Josef Jacobs was born in Kreuzkapelle, in the Rhineland. His family was of Jewish origin. He learned to fly in 1912, aged 18. As a schoolboy in Bonn, he had been fascinated by the activities that he witnessed at the nearby flying school in Hangelar. There he learned to fly, under the tutelage of Bruno Wertgen. When war broke out, he joined The German Imperial Air Service to train as a pilot with Fliegerersatz – Abteilung 9 ( Reserve Detachment 9 )
On the 3rd of July 1915, Jacobs was posted to FA11 ( a reconnaissance squadron ) for a year, flying long range sorties over allied lines, his first flight occurring on the evening that he arrived there. His first victory, over a French Caudron was occurred in February 1916, however it was unconfirmed, due to lack of independent witnesses. After a period of leave, in April 1916, Jacobs was to posted to Fokkerstaffel – West to fly a Fokker E.III Eindekker and he finally achieved his first official victory, over an enemy aircraft when on the 12th of May, he shot down a 2 seater Caudron, crewed only by its pilot. At the end of July, Jacobs and his unit were pulled back for what became a month’s aerial bodyguard duty, protecting General Headquarters at Charleville. On the 1st of September, Jacobs left this duty that had so disgusted him, and returned to a front line assignment flying a Fokker E.III. On the 19th he upgraded to a Fokker D.II. His old comrade in arms Max Ritter von Mulzer, died in a crash a week later. Jacobs fell ill with dysentery, and was out of action for several weeks. Fokkerstaffel – West became Jasta 12 on the 6th of October 1916, and Jacobs remained with it, although a month later he transferred to Jasta 22, then under the command of Oberleutnant Erich Honemanns, who was a personal friend.
To Be Continued……………………
(C) Damian Grange 2019