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AIRFIELDS AND AIRMEN OF NORTHERN WEST FLANDERS

 
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Auteur Bericht
Regulus 1



Geregistreerd op: 17-7-2005
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:08    Onderwerp: AIRFIELDS AND AIRMEN OF NORTHERN WEST FLANDERS Reageer met quote

Dit boekje had ik jaren terug klaar gestoomd om te voldoen aan een vraag van een Britse uitgever, die dan terugkrabbelde omdat de teksten niet Brits genoeg waren (er stond nog teveel in over de Duitsers - begrijpe wie begrijpen kan...) Gezien het al jaren in de kast ligt en ik er niets meer mee van plan ben zie ik het dan als aan cadeautje aan het forum. Als je begint te lezen, weet dan dat je wel een eind zoet zal zijn. En hou er rekening mee, ik heb er wel nog het copyright op !

Helemaal volledig is het ook niet, dus je kan altijd zelf nog aanvullen over de vliegvelden toen en nu...

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I was not able to get this book on paper like it is now, without the help of a lot of people with whom I have correspondence running all over the world, or on the specialised forum’s on the matter. And the most important one was the Aerodrome in this case.
A very warm thanks has to go to the following people who helped out on numerous occasions : Dan San Abott, Rick Duiven, Thomas Genth, Hugh A. Haliday, Stephen Lawson, Jörg Meilitz, Frank Olynyk, Klaus Sachsenberg, Gunnar Soderbaum, Hannes Taeger, Barrett Tillman, Mike Westrop
A big thanks also to : Patrick Mallahan, Joe McCarthy, Liz Milne, Thorsten Pietsch,
and to the people of the Militärarchiv at Freiburg, Royal Army Museum’s documentation Center at Brussels, the Center for Historical Documentation at Evere, the provincial library and photocollection of West Flanders (especially to Marc Berteloot), and last but not least to my parents and friends for the support.

INTRODUCTION

The history of these ‘Flyingmen in their crazy machines’ as it most certainly was the case in the first years of the war has always fascinated me. Just like many schoolboys I had already heard of von Richthofen, Fonck, Guynemer, Coppens, Luke and so many others, but the interest had started with the airfields near the place where I live. Flugplatz Snellegem (also called Jabbeke or Varsenare) and the reserve airfield on the Kouter are both less then a mile from my home.
It was the late Wilfried Roels who stimulated my research on the airfield, having written himself part of it’s history after an interview with Theo Osterkamp, the leading German Naval Ace at Poelkapelle in 1973.
The result of this 13 years of research on German naval air units and the war at sea from the Marinekorps Flandern, would lead to a book of the same name : Marinekorps Flandern.
Further research of the airwar above West Flanders, in combination with further research on the Marinekorps and an inventorisation of the WW I remains in my province, have led to a number of new books, of which this one of them.
Most of the units that were active in the northern part of West Flanders have been found back. It is possible that there still are a few that were overlooked. It is a sad but for shure fact that the papers of a number of units are completely or almost completely lost forever.
In some cases you will see that we only spent a few lines. It was a question of grabbing out some of the most interesting stories, as on the Marinekorps units alone a series of books like these can be written.
We also have done lot’s of research on the cemetaries in the last years, and discovered a number of graves that are totally unknown to the general public as they are one or two, sometimes in the middle of long forgotten hamlets, far from the front.
The whole of this was melted together in this new book.

HOW THE GUIDE WORKS

The way of working differs a little from the previous books in the series. If a cemetary is on the same territory of an airfield, I did put them together. However, you will see that in the other cases I do refer in the text itself to where the pilot has been burried.
Neither did I make a tour. The towns and villages are alphabetically and the general map clearly shows you where to find them. From almost every aerodrome is at least one aerial photograph dating from the war time, a map with the most important buildings, and one or more photo’s of today’s situation.
Most of the former aerodromes their HQ’s, in most cases castle’s are private property, as are the roads leading to them. So please do keep that in mind, everyone loves after all his’ or hers privacy. A small number of them can be visited.
In a few cases there are even some remains of the airfields and their structure that can be found back, but these become more and more an exception.
So it could be possible that we talk to you about certain remains such as pill boxes or AA posts, that will be gone while visiting.
I’m also doing efforts that some of the special bunkers at least, such as the ones on the aerodromes, should become protected monuments by law. But there still is a long way to go...

AERODROMES AND CEMETARIES

THE AIR WAR ABOVE THE NORTHERN PART OF WEST FLANDERS

Very early in the war, before the end of 1914, the first flying units were stationed in this part of the coastalprovince, for the biggest part in hand of and dominated by the Marinekorps Flandern of Admiral von Schröder. The I Marine Landflieger Abteilung at Mariakerke, Seeflugstation Flandern at Zeebrugge and FFA 40 at Handzame were among these.

The Marinekorps Flandern would have a very good appetite concerning the creation of new air units. By the end of the war existed or had passed over here five Marine Jagdstaffeln, 3 Marine Feldflieger Abteilungen, 3 Seeflugstations, 4 Kustenflieger Abteilungen, 2 Torpedostaffeln, 2 Marine Schutzstaffeln and Seefrontstaffel.

The airfield of Snellegem, also known as Jabbeke or Varsenare, would become the most important aerodrome concerning the number of units staying here, even at the same time time. Also rather important would become Oostkamp-Erkegem and Nieuwmunster, especially because of the Kagohl/Bogohl units using it to refuel for their attacks on Great Britain.

Numerous other units, some of the most famous Jasta’s would residence here for a smaller or larger period, together with the Flieger and Feldflieger Abteilungen, the Schusta’s-Schlasta’s and even a Kampfeinsitzer Staffel.

It was a region of very strategic importance. Let’s not forget the harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende, both connected by canals to the harbour of Brugge, from where operated the 2 U-bootflottille Flandern, the torpedoboats, destroyers,... The U-boats of Flanders sank no less than 2554 ships during the war, not counting the destroyed warships or the ships destroyed by the Torpedostaffeln at Zeebrugge.
Along the coastal line was a first version of the Atlanticwall. A total of around 44 batteries were active here, from very small calibers till the 38 cm naval guns. The Dutch border was closed with the Hollandstellung, because the Germans feared landings from the Allies at Zeeuws Vlaanderen.

Troops took some rest in the area when coming from the front, and also other military installations of importance could be found around here. Ammunitionsdepots, railwaycenters were among the most important ones.

The German air units were active in defending their new territory, helping the coastal and other batteries with rangefinding, photoreconnaissance, observation, destroying observationballoons,...

No wonder it became also an important region for the Allies. Lots of photoreconnaissance was done and bombings, most of the time concentrating in this area on the harbours again, but also on railwayinfrastructure and the batteries.

We found it interesting to mention a number of the British airmen who got rewarded for such work and state here a few of the lesser known examples.

Also important was the fact that the Zeppelins had a base at Gontrode Gent. This led to numerous attempts (some quite succesfull) to down these flying cigars as they were called in Belgium, over the Channel or West and East Flanders. We will return to that subject with a special story.

It was only by 1917 that the airwar became really important above this part of Flanders behind the frontlines. At the coast a lot of fighting happened between the units of the Marinekorps Flandern and the French and British Naval Air Services. Concerning the seaplanes-flyingboats, it is without any doubt a fact that the ones from the Germans were a lot better then the ones possesed by the Allies. Planes like the Hansa Brandenburg W12, W29 or the Friedrichshafens could take some beatting.
Concerning the other units, luck and technology were switching camp lots of times during the war. However imagine once what the full metalplated Junkers DI would have done, if they had gotten earlier to the front than by the very last days of the war, as was the case with the Marinejasta’s...

No let’s return to the Allied reconnaissance and bombings as promised. Here are some of the awards given for these actions over the north of West Flanders and some stories on great airmen concerning these actions and we are starting with two early VC winners :

Flight Sub Lt. Reginald Alexander John Warneford, VC
THE DOWNING OF THE FIRST ZEPPELIN

On the night of the 6th june 1915, three Zeppelins - LZ37 from Oblt. van der Haegen, LZ38 from Hptm. Linnarz and LZ39 from Hptm. Masius - left Gontrode for an attack on Britain. However Linaarz got in trouble very early, and the two other Zeppelins had trouble with the fog it seems, not abling them to get to the British coast. They turned back. One of the Naval 1 planes flown by Flight Sub Lt. Warneford detected the Zeppelin in the Oostende area at 01.05 am. It seems he had left from Veurne and was to attack-bomb the sheds at St. Agatha Berchem. He flew a Morane monoplane and quite fast caught up with the airship. This is his battlereport :
Sir, I have the hnour to report as follows : I left Furnes at 01.00 am on June 7th on Morane No 3253 under orders to proceed to look for Zeppelins and attack te Berchem Ste. Agathe airship shed with six 20 lb bombs. On arriving at Dixmude at 01.05 am I observed a Zeppelin apparently over ostend and proceeded in chase of same. I arrived at close quarters a few miles past Bruges at 01.5à am and the airship opened heavy maxim fire, so I retreated to gain height and the airship turned and followed me. At 2.15 he seemed to stop firing and at 2.25 am I came behind, but well above the zeppelin; height then 11,000 feet, and then switched off my engine to descend on top of him. When close abve him, at 7,000 feet I dropped my bombs, and, while releasing the last, there was an explosion which lifted my machine and turned it over. The aeroplane was out of control for a short period, but went into a nose dive, and the control was gained. I then saw that the Zeppelin was on the ground in flames and also that there were pieces of something burning in the air all the way down.
The joint on my petrol pipe and pump from the back tank was broken,and at about 2.40 am I was forced to land and repair my pump.
I landed at the back of a forest close to a farmhouse; the district is unknown on account of the fog and the continous changing of course. I made preparations to set the machine on fire but apparently was not observed, so was enabled to effect a repair, and continued at 3.15 am in a south westerly direction after considerable difficulty in starting my engine single handed.
I tried several times to find my whereabouts by descending through the clouds, but was unable to do so. So eventually I landed and found out that I was at Cape Gris-Nez, and took in some petrol. When the weather cleared I was able to proceed and arrived at the aerodrom about 10.30 am. As far as could be seen the colour of the airship was green on top and yellow below and there was no machine or gun platform on top.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obediant servant,
R.A.J. Warneford. Flt. Sub-Lieutenant.

This is the official text on his VC :

On 7 June 1915 at Ghent, Belgium, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford attacked and completely destroyed a German airship in mid air. He had chased the airship from the coast near Ostend, and succeeded in dropping his bombs on it, the last of which set the airship on fire, but the explosion overturned the attacking plane and stopped its engine. Having no alternative, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford had to land in hostile country, but after 35 minutes spent on repairs, he managed to restart the engine and returned to base.

Warneford was born on the 15th October 1891 and was from Kerry House, Comeytrowe, Taunton, Somerset. He was awarded the VC immediately by King George for his action but had very little time to enjoy it. On the 17th june he flew coming from Paris in a brandnew plane, accompanied by an american reporter, and crashed the plane for unknown reasons near Versailles. Both men died in the crash. There is an old press story going that the VC medal, which he was wearing indeed, pierced his heart. The medal is now on public display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovil, Somerset, England. His gravestone was erected by readers of the Daily express ‘to commemorate the heoic exploit in destroying a Zeppelin airship near Ghent on June 7 1915. The upper part of the gravemonument shows a portrait while the down part shows a Zeppelin crashing down in smoke and flames, and the Morane plane of Warneford above it. Very much like the picture that is printed here. He is burried at Brompton cemetary, London.


Captain John Aiden Liddell VC, MC
HEROICLY SAVING HIS MACHINE AND OBSERVER

The RFC communique 3, period of 31st july till 4th august 1915 states :
On july 31st, Capt Liddell and 2nt Lt Peck, 7 Sqdn, on a RE5 were attacked by a tractor biplane, with covered-in fuselage, similar to a Bristol Scout but at least twice as large, with crosses on both lower planes. It was armed with a machinegun and had a speed of about 90 mph. Shortly after leaving Ostend during the morning reconnissance the RE5 sighted the hostile machine when crossing the lines some miles away to the south-east. The RE5 was flying at about 5000 feet and the German machine was several thousand feet higher. The reconnaissance was continued with and the hostile machine was finally lost sight of. When near Bruges the RE5 was heavily fired on from above but the occupants could obtain no view of the enemy. A little later they were able to get a glimpse of him and the observer was able to fire one drum of ammunition at him which caused him to withdraw. 2nd Lt Peck had just reloaded when his machine nose dived and then completely turned over when all the remaining munition fell out. The pilot had apparently momentarily lost consciousness, but regained control of the machine after dropping 3000 feet. Capt. Liddell then handed the observer a message stating his leg was broken and that he proposed landing on the sand of Nieuport as he could not steer sufficiently to land in enclosed country. Lt. Peck then pointed out the aerodrome near Furnes and the pilot, working the rudder control with his hand by holding the cable, was able to land. He was unable to throttle his engine down owing to the throttle control being shot away, but switched off shortly before reaching the ground.

He died exactly one month later on the 31st august 1915 in the Belgian hospital L’Océan at De Panne, this is the hospital that was ran by the famous doctor Antoine Depage. His hospital burned down on the 6th of june 1915. A new one was erected, and in july 1917 even more new baracks were constructed. The doctor became a very close friend of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. The queen did visit much of her time the wounded Belgian soldiers, and on a few occasions helped Dr. Lepage, even in churgery.
This has often been discussed as a lie, but I have pictures of this, and one of them is shown here.
The king also visited from time to time the wounded. De Panne was known as the Capital of free Belgium.

