Order pour le Merite – ” The Blue Max”
Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold – Germany’s Iron Knight 1891 /1920 Pt.5
On the 27th of August 1916, Berthold received the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern. Berthold was also very near to receiving the Prussian Pour le Merite for 12th of October 1916 a total of eight victories. After disallowed claims on two occasions, on the 26th of September 1916 he was finally credited with his eighth victory. He received his Blue Max, considered Imperial Germany’s supreme award for valor on the 12th of October 1916. His was only the tenth award for aviators. Five of the other living recipients attended the 16th of October celebration of the award, Including Buddecke, von Althaus, Hohndorf, Frankl and Kurt Wintgens. The following day, Berthold was assigned as Staffelfuhrer of Jagdstaffel 14.
Jagdstaffel 14 was newly formed when Berthold took command at Sarrebourg, France. It’s motley assortment of fighters included two Fokker EIII’s, an Halberstadt D.II and seven Fokker D.II’s. It had had no success when it was still the ad hoc Fokker Kampfstaffel Falkenhausen. Berthold took full advantage of being in a quiet sector, and trained his troops hard. He bought in new Albatros D.I and Albatros D.II replacement fighter aircraft, and renovated the Officers mess. In Mid – December following the unit’s first victory, they were inspected by Kaiser Wilhelm II and Crown Prince Wilhelm.
In January 1917, Berthold and his squadron were subordinated to Armee Abteilung A. Anticipating the need for future air protection, Berthold made an unheeded plea for massing air power into larger units, and supported his proposal with detailed professional analysis. In February Jagdstaffdel 14 scored only two victories. However, it was slated to more active duty in Laon, and began to re-arm with Albatros D.III fighters. Berthold flew to Laon only to find that there were no quarters for his men. He was adamant that he would not move his squadron until quarters were provided. In Mid-March a convoy of trucks hauled the squadron 200metres ( 124 miles ) to Marchais, France. they began operations on the 17th of March.
(C) Damian Grange 2019