Air Aces of World War One

 

 

Hawker
Picture – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

Major Lanoe George Hawker V.C. England’s 1st Ace 1890/1916

The son of a Distinguished Military family, Hawker was born on the 30th of December 1890 at Longparish, Hampshire, England. He was educated at Stubbington House School and then at 11 yrs old to The Royal Navy College in Dartmouth, although highly intelligent and a keen sportsman, his grades didn’t reflect this and a Naval career seemed unlikely.

And so, he entered The Royal Military Academy in Woolwich before joining the Royal Engineers as an Officer Cadet. A clever inventor, Hawker developed a keen interest in all mechanical and engineering developments. During the summer of 1910 he saw a film depicting the Wright Flyer and after attending an aircraft flying display at Bournemouth.

He quickly gained an interest in Aviation, learning to fly at his own expense at Hendon Aerodrome. On the 4th of March 1913, he was awarded Aviators Certificate No.435 by The Royal Aero Club. Promoted to 1st Lieutenant in October 1913, he was posted to Cork Harbour with the 33rd Fortress Company. His request for attachment to The Royal Flying Corps was granted and he reported to the Central Flying School at Upavon on 1st August 1914.

Hawker was posted to France in October 1914, as a Captain with No.6 Sqn. R.F.C. flying Henri Farmans. The squadron soon converted to the B.E.2c and Hawker undertook numerous reconnaissance missions, into 1915 being wounded once by ground fire. On the 22nd Of April he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for attacking a German Zeppelin shed at Gontrode by dropping hand grenades at low level, below 200ft from his B.E.2c. He used a tethered German Balloon to shield him from enemy fire from the ground while he made successive attacks. During the 2nd battle of Ypres, Hawker was wounded in the foot by ground fire. For the remainder of the battle he had to be carried to and from his Aircraft but refused to be grounded until the battle was over.

To be Continued ……..

(C) Damian Grange 2018

Air Aces of World War One

Leutnant Emil Thuy – German Ace – 1894 / 1930

Emil Thuy was born in Hagen, Germany, the son of a factory owner. He as interested in aircraft even as a child, building models and test flying a glider. After graduation from secondary school, he worked for a while in a colliery in Lebanon, Germany. He then enrolled in 1913 in the Faculty of Mining at the Technical University 0f Clausthal, he had an interest in Metalurgical Engineering. In August 1914 he volunteered to serve as a pioneer, which was the German equivalent of a Combat engineer. After only sex weeks of basic training he was rushed in to combat. In November 1914 he was so severely wounded he was so severely wounded as to be considered unfit for further Military service. Nevertheless, when he had recuperated sufficiently, He volunteered for the Imperial German Air Service. He underwent aviation training in Berlin. He then reported for duty with FFA 53, which was a reconnaissance unit that spotted and directed artillery fire from the air. He reported in on the 10th of July 1915 as a Vizefeldwebel ( non- commissioned pilot ) Despite flying a two – seater aircraft poorly suited for combat flying, Thuy scored his first aerial victory on 8th of September 1915.

On the 1st of November 1916, He entered fighter pilot training, graduating only 18 days later. He was then assigned to Jagdstaffel 21, at that time equipped with Albatros fighters. He was commissioned as Leutnant ( Lieutenant ) in the reserves on the 7th of March 1917 after three weeks training. On the 16th of April 1917, with Jasta 21 he scored his second victory, after which he increased his tally on a regular basis. By the time he left Jasta 21 on the 29th of September 1917, his total stood at 14, with the 14th being shot down on the 22nd of September. He then transferred to Jagdstaffel 28, which had lost two Commanders killed in action, in the previous month. On the 24th of October he scored his first victory with his new Squadron. He continued to accumulate wins on a steady basis, in ones and two’s.