John Aiden Liddell was born on August 3rd. 1888. The eldest son of Mr John Liddell, K.C.S.G.. and J.P. for Northumberland; of Sherfield Manor, Basingstoke and late of Prudhoe Hall, Northumberland, his mother being the daughter of the late Major Henry A. Berry1 of the Cameronians. His two brothers were also serving in the forces, named -, Capt. C. Liddell of the 15th Hussars, who was twice mentioned in despatches. and Sub-Lieut. L. Liddell, R.N.
He served with the 3rd Bn (attached 2nd Bn.) The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and Royal Flying Corps.
On the outbreak of war he accompanied the 2nd Bn. to the front with the rank of Captain, and was placed in command of the machine gun section of the battalion. He was for forty-three consecutive days in the trenches.
For his services as commander of the machine gun section he was mentioned in despatches, and received the award of the Military Cross on January 14th, 1915.
He was himself invalided home, however after his recovery he joined the Royal Flying Corps in May. He returned to the front again on July 23rd, and in eight days had gained his V.C., and the wound which ultimately brought about his death. The reconnaissance during which he so greatly distinguished himself by his supreme devotion to duty, was his second only over the German lines. The official grounds for the award were thus set forth in The Times, August 24th 1915
CAPT. JOHN AIDAN LIDDELL,
3rd Bn. The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
and Royal Flying Corps
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on July 31st 1915.
"When on a flying reconnaissance over Ostende - Bruges - Ghent, he was severely wounded (his right thigh being broken), which caused momentary unconsciousness, but by a great effort he recovered partial control after his machine had dropped nearly 3,000 feet and notwithstanding his collapsed state. Succeeded although continually fired at in completing his course, and brought the aeroplane into our lines - half an hour after he had been wounded. The difficulties experienced by this officer in saving his machine, and the life of his observer, cannot he readily expressed but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the under-carriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished his task."

In addition to the details of his gallant and memorable action given in the extract just quoted, we may mention that after bringing his machine and his observer safely to land, he himself bandaged up his wounded leg, and made a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood while waiting for the coming of the doctor. He was carried to the hospital at La Panne, and at first endeavours were made to save the leg, out of which a great number of pieces of extraneous matter were extracted, and four inches of bone were cut away. But eventually it was found necessary to amputate the leg, and subsequently septic poisoning set in and pervaded his whole system. The day after he was wounded, Lieut. Chanis, Commandant of the 3rd Escadrille of the Belgian Flying Corps, sent the following report to Major Hoare, commanding the 7th Squadron of the British Flying Corps:-
To Major Hoare, LA PANNE,
1st August, 1915.

I, the undersigned, Dhanis, of the 1st Regiment of the Guides, Flight Lieut. And Commandant of the 3rd Escadrille of the Belgian Flying Corps, consider it my duty to bring to your notice the magnificent conduct of Capt. Liddell and of Lieut. Peck, both of them aviators under your command.
These officers, who were flying in a Beardmore aeroplane, Type RE5, 120 h.p., were compelled to land on our aviation ground on July 31st, the pilot having been severely wounded. His right thigh was broken by bullets in an engagement with a German aeroplane. Thanks to his coolness and conspicuous energy he has saved his aeroplane, his companion and himself from the hands of the enemy, having had the incredible strength of will necessary to make a faultless landing on our camp. He has thus given us all a magnificent example of endurance, and one which deserves to be both mentioned and rewarded. W. Dhanis

As, however, he did not improve, his mother obtained permission from the military authorities to be with him at the hospital. The end came almost suddenly on August 31st 1915, the feast day of his patron, St Aidan. He had been to Confession and received Holy Communion a few days previously. Seeing that he was sinking, his mother summoned the Belgian chaplain, who again heard his Confession, and administered Extreme Unction. He was perfectly conscious, and with great fervour and devotion repeatedly kissed the crucifix, and repeated over and over again the holy names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and other ejaculatory prayers and the act of contrition, reciting them after his mother. He said it was getting dark, and then, "Mummy, I want to go home". "You are going home, sonny", she replied. A pressure of her hand showed that he understood. And he passed away.
The body was conveyed to England, and on September 4th, after a Solemn Requiem Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, at which Father W Bodkin, the Rector of Stonyhurst, was the celebrant, he was laid to rest at Basingstoke, in the cemetery which adjoins the Catholic Church.
The last prayers were recited by his parish priest, the Rev Canon Scoles, Father Bodkin and Father Gruggen assisting, as representing his old College, at the funeral. Besides the Bishop of the Diocese, the Master of Balliol, officers representing his battalion, many offers from the camp at Winchester, and his observer, Lieut. Peck, were among the mourners.
About a thousand letters of sympathy and admiration were received by his parents. His Majesty the King, besides the telegram which, in his kindliness of heart, he sent to all the bereaved parents of fallen officers, sent a special telegram of condolence. Letters of sympathy were also sent by Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians, by Princess Louise, who is Colonel in Chief of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, expressing her priced that an officer of her own regiment had so distinguished himself, and by Prince Alexander of Teck, more than once, in his capacity of Colonel of the British Mission with the Belgian Army.

I found this such a special story and was so impressed by this brave man, that I decided to give him a very large piece of text in this book.


ANDERSON, Flight Sub-Lieutenant William Louis
Was reported in Canada on the 28 July 1917 under "War Honours for Anglo-Canadians". He is also listed under "Commissions, etc. for Canadians" in Canada, 25 November 1916 and was appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant on the10th May 1916 Got awarded the Royal Aero Club Certificate 3408 on 22 August 1916. His nationality is still unclear and Air Vice-Marshall F.S. McGill described him as English with no Canadian connection, so this needs to be checked further. Cited with Commander Ian Hamilton Benn, MP, RNVR.
Distinguished Service Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 July 1917
In recognition of their services in the bombardment of Zeebruge on May 11-12, 1917, and of Ostend on June 4-5, 1917.



CHISHOLM, Captain John Foster
Born in Toronto on the 3rd August 1896. Home in Westmount, Quebec was a student at McGill University. Awarded the ACA Certificate No.422 on the 23rd February 1916, following attendance at Curtiss School, Newport News. Taken on strength of RNAS in Ottawa, 29 January 1916 as Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant.
With No.3 (Naval) Wing from November 1916 to March 1917 and with No.2 (Naval) Squadron from 21 April 1917 then joined No.218 Squadron on the 22 April 1918 Got shot down by AA fire over Bruges (interned in Holland as he was forced to land at Vlissingen, the Netherlands) on the 26th September 1918 together with Sgt. H.J. Williams and finally was repatriated from Holland by the 15th November 1918.
Distinguished Service Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 22 February 1918.
In recognition of his services on December 6th, 1917, when he carried out a photographic reconnaissance in the vicinity of Zeebrugge, and for the great skill and determination with which he has carried out his duties at all times.
Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 21 September 1918
A gallant and successful Flight Commander. He has led his formation in twenty-five raids in a period of thirty days, generally to a distance of 25 miles over the lines. On a recent occasion he encountered seven enemy aircraft whilst he was engaged in bombing a particularly dangerous enemy position. He destroyed one enemy machine, and his formation accounted for three more. All our machines returned safely.

MacKAY, Captain George Chisholm
Born in Sunderland, Ontario on the 17 May 1898 and his home was in Mimico Beach (Toronto) where he was a student. Appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, Ottawa, 14 March 1917. Went to Crystal Palace on the19th April 1917 and then to Eastbourne, 30 April 1917 further to Cranwell, 7 July 1917. To Freiston by the 17th September 1917 and to Manstone, 29 September 1917.
To the No.13 (N) Squadron (first operational posting) on the 22nd October 1917 with which he served until 15 September 1918 (wounded) then invalided to England, 28 September 1918 and return for active service to No.5 Group for No.213 Squadron, 29 October 1918. Finally to unemployed list, 20 May 1919.

Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1918.
No citation, but reported to have taken part in naval raids on Ostende and Zeebruge, "and has brought down ten German machines."


AARTRIJKE and it’s two airfields

Marine Feld Jagdstaffel I

The unit arrived on the 15th of april 1917 at Aartrijke and would stay here untill the 10th of september the same year. About the day of arrival there is discussion. Some sources talk about the 4th of april.

Lt.z.S. Kurt Crüger was one of the early members of the unit, born on the 19th june 1894 at Kiel, he scored his first and only victory for the unit on the 4th of june 1917. At 14.50 hours he shot down a Martinsyde G102 A1566 over Aalter-Sint Denijs Westem flown by 2nd Lt. D.T. Steeves who became a prisoner of war.
Crüger was killed the 3rd of july in combat with several Sopwith northeast of Nieuwpoort while flying an Albatros DIII.
He was shot down by the Belgian pilot Sous-Lt. Edmond Thieffry, being his 5th or 6th confirmed victory of a total of 10. He had also 5 unconfirmed claims.

No more confirmed victories for the unit untill the 30th April, when the futur ace Theo Osterkamp scores, his second victory and first one for the unit. The next day the unit’s CO Scores two times and Flugmaat Bertram Heinrich once, all in the Diksmuide area. It can be that the Sopwith was claimed by both of them and given to them both. It is not clear who this was.
The Farman that Sachsenberg claimed was one from 3rd Escadrille Belge. It was manned by Sgt. Jean Pauli and Lt. Jean de Bersaques. They were both killed.

Flieger Abteilung A 231

Arriving at the end of may 1917 the unit would be stationed here till the 13th of september, but only to return by the 20th december 1917 till the 21st february 1918.
Some casualties of this unit were found at the Hooglede and Vladslo German military cemetaries.

Johann Messerer was born at Weberreut on the 17th june 1892 and died on the 20th july 1917. There is a double placename concerning his place of death : Woumen/Torhout. He was burried at Hooglede.
This probably was a Belgian victory. Andre de Meulemeester claimed a C type over the Ijzer in the Woumen-Diksmuide area at 06.20 hours, and it is the only claim that corresponds. Meulemeester had 11 confirmed and 17 other claims ! Just like Coppens the Belgian Army, and especially it’s French talking leaders, did let him down and after the war in 1919 he left the army and never flew again !

Emil or Erich Becker, a Vizefeldwebel, was born at Schwientochlowitz on the 10th of january 1894 and died at Varsenare on the 3rd august 1917. He is burried at Vladslo.

The last one is Kraftf. Franz Willmers, born at Rauxel on the 9th of february 1897 who died at Ichtegem on the 20th october 1917. He is also burried at Vladslo.

Probably the unit was here again in the area by the very end of the war as we found the burrial of Sergeant Flugzeugfuhrer Wachter Walter + 1 october 1918, burried at Vladslo.

Flieger Abteilung A 264

The Saxon FAA 264 arrived to Aartrijke around 17 Oct 1917. They had earlier served within the 6 German Army. This unit stayed here till the 15th of november 1917.
We know of the casualty of Flg Paul Rische, who was born at Wermsdorf on the 9th february 1892 and died over Staden at the 31st october 1917. He is burried at Vladslo.
He was probably shot down by a 19 Sqdn pilot, which had a number of claims in that area that day.

Schusta 10

Around the 18th of july 1917 they had arrived and two months later, the 18th of september they left again. A Schusta was short for Schutzstaffeln. They were formed to protect the Flieger Abteilungen. Normally a Schusta concisted out of 6 planes, two seaters and many of them were Halberstadt and Hannover C types. CO of the unit was Haupmann Paul von Winckler.

Jasta 7

The unit was here from the 15th september 1917 and left on the 1st march 1918. CO was Fritz von Bronsart Schellendorf.

Lt.d.R. Mobius Martin died the 24th january 1918 KIA Beselare, and is now burried at Vladslo.
No known claims corresponded, but it is now clear that he must have had an mid air collision with Lt. Alan Wilson Morey MC, of 60 Sqdn, flying B4897 as they do seem to claim eachother. Morey’s name stands on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

Lt.d.R. Nebgen Willi + 22 october 1918 KIA Lemberge, burried at Vladslo. It is not known in which circumstances he was downed.

Jasta 14

The unit was stationed here very briefly during the retreat of the German Army, arriving on the 3rd ocotber 1918 under the command of Lt. Hans Werner, who was the CO of the unit since the 5th September 1917. Probably were here during 10 or 12 days, something in that area.

Jasta 16

Stayed only for a very brief period, as they arrived on the 7th of february 1918 and were gone again the 14th march. The had come from the sector of the 7th German army and went to the sector of the 2nd German army.
CO in that period was Lt. Heinrich Geigl. On te 21st February Uffz. Rudolf Lingenfelder died at the airfield in a crash.
We found also a victory of Vizefeldwebel A. Triebswetter who shot down a British balloon just north of Ieper on the 8th march at 17.10 hours and this seems to have been the only victory of the unit in that period.

Jasta 29

Arriving the 14th of september 1917 they had already been stationed at two other airfields of the 4th German army, Handzame and Torhout. They would leave the 27th of november but were to return briefly for the end of the war. it is known that they arrived the 6th of October 1918, but is not known when that they exactly retreated from here.
There were two CO’s in that period. Untill the 18th october it was Oblt. Otto Schmidt and from the next day on Oblt. Harold Auffahrt.

Jasta 35

September 1917 was clearly a busy period for the Aartrijke aerodrome. The 18th also arrived Jasta 35, coming from Ichtegem Vijver or Ichtegem Engel airfield. 30 november they left the sector of the 4th German army for rejoining the 2nd German army
The 24th September 1917 Oblt Otto Desloch left the unit as CO and was replaced by Lt. Ludwig Hanstein.
On the 11th October Gefr. Zimmermann got injured in a undescribed accident on the airfield of Aartrijke.
Just when I started to fear that it was the only thing I would find on the unit of some interest I found three claims on the 20th October ! Lt L Hanstein at 1230 hours near Moorslede, his 12th official victory, a Camel B3887 of 28 Sqdn flown by Lt. H.E. Singh-Malik who was forced to land but was ok.
Vfw. M Kämmerer at 14.30 hours at Oostnieuwkerke, his 1st victory, a Camel.
And Vfw. G Schindler in the ‘Westhoek’ at 15.00 hours, his 2nd victory, also a Camel.
These two claims are not clear for the moment. A Camel from 10th Naval Squadron was also shot up that day, flown by Flight Sub Lt. Fow who got WIA. The other Sopwith planes were shot down by others that day. Unless one of the planes was an SE5a instead of a Sopwith Camel.
The next day Gefr. J von Stein had his 1st victory west of Roeselare, a Camel once more, possibly from 28 Sqdn.
The last victory of that period was by Vfw K Knocke on the 27th October at 14.30 hours near Diksmuide, once more a Camel. This normally was the plane of Lt. R.A. Cartledge, who became a POW, flying B5178 from 28Sqdn.

