Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germanys Iron Knight 1891 / 1920
Oskar Gustav Rudolf Berthold was born in 1891 at Ditterswind, in the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was an Head Forester. His military career began in 1910 when he was accepted as an officer candidate in the 3rd Brandenberg Infantry Regt. He was required to serve 18months training as an Officer candidate, before being voted on by the Regiments Officers. Berthold was accepted and on 27th January 1912 he was commissioned as a Leutnant. Towards the end of Berthold’s training, the Jungdeutschsland – Buch ( Young Germany Federation) was founded. he became the Wittenburg leader of this Patriotic Society that was mobilising German youth for National Service.
Der Fliegertruppe ( The Flying Troop ) became an official part of the Imperial German Army on the 1st of October 1912. Berthold learned to fly at his own expense in 1913, qualifying as a pilot in September of that year. He trained at the Halberstadter Flugzeugwerke ( Halberstadt Aircraft Factory on dual-control Bristol Aircraft; one of his fellow students was Oswald Boelcke. After informing his family that he was on ‘Special Assignment’ to a Flying School he underwent Military Flight Training during July 1914.
The outbreak of World War One disrupted the young aviators progress, on the Ist of July 1914 Berthold was recalled to his regiment; Once there, he discovered his marching skills had deteriorated during his Aviation training. after a fortnights refresher course in soldierly skills he was transferred back to Aviation Training. On 17th July 1914 he was officially transferred to the Air Service. Because of his fortnight break he had to serve not as a pilot but as an observer.
On the 1st of August 1914, He entrained for the Royal Saxon Air base, at Grossenhain, by the 7th of August 1914, Berthold was transferred to Feldflieger- Abteilung 23, supporting the German 2nd Army. By the 9th of August FFA23 was encamped at Monschau, close to the Belgian border. On the 15th of August, Berthold was chosen for the units first reconnaissance mission. Two days later, his pilot strayed off course, Berthold and his pilot, landed lost. They managed to evade French Cavalry to direct retrieval of their DFW Biplane. In his diary, Berthold noted his decision to complete pilot training.
(C) Damian Grange 2019