peculiar manner that I think I must have hit the pilot, but another HA at this time was firing at me from behind, so I left the first and turned on the next, engaging him; the second went off down wind towards Cambrai.’ Pierce wrote ‘….We both engaged him, firing about 40 rounds each into him….’ He also noted it was , ‘..a Black Single Seater machine..’ FSL Whealy who was behind, confirmed the HA to be ‘..fluttering from side to side straight down absolutely out of control.’

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Alick Todd

At the same time, Vitzfeldwebel Arthur Schorisch was accounting for Lieutenant Oscar Dean Maxted and Lieutenant Alick Todd MC in FE2b 4984. Both were taken prisoner but Todd later died of his wounds.

The only other fatality today was 2nd Lieutenant Norman Arthur Phillips from 54 Squadron whose Sopwith Pup (A630) was seen going down on its back south-west of St Quentin, though the cause is unknown.

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