Jasta 51

Was a unit that would remain through the lenght of it’s history with the 4th German army. They arrived the first time when being created the 27th december 1917, and it was only for creation, as they were already gone to Wingene on the 4th of january 1918 ! The unit’s first commander was Oblt. Hans-Eberhardt Gandert. He would get a final score of 8 victories.
They were to return from the 5th of february till the 1st of march 1918.
We gidn’t find one victory or loss in both periods the unit was stationed at Aartrijke !

1st Belgian Escadrille

The unit seems to have arrived on the airfield on the 30th october 1918. At the end of the war it was still operating from this aerodrome. There had already been plans to move the 5th Escadrille to Aartrijke half october but it seems that the airfield was still in bad shape, and some work had to be done. From the 20th on planes from several Belgian units used it for reconnaissance over the Leie river.
A fact is also that they had trouble with supplying the unit. Other planes had to fly all kinds of goods in to Aartrijke.
This was a Belgian fighter unit. It was commanded by Captain Walter Gallez. Adjutant Andre de Meulemeester scored 7 victories while flying with them but claimed a total of 12 more in that period. Biggest victim of not confirmed victories must have been the worldfamous prewar aviator Jan Olieslaghers, who claimed 16 but only got three confirmed !
With the creation of the 9th Escadrille, the units was only existing on paper as Gallez went to the 9th also and Commander Michaux was the new CO of the 1, no becoming a maintenance unit.

The location of the airfields

The two airfields were lying next to eachother. They were all between these four todays streets : Steenstraat to the north, Aartrijkestraat in the east, Zeeweg zuid in the west and the Hogerokerstraat in the south. The Sparappelhoek airfield which was the second airfield, was the southern part of the grounds.
There were planebarracks near the Aartrijkestraat, where was located the concent at the rest-home. Other stood near the Sparappelhoek itself, near the Zeeweg zuid and the Sparappelstraat.
A little bit further to the south on the Zeeweg zuid, stood and stands the Chateau de Maere d’Aertrycke, home of one of the men behind the construction of Zeebrugge harbour in the 19th century. It became the headquarters of the several units flying from the airfield and the officers their residence.

The area now

Where once stood the retirementhome, is now an institute for the mental handicapped. The other side of the road, where the first part of the hangars stood, is now completely filled with houses and shops.
However concerning the rest of the field, it still is almost completely undamaged, even the part near the Sparappelhoek is still pretty well preserved.
Unfortunately that is all there can be said about the former airfield. There is nothing that will remind you of it. Not a pill-box, a AA bunker is left. But at least it still gives you a pretty good idea how it looked like in the I World War, with just little help from one’s imagination, you could already see an Albatros D III take off !
A good thing for the visitors is that the former Headquarters of the airfield, the Chateau de Maere D’Aertrycke is nowadays a tea-room and restaurant ! So everyone can experience in what luxuary situation the officers were staying.

EERNEGEM

Untill now we weren’t able to trace any German or Allied units back to Eernegem Aerodrome. It is our meaning that this was another one of the reserve airfields. It is also clear that by april 1918 it was not even guarded. However it was not yet given free for agricultural use.

The location of the airfield

The area now


EGEM

Flieger Abteilung 45B

Arrived at Egem on the 9th of june 1917 and would stay here for quite some time, as they only left on the 26th of march 1918.

Flieger Abteilung A 238

Arrived during july 1917 and left again in october of the same year.

Schusta 11

Probably arrived on the 9th of june 1917 and left somewhere early 1918. Commanding officer of the unit was Oblt. Walter Somme.

Schusta 12

Arriving around the 18th of july 1917 they left again on the 18th of september. In command was Oblt. Johannes Missfelder.

Schusta 13

During the autumn of 1917 was stationed here for some short time. It is known that in November 1917 the commanding officer of the unit was Oblt. Müller.

The location of the airfield

It was located near Egemkapelle, this is an area limited by the north by the Kasteeldreef, (kasteel is a castle or chateau in flemish), were was in the chateau also the officer’s residence and the HQ. On the westernside you had the Brugsesteenweg, on the west the Egemsebinnenweg and to the south probably the Hoogrokersstraat.

The area now

GISTEL

BAO - Brieftauben Abteilung Oostende

Majoor Wilhelm Siegert, advisor concerning aviation with the German Oberste Heeresleitung came with the idea in october 1914 to attack England with bomberplanes from Calais. However taking Calais seemed to have been a very serious case of wishfull thinking. Siegert had look for another location for his airfield.
So instead of Calais it became Gistel.

Half november 1914 the works start for the airfield. And it will have to be the biggest in the occupied territories. The works are lead by Oblt. von Schröder and Ing. Wegenast. The codename for the operation is Brieftauben Abteilung Oostende. Who would dare to suspect some poor pigeons ?!
However BAO can also be interpretated as... Bomber Abteilung Obersten Heeresleiting

On the 27 th of november 28 pilots and 10 observers arrived at the airfield that still was fully in construction. In fact it would take untill the summer of 1915 before everything was completely ready. The planebarracks had to be able to contain 2 or 3 planes. 20 were to be installed. The terrain was watersick. It had to be drained, parts were hardened with stone, on other parts a wooden floor was laid. In december one of the planehangars was destroyed by a storm. On the 6th of the same month the unit was operational.

Curious thing also was that everyone of the pilots that arrived brought along its own preferated airplane !!! One of the first problems is that they are not able to take along lot’s of weight on bombs. But this was something Siegert had known from the start and the reason why so little observers were in the unit. A pilot and bombs could do the job as well and you didn’t need an observer for that !

The units lodging ? A train from the Compagnie Internationale de Wagons-Lits ! Two restaurationwagons, luxurius wagons and freightwagons in two seperate trains. Every night they left the aerodrome to park at a nearby station and to return the next morning.
It seems the officers had no trouble finding wine and cigars, as they always were available in the train.

Halfway december a first bombing raid is done. Towards Dunkirk instead of Calais, and with only six planes. By the end of the month this number has doubled. But England is out of reach. The only unit who can reach the island is from the Imperial Navy.

On the 6th and 22nd january the unit attacks Dunkirk again, but to get a serious number of planes in the air, Siegert has to use some planes from the Feldflieger Abteilung 40 of Handzame. Every pilot had 2 bombs of 5 kilograms, every observer had 6 of these. In a number of case the pilots didn’t take along an observer to be able to carry more bombs.
During this last raid a mix of British, Belgian and French Farman’s attacked the bombers.

Lt. Andre Huf, who piloted an Albatros BI told : Above the Canal I was attacked from behind by a British plane that opened fire on us. The Mausergun of my observer Lt. Bremer, failed after two shots. While he was attempting to make it functioning again, I emptied my pistol on the attacker. My engine was hit by enemy fire, and the engine stalked. From a highth of 4000 feet the plane glided downwards towards the coast. I had to prevent to crash into the sea, and we were lucky to make to the dunes. I intentionaly made a hard landing to make the plane unusuable for the enemy. Bremer and I got out of this adventure without any brozes. It was clear that our plane was no match at all for the with machineguns equipped adversaries.

For Siegert it was clear that his planes couldn’t do the job in these circumstances. That’s why he decides that the next bombingmissions will be done at night. To give his men more confidence he decides to take part on the first operation. The 27th of january 14 planes left Gistel at 23 hrs. The planes carried 8 bombs of 10 kilo’s and 114 bombs of 5 kilo’s. Siegert his pilot was Oblt. Hempel and their Aviatik flew the first. All their bombs did hit targets but they were surprised by the mant searchlights near Dunkirk. Siegert didn’t complain about any AA fire, but about the searchlights ! Just after midnight they made it al back to Gistel.

Halfway february the unit left Gistel and went to Frescaty airport near Metz.
Half july 1915 the trains of the BAO returned. In between time they had also been in Poland. 24 new planes are with them, armed C and G types. The C types were LVG CII machines, the G types AEG GII planes.

Not only new planes, also a new commander : Hauptmann Gustav Kastner-Kirdorf. Siegert had been promoted to Berlin. In august part of the personnel and the CO move to Metz for the newly formed Brieftauben Abteilung Metz. Hauptmann Freiherr von Gersdorf is the new CO at Gistel. The 21st of august Mannfred Freiherr von Richthofen arrived at the unit.

Halfway september the unit left for the biggest part Gistel. Between 8 and 10 planes stayed but did the job of a normal Flieger Abteilung. A famous pilot who was in this part of the unit was Otto Parschau.

OTTO PARSCHAU
Parschau was born in Klutznick, East Prussia, on the 11th november 1890 and was the son of a landleaser. In 1910 he joined the Infantry Regiment 151 as a cadet and one year later
he was commissioned as Lt. He decided to learn to fly and the 4th july 1913 received licence 455 of the German series. During the ostmark competition in 1914 he took the Honorprize of Prince Friedrich Sigismund of Prussia and the officers Third Price.

When the war started he was already a pilot for the army. He first served with Feldflieger Abteilung 42 and than with FFA 261. In 1915 he got with the Fokker single seaters. He had already both classes of the Iron Cross when he received on the 3rd of july 1915 the Königlichen Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern. His first victory was above the Argonne on the 11th october 1915 with Kampfgeschwader I as the BAO was now called. His second one was while flying from Gistel and was achieved on the 19th december 1915. That day he shot down a BE2c 2074 of 12th Squadron RFC above Oostkamp manned by two 2nd Lt’s, Norman Gordon-Smith and Duncan Flower Cunningham Reid, brother of the futur ace Capt A. Cunningham Reid, DFC, of 85th Squadron. They were burried at Oostkamp and the tailpart of the BE2c was used as their gravemonument.
Gordon-Smith was born in Berlin, Germany from British parents. He is now burried at Cement House Cemetary at Langemark Poelkapelle.
Cunningham-Reid was from Kensington London and first served with the 29th Lancers (Deccan Horse) and also burried at Cement House Cemetary.

In 1916 Parschau would still have 6 more victories above France, his last one, an observation balloon, on the 9th of july, the first day he served with Feldflieger Abteilung 32. The next day he was awarded the Pour le Mérite.

On the 21st he was flying into battle with his FFA when they met a much bigger enemy fightergroup. Parschau was first creased at the skull by a bullet and then hit in the chest. He was able to land his undamaged plane in own lines, the doctors of Grevillers however were not able to rescue him, his wounds being to severe. This pioneer of German military aviation was burried at St. Quentin.

Bombing airfield in between units

The Gistel aerodrome was bombed on the 21st february 1916 by the French MF36 Escadrille with 44 bombs. Targets were specificly the hangars and the AA around the airfield. Nor reports were found on the results of the bombardment.

In the night of the 23rd on the 24th april 1916, the Belgians returned to Gistel. Six planes took off, but only five got above target, as one of the planes suffered enginetrouble.

KAGOHL I AND III OPERATIONS FROM GISTEL AIRFIELD

With the BAO gone, this was not the end of the use of Gistel aerodrome for german bombers. On the 20th, 21st and 22nd may 1916 Kagohl I and III were doing a concentrated attack against Dunkirk. Coming from Gent the planes landed at Gistel, refuelled overthere and were than to attack Dunkirk.
In 1917 the bomber units used the airfield of Nieuwmunster for their intermediate landings.

I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

On the 17th december 1914 the unit was formed at Gistel airfield, and what was already ready of it was also here. Also the new units commander was already known, Oblt.z.S. von Skrbensky. He arrived with his 113 men and officer at the Mariakerke aerodrome on the 21st of december 1914.

Originally in this period the unit was named the I Marine Landflieger Abteilung.
The 22nd july 1916 the unit came back to Gistel. With the construction of the new and nearby Tirpitz battery, and he batteries Aachen and Antwerpen just ot the north of it, the aerodrome could no longer be considerated as a safe place.

The 26th of july the unit already mentioned , that although the unit has just moved to Gistel, the situation is not better, as due to the bad underground of the runway, three aircraft got damaged while landing on the airfield.

On the 3rd of september the unit was receiving an unanounced visit from some planes of the British RNAS, who came along for a bombardment, and this seems to have led to quite some damage.
In that same september month some new tasks were given to the unit en one of them was helping the coastalbatteries with firing at their targets.

On the 8th of september 1916, the highest scoring ace of the German Imperial Navy, 32 victory ace Theodor Osterkamp, also known as Uncle Theo, would get his first aerial victory. An account we found worthy of publishing.

