Tag Archives: Jasta 11

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.

18 June 1917 – 9 Squadron lose two

9 Squadron RFC lost two of its RE8s and four crew today.

Around midday Lieutenant Bevis Heppel Bean and Lieutenant Edgar Thomas Philip failed to return from a photo-reconnaissance mission in RE8. They were apparently hit by anti-aircraft fire. Flakbatterie 101 claimed the hit. The aircraft crashed and both men were killed.

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Ralph Walter Elly Ellis and Harold Carver Barlow

A little later Lieutenant Ralph Walter Elly Ellis and Lieutenant Harold Carver Barlow from 9 Squadron in RE8 A4290 became the 53rd victim of Manfred Von Richthofen. His Jasta 11 were out looking for easy prey when they came across A4290 on a photo-reconnaissance mission behind the German lines. Von Richthofen attacked from 8000 feet and fired 200 rounds then zoomed above the RE8. The RE8 went down in a spin and crashed. Both men were killed.

5 June 1917 – Schäfer Killed

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Karl Emil Schäfer

Karl Emil Schäfer was killed today. He is not a household name like Richthofen but at the time he was considered a big deal.

Schäfer served first with Reserve Jäger Bataillon 7 in Bückeburg. He won the Iron Cross 2nd class and was promoted to Vizefeldwebel during September 1914, before being badly wounded and hospitalised for six months. After returning to the front line he was commissioned in May 1915.

He the trained as a pilot and served over the Eastern Front with Kampfgeschwader 2 from July 1916 onwards. He moved to the west and now flew with Kampfstaffel 11, where he gained his first victory.

On hearing that Manfred von Richthofen was assembling a “top gun” squadron at Jasta 11, he telegraphed him “Can you use me?” Richthofen replied, “You have already been requested.”

Schäfer was then posted to Jasta 11 on 21 February 1917 and over the next two months he shot down 23 aircraft.

Schäfer was then given command of Jasta 28 on 26 April, and shot down seven more, the last being a DH4 (A7420) Lieutenant Douglas James Honer and Private G Cluney from 55 Squadron.

Today he led a patrol which came across 7 FEs from 20 Squadron RFC. He went after one FE and drove it down. He was then attacked by Lieutenant Harold Satchell and Lieutenant Thomas Lewis. What happened next is unclear. The RFC communiqué reported:

“a fight lasting about 15 minutes ensued in which the German pilot showed great skill and persistence. Eventually, however, after a burst of fire at very close range, the HA burst into flames and its wings were seen to fall off before it crashed”

However, German ace witness Max Ritter von Müller reported seeing it break up, but noted no fire. Photos of the wreckage show no scorching and the wings still attached to the aircraft.[3] Nevertheless, his Jasta 28 comrades recovered Schäfer’s body, noting that it had no bullet wounds, but that every bone in his body had been broken.

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Schäfer’s crashed Albatross

13 May 1917 – Richthofen down

Lothar von Richthofen from Jasta 11 was shot down today.

At around 1130 Lothar engaged 2nd Lieutenant F Thompson and Lieutenant Arthur Charles Champion Rawlins from 13 Squadron RFC in their BE2e (7130) and shot them down. They force landed near the front lines but escaped unharmed. The aircraft was subsequently destroyed by shellfire. Lothar was then hit by ground fire as he recrossed the lines and wounded in the leg. He crash landed and was out of action for five months. There was some compensation when he was awarded the Pour Le Mérite the next day.

Lieutenant Vernon Forster Stewart

Vernon Forster Stewart

The only combat casualties today were 2nd Lieutenant Vernon Forster Stewart and 2nd Lieutenant John Guthrie Troup from 16 Squadron who were shot down in their RE8 (A4245) whilst on artillery observation. Leutnant Karl Allmenroder also from Jasta 11 claimed victory.