He was injured in a crash on the 2nd of February 1918. On the 20th he was discharged from hospital and returned to duty. On the 30th of June 1918, he was awarded the Order pour le Merite ( The Blue Max ) At about this time he changed aircraft from the Pfalz D.III he had been flying to the Fokker D.VII. In July 1918, Jagdgruppe 7 was founded, incorporating his Jasta and three others. Thuy commanded both JG7 and Jasta 28 simultaneously. He ended his victory string on the 14th of October 1918 with a double victory. Thuy finished the war with a total of 35 victories and awards which included The Iron Cross, both First and Second Class, the Order Pour le Merite ( The Blue Max ) and The Knights Cross of the Military Merit Order of Wurttemburg and The Order of the House of Hohenzollern.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 27

It suddenly became all too clear to Valjean, the man behind him was Raoul Dupin, the man who had pleaded that Valjean be assigned to this case. But Valjean , a man who worked the cases depending on the evidence presented to him, had assessed the evidence and found de Peysac not guilty but innocent. And now it seemed they were both to be made to pay for his decision.

Dupin moved from behind Valjean and stood pointing the pistol at him, he started to gloat, ‘You were clever, Valjean, but the one thing you missed was family, that was the missing connection the one that you brooded over. We are all cousin’s and in this area we look after our own, I imagine you might call it a vendetta!’

‘Vendetta against de Peysac, I can almost understand, but why kill eight innocent young woman, why did they have to die? Unless there is something else that you are concealing ?’

‘So, that we had a cast iron case against de Peysac , our mission was to have him imprisoned for life, or commit suicide in remorse, but now the boars can have him.’

‘But you still haven’t explained why? No one goes to these extremes without a perfectly good reason, so tell me, what is yours, try to convince me?’ pleaded Valjean.

‘Is not beating and raping our cousin, not reason enough?’ replied a petulant Dupin.

‘At the time, yes! but not now, you have let hatred consume your thinking so that you, yourselves have become worse than him. And please remember he pleaded guilty and served ten long years for what he did.’

‘ He ruined her life ,he stole her youth!’ responded Dupin angrily.

‘But he turned himself in and served ten years in prison, what of that, he did all that the law required of him and managed to turn his life around. Your cousin is a rich and successful author despite de Peysac, so why?’

Valjean wanted to keep them talking, whilst they were communicating, de Peysac lay on the ground, better that than the boar pen. Valjean was looking for some sign of weakness, so that he could retaliate in some way, but with a gun pointing at his stomach and odds of four too one, that chance seemed unlikely at best.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Captain Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor V.C. – South African Ace – 1894 / 1921

Beauchamp-Proctor was born on the 4th of September 1984, in Mossel Bay, Cape Province, the second son of a school teacher. He attended the oldest school in the country, South African College Schools in CapeTown, where he was a resident of the oldest residence in the country, College House Residence, where his father was warden. He was studying engineering at the University of CapeTown when the European war broke out. He took leave from his studies to join the Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Rifles. He served as a signalman in the German South-West Africa Campaign. In August 1915 he was demobilised with an honourable discharge. He promptly went to work with the South African Field Telegraph and re-enrolled in University. He managed to complete his third year at University before re-enlisting, this time with the Royal Flying Corps ( RFC ) in March 1917.

He was accepted as an Air Mechanic, Third Class, from there he passed on to pilot training at the School of Military Aeronautics at Oxford in England, where he was also commissioned. He managed to learn to fly despite his wiry stature and height of only 5ft 2ins. His aircraft had to be altered to accommodate him, his seat was raised so that he could have a better view from the cockpit and so that he could reach the controls. Blocks were fastened to the rudder bar so that he could reach it. On June the 10th, he soloed after just five hours’ flying time. He crashed upon landing, wiping out the landing gear. Nevertheless, he continued to fly solo. He was passed on to a Bomber Squadron, No.84, with a little under ten hours flying experience. When he joined 84 Squadron in July 1917, it was re-forming as a Fighter Squadron.