THE FIRST VICTORY OF GERMAN NAVAL AVIATION TOP ACE OSTERKAMP
On the 6th of september 1916, at 12 at noon, the airplane LF 143b went into the air. Pilot Lt.d.R. Mattheus, observer Lt.d.R. Osterkamp, with the order to photograph batteries near Ramscapelle. At 3000 meters we tried to cross the frontline, but had to turn around, as four enemy planes where flying on the same hight and three other were sighted about 6 to 800 meter higher than us. Over German territory we gained altitude and this with the idea of crossing the frontline on higher altitude and be able to carry out the mission. When we were at 3400 meters we saw another photoreconaissance plane fly about 300 m under us, crossing the frontlines. As we were convinced that this plane had not seen the enemy planes that were flying higher, and we didn’t want to let the plane run the risk of confronting on its own seven enemy planes, we also crossed the frontline. In this action we flew under two enemy planes that were at 4000 meters. Once we were arriving at our missions location, we started photographing, however after the first photo, the diafragma of the camera blocked, due to, as we found out later, a little a minor technical problem. We stayed on the enemy side to protect the other machine, who was flying a little more to the south, and were going to rejoin it, when we saw a Farman diving towards the plane. The observer of the other plane, Lt.d.R. Ilges (pilot Fl.mt. Brandt), his gun jammed after just a few rounds, and they were trying to regain the German lines. We went full speed after the Farman to start the attack, and when he came within firing range and I was about to open fire on him, a coincidental sidelook I saw another Farman very close on the right above us. I quickly turned the MG around and started firing, missing was as good as impossible as the enemy was so close. Already after 5 till 10 rounds the enemy plane halted it’s curve and then dived for about 100-200 meters on the right of us, was again levelled and then went straight up, untill the nose was as good as completely vertical, than turned around on one wing, and then turning from one side to another it went slowly down. We now turned our attention to the enemy in front of us, but this one was retrieving from the battle, probably alarmed by our MG fire.
After long searching, I finally found the other machine back who was still falling down in sector I24 and finally went out of sight behind a earthwall or some bushes. There is no airfield in that area.
An photographing mission that was undertaken in the afternoon to photograph the location of the planecrash, had to be given up after two attempts, as the promised fighterplanes for protection, were not at the rendez-vous, and we were not able to go along alone.
Two privates of the Artilleriemesstrupp 20, who were at the time at the observationpost Steinhaufen, had seen the dogfight and the downing of the enemy plane. Soldiers who came back from the frontlines in the evening also have whitnessed that they saw the fight at 1 in the afternoon and the enemy plane goning down. The names of these men were not noted. I personnally heard of the soldiers in the trenches at Schoorbakke, that many had heard the crash of the plane, but nobody had seen exactly where, because of the fog.

In this story, which shows how much pilots and observers did to proof their victory, two other historic names are mentioned. Ilges and Brandt. Two names that were to become quite famous as they were the first ones to bomb London !

On the 26th september a Belgian crew would see that the AA near Gistel was having sharp eyes for a good aim. Gallez-de Crombrugghe were on a reconnaissance flight over the coast, the northern part of West Flanders, returning over Brugge, Gistel towards Tervatebridge. While flying over Gistel Captain Gallez was hit by a flak burst. Flying 3500 m high, he still was able to control his plane and land at De Panne, where he was brought immediately to the l’Océan hospital.

In the night of the 16th on the 17th november 1916 five Belgian planes once more bombed the airfield.
The Belgians didn’t get to know the result of it. Goethals was trying to find out what damage they had made but made contact with enemy planes and returned home. de Chestret tried also but ran into four enemy planes, his oilreserve was hit by a bullet but he managed to get home.



FIRST BOMBING OF LONDON BY PLANE
Brandt and Ilges took off on the 28th november 1916 in the early morning from Gistel airfield, with only one target, being the first german planecrew to bomb London with their LVG CII.
Since december 1914 the first planes had dared to bomb the English coast and especially Dover, and even Zeppelins had bombed London, but never ever a German plane had dared to bomb London.

The plane also had a camera on board and Ilges photographed lots of military installations, airfields, docks, factories and other possible interesting targets over the bended traject of the Thames between Essex and the capital. Once arrived above London more pictures were taken and he dropped his six 10 kilo bombs also. He had aimed for the Admiralty at Whitehall (typical a marine !) but his bombs missed their target for at least a mile as the weak explosions were responsable for some damage between Brompton Road and Victoria Station. A backery lost its chimny, a stable was destroyed, the roof of a back room collpased, the office of a dairy looked as a storm had gone through it, the dressing room of the Victoria Palace music hall near Victoria station burned out.
In a rapport made of the damage, someone even managed to mention that a cobble had cracked in Eccleston Mews, near house no 23. Some people...

Brandt turned the plane to the south east and once cleared from the city flew over an aerodrome were two planes were taking off. There was a second of doubt in him that the alarm had been given. It was also clear that there was a very good chance that the Westgate and Manston naval units would await them. Dover and Dunkirk were two area’s he better not showed up.
So he decided to set out a course towards Abbeville, flying from there to Lille, and crossing the front line that way.

They came over the sea near Hastings and once over the channel the LVG got engine trouble. They were loosing height and Ilges had to throw his beloved camera overboard.
The plane reached the French coast in one big glide, and shortly after two in the afternoon the made a forced landing near Boulogne. They set their plane on fire and still tried to get away on foot, but it didn’t take much time before they were caught by French soldiers. A big map from London was found on them.
The damage of their bombardment was not that important, but ten people were injured by it.

British sources, even today, still tell the story of Brandt and Ilges taking of from Mariakerke airfield. But they took of from Gistel. The reason for this was very simple, marine aviation personnel, just like every good sailor, were very good storytellers. Onother fine example can be found under Zeebrugge. But as they were taken prisoner, they answered all questions more or less. But how did they answer them ? With nothing else than lies ! Mariakerke was already over four months out of use !

The LVG CII
About 300 LVG CII’s were build. They were equipped with a Mercedes DIII engine of 160 HP. They had a maximum speed of 130 km/hour and a ceiling of about 4000 meters. Empy they were good for 845 kilo’s and the maximum weight was 1405 kg. Armement consisted out a Parabellum 7,92 mm machinegun. The newer versions also had a fixed forward firing LMG 08/15 machinegun and were able to carry 60 kilo’s of bombs. It was this version that Brandt and Ilges were flying.

In the night of the 6th on the 7th may 1917 the first night bombing by a plane of London was also a fact. The British had the idea that it had to be a plane of the Marine Feldflieger Abteilungen which was responsible for this too. However they were wrong. The story is one of Feldflieger Abteilung 19, which can be found a little further in this book.

II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

On the 2nd of June 1918 the unit came here from Male. This is also were most of the traces of the unit start to vanish.
It is still known that on the 28th of July the unit suffered the loss of Flugz. Matr. Kirmse who died at Leffinge, but it is unknown in what circumstances.
Two days later, on the 30th the unit also suffered the loss in the surroundings of Werken-Vladslo of Lt.d.R. Albert Siebert.
The last casualty found of the unit is on the 24th October when Matrose Georg Gipser died at Gent. However he probably was a victim of a totally different enemy : the flu.

Jasta 2 Boelcke

From the 12th till the 26th august of 1917, so a really short period before moving to Snellegem airfield.

Shortly after the unit arrived here they lost Lt. Koenemann Egon on the 22 august 1917 KIA Lombardsijde, burried at Vladslo German military cemetary. He was born at Charlottenberg and joined Jasta Boelcke in the previous month. He was killed in combat with Camels over Lombardsijde.

The unit was commanded by Lt.d.R. Erwin Böhme, one of three Böhme brothers of five, that were killed in the 1st World War.

Jasta 17

Was from the 24th of june till the 28th of August 1917 stationed overhere.

The location of the airfield

A very large airfield indeed. On the northwest of the towns center. It was limited in the west by the railwayline coming from Torhout and going to Oostende. In the south by the area of today’s Acialaan area, in the east by the Neerhofstraat-Vaartstraat. The northern limit was some hundreds meters to the north of the motorway E40.
Thanks to the railway it was easy to bring planes by rail from the Armee Flug Park 4. And also very easy to transport the officers from and to the aerodrome in evenings and mornings.

The area now

The field still remains as flat as it was made by the germans in 1915. The northern part of it was cut of from the rest by the Motorway going to Veurne. A tenniscomplex is now standing on it to, but if you look good around, you can even recognize the old farms that were standing here in 1918 ! There are perhaps some new buildings on them, but a lot of reference points can be found back.
Near the Vaartstraat and the Motorway, on the north western side there still remains one pillbox but he’s on private property.
The railway that was to the west can still easily be found : it is nowadays the ‘Groene 62’, a path for walkers.
The whole area is still having the toponym ‘Vliegveld’ which means airfield in flemish

GITS

Feldflieger Abteilung 41

A Feldflieger Abteilung was supposed to have six planes.

It seems that FFA 41 arrived to the 4 Army in October 1914. They were first stationed at Gent but moved further to Staden on 30 Oct 1914.
Then there is a note that they were stationed at Gits on 20 Nov 1914.
The stayed within the 4 Army until the battle of Somme(July 1916) when they moved to the new established 1 Army. Unfortunate I dont either have the exact date for this move..
They returned later on 25 May 1917 to the Flanders area..

Out of RFC Communique 21, for the period 18-28 november 1915 :
Agents report that bombs dropped on the aerodrome at Gids on november 8th, wounded 30 to 40 men, and destroyed five motor cars. These bombs were dropped by machines of 7 Sqdn. On november 10th, bombs dropped by 7Sqdn at Gits are reported by agents to have fallen among 48 military vehicles, and to have done much damage.
The pilot of the German machine which landed in our lines on the 19th instant, stated on examination that he had heard that holes had been made in one of the sheds at the Gits aerodrome by bombs recently dropped by Allied aereoplanes. The bombs seemed unusually large.
The Communiques 19 and 20 told us more about this bombings, first concerning the 8th :
Six machines of 7 Sqdn each carrying two 100 pound bombs attacked the aerodrome at Gits at 2 pm. No sheds received an actual hit. Two bombs fell about 100 yards away, the remainder falling on or near the aerodrome. Two machines returned without dropping their bombs, one having failed to find the objective and the other being unable to drop bombs owing to clouds.
On the 10th is found a bit larger text :
2nd Lt. Symington, 7 Sqdn, in a BE2c on approaching Gits aerodrome for the third time in order to take aim observed a Fokker bearing down upon him from the front and looking behind saw an Albatros approaching him. The Fokker dived under him at close quarters and almost immediately dissapeared leaving the Albatros manoeuvring around and firing with a machine gun. Lt Symington opened fire and a running fight was kept up till near the lines at ranges of from 100 to 200 yards. Eventually the hostile machine turned back to his own lines apparently undamaged.
Four machines of 7 Sqdn each carrying two 100 pound bombs again attacked the aerodrome at Gits, between 9.30 and 9.45 am. Three machines succeeded in dropping their bombs on and near the aerodrome but no sheds were seen to be hit.

In the RFC Communique 30 (9 february-4 march 1916) stands that the aerodrome was disbandaned and that everything has been moved to Beveren.

The location of the airfield

Near the Land of Belofte (Promised land) hamlet. Bordered on the west by the railway from Torhout to Roeselare, in the south probably by the Dwarsweg, in the east the Bosstraat and in the north by the Koolskampstraat. The windmill Grijspeerdmolen stood here already. The HQ and officers residence was the chateau north of the Koolskampstraat, now part of the Dominiek Savio institute. Planes could easily be trnsported to here from the AFP 4 at Gent by train, as the railway passed along the airfield and the station was on the northwestern corner of it.

The area now

The windmill is still a very good orientationpoint. On the other side of the Koolskampstraat you can see the old station that has been restorated completely. It was here already in 1914. If you continue through the Koolskampstraat very little can be seen of the area of the airfield as this is now on the full right side the settlement of the Mariasteen institute, were handicapped people are working.
Just a little further on the left side of the road cans till be found the castle where the officers and HQ was of the flying units. Don’t let the new build castle near the road fool you, this is not the place, although it looks very authentic and even old at first sight, but is has to much of the Dutch style of the 1500’s. The 19th century castle stands some twohundred meters behind it. And it is still looking very good and well preserved in it’s original look. This is the Dominiek Savio institute. Here live handicapped people now and there’s a school as well for them.
If you take the Bollestraat you will see after a few hundred meters on the left the space that once was the airfield, and this part still gives you a good idea of the vastness of the terrain. Unfortunately no remains will be found here.

HANDZAME

Feldflieger Abteilung 19

KLIMKE AND LEON - FIRST NIGHT BOMBING OF LONDON
One of the more exceptional stories on this unit concerns pilot Offizierstellvertreter Klimke and observer Oberleutnant Leon. In the night of the 6th on the 7th of may 1917 they undertook on their own initiative a bombing raid on London. They succeeded and dropped 5 bombs of 12,5 kilo’s between Hackney and Holloway. It seems that the first bomb had fallen on Hackney marshes, the second one on some mansions, a third one a gravel path in Stoke Newington, a fourth in Highbury Fields, destroying a water main, and the last didn’t explode at Lower Halloway.
Two planes took off from the naval station at Manston and two other planes from Bekesbourne, but they found no enemy plane. One man was killed, two other persons were wounded by the attack.
However this was not really appreciated by the German highcommand, as they were preparing an attack on London with Kagohl III, and they found that the British had been alerted this way and would be more keen on their defences. Klimke and Leon were finally transferred to Kagohl III and flying the Gotha IV had several possibilities of bombing Britain.
On the 7th of july 1917 during the second massive daylight raid on London this team, and their machinegunner Vizefeldwebel Kientrup shot down a British Sopwith that was defending the capital. There were several losses on Allied side that day. 2nd Lt John Edward Rostron Young of 37 Sqdn went up from Rochford with a Sopwith two seater and got killed, while his observer Air Mechanic CC Taylor was wounded.

2nd Lt. WG Salmon flying a Sopwith Pup, A6230, had been flying from Dartford for 63 Training Sqdn and was killed . So it was one of both planes.
Salmon flying a Sopwith Pup received a fatal head wound and he crashed near Joyce Green aerodrome - no other aircraft saw the combat. It was established that he had fired 55 rounds from his own gun. Salmon was of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. He is burried at Dartford Cemetary in Kent.

Young and Taylor in a Sopwith 1.5 strutter were thought to have been brought down by British anti-aircraft fire. The observer, Taylor, was picked up alive, but died shortly afterwards. Young's body was according to a number of sources never recovered, which seems to be wrong. Other 37 squadron pilots complained about the a-a fire that day.
Young was of Streatham, London and is burried at Southend on Sea Cemetary in Essex.
Taylor is burried at Hampstead Cemetary, London.

I'd say it was Salmon.
The unit arrived at the end of january 1917 and stayed untill somewhere in july.

