Leutnant Walter Gottsch _ German Ace 1896 / 1918
Walter Gottsch was born in Altour, Germany on the 10th of June 1896. He volunteered for the German Army on The 1st of July 1915. He was originally assigned to FA33 to fly artillery co-operation missions in Flanders with the rank of Vizefelwebel. After receiving Training as a fighter pilot, Gottsch was assigned to Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 8 on the 10th of September 1916.
On the 4th of November 1916, he destroyed an observation balloon for his first victory. Because of wounds he received to achieve this victory, he would not score again until the 6th of April 1917. By the 5th of May 1917, his victory tally stood at 12.
He was once again shot down, this time probably by the observer of Harry G.E. Luchford’s Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b on the 29th of June. By the 16th of September he had upped his total to 17, downing a Sopwith Camel that day. On the 25th of September he fell under the guns of a Bristol F2b Fighter, wounded once again in the combat that saw Rudolf Wendelmuth’s downing.
Gottsch returned to duty but had no luck, being wounded for the fourth time on the 25th of November 1917. He would not return to action until January 1918. On the 14th of February 1918 he was given command of Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 19.
The newly promoted Staffelfuhrer would score only two more victories, with back to back triumphs on the 31st of March and the 1st of April. Gottsch was killed in action on the 10th of April 1918 over Gentilles, apparently by return fire from the observer of an R.E.8 ( his final victim ), although German accounts say he was also hit by ground fire. His Fokker DR.1 Triplane marked with a swastika fell behind British lines and was salvaged.
Walter Gottsch’s 20 victories included 7 from No.20 Squadron R.A.F. During his service he was awarded the Iron Cross, second and first class, and the Knights Cross with swords of the House of Hohenzollern on the 23rd of August 1917. Had he survived he would have no doubt been awarded the Order le pour de Merite ( the Blue Max ) as he had certainly scored enough victories to qualify for this award.
(C) Damian Grange 2019