Tag Archives: Jasta 11

13 August 1917 – DH4s forced up

55 Squadron RFC continued its pattern of daylight raids with an early morning attack on Deynze railway junction. They were attacked by enemy scouts and in the fighting Captain Francis McDougall Charlewood Turner and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald de Renzie Brett claimed to have destroyed one aircraft and driven down another in a vertical nose-dive with its engine full on, apparently out of control. Lieutenant Charles Bernard Waters and 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Mackie Smith succeeded in destroying one EA and one out of control, while three others were claimed driven down out of control by 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Stuart White and 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Frederick Castle; Lieutenant Alfred Gordon Whitehead and 2nd Lieutenant Harry Bell MacDonald and Lieutenant Clive Waddington Davies and 2nd Lieutenant William Ronald Cooke.

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Percy Byron McNally

However, the mission was not without casualties. Davies and Cooke in DH4 (7429) were forced down and crash landed near Ramscappelle. Cooke was wounded though Davies was uninjured. Lieutenant Percy Byron McNally and 2nd Class Air Mechanic C Kelly in DH4 A2157 were shot down and killed near Melle by Leutnant Wilhelm Bockelmann from Jasta 11. Shortly after this, Lieutenant Percival Gordon Kirk and 2nd Lieutenant George Young-Fullalove were seen diving their DH4 (A7475) to attack an enemy aircraft. They were then seen to burst into flames and crash south of Ostdunkerke. Young-Fullalove was seen jumping from the burning aircraft. Both men were killed. Vitzfeldwebel Georg Strasser from Jasta 17 claimed the victory.

Around this time, RFC Headquarters issued orders for daylight bombings by DH4s to be conducted from at least 15,000 feet to reduce wastage of this type of aircraft which were in relatively short supply. One imagines this type of operation and the subsequent losses would have influenced this decision.

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27 July 1917 – Lure

Another large clash took place this evening over Polygon Wood on the Western Front. This time, however, it was at the instigation of the British who laid a trap to entice enemy fighters. A formation of eight FE2d’s from 20 Squadron RFC set out to patrol over Menin, with orders to attract and decoy enemy fighters towards Polygon Wood, where layered formations of single-seaters, 59 aircraft in total, chiefly from the Ninth Wing, were patrolling in readiness.

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Frank Potter

The FE2d’s crossed the lines at 1915and proceeded without incident to Menin, where shortly afterwards some twenty Albatros Scouts gathered. The FE pilots were soon involved in a fight, but skilfully lured the enemy north-west towards Polygon Wood. Within a short time a general fight was in progress, in which all the British formations in the area, some French fighters, and additional enemy single-seaters, took part.

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Karl von Schonebeck

The fighting went on for an hour and at the end it the German aircraft had been completely cleared from the sky over a wide area. The 20 Squadron FE2d pilots claimed six enemy aeroplanes destroyed. Lieutenant Harold Waddell Joslyn and Sergeant Frank Potter were wounded when their FE2d (A6415) was hit by anti aircraft fire. They escaped back to their aerodrome but crashed when their undercarriage collapsed on landing.

Triplanes from 10 Naval Squadron claimed two enemy aircraft, and SE5’s from 56 Squadron destroyed one. 2nd Lieutenant Trevor Watts White from 56 Squadron RFC was shot down and taken prisoner in his SE5 (A8911) north-east of Roulers. He later commented:

“…being intent on getting a ‘Gerry’ , and staying with him far too long, I was jumped. I was dead lucky, with only a scalp wound, but my engine caught it, with the result that I had to land in a field near Iseghem. One of Richtofen’s pilots landed in the same field, apparently the one who had shot me down. I was taken away to Richtofen’s squadron for a meal….My treatment, by the pilot who claimed me, at the squadron, and at Ingelmunster, was most chivalrous…Like a lot of pilots, I was too raw in experience to have survived longer on operations.”

Leutnant Günther Ziegler from Jasta 26 claimed victory. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gerald Roach from 10 Naval Squadron was shot down and killed in his Triplane N5492. Aircraft crashed near Moorslede and his body could not be recovered.  Leutnant Karl von Schonebeck from Jasta 11 claimed his first victory.

26 July 1917 – Massed dogfights

The poor weather continued for much of the day on the Western Front, but started to clear by the evening. As is becoming common these days due to the presence of almost half of the German air strength in the area, a mass dogfight ensued over the Ypres Salient around 1915 and carried on for some two hours.

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Otto Brauneck

The fight developed when two flights from 56 Squadron RFC attacked a group of German scouts, and were joined by flights from 19, 66 and 70 Squadrons RFC, and 10 Naval Squadron. Other German scouts from Jastas 11 and 27 then joined in. The Official History suggests there were more than 90 aircraft involved! Despite the size, or perhaps because of it, much of the fighting was indecisive with only one pilot on each side killed.

