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.
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.