On the 23rd of September 1917, the unit went to France flying S.E.5’s. Under the command of Major William Sholto Douglas, the unit became one of the most effective scout squadrons in the RFC / RAF in 1918. the squadron would be credited with a victory total of 323, and would produce 25 aces. However Beauchamp-Proctor would be pre-eminent, with almost triple the number of successes than to the second leading ace. He was not particularly rated as a pilot, but he was a deadly shot. Beauchamp-Proctor’s piloting skills can be judged by the fact that he had three landing accidents before he ever shot down an enemy plane. He continued to fly the S.E.5 with the earlier mentioned alterations to the aicraft’s seat and controls, something his Philadelphia born, American squadron mate, Joseph ‘Child Yank’ Boudwin, who stood only two inches taller and who would himself eventually be posted to the USAAS’s S.E.5a equipped 25th Aero Squadron just days before the Armistice, also had to use. The alterations to relatively primitive controls could hav e helped contribute to Beauchamp-Proctor’s poor airmanship.

His first conformed victory didn’t come until the turn of the year. on the 3rd of January 1918, he sent a German Two-seater ‘down out of control’. He then claimed four more victories in February, becoming an ace on the final day of the month. Only one of his five victories resulted in the destruction of the enemy, the other four were sent down, ‘out of control’. March bought four more victories; three of them scored within the space of five minutes on the 17th of March. He tallied one victory in April. Among his 11 victories for the month of May were five on the 19th of May. On that morning, he knocked an enemy observation plane out of the battle, fifteen minutes later he destroyed an Albatros D.V Scout. That evening, at about 6:35 p.m., He downed three more Albatros D.V’s. By the 31st of May, his victory tally had climbed to 21 victims. 16 fighters and 5 observation aircraft, by this point he had destroyed six enemy planes single handed, and shared in the destruction of 2 others, he drove 10 down ‘out of control’ and shared in another ‘out of control’ victory. Two of his victims were captured. Certainly a creditable record, and like may other aces, no conquests over balloons.

The next day marked a change of focus for him; he shot down an observation balloon. Balloons guarded by anti – aircraft artillery and patrolling fighter aircraft, were very dangerous targets. Commonly they were hunted by co – ordinated packs of fighters. For the remainder of his career, he would choose to blind the enemy by concentrating on shooting down kite balloons and observation aircraft. Also noticeable is the drop in ‘out of control’ victories; from here on out, the record shows destruction after destruction of the enemy. His June string would only run to the 13th of June, but in that time, he would destroy four balloons, an observation two-seater and a fighter. Only the fighter went down ‘out of control.’ On the 22nd of June, he was awarded the Military Cross. July would pass without incident, then on the 3rd of August he was awarded one of the first ever Distinguished Flying Crosses.

The break in his victory string lasted almost a month, as he went on home leave and and helped a recruitment drive for the RAF. On the 8th of August, he returned and resumed with tall number 29, another balloon. On the 9th of August Beauchamp-Proctor was leading No.84 Squadron on a patrol over their base at Bertangles, with Boudwin and six foot four tall fellow South African as wingmen. The threesome got involved in a heated engagement at 2:00p.m. that involved them in combat against Fokker D.VII’s of JG1, led that day by the future Nazi Reichsmarschall Herman Goering. Unsuccessful at increasing his total that day, Beauchamp-Proctor would claim an additional 14 aircraft and end the month with his claims list extended to 43. One memorable day was the 22nd of August, He attacked a line of six enemy balloons over the British 3rd Corps front. He set the first one afire with his machine guns and forced the other five to the ground, their observers taking to their parachutes. His 15 victories for August would include six balloons, all destroyed and two more two- seaters, he was now up to 43 victories. His September claim would be all balloons, four of them. In the first few days of October, he would destroy three more balloons and three Fokker D.VII fighters, one of which burned, and another spun out of control. On the 8th of October he was hit by ground fire and wounded in the arm, putting an end to his front line service. Beauchamp-Proctor’s victory total was 54; two and one shared captured enemy aircraft, 13 and 3 shared observation balloons destroyed, 15 and 1 shared aircraft destroyed and 15 and 1 shared aircraft out of control. His 16 balloons downed made him the British Empire’s leading balloon buster. On the 2nd of November 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, followed by the Victoria Cross on the 30th of November. All of his victories were scored flying the S.E.5 becoming the most successful pilot on this type.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 26

The woman looked triumphant, this was obviously the culmination of several years work and planning, de Peysac like the eight girls before him would be picked clean by the boars. The woman Valjean decided was teetering on the verge of madness. But the reason still eluded him.

