Tag Archives: 56 Squadron RFC

13 January – Another McCudden Triple

Captain James McCudden from 56 Squadron scored another triple success today, shooting down three enemy two seaters whilst on patrol in his SE5a this morning.

McCudden’s report read:

“Left aerodrome at 8.40 to pursue E.A. At 9.35 I saw an L.V.G. going north over Belinglise at 8,000. I glided from in the sun and secured a firing position at 50 yards without being seen, fired a short burst from both guns, when E.A. went into a right hand spiral glide, which got steeper, and he then crashed just north of Lehancourt 62B, H31B at 9.40 a.m. Went north and saw two D.F.W.s being shelled at about 5,000 feet north-east of Ronnsoy at 9.50. Engaged one at close range and fired a long burst from both guns. E.A. went down steeply, emitting smoke and water, and hit the ground in a vertical dive just east of Vendhuille at 57B, S27.a as far as I could judge, as I did not pay too much attention to it as I was being engaged by the remaining D.F.W. This E.A. continued to circle round and got well east of the line like this, so I left him. Went north and saw two L.V.G.s going west aver Epehy at 10 a.m. I engaged one at 200 yards range at 9,000 feet and fired 200 rounds of Vickers into him. E.A. stalled, went down in a vertical dive, left hand wings fell off, and E.A. then burst into flames and crashed into our lines just east of Lampire at 62B, F16.b at 10.15 a.m. At 10.30 had an indecisive engagement with a D.F.W. over Gonnelieu but E.A. got away. Returned 11.5.”

In the first LVG the observer Leutnant Max Pappenheimer from FAA 264 was killed. The crew of the DFW Vitzfeldwebel Hans Rautenberg and Leutnant Gerhard Besser from Boghohl 7 were both killed. Their colleague Leutnant Max Rittermann the observer in the other LVG was also killed.

McCudden has now claimed 41 victories and is now only three behind Albert Ball.

McCudden’s colleague 2nd Lieutenant Barclay McPherson was injured when his SE5a (B668) ran out of petrol on return form the patrol and crash landed.

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23 December 1917 – McCudden’s quartet

mccuddenportraitCaptain James McCudden from 56 Squadron RFC scored the first quadruple by a British pilot today. The RFC Communique reported:

“This is the first occasion on which one pilot has shot down four EA in a day, and Capt McCudden’s accounts are as follows:—

Left ground 10.50 to look for EA west of our lines, and at 11.15 saw three EA two-seaters together over Vendelles, N-W of St Quentin, at 13,000 feet. As they were above I could not engage them decisively, but drove them all east of the lines. At about 11.10 an LVG came W just north of St Quentin at 17,000. Chased him and caught him up over Etreillers. He then turned south. I secured a firing position and fired a burst, from both guns, when EA’s engine stopped and water came pouring from the radiator in the centre section. EA turned south and I tried to turn him west because the observer was waving his rightn arm, apparently in token of surrender, but the machine was still going south-east very faSt. However, I fired another burst at close eange, whereupon he went down in a steep dive and crashed completely between the canal and the road at Anguilcourt, which is NE of La Fere, at 11.25. I returned north climbing, and 11.50 saw a Rumpler at 17,500 just south of Peronne. I climbed for 20 minutes and attacked EA over Beanvois at 18,200 feet at 12.15. Going SE, EA fought extraordinarily well and we got down to 8,000 feet over Roupy, when after a burst from both guns at close range EA’s right hand wings fell off and the wreckage fell in our lines near Contescourt at 12.20. Returned north climbing and at 12.50 attacked two LVG’s over Gouzeaucourt at 16,000. However, both machines co-operated very well, using their front guns as well the rear, and I fought them east of the lines and then left them I had no more petrol.

