The British launched a new offensive today between Morville and Le Sars. The work for the RFC began late last night as aircraft were asked to patrol the front to disguise the deployment of the latest attempt to break the deadlock – tanks. This was the most intensive day of air fighting since the war began.
Once the battle commenced at 0620, the Corps Squadrons were used to track the progress of the tanks and infantry. In one notable example, Captain CHN Blount and his observer Lieutenant TS Pearson of 34 Squadron spooked the failed tank attack near HIgh Wood and a large German force. The planned assault was called off.
As well as this, the fighting in the air intensified as the new German Squadrons emboldened by their new machines met British forces still committed to the strategic offensive. The RFC lost eight killed and a further four taken prisoner , whilst claiming 14 enemy aircraft shot down.
11 Squadron RFC were covering a raid on the railway at Baupame – 2nd Lieutenants Frank Edwin Hollingsworth and Henry Maurice Watkins Wells were shot down and killed in their FE2b (6047) and Sergeant D B Walker died of his wounds in another . The squadron claimed two enemy aircraft shot down
Cedric John Kennedy
21 Squadron lost two more of their ineffective BE12s with Lieutenant Gilbert Klingenstein (6164) and 2nd Lieutenant Colin Elphinston (6583) both forced down and taken prisoner.
2nd Lieutenant Cedric John Kennedy of 27 Squadron was also taken prisoner when his Martinsyde (7484) was also forced down near Bourlon Wood.
Captain Alfred Spencer Mason Summers of 60 Squadron was shot down and killed in his Nieuport 16 (A136) by Leunant W Frankl of Jasta 4.
Alfred Mason Spencer Summers
70 Squadron and their Sopwith Strutters suffered the worst however. Despite being in one of the better aircraft, they got into a fight with Oswald Boelcke’s Jasta 2, Jasta 4, and their new Fokker DIs and DIIs, and despite claiming 3 enemy forced down, and a further two collided in the melee, they themselves had four aircraft shot down with five killed and one taken prisoner. Captain Guy Lindsay Cruikshank DSO MC and 2nd Lieutenant Rudolph Arthur Preston were shot down and killed in A895 by Boelcke. Half an hour later Boelcke also shot down 2nd Lieutenant Neville Kemsley in A1903. He escaped with minor injuries but managed his observer Carl John Beatty was killed.
Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday
A similar fate befell A1913 as pilot Captain W J C Kennedy Cochran Patrick who survived a crash but his observer Captain Ferdinand Gonçalves Glenday was killed. Finally Boelcke himself claimed victory 26 by shooting down A1910. 2nd Lieutenant Fritz Bowyer was wounded but survived while his observer 2nd Lieutenant William Bell Saint was killed by unknown pilots from Jasta 2 and Frankl from Jasta 4.