Tag Archives: Werner Voss

23 September 1917 – Werner Voss killed


Werner Voss (centre) with brothers Otto and Max

Having just returned from leave, early this morning Leutnant Werner Voss from Jasta 10 shot down a DH4 (A76433) from 57 Squadron which was bombing Hooglede. The crew 2nd Lieutenant S L J Bramley and 2nd Lieutenant John Matthew De Lacey were both killed in the crash. It was to be his last confirmed victory.

During the afternoon he met his brothers Otto and Max and posed for a photo. This evening he was on patrol when his wingmate was fired on by Lieutenant Harold A. Hamersley, from 60 Squadron RFC who had mistaken Voss’s Triplane for a Nieuport. Voss attacked and Hmersley went into a spin to escape with his wings and engine holed. His wingmate Lieutenant Robert L. Chidlaw-Roberts, rushed to his aid, but within seconds, Voss shredded his rudder bar and foced him out of the fight too.

At this point, six SE5a’s from B Flight of 56 Squadron moved in to attack. Captain James McCudden and his wingmen attacked from 300 meters above Voss. McCudden came from the right while Lieutenant Arthur Rhys Davids, swooped in from the left. Captain Keith Muspratt (A8944) trailed them down, while Lieutenant Verschoyle Philip Cronyn (A4563) brought up the rear. Lieutenant Charles Hubert Jeffs and Lieutenant Ralph William Young held high as top cover in case Voss climbed. He was now boxed in from above and below, with assailants pouncing from either side. To further worsen Voss’s situation, there was a British fighter patrol beneath him.

At this point, instead of attempting to flee, which may have been impossible in any case given the slow speed of the Fokker against the SE5s. He flicked his triplane about in a flat spin and fired at his attackers in a headon firing pass, holing McCudden’s wings. Voss riddled Cronyn’s SE5 from close range, putting him out of the dogfight. Cronyn had to turn in under his attacker and throw his aircraft into a spin to escape being killed. His wingmates attacked Voss while Cronyn also limped for home.

At this time, Captain Geoffrey Hilton Bowman and Lieutenant Richard Mayberry from 56 Squadron, C Flight arrived. Another C Flight, Lieutenant Reginald Hoidge fought off an Albatross attempting to assist Voss.

The combat now became so chaotic that the surviving pilots later gave widely varying accounts. Muspratt’s engine was holed, lost its coolant to and he glided away with his engine beginning to seize. At some point, a rednosed Albatros D.V made a short-lived attempt to help Voss; Rhys-Davids put a bullet through its engine, and it dropped away.

At another point, Voss was caught in a crossfire by at least five of his attackers but seemed unhurt. At about this point, Maybery withdrew with his aircraft’s upper right-hand longeron holed in several places.

Voss and the six remaining British aces swirled down to 600 meters (2,000 feet). At times, Voss had the altitude advantage over his foes, but did not try to escape the fight. Using the triplane’s superior rate of climb and its ability to slip turn, Voss managed to evade his opponents and return to battle. He continued to flick turn at high speeds and attack those behind him. As Bowman later noted concerning his only shot at Voss:

“To my amazement he kicked on full rudder, without bank, pulled his nose up slightly, gave me a burst while he was skidding sideways and then kicked on opposite rudder before the results of this amazing stunt appeared to have any effect on the controllability of his machine.”

Bowman’s machine was left slowed and ineffectively trailing dark smoke and steam, though he stayed in the fight.

Then, after flying past McCudden in a head-on firing pass, Voss’s Fokker was hit with bullets on the starboard side by Hoidge. Meantime, Rhys Davids had pulled aside to change an ammunition drum; he rejoined combat with a 150 meter (500 foot) height advantage over Voss’s altitude of 450 meters (1,500 feet), and began a long flat dive onto the tail of Voss’ triplane. At point-blank range, he holed the German aircraft end to end with his machine guns before turning. It wandered into his line of flight again, in a gentle westward glide; Rhys Davids again ripped the German plane as its engine quit. The aircraft missed a mid-air collision by inches. The British ace fired again. As the triplane’s glide steepened, Rhys Davids overran him at about 1,000 feet altitude and lost sight of his opponent. From above, Bowman saw the Fokker in what could have been a landing glide, right up until it stalled. It then flipped inverted and nose down, dropping directly to earth. The resulting smash left only the rudder intact.