Feldflieger Abteilung 40 - Nachtflieger Abteilung I

FFA 40 was moved with the train via Berlin-Aachen-Brüssel-Gent to the 4th Army from 19-23. October. Ready for action on 24. October (and also first loss if I remember correct).
FFA 40 had 5 Fokker A and 1 Albatros-DD.
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The first commander of FFA 40 was Hptm Adolf-Victor von Koerber who seems to have stayed until May 1915...he was succeded by the later well known Bufe...
Alfred ‘eiserne’ Keller was also CO of this unit from somewhere in september 1915 till the autumn 1916, when he became CO of Kagohl I. Keller received the Pour le Mérite and became a Generaloberst in the WW II Luftwaffe.
We found that Keller became after FA 40 the CO of Nachtflieger Abteilung I and this untill the 31st March 1917, the next day taking command of Bombengeschwader I.
This was a totally unknown unit but FA40 was indeed a Night bomber unit from at least late 1916 until early 1917. So the connection was easily made. Nachtflieger Abteilung I was nothing else than a kind of nickname of the unit. It seems that there were a number of similar cases also in existence.

In the late evening of the 14th february four Belgian planes bombed the Aerodrome. The first plane left at 22 hours, and thet had all returned by 00.15 hours the 15th. All planes carried four 120 mm bombs.

Feldflieger Abteilung 48

It seems the unit stayed here for a very short period during the summer of 1917

Jasta 29

Arrived at Handzame aerodrome on the 18th of july 1917 for a very short stay as they left again on the 1st of august. In this period the unit only had one victory scored by Vizefeldwebel Misch on the 29th (!) july at 10.00 hours when he shot down a Spad over Poelkapelle. This probably was the plane B3531, of 19 Sqdn and of Lt. Francis Behrens Best. He was from Handsworth Birmingham and is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
The unit also suffered two losses in this period, on the 27th two got wounded in action : Of.stv. Karl Gregor and Lt. Werner Kathol. The last one recovered in the unit itself.

The location of the airfield

The airfield was limited in the north by the Pereboomstraat, in the west by the Spondestraat, in the south by the Handzamestraat. Concerning the eastern part it is more difficult as the border was the Waterhoenbeek (the flemish beek is a brook).
In fact it was called Handzame but was in fact on the territory of Kortemark.

The area now



ICHTEGEM

Schusta 5

Arrived somewhere in october 1917 and left again on the 25th of november.
Nothing is known on the losses or victories of the unit.
The unit’s commander was Oblt. Ulrich von Schimony-Schimosky.

Schusta 10

Was on the Handzame aerodrome from 18 september 1917 till 27 november of the same year. The unit was commanded by Hauptmann Paul von Winckler in this period.

Schusta 16

Came here somewhere during june 1917 and left the 15th of november. During this period the unit was led by Oblt. Seiffert, who became Co in the period of arrival of the unit at Handzame. During December 1917 he left.

Jasta 33

Arrived on the 23rd of july 1917 coming from services rendered for the 6th army and left again on the 15th september 1917 to work for the 2nd army.

Jasta 35

Oblt. Otto Dessloch his unit arrived here on the 21st of july and left again the 18th september 1917. However we have to mention that untill the 21st Oblt. Otto Deindl was in command but only as acting commander, as Dessloch was having leave between 30 june and 21 july.

The location of the airfield

In the north the field was bordered by the Kasteelstraat, in the west in the area of the Moerdijkstraat and Vijver, in the south by the Sparrestraat-Ringlaan and in the east by the Oostendesteenweg.
At the end of the Kasteelstraat stood and stands the Rozendaal chateau which was used as officers residence and headquarters.

The area now

Not much has changed since 1918, the field is almost still completely preserved. Referencepoints to the situation at the time may however be hard to find. Nothing however can be found back of evidence that there was once a big airfield at the ‘Engel’. The Chateau Rozendaal is still the same as it was back then. But it is a private property as there is marked on the side of the Kasteeldreef, which leads towards it.

KOOLKERKE

The probably main reason why the airfield came here was to protect the German naval installations of the harbour of Brugge, which received very regular visits of bombers and reconnaissance planes. It was also quite close to Zeebrugge and Oostende.

I Marine Feldjagdstaffel

Arrived the 10th of september 1917 at Koolkerke aerodrome and would stay here till the 3rd of april 1918.

The 11th the unit would sore it’s first victory from the new location and the first loss. Responsable for both cases was Lt.z.S. Friedrich von Götz, who was born at Hoyerswerde on the 8th january 1897. He held both classes of the Iron Cross. On the 11th he seems to have returned to the area from where the unit came as he shot down a BF2b at 12.10 hours over Wijnendale, just next to Aartrijke. It was the plane A7187 from 48 Sqdn, crew was Sgt. William Harold Roebuck and 2nd Lt. HT Batson, both being killed in action. Roebuck is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. We found unfortunately nothing on Batson. Probably they are burried somewhere as unknowns.
By the evening von Götz was out again and near Schore ran into a number of Sopwith Camels of 9 Naval Sqdn, being shot down by Flight Sub Lt. AR Wood flying a Camel B3884, near Leke between 18.30 and 19.00 hours.

One of the more succesfull pilots of this unit was Lt.z.S. Heinrich Bertram. He was born at Charlottenberg on the 29th march 1894. He joined the German Naval Air Service during the war and was with the unit from almost the very early beginning. He was wounded in action on the 22nd March 1918 when he had to make a forced landing near Vlissegem, as he had been shot down by Flight Commander A.M. Shook of 4 Naval Squadron. He was finally shot down over Torhout after he had twelve confirmed victories, by Lt. W.S. Jenkins of 210 Squadron, his 4th from also 12 victories. Most of Heinrich’s victories were scored upon British naval units !

SHOOK, Flight Commander Alexander MacDonald
Was born on the 2 December 1888 in Clarkson or Tioga, Peel County, Ontario. His home was in Red Deer, Alberta where he was active as a school teacher.
He attended Curtiss School, Toronto, and obtained Royal Aero Club Certificate No.2056, 5 November, 1915 and was appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, Ottawa, on the very same date.
He sailed from Montreal on SS Missanabi, 13 November 1915 (although also given as being on strength, Eastbourne, 5 November 1915); to Dover, 10 January 1916;
Went to No.5 Wing on the 11 March 1916 and got injured in a Caudron accident on the 14th of May 1916. He went to Cranwell on 27 September 1916 and than again to Dover, 7 October 1916. He finally returned to duty on 19 October 1916.
Flight Lieutenant from January 1917 with No.5 (N) Wing, Dunkirk and transferred to No.3 (N) Squadron, 29 April 1917. He became a Flight Commander somewhere during May 1917 and was again transferred, now to to No.4 (N) Squadron during August 1917. He was wounded again on the 21st October 1917. Than he went to No.204 Squadron from 15 April to 3 July 1918. He was traced back as a Major, RAF, in charge of Leysdown Station in July 1918.
His final active duty was at No.2 School of Observation, Manston from the14th of September 1918 on and finally, after the war to Repatriation Depot, 20 February 1919. From there he was coming on the Unemployed List, starting 15 March 1919.
He received the Croix de Guerre (France) - awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 July 1917.
Distinguished Service Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 11 August 1917 :
For exceptional gallantry and remarkable skill and courage whilst serving with the RNAS at Dunkirk during May and June 1917, in repeatedly attacking and destroying hostile aircraft.
Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1918.
In recognition of services in the prosecution of the war.
His final award was the Air Force Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1919.


II Marine Feldjagdstaffel

Was created here at Koolkerke on the 6th of october 1917. On the 3rd april they went to the Snellegem aerodrome.

SACHSENBERG AND OSTERKAMP - THE TOP NAVAL AVIATON ACES
Gotthard Sachsenberg was born at Rosslau, part of Dessau on the 6th december 1891. So he lieved in the same city as Boelcke and they even went to the same school ! When war broke out he joined the Freiwilliges Marineflugkorps where he first served as an observer. In April 1916 he became a pilot in the II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung, where he also already received the Iron Cros 1st Class in 1915, flying from Moorsele. Around the same period in 1916 he became a Leutnant. In February 1917 he became the Co of the I Marine Feldjasta. One of his very first pilots was Theodor Osterkamp.
Osterkamp was born at Aschersleben on the 15th April 1892. When war broke out they found him to weak to become a soldier, and went also to the Freiwilliges Marineflugkorps. He was formed to become an observer-gunner. From march 1915 till june of that year he served with the Festungs Landfliegerstation at Wilhelmshaven and then went to the II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung at Moorsele. Co of this unit was the famous poletraveller Alfred Ritscher.
Osterkamp flew with someone who was to become a very good friend of his, Lt. Mattheus, with whom he also scored his very first aerial victory. In july 1916 he also became a Leutnant. On the 30th of April he scored his first victory in a scout and the next day Sachsenberg scored two times also.
On the 20th of August Sachsenberg received the Königlichen Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern. He had six victories on that moment.
The unit moved to Koolkerke on the 10th September 1917 and meanwhile the score of Sachsenberg and Osterkamp went up, once Sachsenberg was leading than again Osterkamp.
On the 6th of October 1917 the II Marine Feldjasta was created and Osterkamp became the CO of it.
By the end of the year he flew also quite wreckless as his girlfriend had let him down and his very good friend Wilhelm Mattheus had died of wounds after combat with three Sopwith’s near Klerken.
The third of April both units went to Snellegem aerodrome.
In june a third Marine Jasta was born. Sachsenberg was CO of the Geschwader and Osterkamp was the second in command.
On the 5th of August Sachsenberg received the Pour le Mérite. The 12th and 13th of August were respectively a succesfull and a terrible day. More about this in the Snellegem aerodrome chapter.
It seems that Sachsenberg and Osterkamp almost had a mid-air collission on the first days after this. It seems that Osterkamp only saw on the very last moment that he was about to crash into Sachsenberg and still was able to avoid the collission.

Early September Sachsenberg got wounded in action and almost lost sight. On the 2nd of September it was Osterkamps turn to receive the Pour le Mérite. In September Osterkamp got shot down in his brandnew Fokker DVIII and had to bail out with his parachute. The next month he did get the flu, went to hospital and when he returned it was the 9th of November. Sachsenberg meanwhile continued to add to his score. By the 11th Sachsenberg had 31 and Osterkamp 32.

Sachsenberg had quite some decorations next to the ones already mentioned : Both classes of the Iron Cross, The Hausorden von Albert der Beer, Ritterkreuz 1st Klasse mit Schwertern, Friedrichskreuz 1st Klasse und 2te Klasse, Friedrich-August Kreuz 1ste und 2te Klasse, Hansakreuz.
Sachsenberg remained in service and became the CO of the Sachsenberg Geschwader.
Théo Osterkamp, Gerhard Hubrich, Alexandre Zenses, Karl Scharon and Hans Goerth are among the ones who join him as is the other famous Pour le Mérite bearer, Josef Jacobs !

The unit was originally named Fliegerabteilung Ost. A total of fifty officers and over 600 men will follow Sachsenberg ! His Geschwader became part of the Freikorps Baltiks from General Graf von der Goltz. In february 1919 the unit was at Juterborg having 47 Junkers DI and 44 Junkers CL I. Flying from Riga in Letland the unit is divesed in three parts : FFA 413, flying Rumplers, FFA 416 and FFA 417. In december 1919 they had to return to Germany.

After the war Sachsenberg started working at Junkers and for Junkers on a European scale and went into politics, warning Germany for another war. This got him in trouble with the Nazi’s who almost had him murdered. During the war he was active on the shippingyard constructing the very first hydroplanes with his brother and Baron von Schertel. His brothers son, Heinz Sachsenberg proved what men the Sachsenberg flyers were by achieving 104 victories while flying for Jagdgeschwader 52 !

Osterkamp went out and back in service. When WW II broke out he got another 6 victories over the Channel. On the 19th of july 1940 he was Generalmajor in the Luftwaffe. Became Jagdfliegfuhrer I and II and even CO of Luftflotte II as a Generalleutnant. By the end of 1944 he got also in trouble with the Nazi’s most of all with der Dicke Göring alias Meyer. After the war he remained active as a businessman and stayed loyal to flying. He died on the 2nd january 1975 at Baden Baden at the age of 82.

Sachsenberg lost lots of his material on the hydrofoils to the Russians. You can say that everything the Russians constructed of Hydrofoils, even in the 80’s, was based on the work of von Schertel and Sachsenberg. Their work resulted in the firm Supramar, which became a big name in hydrofoils. Sachsenberg and von Schertel are internationally known as the two big pioneers of the hydrofoils.

But Sachsenberg would also realize other big achievements. In 1947 he started in the pharmaceutical branch. Germans were poor and could not afford to buy expensive drugs from the Americans. Sachsenberg made cheap versions for his fellow countrymen. This resulted in the firm BAG, now worldreknown also. His youngest son Klaus led for quite a long time, and now his grandson Nicolas is continuing the work.

Gotthard Sachsenberg himself had meanwhile died on the 23rd of August 1961. He was a man that deserved and was respected from everyone who knew him. As I once wrote to his son : A great man. And I forgot : with great goals and achievements in his life.

The location of the airfield

It could be found along the Dudzelesteenweg, which was the western border of the airfield also. In the south and to the east it was bordered by the Ronselarestraat and a private road and to the north it went just over the Kruisabelestraat, who even had to dissapear for the aerodrome starting at the Dudzelesteenweg to some 200 meter further on.
In the middle of the lenght along the Dudzelesteenweg stood a farm house, which was left there as it was. At this point stood along the road four hangars and one personnel bunker.
On the left side of the road was the railway running towards the canal Brugge-Zeebrugge, taking a bend at the end to the right for some twohundred meters where it ended on the side of the canal and where a crane was installed to place the planes in barges, who could bring them to Zeebrugge.
Just over the Kruisabelestraat stood several smaller hangars, personnelbaracks and other baracks for material etc. There should have been at least another personnelbunker overhere.