Early in the combat Captain Noel William Ward Webb in Camel B3756 from 70 Squadron shot down an Albatross with Jasta 11’s Leutnant Otto Brauneck on board. Brauneck crashed near Zonnebeck and was killed. Webb reported:

“There were about 6 EA below me and on the way back to lines I dived on the leading machine, letting off a burst of about 50 rounds. I saw the EA wobble and then fall plane over plane and finally spin. Later, I thought I saw this EA crashed on the ground”

Around the same time, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Cecil Smith in Camel B3814 from the same squadron also claimed an Albatros out of control, though this could not be confirmed. Smith’s aircraft was also badly shot up but he was uninjured.

Captain Gerald Joseph Constable Maxwell and 2nd Lieutenant Leonard Monteagle Barlow from 56 Squadron both claimed enemy aircraft forced down. Shortly after this their Flight Commander Captain Phillip Bernard Prothero was killed when the wing of his SE5’s (A8925) wing collapsed. Vitfeldwebel Alfred Muth from Jasta 27 claimed this but Barlow and Webb reported the aircraft breaking up in a dive. Webb stated:

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Philip Bernard Prothero

‘Early in the operation I saw a red nosed SE5 diving on an EA. The pilot seemed to me to dive his machine over the vertical and then both planes on one side folded back and the machine descended in a spinning nose dive.’

2nd Lieutenant A Wearne from 19 Squadron was taken prisoner when his rudder cable was shot through and unable to steer he landed at Faumont aerodrome escorted in by 3 Albatrosses.

As the combat came to a close, Lieutenant James Thomas Byford McCudden flying Sopwith Pup B1756 from 66 Squadron also claimed an Albatross Scout out of control. It was his second and last victory in the Pup before switching to the SE5a.

17 July 1917 – 70 Squadron mauled

The weather was poor for much of the day on the Western Front, but in the evening some patrols were able to get up. German aircraft were also out in Force.

The biggest fight of the day came about when a patrol of five Sopwith Camels from 70 Squadron encountered an enemy scout which they drove down. They then engaged a formation of six 2-seaters with Captain Noel William Ward Webb, Lieutenant Joseph Cecil Smith and Lieutenant Edward Gribbin each claiming to have sent one down.

They were then attacked by Albatros scouts from above and  a 5 strong patrol from B flight 56 Squadron led by Captain Ian Henry David Henderson came to their aid. They were then joined  by 8 FE’s from 20 Squadron (led by Captain Frank Douglas Stevens) along with DH5’s from 32 Squadron. Further German scouts joined in until there were around 30 enemy aircraft (from Jastas 6, 8, 11 and 36).

Despite the number of aircraft involved the fighting was relatively indecisive. A large number of claims by the British side actually resulted in only three German pilots being wounded.

70 Squadron lost two of their new Camels. Lieutenant William Edington Grossett was shot down and taken prisoner in Camel N6332. Lieutenant Charles Service Workman MC was shot down and severely wounded in Camel B3779. He later died of his wounds.

 

6 July 1917 – Red Baron shot down

A six strong patrol from 20 Squadron RFC was on patrol in their FE2ds when they were attacked by a formation of 8 aircraft from Jasta 11. They were then joined another 20 plus enemy aircraft and then 4 Triplanes from 10 Naval Squadron.

A large scale fight ensued. Lieutenant Donald Charles Cunnell and 2nd Lieutenant Albert Edward Woodbridge from 20 Squadron claimed to have driven down four aircraft, and their colleagues Lieutenant Cecil Roy Richards and Lieutenant Albert Edward Wear, and 2nd Lieutenant W Durrand and Stuart Fowden Trotter also claimed to have driven down an Albatross scout each.

Their Naval 10 colleagues also got in on the action with Flight Lieutenant Raymond Collishaw, Flight Sub-Lieutenant William Melville Alexander, and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ellis Vair Reid all claiming victories.

In the end only one confirmed loss was confirmed by the German authorities and that was Manfred Von Richthofen himself. He was hit in the head by a bullet. He was temporarily blinded and paralysed, and fell for some distance, but succeeded in making a forced landing in friendly territory.