As a young woman she had been beaten and raped, but she had turned her life around and became a rich and successful woman, so why this? why now? it made no sense at all.

Valjean crept closer, they were stood on the opposite side of the boar pen. Bruno’s cousin, or so Valjean assumed was goading the boars with a stick trying to get them aroused. Bruno had lifted de Peysac on to the top of the logs that comprised their enclosure, de Peysac’s face was bloody where he had been beaten, his hands were tied behind his back and his ankles were tied together.

Valjean decided that it was time to intervene, before more harm came to de Peysac. He kept in the shadows and crept furtively around to the other side of the pen. He could see them but they could not see him.

‘Bruno, lift Monsieur de Peysac down carefully and place him on the floor, or I will put a bullet between your eyes, and have no doubts I will enjoy killing you.’ stated Vajean menacingly.

‘I don’t think that will be necessary, Bruno, the Inspector is going to hand me his weapon’; the words were accompanied by a prod in the back that could only come from a gun. Valjean realised too late that he had made a grave error of judgement in discounting the third car.

The voice of the man behind him sounded familiar, Valjean knew he had heard it before. ‘Your Commissioner was right Valjean, you are a very clever detective. In this instance a little too clever for your own good, the boars will eat well tonight, they will enjoy you!’

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Max Immelmann – German Ace – 1890 / 1916

Max Immelmann was born on the 21st of September 1890, in Dresden, to a Industrialist father who died when Max was young. In 1905 he was enrolled in the Dresden Cadet School. He joined the Eisenbahnregiment ( Railway Regiment ) in 1911 as an ensign, in pursuit of a commission. He left the army in 1912 to study mechanical engineering in Dresden. He returned to service on the outbreak of war, as a reserve officer candidate. He was assigned to Eisenbahnregiment Nr.1, but soon transferred to aviation.

When World War One started, Immelmann was called to active service, he transferred to the German Army’s Air Arm Die Fliegertruppe des Deutschen Kaiserreiches later known as the Luftstreitkrafte and was sent for pilot training to Johannisthal Air Field. In November 1914, He was initially stationed in Northern France. Immelmann served as a pilot with Feldflieger Abtielung Nr. 10 ( Field Flier Detachment 10 ) from February to April 1915, and then in FFA 62 by early May 1915.On several occasions he engaged in combat whilst flying the LVG two – seaters with which his unit was equipped, but never with any success. On the 3rd of June 1915, he was shot down by a French pilot, but managed to land safely behind the German lines. Immelmann was decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class for preserving his aircraft.

Two very early examples of the Fokker Eindecker fighters were delivered to his unit. One Fokker M5 / Mg Production Prototype numbered E.3 /15 for Oswald Boelcke’s use, with Immelmann receiving later in July E.13 /15 as a production Fokker E,1 for his own use before the end of July. It was with this E.13 /15 aircraft, armed with the synchronised IMG 08 Spandau machine gun, that he gained his first confirmed air victory of the war on the 1st of August 1915. a fortnight after Leutnant Kurt Wintgens on the 15th of July 1915 obtained the very first confirmed German air victory with his own Fokker M5/ MG Production Prototype E.5 /15 Eindecker, one of only 5 built, following two unconfirmed victories on the 1st and 4th of July. All before Immelmann.

‘Like a hawk, I dived……and fired my machine gun. For a moment I believed I would fly right into him. I had fired ab out 60 rounds when my gun jammed. That was awkward, for to clear the jam, I needed both hands – I had to fly completely without hands.’ Lieutenant William Reid fought back valiantly, flying with his left hand and firing a pistol with his right. Nonetheless the 450 bullets fired at him took their effect. Reid suffered four wounds in his left arm, and his aircraft’s engine quit causing him to crash land. The unarmed Immelmann landed nearby and approached Reid, they shook hands and Immelmann said to the British pilot, ‘You are my prisoner,’ then pulled Reid free of the wreckage and rendered first aid.