McCudden, watching from 3,000 feet recalled:

“I saw him go into a fairly steep dive and so I continued to watch, and then saw the triplane hit the ground and disappear into a thousand fragments, for it seemed to me that it literally went into powder.”

McCudden would later write of the fight:

As long as I live I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single-handed fought seven of us for ten minutes and also put some bullets through all our machines. His flying was wonderful, his courage magnificent, and in my opinion he was the bravest German airman whom it has been my privilege to see fight.

Voss’s identity was not compnformed until the next day, and eventually Rhys Davies was credited with the victory, although as was British practice at the time, his name was not made known to the press.


6 June 1917 – Big prep

British aircraft were active all over the front in preparation for tomorrow’s offensive, carrying out photography, bombing and reconnaissance. There were anumber of big fights, the largest of which took place between a 7 strong patrol from 54 Squadron RFC and six Nieuports of 6 Naval Squadron escorting 22 Squadron RFC and its FEs? They were set upon by  “a very large formation of Hostile aicraft” from Jasta 2, Jasta 5 and Jasta 12.

The British claimed eight aircraft downed, three of which were seen to crash. One of these was Werner Voss from Jasta 5 who suffered minor wounds after he was forced down by 6 Naval Squadron. Both Squadron Commander Christopher Draper and  Flight Sub-Lieutenant Ronald Francis Redpath.


Charles Elliot Sutcliffe

Around the same time, Flight Lieutenant Fabian Pember Reeves, also from 6 Naval Squadron , was shot down and killed in his Nieuport 17 (N3204). Voss claimed this but it is also possible that his aircraft broke up manoevring.


Edward Grevelnk

54 Squadron also suffered as Major Charles Elliott Sutcliffe in Sopwith Pup B1730 was shot down by Leutnant Hermann Becker from Jasta 12, and Lt Edward James Yzenhold Grevelink was shot down in Sopwith Pup A7306 by Vitzfeldwebel Robert Riessinger also from Jasta 12. Both were killed.

28 March 1917 – A good day for Jasta 5


Keith Logan Caldwell

B flight of 60 Squadron was on an offensive patrol near Lens. Two of the Original five aircraft had dropped out due to engine trouble. The three remaining aircraft, led by Captain Keith Logan Caldwell attacked two enemy two seaters. They were then attacked themselves by three enemy scouts. Caldwell got into a one-on-one with one of the attackers eventually driving him off. 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Uriel Phalen in Nieuport 23 B1624 failed to return from the mission and was assumed killed. Leutnant Kurt Schuhmann from Jasta 5 claimed the victory though evidence is scant.

Jasta 5 then went to destroy a 25 Squadron photo reconnaissance  mission over Douai, about 12km behind the German lines. At this point the flight was down to 4 machines, three of which were lost.

  • 2nd Lieutenant Edward Harris Stevens and Lance Corporal C Sturrock in FE2d A32 claimed by Leutnant Kurt Schneider. They lost the undercarriage in the crash and Stevens was badly wounded
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    Aubrey de Selincourt

    Captain Aubrey De Selincourt and Lieutenant Harry Cotton in FE2d A6378 were forced down with a damaged engine and crashed – claimed by Leutnant Werner Voss

  • Lieutenant Thomas Noble Southorn and Lieutenant Vivian Smith in FE2d A6410 crashed when forced to land with a shot up engine and radiator – claimed by Vitzfeldwebel Otto Könnecke

All six crew members were taken prisoner but Stevens later died of his wounds. Aubrey De Selincourt later became a well-known author of classical and sailing books.

9 May 1917 – Voss Treble

Sopwith Strutters from 45 Squadron RFC were out on patrol today as the activity in the air ramped up again after yesterday. A 5 strong flight was met by aircraft from Jasta 28 near Menin. 2nd Lieutenant James Johnstone & 2nd Class Air Mechanic George B Harries claimed an Albatros Scout but no losses were confirmed by the Germans.

During the same action, 2nd Lieutenant William Longley Mills and 2nd Class Air Mechanic J W Loughlin in Sopwith Strutter 7803 were shot down by Leutnant Emil Schaefer. Mills was killed in the crash. Loughlin was apparently thrown out of the aircraft but survived wounded. He was taken prisoner.