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Richthofen’s downed aircraft

Cunnell and Woodbridge have traditionally been credited with the victory including in the Official History (Volume 4, p142), though I have my doubts as to whether this is true. They claimed to have forced down an all red Albatross though didn’t claim a victory as they did not see it crash. Photographic evidence seems to suggest that Richthofen was not flying an all red Albatross that day, though serial number of the aircraft is unknown. Some theorists has suggested he was hit by friendly fire as he was hit behind the left ear. Even the Baron’s own account is unclear:

““After some time we approached so close to the last plane that I began to consider a means of attacking him. (Lt. Kurt) Wolff was flying below me. The hammering of a German machine gun indicated to me that he was fighting. Then my opponent turned and accepted the fight but at such a distance that one could hardly call it a real air fight. I had not even prepared my gun for fighting, for there was lots of time before I could begin to fight. Then I saw that the enemy’s observer (Woodbridge), probably from sheer excitement, opened fire. I let him shoot, for a distance of 300 yards and more the best marksmanship is helpless. One does not hit the target at such a distance. Now he flies toward me and I hope that I will succeed in getting behind him and opening fire. Suddenly something strikes me in the head…”

Nevertheless he was out of action until 16 August 1917, and returned against medical advice with an unhealed wound. The injury plagued him for the rest of his life.

All the British aircraft returned except for FE2d A6419 fron 20 Squadron whose pilot 2nd Lieutenant Durand force landed at 1 Squadron’s aerodrome. His observer Trotter was badly wounded and later died. (Wia; dow), 20 Sqn, FE2d A6419 – took off 09:53/10:53 FE2d A6419 force landed 1 Sqn after engagement with EA on offensive patrol 10:30/11:30

27 July 1917 – “His feet were still up in the air”

Whilst air to air combat remains a common source of losses for both sides, anti-aircraft fire remains a perennial danger for everyone as demonstrated today.

2nd Lieutenant Frederick Exton Vipond and 2nd Lieutenant George Percival Simon from 7 Squadron RFC were on a photography mission in their BE2e A2800 when they were attacked by three enemy aircraft. However, what did for them was anti-aircraft fire. Vipond recalls:

“The plane took a hit, and half of the wings flew around while a reinforcement of the control wires was hit. I completely lost control of the aircraft and Simon held on to his machine gun, which was his only support, otherwise he would have plummeted down; his feet were still up in the air. During the dive the 3 Germans followed us until we reached the ground. Anyway, they captured three beautiful Lewis machineguns and 10 loading drums with cartridges.”

Vipond and Simon were taken prisoner.

Lieutenant Thomas Edgar Wylde from 11 Squadron RFC was also hit by AA fire in his Bristol F2b (Ok) while on patrol. He was wounded in the shoulder and chest and later died of his wounds. The records do not show who was accompanying him in the aircraft.

Later in the evening around 2230 Captain Walter Thomas Forrest Holland from 100 Squadron RFC was attempting to bomb an enemy aerodrome in his BE2e A1872 when he was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He struggled back home and wrecked the aircraft on landing wounding himself in the process.

87182EB7-72AE-4CF7-8D91-A60AE81E8EC8-635-0000007FF5568373Also killed today by anti-aircraft fire was 30 victory German ace Leutnant Karl Allmenröder from Jasta 11. His aircraft crashed near Zillebeke into a hastily dug cemetary. German soldiers took over two hours to retrieve his body.

Allmenröder had just been made commander of Jasta 11 with the departure of Manfred von Richthofen to lead Jagdgeschwader 1. Unlike many of his compatriots he remains in relative obscurity. This is mostly due to his name being used later by the Nazi Party in propaganda and many references to him on street names and memorials being removed post WW2.

24 June 1917 – Flying Circus

It has become apparent to the German High Command that they would always be outnumbered in air operations over the Western Front as the average Jasta could only muster some six or eight aircraft in total for a patrol, and would often face one Allied formation after another.

In order to maintain some impact and local command of the air the Jastas began to fly in larger, composite groups to carry out operations.

Today this was made official with the formation of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) by combining Jastas 4,6, 10 and 11. Manfred Von Richthofen is in command. This became known to the British as the Flying Circus.

Its role is simple, to achieve localized air superiority wherever it was sent and to deny Allied air operations over a specific location. The unit will be mobile, and JG 1 and its supporting logistical infrastructure will travel to wherever local air superiority is needed.

Initially based at Marke (Jasta 11), Cuene (Jasta 4), Bissegem (Jasta 6) and Heule (Jasta 10), Richthofen has freedom to select his unit commanders and recruit individual pilots into JG 1, and alternately to transfer out any pilots he does not feel were up to standard.

In the longer run, this policy had the effect of making the Jagdgeschwader an elite unit, but robbing lesser Jastas of their best pilots also reduced the overall standard of the average unit. JG 1 itself suffered a dilution of talent when competent members were posted away to command their own Jastas in late 1917, when the number of Jastas were doubled from 40 to 80.