Immelmann became one of the first German fighter pilots, quickly building an impressive score of air victories. During September three more victories followed, and then in October he became solely responsible for the air defence of the city of Lille. Immelmann became known as the Eagle of Lille ( Der Adler von Lille ) Immelmann flirted with the position of becoming Germany’s leading ace, trading that spot off with Oswald Boelcke, another pioneer ace. Having come second to Boelcke in gaining his sixth victory, he was second to be awarded the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern for this feat. On the 15th of December, Immelmann shot down his seventh British aircraft and moved into an unchallenged lead to become Germany’s leading ace. Immelmann was the first pilot to be awarded The Pour le Merite, Germany’s highest Military honour, receiving it on the day of his eighth victory, the 12th of January 1916. The medal became unofficially known as the Blue Max, in honour of Immelmann. His medal was presented by Kaiser Wilhelm 11, Oswald Boelcke was presented with his medal at the same time.

Boelcke scored again two days later, Immelmann would chase him in the ace race for the next four months, finally drawing even on the 13th of March with 11 each, he lost the lead on the 19th then re-gaining it on Easter Sunday, his 14 to Boelcke’s 13, losing it again forever on the 1st of May. It was around this time, the 25th of April to be exact, That Immelmann received a salutary lesson in the improvement of British aircraft. As the German ace described his attack on two D.H.2’s, ‘The two worked splendidly together….. and put 11 shots into my machine. The petrol tank, the struts on the fuselage, the undercarriage and the propellor were hit….It was not a nice business.’ On the 31st of May, Immelmann, Max von Mulzer and another German pilot attacked a formation of seven British aircraft. Immelmann was flying a two – gun Fokker E.IV, and when he opened fire, the synchronising gear malfunctioned. A stream of bullets cut off the tip of a propeller blade: The thrashing of the unbalanced airscrew nearly shook the aircraft’s twin-row Oberursel U.III engine loose from its mounts before he could cut the ignition and glide to a dead-stick landing.

In the late afternoon of the 18th of June 1916, Immelmann led a flight of four Fokker E.III Eindecker’s in search of a flight of eight FE2d fighter / reconnaissance aircraft of No,25 Squadron RFC over Sallaumines in Northern France. The British flight had just crossed the lines near Arras, with the intention of photographing the German infantry and artillery positions within the area, when Immelmann’s flight intercepted them. After a long running fight, scattering the participants over an area of some thirty square miles, Immelmann bought down one of the aircraft., wounding both the pilot and observer. This was his 16th victory claim, although it was to go unconfirmed. At 21:45 that same evening, Immelmann in Fokker E.III, serial 246 /16 encountered No,25 Squadron again, this time near the village of Lens. He immediately got of a burst which hit RFC Lieutenant J.R.B. Savage, pilot of FE2b pusher serial 4909, mortally wounding him, this was Immelmann’s seventeenth victory claim, though Max von Mulzer was later credited with the victory. The second aircraft he closed on was piloted by Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin with Corporal J.H.Waller as Gunner / Observer, and was credited with shooting Immelmann down. On the German side many had seen Immelmann as invincible and could not conceive the notion that he had fallen to enemy fire. Meanwhile the British authorities awarded McCubbin the Distinguished Service Order and for Waller the Distinguished Service Medal and promotion to Sergeant.

The German Air Service at the time claimed the loss was due to friendly fire ( German anti – aircraft fire) Other’s including Immelmann’s brother his aircrafts gun synchronisation had malfunctioned with disastrous results. This was not unreasonable, as earlier versions of the Synchronising mechanism had often malfunctioned, this had already happened to Immelmann on two previous occasions, whilst testing two and three gun installations, although on each occasion he had managed to land safely. McCubbin in a post war interview claimed, that after Immelmann had shot down his Squadron mate, the German ace began an Immelmann turn, McCubbin and Waller swooped down from a greater altitude and opened fire, and the German ace fell out of the sky, Waller also pointed out that the British bullets could have damaged Immelmann’s propeller. Immelmann scored all of his 15 victories flying The Fokker Eindecker and along with Max von Mulzer he was the leading exponent of this type.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 25

Valjean kept well behind their car, He didn’t want to make it too obvious that they were being followed. He had no wish to panic them into making a rash move.