The area now

I love this place ! It is about one of the only places that still looks almost exactly as it did during World War one. At the corner of the Dudzelesteenweg and the Ronselarestraat you still can find the farm, and what’s more identical as it stood here at the time. The old entrancegate is still there also. A little further to the left you can see the Chateau de Ten Berghe where the officers stayed, with the coach-house where some of the men stayed. It is all looking as good as at the time of Sachsenberg.
A little further to the right the other farmhouse, also unchanged by the hand of time. You can almost see the big planehangars rise again !
To the left you will see four rows of trees running towards the canal. Between the two rows towards the north ran the railway for the transport of the seaplanes.
If you continue a little you will see the crossroads of Kruisabelestraat. On the spot were the first houses can be found, just over the road, stood the other hangars and baracks of the airfield.
From here you have a wonderfull sight of the whole airfield as it was there over 85 year ago.


LICHTERVELDE

Flieger Abteilung A 256

Probably from the 2nd of june 1917 till the 24th of august 1917. It seems that the airfield has only been in use for this unit. The reason for it was that it received many bombardments in a very short period, as it was very close to the railwaystation of Lichtervelde, and it’s quite important junction. That way the situation was unholdable to keep an aerodrome funtioning overhere.

The location of the airfield

Bordered the railway on the eastern side and limited by the Bollestraat at the western side and Duifhoekstraat to the south. The terrain seemed to suffer from a lot of water in the winterperiod, and probably was not good for an aerodrome, the reason why it was abondoned.

The area now

Except for the Koolskampstraat running through it the terrain has not changed a lot since 1918. It is still one big open field for agricultural use. It is still even today watersick in a number of places, which can easily be remarked in the winter.
Nothing has remaind however of the airfield. But orientation with old pictures is fortunately still very easy.

MALE

Marine Feldflieger Abteilung II

The 18th december 1917 this naval unit arrived at Male airfield, coming from Meetkerke. They left the airfield on the 2nd of june 1918 and went to Gistel.

2nd Belgian Escadrille

The unit moved from Oostkamp to Male by the end of october. They still remained here by the end of the war on the 11th november 1918.
The 2nd Escadrille was commanded by Commander Iserentant and was a observation unit. They flew Breguet XIV planes.

The location of the airfield

In fact we have first of all to mention that Male was only constructed as a reserve airfield for Koolkerke’s Marine Feldjasta’s I and II. This seems to have been quite a habit with the Marine Feldjasta’s. When they arrived at Snellegem, also a reserve airfield was constructed at the Kouter.
However it was an enormous big area. Originally it was a training ground from the Belgian army. It was located on the eastern side of the Maldegemsesteenweg, starting at St. Kruis Brugge, where now is the naval base, and ending on the Sijsele territory.

The area now

No remains can be found of the former airfield itself. Construction has overtaken the field. The first part is now a center of some major shops, such as Carrefour, then follow some woods, and the rest is all filled with new housingprojects.

MARIAKERKE

I Marine Landflieger Abteilung

Undirectly the decision for the construction of an airfield for the navy in the surroundings of Oostende had already been taken on the 21st of august 1914 by the Kommando des Freiwilliges Marine-Fliegerkorps at Johannistal.

Shortly after the city had been taken, already on the 15ht of october 1914, a start was taken with preparational works.
A piece of ground east of the Duinkerksesteenweg and sout of the Nieuwpoortsesteenweg was chosen.

On the 8th of november the Marine Amt gives the final order for the construction of the Flugplatz Mariakerke.

von Skrbensky arrived at Mariakerke on the 21st of december with 113 men and officers, coming from Gistel aerodrome. The city council had to taken care of the construction of planehangars, other baracks and housing for the personnel. They tried to get rid of it with loud protest, but should have know better. The terrain was already for the biggest part finished. It didn’t take ling before also the first planes arrived. Unarmed Albatrosses with 100 HP Mercedes engines, the famous BI and BII models.

Headquarters had to be in style for the officers, so they choose the Thermae Palace Hotel in Oostende, where in october also admiral von Schröder had been staying with his staff.
Later would be constructed the Gneisenau II battery in front of it with four 17 cm guns.

The unit is operational from the 21st of january 1915, and from that date on can be found reports from bombardments, reconaissanceflights, etc.

The 8th april Bootsmansmaat Raschke and his observer, Fähnrich zur See Ratazzi, are fired upon by an enemy, French airplane. You could not call it a fight, as after the first salve of the enemy pilot, the famous Roland Garros, the plane was so heavily damaged, that all they could do was run away. They still managed to make a forced landing on the Mariakerke aerodrome, without getting hurt.

THE STORY OF THE L 12
We found the following in the Kriegstagebuch of the Marinekorps Flandern on the 10th august 1915 :
Marine Luftschiff L12, returning from the English coast, on which it was damaged by a number of hits, was seen this morning at 6.15 hours before Wenduine coming down on the water. It was seen by the torpedoboat A13 that was on watch who has towed it into Oostende harbour. The salvage-activities were disturbed by enemy planes that were bombing the airship. At 11.45 hrs one of these planes was shot down on fire and it crashed in the see. Rescue was not possible (there is no remark on the fact if it was shot down by a plane or by AA fire).
During the salvageworks in Oostende harbour for an unknown reason (the KTB calls it selbstenzundung) the airship burns down and a few valuable pieces could be saved.
It is a fact that a number of photographs taken at Oostende from the airship prove this story.
We found more on this story in the RFC Communique number 4 on the 2-12 august 1915 period.
The Zeppelin which attacked Dover on the night of the 9th/10th appears to have been completely wrecked.
A signal was received by the RNAS at 08.15 am on the morning of the 10th to the effect that a damaged Zeppelin was being towed towards Ostend. Flt Cmdr Smyth-Pygott on a BE2c proceeded towards Ostende and observed a Zeppelin just above water three miles out to sea and apparently in th process of being hauled down. He glided to 500 feet and dropped two 20 pound boms, then retraeted into the clouds and prepared for a second attack. Turning, and coming down to 500 feet, again, he noticed the rear compartment but one to be broken, apparently not due to a direct hit, but from the concussion of one of the 20 pound bombs, the mark of which was observed on the water alongside. The Zeppelin was surrounded by four TBD’s which opened heavy machinegunfire.
Later Flt Sub Lt Besson left on a Bristol Scout for Ostend and saw the Zeppelin being towed between the harbour piers. From a height of 1500 feet het attacked with four 20 pound bombs and observed the first bomb to fall about 30 yards on the west sde of the objective. The Zeppelin appeared to be badly crushed in the rear half.
Flt Lt Bettington then proceeded on a Bristol Scout, approaching Ostend at 2000 feet in clouds and came out nearly over the Zeppelin. He saw kites about his level, apparently andeavouring to foul him. He dropped six grenades, two 20 pound bombs and then six more grenades, apparently straddling the target, though, on turning away, the Zeppelin appeared in the same position as before.
Flt Sub Lt Leslie in a Henry Farman flew over Ostend at a height of 9000 feet obtaining a good view of the Zeppelin which was half on the pier and half in the water. He dropped seven 20 pound bombs at a heigth of 8000 feet. There was a crowd of werkmen surrounding the wreck but on the appearance of the hostile machine they dissapeared. Owing to the thickness of the black smoke from anti-aircraft sheels, observation was carried out with the greatest difficulty.
Later the Zeppelin was observed to be hauled up on the quay. Het back was broken and the rear half appeared to be pointing into the air. Groups of Workmen were on the quay by the side of the airship. Flt Sub Lt Buss on an Avro dropped four bombs on the target, and when next observed, the Zeppelin was apparently in the water again.
Towards evening, Flt Sub Lt Besson, when flying over Ostend in a Nieuport, observed that the Zeppelin had the rear half in the water and the remainder was covered by the smoke of a big oil flare burning by the side.
On the morning of the 11th the remains of the Zeppelin had been dismantled and taken away.

However still nothing on a loss of a pilot that day. Untill I found out a possibility by accident. And this was confirmed to be right ! As I have lots of pictures of the graves of British and German airmen, I found one concerning :

KEITH-JOHNSTON. Flt Lt David,
2 Sqn, pilot. Native of Bushey Heath, Herts, age 20. KIA 10.8.15. Buried at Ramscappelle Road, Nieuport, Belgium". Further information came in and it seems he flew a Farman. However no further information on the fact if he was downed by a plane or by flak.
And it most certainly was a sad month for the Keith-Johnston family. Flight Sub Lieutenant Macfie Keith-Johnston the younger brother of David died just over a month later on 12 September 1915. He was only 17 and also in the RNAS . Perhaps a flying training accident ? No doubt , he was trying to emulate his older brother. He succeeded all too well .

The 7th of september the unit’s commanding officer was shot down with his plane in unknown circumstances. Lt.z.S. Koch would become the new CO.

On the 12th of march 1916, Fritz Stiefvatter died at Mariakerke. Stiefvatter is internationally known, as he kept a very interesting diary that has already been used my many historians in the aviation branch on WW I.

At the end of february he had been on leave, visiting his young wife and the family. He had left them with the good news that he was proposed to become Leutnant zur See and for the Iron Cross 1st class.

On the sundaymorning of the 12th he was flying with his observer, Steuerman Jost near Mariakerke, when they were attacked by several British fighters. Jost was already over one year with the MLFA and was a hardened veteran, and it didn’t take him long to shoot down one of the attackers. However another plane came out of the mist and sprayed the plane with a full load of lead.

Stiefvatter was hit and in a last reaction he turned the plane away from the attacker and toward the own lines. Jost regained control of the machine, hit hemself in the thigh, and was able to land the plane. A Pioneer Abteilung that was in the area had seen the scene and came to help, getting both men out of the plane. However by than, Fritz Stiefvatter was already dead.

He was burried at Oostende on the 15th. The ceremony was attended by all of his collegue’s, who also walked along with the coffin to the train, that was to bring him back to his fatherland.
One of the observers who had flown quite often with Stiefvatter, Lt.z.S. Leffler and his mechanic, accompanied his body. He was burried at the cemeary of his homevillage.

FLUGMEISTER BENNO SCHLUTER
One of the most unknown figures of the unit, although he was a pre war flyer, receiving his pilot’s licence 399 of the German series on the 7th of may 1913. He was born on the 27th of february 1894 at Dorsten. The magazine of the Marinekorps Flandern, An Flanderns Küste published a in memoriam, of which we took a part on his first victory and at the same time his tragic death.
On the 4th of may 1916, a number of enemy planes were sighted above Oostende and they reacted at the unit with a number of planes to attack them. Schlüter was the first one in the air, and at 1500 meters he saw an enemy biplane, flying seawords at high speed. Schlüter dived upon him with his Fokker and opened fire. The Caudron IV - 9118 was not able to loose him and firing continued untill he was only 30 meters away from the enemy plane, both planes still flying at only 150 meters ! All of a sudden the plane dived and crashed near the beach of Middelkerke. Schlüter landed in the immediate surroundings and ran towards the plane and pilot. Just before he reached him he collapsed and fell dead to the ground. The 22 year ols Schlüter had in his hurry, touched a hightension cable, resulting to his death. His adversery, the British Flight Sub Lieutenant Kenneth Marsden van Allen of 5th Wing RNAS was also dead.
They were burried side by side with full military honours on the cemetary of Westende.
A black ribboned biplane flew over also during the ceremony. The grave of Benno Schlüter can now also be found at Vladslo German Military Cemetary. van Allen was from Chatham, Ontario and is burried at Ingoyghem Military Cemetary at Anzegem.

The 26th of july 1916 the unit had to move to Gistel airfield. The reason for it was very simple. As a number of coastal batteries were becoming active in the area of the Mariakerke airfield, such as the Tirpitz, Aachen, Antwerpen,... the place was no longer safe, as British Monitor’s often shot towards the batteries.

However... in the night of the 19th on the 20th of august the Belgians bombed the Mariakerke airfield, still convinced it was used by the Marine Feldflieger !

The location of the airfield

The nothern part was formed by the houses of the Nieuwpoortsesteenweg and the Albertusgeleed (also a brook), the eastern side by the area of today’s Mariakerkelaan and Steensedijk, the south by the Duinkerkseweg-Spalaan-Prins Roselaan.

The area now

A whole new quarter of Mariakerke did rise here. You can’t miss it however as some
reference points can still be found back. The most important one is without any doubt the practice race course for horses near the Duinkerkesteenweg. More towards the coastal line is still a small part of open field.
Funny thing is that on the other side of the road is the modern airport of Oostende, who is quickly growing, and in trouble because of the near housing.
Unfortunately you won’t find here any evidencial constructions of the time neither.
However for those with a good interest concerning WWI on other subjects, can visit the very near by Batterie Aachen, a provincial domain where the very well preserves pill boxes and gun emplacements, trenches, etc, can be seen. There are also a few full scale diorama’s in the bunkers. A second part of the domain is a museum on the WW II Atlantikwall.
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:10    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

MEETKERKE

Jasta 20

Arriving at the 21st of may 1917 and coming from Guise, they stayed untill the 31st of august to move on to Jabbeke aerodrome.
Commander of the unit since the 25th october 1916 was Oblt. Fritz Heissing. He stayed with the unit untill the 19th of october 1917, leaving for duty at Idflieg.
He was born on the 7th august 1888 at Nieheim in the Kreis Höxter. On the 28th may 1908 he joined the army when servig at Infanterie Regiment 15. Became a Lieutenant on the 19th november 1909 and had pilot training from 1st April 1913 to 1st August 1914 ! He served with the Felflieger Abteilungen 6 and 10 and was CO of Kagohl 4/23 till he went to Jasta 20. He didn’t score any victories, neither do we know of any claims by him. During WW II he rose to the rank of Generalmajor in the Luftwaffe and died on the 27th july 1963 at Köln.

