Berthold and his Squadron Comrades
Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 /1920 Pt4
On the 25th of April 1916, Berthold made an emergency landing after enemy bullets crippled his Fokker’s engine. He took off again in a Pfalz EIV. He re-awakened two days later in Kriegslazaret 7 ( Military hospital 7 ) in Saint Quentin. Besides a badly broken left leg, Berthold had suffered a broken nose and upper jaw, with attendant damage to his optic nerves, he was prescribed narcotic painkillers for chronic pain. At that time, the German Military Doctors used three narcotics as painkillers – Opium, Morphine and Codeine. Doctors prescribed Cocaine to counteract the somnolence of these three depressant drugs. Berthold’s exact prescription is unknown.
Eventually, although Berthold’s eyesight returned, he was unable to fly for four months, but nevertheless retained command of KEK Vaux. Between the message traffic bought to him, and the accounts of visiting subordinates, he learned of ongoing casualties. His brother Wolfram, who was serving in the Infantry had been killed on the 29th of April . Max Immelmann perished in battle on the 18th of June. Following Immelmann’s demise, Oswald Boelcke, Germany’s highest scoring Ace was grounded for fear that if he were lost, it would be a disaster for German morale. Berthold was scheduled to be evacuated back to Germany. Instead in late July, he commandeered a car and returned to his unit. He may be unable to fly, but he could still command, He made his orderly help him bend his knee and flex strength back in to his withered leg.
On the 24th of august 1916, Berthold scored his sixth victory, even though he had to be helped in to his aircraft. The following day, KEK Vaux became Jagdstaffel 4 ( Fighter Squadron 4 ) under Berthold’s command. The new unit started with a starred rosta, Wilhelm Frankl, Walter Hohndorf and Ernst Freiherr von Althaus were early members all destined to become prominent Aces.
(C) Damian Grange 201