There were lights behind him, but he ignored them, he was certain it was just coincidence. But every time he turned a corner, the car followed behind him, Why? Valjean was starting to feel uneasy, he had thought that he had all the participants covered. Had he missed someone, but who else was there?

Was he overthinking things and it was just someone using the same road, He decided to pull over and let the following car overtake him. As the car overtook him, he noticed that there was only the driver. Maybe his fears were for nothing, but in this type of situation, caution is the bye word.

He increased his speed slightly, the following car had distracted him momentarily and he had no wish to lose the car that he was following De Peysac’s very survival may depend on it.

He was glad that he had thought to arm himself, it was three to one, he discounted de Peysac on the basis that he was probably already immobilised. Valjean was not fond of guns but in situations like this, they made a great equaliser.

The car he was following slowed and took a right turn, down what appeared to Valjean’s eyes a farm track, rough and muddy. They must be approaching their destination. Valjean stopped his car, he had decided to approach on foot it was a safer and stealthier method. The moments he would lose would allow the perpetrators to further incriminate themselves.

He rounded a bend into what appeared to be the farmyard, The empty car was parked there. He wondered where they had taken de Peysac. Then he heard a groan and headed in that general direction. In the moonlight he saw them, de Peysac was naked and bloody, he appeared to have put up a struggle but he was no match for Bruno and his cousin.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Oberleutnant Erich Loewenhardt – German Ace – 1897 / 1918

Erich Loewenhardt was born in Breslau, Silesia a part of the German Empire on the 7th of April 1897, the son of a doctor. He received his education at a military school in Lichterfelde,. He was 17 years old when the First World War started in August 1914 and was assigned to the German Army’s Infantry Regiment Nr.141; he saw infantry action on the Eastern Front with them. Young Loewenhardt was wounded near Lodz, but remained on duty as Standard-Bearer for his regiment as it fought in the Battle of Tannenberg. As a reward for his courage, on the 2nd of October 1914, he was commisioned. On the 30th of October, he was both wounded and decorated with the Tron Cross Second Class. After convalescing he returned to his unit in the Carpathians. In May 1915, he received the Iron Cross First Class for saving the lives of five wounded men. Loewenhardt then transferred to the Alpine Corps serving on the Italian Front. However he fell ill and was invalided from service as unfit for duty.

After five months of recuperation, Loewenhardt volunteered for the Imperial German Army Air Service and qualified as an aerial observer. He then completed pilot training in 1916.Service in two-seater reconnaissance aircraft with Flieger – Abtielung ( Artillery ) ( Flier Detachment ( Artillery )) 265 followed. In early 1917 he underwent conversion training for fighters, he joined a fighter squadron equipped with Albatros fighters, Jagdstaffel 10, in March 1917. Jagdstaffel 10 was one of the four squadrons incorporated into Germany’s newly formed first fighter wing, which was commanded by the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen. On the 24th of March 1917, Loewenhardt scored his first confirmed aerial victory, by destroying an enemy observation balloon over Recicourt.

On the 30th of July 1917, scapegoat teenage ace, Werner Voss transferred into Jagdstaffel 10 as its new Staffelfuhrer (Commanding Officer) Following Voss’ deadly tutelage, Loewenhardt became an aggressive skilled fighter whose score grew steadily as he flew Albatros and Pfalz aircraft. He survived a forced landing on the 20th of September with a minor wound, the following day he shot down his fifth victim.

He posted two more claims in October, one of which was confirmed. On the 6th of November, his aircraft’s lower wing was damaged during combat over Winkel Saint Eloi at 08:30 hrs, a dud anti-aircraft shell smashing his left wingtip without exploding. Loewenhardt pulled his aircraft out of the resulting spin at 15 metres altitude, wheels down and bounced into a tumbling wreck. He exited the wreckage, shaken but otherwise. On the 30th of November 1917, he closed out his year with his eighth confirmed victory. He was credited with four balloons and four aircraft.