After they left there doesn’t seems to be any activity an the airfield. It seems to have been used to mislead the Allies that it was still in use when not.

Vizefeldwebel Buechner Franz + 30 october 1918 at Gavere, burried at Vladslo
Lt.d.R. Jons Hugo + 23 september 1917 KIA Diksmuide, burried at Vladslo

The location of the airfield

The area now


MOERKERKE

By april 1918 this airfield is also on the list of the so called reserve airfields. There were no guards on the premises, but the land was not to be used for agricultural purposes. Neither have we been able to track any units back to this airfield from the German side. As it was used by three Belgian units after the German retreat, it is clear that it still had to be in very good condition.

9th, 10th and 11th Belgian Escadrille

All three units arrived here on the 30th october 1918, possibly even earlier. By the 11th of november they were still here. These were all quite newly created units. The 9th and 10th their first aerodrome was Les Moeres or De Moeren, on february 1st 1918. The 11th seems to have been created only in march 1918.
All three units were also fighter units. We also mntion the two highest scoring members of each unit : In the 9th Willy Coppens got 37 confirmed victories, so all of the he got in the war, and claimed three more. Andre de Meulemeester got 4 more over her still claiming 5 that were never confirmed. The units commander was Captain Gallez.
In fact the 9th was the former 1st Escadrille, that still existed on paper but was a maintainance unit. The 10 was commanded by Commander Dony, the 11 by Commander Hiernaux.
In the 10th Adjutant de Montigny claimed 5 planes, two were confirmed. 2nd Lt. J. Goethals also had two confirmed and two more claimed.
In the 11th Sgt. Guillon claimed two and was them confirmed, Adjutant Rondeau had two confirmed and one more claimed.

The location of the airfield

The area now


NIEUWMUNSTER

Marine Einsitzer Kommando - Sonderkommando Sachsenberg - I Marine Feldjagdstaffel.

Three designations for what was in fact one and the same unit. It started as the Marine Einsitzer Kommando of Oblt. von Santen, flying with 8 planes, somewhere in december 1916, became the Sonderkommando Sachsenberg around the 1st february 1917 and the I Marine Feldjasta.

The first scoring in the new unit was Vizeflugmeister Josef Wirtz, born at Oldenkirchen on the 3rd March 1898. Was already a member of the Marine Einsitzer Kommando and was able to shoot down a Sopwith on the 7th of February 1917 near Roksem.
On the 24th of April, when the unit was already at Aartrijke he scored two more times. Two FE2d’s near Ieper and Beselare. However this last vitory was also the moment of his death as he collided in midair with the last FE2d, while flying an Albatros DIII 2281/16.
Both planes being from 20 Sqdn, the first one was A6403 from 2nd Lt. EO Perry and 2 AM EH Sayers who were shot up badly it seems and were forced to land, being both OK. The second one is without any doubt A6385 from 2nd Lt. Alfred Roy Johnston from Bedford and Lt. Henry Reid Nicholson who didn’t survive the collission either. Their graves were never found and they are remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

Seefrontstaffel I

In September 1917, Lt.z.S. Hans Rolshoven received the order to creat a new unit with the specific task of protecting the seaplanes that were heavy. From the 28th till the 6th of October, a non commissioned officer an eight men had to prepare everything as good as possible for the arrival of the brandnew unit at Nieuwmunster aerodrome.
Fifteen Albatros planes were commanded to the unit and on the 21st of October the Seefrosta was already operational, as there was an observationflight that day to Dunkirk and Gravelines.

Very weird detail : as the planes were to fly a lot over the open sea, there were placed airbags in the fuselage of the planes, just in cas that someone had to make a forced landing at sea.

This was not just a German idea, the British equipped numerous aircraft with a flotation device consisting of inflatable airbags, usually mounted under the fuselage near the landing gear struts. Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutters, Pups, Camels and D.H.4s at least were outfitted with these devices, which were fairly streamlined when not in use, and could be inflated through compressed air before a water landing. Remember that although shipboard take-offs were pretty reliable, landing back on the ship was highly experimental at the time. You could get back to the ship, inflate the bags and land nearby for a recovery by deck crane before too much damage was done. Such aircraft were also commonly fitted with hydroplanes, sometimes jettisonable wheels, and other early engineering experiments to enable deck take-offs and landings.

In Stephen Lawsons recent foray into the study of Hanriot HD. 1 & 2 types he found that the US Navy did infact test this practice on a Hanriot fighter. The air bags were under the area of the fuselage and lower wing roots. They were evidently mounted in a deflated state, externally. An internal mounted generator/air pump was activated once the machine was ditched. This was mandatory as inflating the bags before hitting the water tended to break the wings on impact. Pilots were trained to attempt the landing dragging the tailskid to impact first. The idea was to allow the aircraft to be in the water but not under water and have the bags lift the machine up.
As well as the inflatable airbags already mentioned some British aircraft had in addition ready inflated airbags in the rear fuselage. The 2F1 Camel was one. This was the exactly same idea as with the Albatros planes of the Seefrosta.

On the 6th May 1918 Rolshoven was killed. More about this stroy under the Zeebrugge churchyard. He was succeeded by Lt.z.S. Reinhols Poss, who became CO of IV Marine Feldjasta on the 1st September 1918, when two units IV and V MFJ were formed out of the Seefrosta I and II.

Seefrontstaffel II

Was created on the 1st August 1918 and in fact only existed for a good month. The unit had five Fokker DVII’s and two other planes, type unknown, that were not airworthy.

Flugmaat Friedrich Gröschke was killed in action on the 21st August 1918 and seems to have crashed in sea near Blankenberge flying a Fokker DVII 885/18. The only match available concerning claims in that area and moment is by Captain John Theobald Milne of 48 Sqdn, who however claimed to have shot down an Albatros DV east of Westende at 1945 hours. It is a fact that in the evening of that day a large number of claims were made by personnel of this unit : Kairies, Hubrich, Becht, Krantz and once more Hubrich. Region : from Blankenberge to Westende, Zeebrugge and Ichtegem. Some of these losses concerned 213 Sqdn.
Milne was shot down and killed together with his observer Lt. J. Wright on the 24th October near Merkem by Lt. Fritz Kieckhafer of Jasta 29. His personnal belongings were given to his wife by Captain Keith Park, yes the same one Sir Keith Park who would play such an important role in the Battle of Britain and WW II. Park would marry the cousin of Milne’s wife.
THEY ARE BURRIED WHERE ???

Seeflugstation Flandern III

The unit was created out of the second Staffel of the Seefrosta on the 1st of August 1918. Commander was Lt.z.S. Rowehl. It is not know if the unit remained at Nieuwmunster but it is very probable.

According to one of the members of the unit, Lt. Fritz Stormer, the unit retreated to Zeebrugge on the 1st October 1918, where the installations on the harbourmole were destroyed shortly after and the order came to retraet again. According to Stormer the unit retreated to Eeklo and than to Maldegem. It seems however that it was just the other way. Daily duty for the unit was to observe the attacking Allies. They were joined by AA units, but saw very little fighterplanes.

From there they went to Germany, and by the end of November Stormer and most of his collegue’s had returned at the headqurters of the naval air units at Johannistal. It seems that much of their material had before been stolen by the revolutionaries.

V Marine Feldjagdstaffel

One of the 15 confirmed victories of this unit was of Oberflugmaat Christian Kairies. He was born on the 24th of october 1896 at Memel and joined the German Naval Air Service during the war. He served with Seefrontstaffel so, his unit had in fact only changed of name. He had his first victory on the 24th march 1918. His 7th and last was between Blankenberge and Nieuwmunster when he shot down the Sopwith Camel D3374 of 204 Sqdn, flown by Lt. WB Craig, an 8 victory ace. Burried at Blankenberge Town Cemetary.

CRAIG, Lieutenant William Benson
Was born 2 August 1895 and his home was in Smith Falls, Ontario, where he worked as a teacher. He got appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant in RNAS, Ottawa, on the 5 October 1917. Was than transferred to Manston, 4 May 1918 and finally to Dunkirk, on the 13th May 1918. He was flying with No.204 Squadron from 26 May to 26 September 1918. He recieved a posthumous DFC.
Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 2 November 1918 :
Whilst acting temporarily as flight leader one day last month he personally destroyed three enemy machines, and the remainder of his flight accounted for three more. Lieutenant Craig has been engaged in numerous air battles, and always displays fine spirit, ability and determination in carrying out his duties. He has personally brought down two enemy machines completely out of control, in addition to those referred to above.

III Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

The airfield of Nieuwmunster seems to have been ready by the 20th july 1915. The III Marine Landflieger Abteilung was the very first unit to use the aerodrome.

It is not completely clear when the unit arrived exactly, but fact is that it was shortly afterwards. It was a Kampfflugzeug Abteilung who’s purpose it was to protect the important area Brugge-Zeebrugge-Oostende against Allied reconaissance and bombardments. This would not change once the unit became the II Marine Landflieger Abteilung and later the II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

Worth mentioning is the fact that shooting down an enemy plane was at the time a very interesting financial business as it was good for no less than 850 DEM, or about 425 Euro’s. Not difficult that it always was a very good reason to have a party at the mess after a confirmed aerial victory.

The 10th august 1915 the unit suffered it’s very first loss. Aircraft no G 159 crashed near the Nieuwmunster aerodrome and both crewmembers were killed in this. I concerned Oberbootsmansmaat Adam Dörfler and Fähnrich zur See Gebhard von Blücher.

On the 22nd of august a French fighterplane was shot down near Lo in the afternoon. However we were not able to find any details concerning this victory.

The 19th of september of the Ago’s of the unit was to escort a number of machines from the I Marine Landflieger Abteilung at Mariakerke who were to help the German batteries that were firing at Nieuwpoort targets.
The plane S67, crewed by Obmt. Arns and Dietzi were flying from Nieuwpoort in the direction of Ieper, when they were attacked by a Farman in the area of Kortrijk, a fight that lasted at least ten minutes and in which pilot Arns was wounded. He had to make a forced landing in the Kortrijk area around 8.30 hours. However the Allied plane was also forced to do a forced landing in the Ieper area, within Allied lines.

Shortly after noon Ago S158 had to escort some Albatros twoseaters that were going to do a bombardment of enemy ships before the coast of De Panne. Without any succes and this o ranother Ago had to do the work over in the afternoon, albeit again without any result at all.

The only Fokker of the unit, flown by Flugobermaat Bodecker, was in a fight the same day with a Belgian plane, while escorting a plane of the I MLFA, and much to the astonishment of the Belgians, both planes were making a run towards their own lines. The Fokker just made it to Moorsels airfield.

On the 19th of september, this is clear now, there was one Fokker in service, but the plane was experiencing trouble because of problem with the disruption of the firingmechanism of the machinegun, by which five bullets had damaged the propellor ! Pilot Bödecker had no other choice than to run for it ! He was originally serving with the I Marine Landflieger Abteilung at Moorsele. The plane had number E27/15.

On the 20th september the unit officially ceased to exist as she became now the II marine Landflieger (or Feldflieger) Abteilung.

II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

The 20th march 1916 the Belgians claim to have done a bombardment on Houtave airfield. Small problem there was no airfield at this village ! Vlissegem or Stalhille did not yet exist, so it could be Meetkerke or Nieuwmunster. Probably was this last one. The crew Rondeau-Rigaux was attacked by a Fokker while dropping their third and last bomb from the Farman. Rigaux fired back, but all of sudden stopped. The reason was very simple, he had been hit. The Fokkerplane keeps following them and continues to shoot at the Belgian aeroplane which is looking like a sieve. Rondeau was wounded at the hand and still was able to make it to De Panne, where he landed near the l’Océan Hospital, but no help was possible for Rigaux who had already died.

In September 1916 the unit is also using temporarely and only partly the airfields from Gistel and Handzame and by the 13th of December the unit was again fully operational from Nieuwmunster.

By the 27th of April 1917 they left to go to Jabbeke aerodrome.

Kest 8

Kampfeinsitzer Staffel 8 seems to have arrived at Nieuwmunster during march or april 1917.
The unit was created on the 19th February 1917 for the protection of Hamburg and was stationed at Bitsch. It became operational at this aerodrome on the 1st of april 1917. It had been formed at FEA 10.
Some sources say that they already left on the 4th of April or during that week to Flanders, but it seems they only arrived at Nieuwmunster on the 17th of May. Some others sources seems to indicate it could already have been on the 4th of April. Anyway, they stayed here untill the 17th of August. During that period they didn’t seem to have got any victories and only one loss, which is very strange !
The loss was Offz.Stv. Ernst Kleimenhagen, KIC, 18May17 at Nieuwmunster aerodrome itself.
They moved on to the Jabbeke-Snellegem aerodrome.
The known CO’s of this unit are :
Oblt. Rudolf Rötter came from Js 12 on the 8 Feb17 - and left already on 23 Feb17 to Idflieg
Oblt. Gustav Brockmann 23 Sep17 - 28 Sep18
Oblt.d.R. Otto Höhne coming from KEST 6 from 28Sep18 - till EOW

Kagohl III operations from Nieuwmunster aerodrome

In 1917 the Kagohl III unit and it’s Gotha IV’s used the Nieuwmunster aerodrome for intermediate landings and for refuelling. The first time they were on the airfield was the 18th may. All planes landed at the airfield and were readied for a mass attack on England. Due to a very heavy wind the raid was not started and the planes returned to their base at Gent.

Exactly one week later they returned to Nieuwmunster and took effectively off. When the 21 planes reache their target London was completely invisible because of the clouding and alternative targets were bombarded at Ashford, Folkestone and Dover.
That they Kagohl III lost two of it’s planes, one over the Channel and one close to Brugge, woth on the return flight. The one over the Channel was shot down by Flight Lt. RFS Leslie, a naval pilot from Dover Station.

