Gottfried Freiherr von Banfield – Austro – Hungarian Ace 1890 / 1986
Of Norman origin, the Banfields were an Irish family in the 16th century, The ancestor Thomas Banfield an officer in the British Army, while in Bavaria married an Austrian noblewoman. He took part in the Crimean war and died shortly after the taking of Sevastopol. His son Richard Banfield chose Austrian citizenship and became an Officer in the K.U.K. Kriegsmarine. Gottfried was born in Castlenuova, which is situated in the Bay of Cattaro, the homeport of one of the Austrian fleets. His Father was English, but Gottfried chose Austrian nationality.
He attended the Military Secondary School in Sankt Polten, then the Naval Academy in Fiume on the 17th of June 1909 he emerged as a cadet. In May 1912, he was promoted to Frigate-Lieutenant. A month later he began pilot training in the Flying School at Wiener Neustadt, and in August he obtained his flying licence. Enthused with aviation, like his elder Brother, who was already a well-known aviator.
He was chosen to be among the first pilots in the Austrian Navy, and went off to perfect his training at the Donnet – Leveque pilot school in France, where his trainer was the company’s chief pilot, the Naval lieutenant, Jean-Louis Conneau, a pilot famous at the time for having won many air contests under the pseudonym of Beaumont. At the Pola Naval Air Base of Santa Catarina Island he trained in seaplanes. As the result of a forced landing in 1913 he broke a leg so badly that his foot was barely saved. He was not airborne again until the outbreak of the war.
To Be Continued…………..
(C) Damian Grange 2019