Air Aces Of World War One

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Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke – The German Father of Air Fighting 1891/ 1916

Oswald Boelcke was born in 1891, He was born in Saxony and was the third of six children. Both studious and athletic as a child, Oswald excelled in Maths and Physics. His father a Schoolteacher and staunch Nationalist and Militarist. Under his father’s influence At age 13 Oswald wrote a letter to the Kaiser to Military School. His wish was granted, but his parents objected so instead he attended Herzog Freidrich’s Gymnasium from which he graduated in 1911.

After attending Kreigsschule in Metz, he was promoted to Leutnant in the Prussian army. In mid 1914 Boelcke transferred to the Fleigertruppe. His flight training took place from may to August at the Halberstadter Fleigerschule, he passed his pilots exam on August 15th 1914. He was immediately transferred to active duty.

At his own instigation, Boelcke transferred to FFA62 in April 1915 which was based at Douai, This unit flew LVG C2’s on reconnaissance and artillery spotting duties. In July 1915, Boelcke, along with Immelman, Parschau and Wintgens were allowed to fly three of the five prototypes of the Fokker E1 Monoplane. Parschau was the first to fly it on the strict understanding that they kept within their own lines, The High Command had no desire to see it fall in to the hands of the enemy.

Kurt Wintgens was the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft flying the new Fokker E1. Boelcke won his first aerial combat on the 19th 0f August 1915, he also became an hero on the ground, he dived in to a canal near his Aerodrome, fully clothed to rescue a young French boy who was drowning. The boy’s parents requested that he be awarded the French Legion d’Honneur but instead he was awarded the Prussian Lifesaving Medal.

On the 22nd of September Boelcke was transferred to Metz, but was moved back to Fa62 in December, by the years end he had shot down four more aircraft. His friend and rival Max Immelman had scored his first victory before Boelcke, between them they had almost what amounted to a race of victories, with first one then the other in the lead.

The deadly effect of the new Aircraft led to what was known as the Fokker Scourge in 1916. On 1st November 1915, the day after his sixth victory, Boelcke was awarded the Royal House of Hohenzollern, the first pilot to gain this award, six days later his close friend and rival Immelman received the award. The scores were standing at Immelman 7 Boelcke 6 and Wintgens and Buddecke 3 each.

To be continued…..

(C) Damian Grange 2017

12 thoughts on “Air Aces Of World War One

      1. I appreciate exactly what you are saying, I know several teachers who have left the profession due to the stupid legislations .Every child should be taught individually as close as possible, they all have different needs

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Many accounts of the heroics of pilot’s have been exaggerated in WWI. However, Boelcke was a natural airman, possessed of a keen strategic mind, drive and the determination to succeed. He was a true great of aviation. I look forward to your next instalment Orville.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The thing that stuck out in my research was that he was liked by everyone, after his death Manfred v Richtofen who was one of his protege’s said of him he had no particular friends and no enemies he treated everyone, with the same gentle self effacing manner, a true gentleman. thank you for your interest.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I wanted to try and give a balanced picture from all the warring nations, I wanted something a little special for the first German ace, so it will be a two-parter on Boelcke. The one I refuse to feature is Goering, I despise him and every thing he stood for. It says a lot for his character when in 1918 all the other aces were flying multi coloured aircraft, Goering’s plane was painted white all over, the colour of peace, truce, surrender or maybe just cowardice

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