Leutnant Werner Voss – German Ace 1897 / 1917 Part 2
On the 10th of March 1916, Voss was posted to Kampftstaffel 20 (Tactical Bomber Squadron 20) of Kampfgeshwader IV (Tactical Bomber Wing IV) where he served as an observer before he was allowed to fly as a pilot. In accordance with German custom, he received his Pilot’s badge on the 28th of May 1916 after flying on actual combat missions.
Finally commissioned as an Officer on the 9th of September 1916, he transferred to single-seater scout aircraft and was posted to Jagdstaffel 2 (Fighter Squadron 2 on 21st of November 1916. Here Voss began a lifelong friendship with another young pilot in the Squadron, Manfred von Richtofen, who would soon gain fame as The Red Baron. They would later exchange family visits when on leave, and Richtofen would host the Voss family at his Squadron’s airfield. The friendship grew from Voss flying as Richtofen’s wing man in combat, and disregarded the disparity in their family backgrounds.
Voss, a keen motorcyclist had a love of machinery which led him to consort with his enlisted mechanics, Karl Timms and Christian Rueser, He was even on a first name basis with them. In time, they would transfer Squadrons to stay with him. Voss often contravened uniform regulations and could often be found in the hangar with his mechanics working on his aircraft wearing a grubby old jacket. His care extended to his aircraft’s exterior, He adorned his Albatros D.III which both a swastika inside a laurel wreath and a red heart for good luck. And although he was a casual dresser around his home airfield, when flying he would be well dressed with a white silk shirt under his aviator’s gear. He joked that he wanted to be presentable to the girls of Paris if he should be captured, However the shirt’s silk collar protected his neck from chafing while he swivelled his head around watching for other aircraft during combat.
Voss scored his first aerial victory on the 26th of November, and added his second on the afternoon flight. The two victories earned him the Iron Cross Second Class, awarded on the 19th of December 1916. His first victory of 1917, over Captain Daly, inadvertently taught Voss the knack of deflection shooting. Voss later visited Daly in hospital on two occasions. Voss continued to score rapidly between February and March 1917, Of the 15 victories accredited to his Jasta, during March, 11 had fallen to his guns. For his feats he was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Swords of the House of Hohenzollern on the 17th of March 1917.
To Be Continued……………..
(C) Damian Grange 2017