The German High Command is getting ready for its spring offensive.
As part of this, following the success of Jagdgeschwader I under Manfred von Richthofen, they have decided to form two additional Jagdgeschwaders so that each of the three Armies on the Western Front will have their own dedicated air support.
Adolf von Tutschek
Jagdgeschwader II (JG III) comprises Jastas 12, 13, 15, and 19 under the overall command of Hauptmann Adolf von Tutschek. He has just returned to active service having been shot down in August 1917. Its four squadrons were ordered to concentrate in the vicinity of Marle, France. This placed them opposite the seam in the Allied lines where British and French armies met They were underequipped with Pfalz and Albatros scouts, but were beginning to receive Fokker Dr1 triplanes by 16 February.
Bruno Loerzer a caption
Jagdgeschwader III (JG III) comprises Jastas 2, 26, 27 and 36 under the overall command of Oberleutnant Bruno Loerzer.
Each has a nominal strength of 56 aircraft (14 in each Jasta).
Yesterday, the funeral took place of Major Charles Meredith Bouverie Chapman MC who had served with 24 and 29 Squadrons RFC. He had been killed on 1 October while serving as Squadron Commander of 29 Squadron. He was hit by shrapnel whilst directing anti-aircraft fire when the Germans bombed their aerodrome at Poperinghe.
Today, his only brother, Lieutenant William Wetherall Chapman MC, an observer with 22 Squadron, was killed in action over Menin with his pilot Lieutenant James Cromwell Bush, in Bristol F2b A7280. The victory was credited to Leutnant Hans Gottfried von Haebler of Jasta 36.
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.