“Leading my formation E over Ytres towards the lines at 14,000 feet, at 2.30 I saw a Rumpler coming W over Metz at 14,000. EA saw my formation and then turned east, nose down. I caught up to EA at 13,000 feet over Bois de Gouzeaucourt, and engaged him down to 6,000 feet, when EA went into spiral dive and crashed in our lines NW of Gouzeaucourt at 2.40 pm. Reformed my patrol and crossed lines at 13,000 over Masnieres. At about 3.5 engaged six Albatross Scouts over Fontaine at 13,000. My patrol fought these EA down to 8,000 feet over Bourlon Wood and then left EA who dived eaSt. The fight was indecisive except that Lieut Galley, in fighting one E.A end on, got hit in the oil tank and had to land at Advanced Landing Ground, and apparently he hit the EA’s engine and he went off down E as if to land. The EA scouts (red-nosed Albatross) kept rolling and spinning down. After the fight, whilst reforming the patrol over Flesquieres, I saw an LVG coming West over Trescault at 12,000 feet. I got into position at close range, fired about 20 shots, when EA went down absolutely out of control, alternately stalling, turning upside down and then spinning for a short distance before stalling again, etc. EA took five minutes to reach the ground and in a vertical dive landed on a train in our lines a few hundred yards west of Metz at 3.30. Returned at 3.50.”

19 December 1917 – Richard Maybery

Captain Richard Aveline Maybery MC from 56 Squadron RFC was killed today. He was out on patrol in his SE5a (B506) around 1300 when he got into fight with an enemy Albatross which he shot Dow. Shortly after this he was seen spinning out of control over Bourlon Wood. Vitzfeldwebel Artur Weber from Jasta 5 claimed him as his first victory, but it is equally likely he was hit by AA fire.

Maybery was born in Wales on 4 January 1895, the only son of Aveline Maybery, a solicitor, and his wife Lucy. He was educated locally and at Wellington College, Berkshire, before going on to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

After his graduation he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 21st (Empress of India’s) Lancers on 17 September 1913. At the outbreak of the war he was serving in the North West Frontier Province where he was promoted to lieutenant on 31 October 1914. After being seriously wounded in action at Shabqadar on 15 September 1915, Maybery became bored during his rehabilitation and, unable to sit on a horse, became involved in observing for a unit of the Royal Flying Corps who were based nearby.[1] He was eventually seconded to the RFC, and appointed a flying officer (observer) on 10 October 1916, with seniority from 21 August 1916. Later he travelled to Egypt where he trained to be a pilot, being appointed a flying officer on 11 April 1917, and was posted to France to serve in No. 56 Squadron, alongside aces James McCudden Arthur Rhys Davids and Keith Muspratt.

Aggressive and headstrong, Maybery quickly accumulated a high victory tally, accounting for 21 enemy aircraft between 7 July and 19 December 1917. He was awarded the Military Cross on 26 September, and on 18 November was appointed Captain on 17 December.

18 November 1917 – Variety

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William Reynolds Cutler

The fact that flying is a dangerous business, even before the enemy start firing at you, is well known at this point. Training and accidents remain a significant source of casualties. Today is a case in point.

11 (Army) Wing, suffered two casualties. 2nd Lieutenant George Alec Cranswick from 23 Squadron RFC is missing presumed killed in his SPADVII (B3575) following a wireless interruption mission over Passchendaele. Meanwhile 2nd Lieutenant William Reynolds Cutler from 70 Squadron crashed his Sopwith Camel (B4611) on a practice flight near Berck-sur-mer. Cutler was killed.

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Similarly, 2nd Lieutenant William Somerville McLaren and 2nd Lieutenant David Whyte Hardie were on an offensive patrol near Dixmunde in their Bristol Fighter (A7282) when they were shot down in flames. McLaren jumped from the plane and was killed. Hardie was badly burned and later died of his wounds.

 

2nd Lieutenant John Patrick Waters from 56 Squadron was killed when his SE5a (B502) disintegrated after getting into a spin during a practice flight.

As well as these deaths, there were another four pilots injured from engine failures of various kinds.

18 November 1917 – Variety

The fact that flying is a dangerous business, even before the enemy start firing at you, is well known at this point. Training and accidents remain a significant source of casualties. Today is a case in point.

11 (Army) Wing, suffered two casualties. 2nd Lieutenant George Alec Cranswick from 23 Squadron is missing presumed killed in his SPADVII (B3575) following a wireless interruption mission over Passchendaele. Meanwhile William Reynolds Cutler from 70 Squadron crashed his Sopwith Camel (B4611) on a practice flight near Berck-sur-mer. Cutler was killed.