Captain Lawrence William McArthur MC & Lieutenant Joseph Senior were also attacked in Sopwith Strutter A8226. During the fight they appeared to have driven down one of their attackers, but Senior was badly wounded in the stomach and had his hand partially severed. McArthur put the Strutter into a spin and returned to Baillieu aerodrome. Senior later died of his wounds. The victory was claimed by Vitzfeldwebel Witterkind from Jasta 28 but this was not confirmed.

On the other side of things, Werner Voss from Jasta 2 had a good day. First he shot down Lieutenant Rowland Humphrey Coles and 2nd Lieutenant John Charles Day from 52 Squadron RFC in their BE2e (72090. Both were killed. An hour later he shot down Lieutenant George Copland Temple Hadrill from 54 Squadron in Sopwith Pup A6174. He was taken prisoner. Then alomost immediarely he forced down 2nd Lieutenant Charles Arthur MacKenzie Furlonger and 2nd Lieutenant Charles William Lane from 22 Squadron RFC in FE2b 4991. They crash landed and were taken prisoner.

1 April 1917 – Unprecedented Losses

March 1917 was the RFCs worst month of the war to date. In total they have lost 92 pilots killed in action, 32 taken prisoner and 64 wounded.

March surpassed the previous record losses in September 1916 where 63 were killed in action, 40 were taken prisoner and 34 were wounded. At that time the new twin gunned German fighters were arriving at the front.

The March losses are partly due to the offensive posture adopted by the RFC in always fighting over the German lines, partly due to changes in German tactics in groping the best fighter pilots into the Jastas, and again partially due to the superior equipment of the Germans. This in turn is partially due the new German machines being better that most British aircraft, and the delays in introducing new types leaving large sections of the RFC with obsolete aircraft such as the various BE2 types. The British have a lot of new designs ready and examples are arriving at the front, but the shortage in particular of suitable engines is causing delay.

The losses continued today with two aircraft lost. Corporal A Wilson and 2nd Class Air Mechanic F Hadlow from 11 Squadron got lost in a storm in their FE2b (4954), landed behind the German lines and were taken prisoner.

Captain Arthur Meredyth Wynne and Lieutenant Adrian Somerset Mackenzie from 15 Squadron were shot down by Werner Voss from Jasta 2 in their BE2c (2561). Wynne was wounded but nursed the aircraft back to friendly territory, Mackenzie was killed however.







19 March 1917 – Hotting up


James Gerald Fair

Early this morning, aircraft of the 9th Wing dropped 48 bombs on the ammunition depot at Aulnoye from a height of 6,000 feet. Jasta 3 attacked 27 Squadron and brought down three aircraft. Lieutenant William Samuel Caster in Martinsyde G100 7499 force landed at Brie inside the lines and was unharmed. 2nd Lieutenant James Gerald Fair was killed in Martinsyde G100 7503. 2nd Lieutenant Tom Webster Jay was taken prisoner after being shot down in Martinsyde G100 7508 by Leutnant Georg Schlenker.

Leutnant A Mohr from Jasta 3 was credited with having shot down Fair, but it is more likely that he actually shot down another aircraft – an RE8 (A79) with 2nd Lieutenant John MacGeorge and Lieutenant AA Murray from 34 Squadron on board. Their colleagues Lieutenant Harold Robert Davies and 2nd Lieutenant Basil Farmer went to their aid in RE8 (A88) when they saw them being attacked. Murray was hit in the head and later died of his wounds, and Farmer suffered a minor wound. Both pilots escaped unhurt and were able to get back over the lines, though Macgeorge crashed 100 yards from his aerodrome.

Two RE8s of 59 Squadron were on a photo mission when they were attacked hit by AA fire. Jasta 2 then swooped in and finished two of them off. Leutnant Werner Voss did for Captain Eldred Wolferstan Bowyer-Bower and 2nd Lieutenant Edwin Elgey in RE8 A4165. The aircraft crashed and burst into flames. Leutnant Fritz Otto Bernert took down Captain Claude Peregrine Bertie and Lieutenant Frederick Henry Wilson in RE8 A4168. Bertie was killed in the cockpit and the plane crashed. All four were killed.