Loewenhardt scored two more victories in January 1918, a balloon and a Bristol F2 Fighter. In March he added five more. on the 1st of April 1918, just before his 21st birthday, he was appointed Commander of Jagdstaffel 10, The next month Jasta 10 re-equipped with the new Fokker D.VII’s. Loewenhardt continued to score, on the 10th of May, he destroyed a observation balloon for his 20th victory and became eligible for the Pour le Merite. The next day he was awarded the Knights Cross with Swords of the House Order of Hohenzollern, he also received the Austro – Hungarian Empire’s Military Merit Cross, The Pour le Merite (Blue Max) came on the 31st of May 1918, by which time his tally had risen to 24 victories.

By now, Loewenhardt was locked in an ‘Ace Race’ with Ernst Udet and Lothar von Richtofen for the honour of being the top scoring ace of their fighter wing. The rivalry between Loewenhardt and the younger Richtofen was a friendly one, as they often flew as wingmen. Jasta 10 belonged to the Flying Circus, When the Wing Commander’s job spot came open on the 29th of June 1918, Oberleutnant Loewenhardt was tapped for temporary command of it. By then, his tally stood at 27. When he surrendered the command on the 6th of July, it had risen to 34. By the end of July his total had risen to 48; 9 balloons and 39 aircraft.

On the 8th of August 1918, the Allied Forces launched the war’s final offensive against the German forces. Thr British Royal Air Force led the assault, and Loewenhardt downed three of their aircraft, on the 9th he shot down two more. On the 10th, despite a badly sprained ankle, Loewenhardt launched his yellow painted Fokker D.VII on a mid-day sortie leading a patrol heavily weighted with rookie pilots. He encountered No.56 Squadron R.A.F. and shot down a Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a over Chaulnes, France at 12;15 hours for his 54th victory. In the aftermath of this combat, he collided with another German pilot, Leutnant Alfred Wenz from Jasta 11. Loewenhardt’s Fokker’s landing gear slammed the upper right wing on Wenz’s D,VII. Both of the pilot’s aircraft were equipped with parachutes, both pilot’s bailed out. Erich Loewenhardts ‘chute failed to open and he fell to his death. Loewenhardt;s final score was 54, $5 Aircraft and 9 Balloons. Loewenhardt was the third highest scoring German after Manfred von Richtofen and Ernst Udet, he was aged 21 at his demise.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Except 24

Valjean decided that his first concern was to get de Peysac to a place of safety. Now that all the players were in place, the action would soon begin. With this thought in mind he drove over to de Peysac’s residence, as an extra precaution he had taken his automatic pistol from the concealed section at the bottom of his suitcase and placed it in his pocket within easy reach. Valjean was not a lover of guns, but admitted that at times they had their uses.

As he neared de Peysac’s, he saw the woman’s car approaching on the opposite side of the road. There appeared to be several occupants, maybe he had arrived too late to warn de Peysac. Valjean waited until the woman’s car rounded a bend, then took a swift ‘u’ turn and followed in pursuit. This might be his only opportunity to save de Peysac from whatever they had planned for him.

He hung back, though keeping then in sight, he did not want to make it obvious that he was pursuing them. He wanted to do nothing to further endanger de Peysac’s life. He had no idea as to exactly who was in the other car, h guessed that the woman was driving with Bruno’s cousin beside her and Bruno and de Peysac in the rear. Had he planned it that’s the way it would be, leave Bruno in the back to intimidate de Peysac.

Their destination was a mystery, although Valjean had a hunch that it would be the cousin’s boar farm, how better to dispose of de Peysac’s remains once they had taken their revenge. Valjean had only one concern, this was all going too well. He was sure that they hadn’t planned for his intervention, but that thought in itself bothered him. They had been successfully kidnapping and murdering girls for the past ten years undetected.