Similarly, 2Lt William Somerville McLaren and 2Lt David Whyte Hardie were on an offensive patrol near Dixmunde in their Bristol Fighter (A7282) when they were shot down and killed.

2nd L John Patrick Waters from 56 Squadron was killed when his SE5a (B502) disintegrated after getting into a spin during a practice flight.

As well as these deaths, there were another four pilots injured from engine failures of various kinds.

18 October 1917 – The cost of intelligence

  • An Airman: Lieut R T C Hoidge, MC

    For once the weather on the Western Front was good and 57 Squadron RFC were sent up to take advantage and carry out photographic reconnaissance of the Ypres area accompanied by some SE5a’s from 84 Squadron. They were in turn attacked by Jasta 27. At this point, C Flight from 56 Squadron RFC led by Captain Geoffrey Hilton Bowman came to their assistance. In the ensuing dogfight, Lieutenant Geoffrey Beville Shone from 56 Squadron was shot down in his SE5a (B588) by Leutnant Helmuth Dilthey from Jasta 27. Shone was badly wounded and later died from his injuries. Jasta 37 also appeared in the area and Leutant Ernst Udet shot down 2nd Lieutenant Stanley Miles Park from 84 Squadron in his SE5a (B546). He was taken prisoner.

    John Driffield Gilbert

    Shortly after this, 56 Squadron joined 4 SPADs fighting four 2-seaters, but they were attacked from above by 2 enemy scouts. They cleared west and came back going after two 2-seaters: Lieutenant Reginald Theodore Carlos Hoidge shot down one with a full drum of Lewis and 100 Vickers from 20 yards. Hoidge was then attacked by an Albatros scout which was driven off by Captain Bowman. Hoidge and Lieutenant John Driffield Gilbert then combined to send the other 2-seater down. Hoidge had to drive an Albatros off Lieutenant Gilbert’s tail in process. What then became of Gilbert is unknown but he failed to return from the patrol and was assumed dead.

    After all this 57 Squadron escaped unscathed and the photographic mission was successful.

10 October 1917 – Berthold downed

Rudolph Berthold

The weather remained poor on the Western Front today to the extent that flying was only possible intermittently. The commander of Jasta 18, Leutnant Rudolph Berthold may have wished he had stayed on the ground. He was leading a ten strong flight late in the afternoon when they came across a formation of Bristol F2bs and Se5a’s from 5, 22 and 56 Squadron RFC and A Squadron RNAS.

Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell

At the end of the combat Berthold had been shot down with a smashed upper right arm. A number of claims were made that day by British pilots in the area. Lieutenant William Geoffrey Meggitt and Arthur George J Whitehouse from 22 Squadron claimed an Albatross Scout destroyed. Captain Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell from 56 Squadron also reported ‘..I got on to one EA’s tail and fired a drum of Lewis and about 100 rounds Vickers at very close range. EA went down very steeply and I lost sight of him…’
There are a number of competing claims for the victory but the prevailing wisdom currently is that Maxwell is the most likely candidate (See the discussion on the Aerodrome Forum).

Leutnant Otto Schober was also forced down with a shot up radiator but was otherwise unharmed.

Also lost in the combat was 2nd Lieutenant Geoffrey Miles Wilkinson from 56 Squadron who was shot down in his SE5a (B23) by Xaver Dannhuber from Jasta 26.

Berthold overcame the handicap of half-severed ailerons and remained conscious long enough to land one-handed at Jasta 18’s home airfield. He passed out after his arrival. He was rushed to the field hospital who were able to keep him alive. He was later sent, due tot influence of his older sister Franziska to the Berlin clinic of Doctor August Bier, who pioneered use of cocaine in spinal anesthesia. Berthold remained in hospital for four months. His arm never recovered but amazingly he recovered sufficiently to fly again in combat, one-handed, in May 1918.

 

 

Rudolph Berthold 5 Squadron RFC, 22 Squadron RFC, 6 Squadron RFC, A Squadron RNAS. William Geoffrey Meggitt, Arthur George J Whitehouse, Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell, Otto Schober, Geoffrey Miles Wilkinson, 56 Squadron RFC, Xaver Dannhuber, Jasta 26, Jasta 18.