Later in the evening, Werner Voss made another claim when he shot down 2nd Lieutenant Charles Robert Dougall and 2nd Lieutenant Sydney Harryman in their BE2c (5784) east of the lines. They were both taken prisoner but Harryman later died of his wounds.

19 Squadron were up on patrol in their SPADVIIs when they ran into Jasta 5. 2nd Lieutenant Stanley Stewart Beattie Purves was taken prisoner when his engine failed and he was forced to land. He tried to restart but was unable to do so. Lieutenant Arthur Trevor Hope was shot up in SPAD VII A6633. Captain William Jameson Cairnes in SPAD VII A312 suffered the same fate. Both force landed inside the lines but escaped unharmed.


17 March 1916 – Mass brawls

There was intense activity in the air today.


Arthur Elsdale Boultbee

This morning the biggest scrap involved 18 aircraft – 43 Squadron RFCwere on a photo reconnaissance mission over Beaumont covered by 25 Squadron RFC- and 17 enemy aircraft including 9 from Jasta 11. The British claimed six aircraft downed, but the German’s did not report any losses. The RFC lost three aircraft. Manfred von Richthofen claimed his 27th victory in Lieutenant Arthur Elsdale Boultebee and 1st Class Air Mechanic Frederick King from 25 Squadron, though accounts at the time suggested their FE2b (A5439) was actually crippled by AA fire before von Richthofen finished it off. Both men were killed. 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Leslie Constable and 2nd Lieutenant Charles Duncan Knox from 43 Squadron were shot down in their Sopwith Strutter (A1097) by Leutnant Kurt Wolff from Jasta 11. Their colleagues, 2nd Lieutenant James Cook Rimer and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Herbert Lownds in Sopwith Strutter A1111 were shot down by Leutnant Karl Allmenroder. All four were killed.


George Macdonald Watt

Late in the day around 1600, Manfred von Richthofen claimed a second victory when he claimed to have shot down 2nd Lieutenant George Macdonald Watt and Sergeant Ernest Adam Howlett from 16 Squadron RFC in BE2c 2814. Both men were killed.

It wasn’t all scout victories as Wilhelm Hippert and Heinrich Klose from FFA227 shot down Lieutenant W Anderson and Lieutenant Duncan B Woolley from 20 Squadron in their FE2d (A27). They were taken prisoner.

11 Squadron RFC and Jasta 2 clashed with Jasta 2 getting the better of the fight. Lieutenant Archibald Campbell Woodman and 2nd Lieutenant Reginald Charles Cox claimed to have shot down one enemy aircraft but were in turn shot down in their FE2b (4979). They crashed near Grevillers and totalled the aircraft, Cox was wounded but Woodman was unhurt. Lieutenant Norman Hatfield Read and 2nd Lieutenant Larry William Nevile-Smith in FE2b 7694 were also brought down but escaped unhurt. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Russell Wilfred Cross and Lieutenant Christopher Fryers Lodge were less lucky as they were shot down and taken prisoner in their FE2b (7695). Werner Voss and Heinrich Gontermann both made claims but there is some confusion as to who did what though Cross and Lodge is traditionally attributed to Voss.

Voss also made a later claim to have shot down Lieutenant Theodore Algernon Cooch from 32 Squadron RFC in his DH2 (A2583). The aircraft was completely wrecked near Bapaume and Cooch was wounded in the back.

4 Squadron RFC were up on an artillery patrol when 2nd Lieutenant John Thwaytes and 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Hugh Temple Bourne in BE2c 2755 were brought down, most likely be anti-aircraft fire. Their plane was totally wrecked and both were killed. Their colleagues 2nd Lieutenant Norman Hay Colson and 2nd Lieutenant Harold Bagshaw Mann in BE2d 6740 were attacked by 6 enemy aircraft and shot down. Colson was injured but Mann escaped unhurt.


Aaron Appleton

Jasta 18 made 2 claims. At around 1020, 2nd Lieutenant Alex Ivan Gilson from 1 Squadron RFC was shot down in spinning nosedive near during a combat with 8 enemy aircraft. Leutnant Paul Strähle claimed the victory. Two hours later, 2nd Lieutenant Aaron Appleton and Corporal Albert Cooper from 6 Squadron RFC were shot down in flames  in their BE2d (6241) following an attack by 5 enemy aircraft. Oberleutnant Heino Grieffenhagen claimed the victory. All four were killed.