Ltn. Josef ‘Seppi’ Veltjens – German Fighter Ace 1894 / 1943 Pt.2
Veltjens was them transferred to Royal Prussian Jasta 18 at Commanding officer Berthold’s request. The unit was at this time equipped with Albatros D.V’s and Fokker DR.1’s. Veltjens first kill with his new squadron was on 16th of September 1917, he ended 1917 with his 9th victory on the 15th of November.
He marked up his tenth kill on February 28th 1918, He was then transferred to Jasta 15, this was an interesting swap in that Berthold took all of his pilots with him when he transferred; Jasta 15 likewise so basically all that changed was number and location. this exchange meant that now Berthold, Veltjens and the rest of their comrades were now a part of Jagdgeschwader 11. Jasta 15 would soon be re- equipped with the new Fokker D.V11.
Veltjens rose to its command on the 18th of May, the same day that he scored his 13th victory. He was appointed to replace an Officer who was plotting to have the injured Berthold removed as JG11 Commander. May also saw Veltjens awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Royal House of Hohenzollern, he was also awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class.
By the 10th of August 1918, Veltjens score had risen to 23, in the day’s fighting his score had risen by two more. It also marked the day Berthold collided with a British D.H.4 and crashed in to a house; He survived, but was hospitalised until the wars end. Veltjens shot down two Caudrons and an S.E.5a the following day.
Another Hauptmann was appointed to was appointed to his command, but Veltjens was chosen to lead JG 11 in to combat. Berthold temporarily escaped from hospital on the 12th and despite serious injuries and returned to resume command. The Commander of two days surrendered his position. Berthold was ordered the following day to turn the entire Jagdgeshwader over to Veltjens command and return to Hospital immediately. Three days later on the 16th of August, Veltjens was awarded the Pour le Merite, the highly coveted Blue Max.
His victory total stood at 31 when he went on leave leaving Oscar Freiherr von Boenigk in charge. Upon his return he resumed command of JG11 on 15th of September, only to be bumped down once again to command Jasta 15, which he did until the Armistice. he concluded the war with a total of 35 kills.
(C) Damian Grange 2018