Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 / 1920 PT.2
Berthold was also the observer on flights on the 1st and 3rd of September. He saw panicked French troops retreating across the Marne river. Later the same month he discovered the French counter -thrust between the German 1st and 2nd armies.
German staff Officers disbelief led to Berthold personally briefing Generaloberst Karl von Bulow on the situation. Bulow moved his troops to higher ground; the first battle of the Aisne began. General Bulow had received the initial award of the Iron Cross Second Class on behalf of the 2nd army; He personally awarded the second one to Berthold on the 13th of September.
On the 4th of October, Berthold was awarded the Iron Cross First Class, once again the second in line, awarded personally by General von Bulow. As Novembers wintry weather limited combat flying, Berthold arranged to continue with his pilot’s training at a nearby flight park. He became friends with a fellow student, Hans Joachim Buddecke.
Rudolf Berthold finally qualified as a military pilot on the 18th of January 1915. He arranger Buddecke’s transfer in to FFA 223. Berthold was assigned an observer Leutnant Gruner, for flying reconnaissance sorties; they soon became friends. In June they were finally supplied with machine-guns for their aircraft, Berthold could cease his futile attacks on the enemy with his service pistol.
At about the same time, Berthold was laid up for a fortnight with dysentery. FFA 223 was re-equipped with AEG G.II bombers in August, The twin-engined giant was armed with two swivelling machine-guns and manned by a pilot and two gunners. The unit also received its first single-seat fighter with a synchronised gun, a Fokker Eindekker.
Berthold knew that he was allowed to cross the enemy lines in the AEG GII but not in the Eindekker, which was restricted to patrolling behind German lines. Berthold took command of the big bomber, and left Buddecke with the Eindekker. This decision sped Buddecke on his way to becoming one of the first wave of German Aces that included Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelman and Kurt Wintgens among others.
To Be Continued ……………..
(C) Damian Grange 2019