Why should things suddenly change? Was it de Peysac’s success that had precipitated them to make this rash move, or had she grown weary of toying with him? It all made perfect sense, but why now? there must surely be a reason. Was this some sort of bizarre anniversary. or had Bruno forced her hand. They were not even considered as suspects by the local police, It made no sense at all.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

Air Aces of World War One

Captain Philip Fletcher Fullard – English Ace – 1897 / 1984

Fullard was born in Wimbledon, Surrey, the son of Thomas Fletcher Fullard. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School, where he was an accomplished sportsman, captaining the school’s hockey and football teams. Fullard joined the Inns of Court Training Corps in 1915, and after receiving high marks in his examination he was offered a commission in the Royal Irish Fusiliers, but was then selected for the Royal Flying Corps. He was commissioned as a probationary temporary second lieutenant with the RFC on the 5th of August 1916. He trained at the No.2 School of Military Avionics at Oxford, with No. 3/24 Reserve Squadron, and at the Central Flying School at Upavon, and on the 26th of December was appointed a flying officer and conformed in his rank as a second lieutenant on the General List. Fullard soloed after only three hours of flying time, and on account of his exceptional flying ability, he was retained at Upavon as an instructor, but was eventually sent to serve in France with No.1 Squadron RFC in May 1917.

Flying various models of Nieuport Scout throughout his combat career, Fullard scored steadily over the next six months. He opened his victory log with two victories in May, followed by five in June. On the 19th of June, whilst still only a second lieutenant, he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain. In this role, he scored more victories with eight in July and a further twelve in August. He damaged the blood vessels in one eye while flying in September, resulting in temporary blindness that grounded him for most of that month. Fullard was awarded the Military Cross and Bar in September 1917; both awards were announced in the same issue of the London Gazette. Fullard recovered to score eleven more victories in October, and two in November, including the German eight victory ace Leutnant Hans Hoyer. Fullard was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Two days after his fortieth victory he suffered a compound fracture of the leg during a soccer match between his Squadron and an infantry battalion. He did not return to duty until near the end of the war, when on the 24th of September 1918 he was promoted to acting major.

During his period of active service, Fullard once bought down four German aircraft in a single day. and he and another pilot bought down seven enemy aircraft before breakfast, with Fullard accounting for three of them. Also, during the time that Fullard spent as flight commander, a period of three months, His flight of six pilots bought down more enemy aircraft than any other Squadron in France without suffering a single casualty. In one combat Fullard’s flying goggles were shot away from his eyes and some Verey lights in his cockpit ignited, setting his aircraft partially on fire, but despite this he still managed to fly back to the safety of the British Lines. A curious fact is that he scored all of his victories flying a Variety of Nieuport Scouts, initially the 17, then the 23 and finally the 27. Fullard was one of the most successful and consistent pilots of this make of aircraft.

(C) Damian Grange 2021

The Ninth Victim – Excerpt 23

Valjean placed the newly delivered file on the desk alongside the ones already there, he began to scrutinise them carefully. One thought struck him immediately, although there were differences in ages, from mid teens to early twenties they all had more than a passing similarity to each other.

They were all brunettes, all had shoulder length hair and brown eyes, none of which was unusual for this area. He carefully examined each photograph in turn, then smiled and returned to the first one, de Peysac’s only proven victim.

It had all suddenly fell into place, he stared intently at the photograph now he realised why he had thought that he had met Marie Deschamps before, you can change the hair colour and the make up but the shape of the face remains the same. The Deschamps woman was a part of the plot to discredit de Peysac.

But, there had to be others involved, he didn’t see her as the killer. Maybe Bruno, who was her creature, but what of Raoul Dupin, what was his involvement with her. Maybe it would all come together when her received Fouchet’s report.

The following morning at just past eleven a.m. Fouchet called with his findings, Valjean knew that by the excitement in his voice he had discovered something of relevance to their case.

‘Tell me, Fouchet, what have you discovered?’

‘I have spoken to the ex-husband of Marie Deschamps, and guess who she turned out to be?’

‘The girl that was beaten and raped by Pierre Dubois.’ stated Valjean.

‘But if you knew that, why send me to Paris?’

‘It was just a hunch, I had to be certain and now it all begins to make sense. de Peysac is all set to become the ninth victim, I’ve suspected it for sometime.’

‘I have some other information?’ said Fouchet, ‘Bruno is her cousin, that should finalise our case.’

‘Thank you, Fouchet, everything has fallen nicely into place, now all we have to do is bait the trap!’

(C) Damian Grange 2021