The 13th of june the first massive daylight raid on London was a fact. The first bombs were dropped between East Ham and the Royal Albert docks. 72 bombs were dropped next in a radius of a mile around Liverpool Station, of which were three hits on the station itself.
Others bombed the area of Tooley Street and in Bermondsey, a group flew to the north bombing Dalston and Saffron Hill. Stepney, Limehouse and Poplar followed. A total of 126 bombs were dropped. 17 in the City of London itself. Captain CWE Cole-Hamilton and his observer Captain Cecil Horace Case Keevil from 35th Training Sqdn at Northolt, attacked three of the Gotha’s over Ilford. The Gotha’s opened fire and during this action Keevil his gun jammed and he got killed. Keevil was of Clitter House Farm, Cricklewood, London and is burried at Hampstead Cemetary, London.

On the 7th of july was the second massive daylight raid on London. 22 planes partcipated and no less then 4.775 kilo’s of bombs were dropped. The Central Telegraph Office near St Paul’s cathedral was one of the targets that were hit. 72 bombs were dropped in the City and in the Metropolitan Police District.
Kagohl 3/13 claimed an English single seater, near London on this date. I have the crew as Vfw. Kurt Gaede (I assume the pilot), Ltn. Radke (observer), and an unknown gunner; first victories for all.
Kagohl 3/17 claimed two victories, both over London. One by Off. Stv. Rudolf Klimke (pilot), Obltn Walter Leon (observer), and Vfw. Keintrup (gunner); second victories for the first two, first for the gunner. This probably was 2nt LT WG Salmon, as we mentioned under the Handzame part of this book.
The other by Vfw Fritz Senf (pilot), Ltn. Schulte (obs), and Uffz Schulz (gunner); all first victories.

I also have two additional victories for Ltn. Radke, while with Bogohl 3/13. In both cases the pilot is given as Ltn. Genth, for his second and third victories. The first was on Jan 28, 1918, between London and Gravesend during another raid on London, the gunner was Vfw. Eschenderlein (first victory). This was a Bristol F2b C4638 from 39 HD Sqdn. Crfewmembers were 2nd Lt. J.G. Goodyear and 1st AM W.T. Merchant, who got slightly wounded on the arm. The battle happened in fact between North Weald and Passingford Bridge according to British sources. They were shot up and their fuel tank had been hit and so being forced to land.
The second claim was on July 1, 1918, a Handley Page; third claims for Genth and Radke, the gunner is unknown. We didn’t find any matching planes for the moment and I don’t have a first victory for Ltn Genth.
His grandson Thomas Genth has made a website on his father and grandfathers carreer in the aviation. With his kind permission I took a part of the text concerning his grandfather,

Lt. Adolf Genth :
He was born in South Africa (Braamfontain , Kr. Transvaal, which is in the aera of Johannesburg) in 1894 because my great - grandfather had left Germany for making his luck there with a wood producing farm (the name was '’Frankenwald’).
Meanwhile I learned, that a part of the town Johannesburg is still today called ' Frankenwald', the place belongs now to a university.
The family stayed in South Africa until the boers war was over and the british troops won.
After that, my great grandfather saw no sence in staying there any longer and left the country for Germany in 1902.
My grandfather was brought in 1905 (only 11 years old !!) to the ' Kadettenkorps Oranienstein '. A place for military education.
At the 10 th of August 1914 he became Leutnant of the 4 th Magdeburger Infanterie Regiment No. 67 and was sent - a little later - to the western front.
He was wounded three times severly (one of his brothers died 1914 near Verdun).
After being wounded for the third time, he was sent to a new task, - become an observer in the new german ' Fliegertruppe'.
He started his aviation carreer at the Fea 9 (Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung) in Darmstadt. After some weeks he changed to the Fea 6 at Grossenhain until he was finally sent to the Halbgeschwader I (10th October 1916) and then in the end of 1916 came to the Bombengeschwader III (the famous ' Englandgeschwader').
He flew a.o. 13 attacks against the british isle, and downed 3 british planes, one Handley Page 0/100 (the counterpart of the Gotha GIV) and two fighters.
For that he received in 1918 the Ritterkreuz (knight cross) of the ' Kgl. Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern' and served in 1918 as 'Adjutant' of the BOGOHL III (Bombengeschwader III).
Even after the end of world war I, he was still serving for Germany , protecting the frontiers of the eastern parts in 1919 against russian and polish demands with the ' Artilleriefliegerabteilung 120' in Lyck (east prussia).His old comrad W.Aschoff from the former BG III - asked him to join (look at the book ' Londonfluege 1917' that A. wrote).
After the treaty of Versailles draw the new borders, he has to face the fact, that everything they tried was in vain and left this place and became 'demobilization officier' - a maybe not so nice job for him....

So far the WW I story on Adolf Genth...

2nd Lt. FAD Grace and his observer 2nd Lt. G Murray of 50 Sqdn, shot one of the Gotha’s down, off Harwhich. They attacked the rear machine of the formation.
Other claims were made by Sqdn Commander CH Butler who reported a Gotha crashing at sea, 22 miles west of Oostende.
The facts :
1) Grace & Murray flying an FK8 of all things, shot down a straggler that seemed unable to keep up with the main group. They saw it crash into the sea, and saw a couple of survivors on the sinking Gotha's port wing. The action was not off Harwich but much closer to the Belgium coast.
2) It seems most likely that Butler's and Scott's claims were for the same aircraft that Grace and Murray shot down, even though Butler was awarded a bar to his DSO, and Scott got a DSC.
(1) and (2) probably refer to the crew from KG 3/Ks 14 shot down in Sea off Zeebrügge and all KIA:
Ltn.d.R. Max Elsner, Observer, Vzfw. Franz Hölzer, Pilot, and Uffz. Georg Mickel, Gunner.

Flight Sub Lt. RH Daly claimed one brought down near Thornton Ridge.
The facts : It is thought that Daly of the Manston War Flight shot down an escort machine sent out from Belgium to protect the returning bombers. However no such loss could be found untill now.

Flight Sub Lt. AH Lofft reported one driven down near Walcheren, he was flying together with Daly. Lofft reported that the machine he attacked put its nose down as if going to land - he then broke off with jammed guns and engine trouble.
And finally Flight Lt. JE Scott claimed one 30 miles east, north east of North Foreland.
However again a confrontation with he facts :
The only other KG crew lost this date (KICs) were from Ks 13 and are:
Ltn.d.R. Max Röselmüller, Obaserver, Ltn. Hans Richter, Pilot, and Vzfw. Wilhelm Weber, Gunner, at Gent-St. Denijs.

3(N) and 4(N) were despatched from Dunkerque and tangled with the waiting escort machines, claiming 4 shot down. However neither can be found any traces about this.
The raid of the 7th july would be in any case the last big daylight raid of Kagohl III on London.

The location of the airfield

The westernborder was the Brugsesteenweg, who also was the southern border. The north was some hundreds meters over the crossroads with the Oosternieuwweg Noord. Eastern bordered by the Leeuwenstraat.

The area now

Just as most of the other locations in the coastal area of West Flanders, you still can find easily the location of the airfield, as it is still one big open space. But that says it all.
Nothing but really nothing reminds you of the former airfield.
Along the same road, towards Brugge you can still find two pill boxes, but don’t let them fool you, they are second World War material.

OOSTENDE

Seaplanestation RNAS and other

From the 13th to the 22nd August, 1914, Oostende was a British seaplane base, and for four days at the end of the month it was protected by the British Marine Brigade. From the 7th to the 12th October it was the seat of the Belgian Government. On the 8th October the 3rd Cavalry Division landed at Oostende; but the port was closed on the 14th and entered by the Germans next day.
Other sources say that the first RNAS unit to go to the continent was the Commander CR Samson’s Eastchurch Squadron to Oostende on the 27th of August, the same day that arrived the Royal Marines at Oostende. Fact is that they flew all kinds of planes : three BE2A of which no 50 was the personnal plane of Samson, and two Sopwith Tabloids, one Henri Farman F 20, a converted Short seaplane no 42, two Blériots and a Bristol. Also had the Astra-Torres, Naval Airship No 3.
It was one of two operational airships from the Royal Navy. And the only one armed, albeit with only one machinegun. It was bought from the French in 1913, was constructed in Paris after a Spanish design. It had a length of 75 meters. It had two engines of 200 HP and a maximum speed of about 90 km/hour it seems.
The unit was stationed at the eastern bank of the harbour. There was one airplanetent for maintainance of the planes.
They left three days later, moved to Dunkirk, where one of the Blériots was crashed at arrival. They should return to the UK but were finally ordered to stay and operate with the French government. They were to operate aginst Zeppelins, enemy planes and do reconnaissance. They made use of armoured cars in combination with planes for this last job. On the 1st of september the unit was redesignated 3 Sqdn RNAS.


Seeflugstation Flandern II

The works for the aerodrome started at Oostende Spuikom near the end of october 1916. It seems that they had to raise the shores and in December groundworks finally started. In march th unit was able to say that it was operational. There was one hangar for planes, a harbourcrane, a slope, quite like a slipway for ships, to let the seaplanes in the water by the use of sime kind of sleds, making it possible to do this in a real fast way, a very serious time saver in cases of need or for fast interventions.

Finally the unit would be housed into four larger hangars and two smaller ones. The crane was used to place the seaplanes back on land. There were also two smaller buildings, moest of them was fabricated from wood and corrugated iron.

With the creation of the seaplanebase at Oostende, the tasks were also redevided between the Seeflugstations. Zeebrugge became responsable for the area called the Hoofden, from the Dutch coast at Scheveningen over the Channel to Yarmouth, along the British coast till the estuary of the Thamesriver and so in a straight line back to Zeebrugge. Oostende received an area from the same Thames estuary along the coast untill Ramsgate and in a straight line back to Oostende.

They had all the control on shippingtraffec, submarines, mine and other nets, minenfields, navigationbouys, etc, under them. They also were responsable for rapporting the slightiest of changes in the positions of these. And of course the duties for aerial attacks on the enemy blockadeships and the defence of the German held territory against all possible enemy airunits.
They used the same type of planes as in Zeebrugge, most of all the Hansa Brandenburg models W12 and W29. They possibly had also Rumpler 6B1 in service, but haven’t found any proof of that.

The unit was officially created on the 11th March of 1917.
Command was taken by Kap.lt. Bücker, it seems that the unit has started with four seaplanes, five pilots and about a hundred men of personnel.

On the 14th of March they already booked a first aerial victory. It seems to have been a French flying boat.

Three days later another aerial battle followed. Three planes of the unit met with four equal French machines. Seems that the Oostende guys knew something about blood and guts as they seem to have damaged all four planes and even so much that they all had to do a forced landing at sea.
Destroyer G95 picked up two officers and two non commisioned officers and took one of the planes on tow. It seems that the other three were to heavily damaged and were destroyed by the destroyer V67.

This were the guys that scored :
- Vfw(later vfmst) Müller his third victory, an FBA, flying a/c 1051
- Fl.Ob.Mt Alfred Burgstaller his second confirmed victory, an FBA, flying a/c
- Lt dR MA Paul Strang his 1st and 2nd confirmed victories, two FBA’s while flying a/C 1041

The battle took place over the Nortsea in grid 068b, but according to the KTB it should have happened in grid 069b.
All planes left at 6.20 hours and were back at Oostende by 9.20 hours. From the french sources, these are the losses :

- FBA 150 ch, #417 (D.10) shot down near Gravelines, (P) QM Amiot, (O) EV1 Teste, POWs
- FBA 150 ch, #419 (D11) shot down near Gravelines, (P) QM Cartigny (O) Mot Franec, KIAs
- FBA 150 ch, #462 (D8) shot down near Gravelines, (P) EV1 Battet, (O) QM MIllancourt, POPWs
- FBA 150 ch, #472, (D 7), shot down near Gravelines, (P) EV1 Ardoin, (O) EV1 Gourguen, POWs.

On the 19th of june 1917, Lt.d.R. Walter Dyck was shot down above the Northsea. He was heavily wounded at the stomach and was loosing a lot of blood. He was taken on board of another seaplane, but died on the way to the hospital.
A number of things is known on this fight. It seems that three Oostende seaplanes ran into three British fighters, of which two were Sopwith machines. The fight was held in the area of the Westhinder lightvessel. On of the Sopwith planes was hit and had to make a forced landing near Oostduinkerke.
However plane 1044 was also forced to land at sea (this was Dyck) and Vizeflugmeister Bieber risked his own life by landing near Dyck and taking him along in his oneseater. The plane of Dyck was towed by torpedoboats. The destroyers G91, V71, V73 and V81 also went to sea in support. De V71 took a British lieutenant on board and sank the heavily damaged Sopwith. The destroyers themselves were attacked by a British coastal motor boat, the CMB 1, who also tried to save the pilot, and was sunk by artillery fire from the German destroyer V81 before Oostende.
Concerning the British losses, this is a rather confusing story and certainly partly incorrect story from the German side. It seems that the Sopwith Baby, No N1015 of Dunkirk Seaplane Station was shot down at 5.30 am and that the pilot, Flight Sub Lt. James Edward Potvin from Midland, Ontario, was killed in action and is remembered on Chatham Naval Memorial at Kent !
However another plane of the same unit was also shot down, being a Short 184 No 9057, at the same hour in the same area, flown by Flight Sub Lt. L.P. Paine, DSC and Lt. Thomas Rogers. It seems the last one was killed in action and is also remembered on Chatham Naval Memorial at Kent, he was from Belle Orchard, Ledbury, Herefordshire, and Paine was taken POW.

On the 11th of november 1917 arrived Oblt.d.R. Höpken at the unit. The very next day he would take over the command of the Seeflugstation Flandern II.

Höpken was just like Christiansen a little bit older than the men he commanded when he arrived at his unit. He was born on the 6th of april 1889 and had joined the Marineflieger in september of 1916, first serving with SFA I.

He would remain in command untill the unit was dissolved on the 1st of october 1918, and all men had to retreat to Zeebrugge Seeflugstation.

Kustenflieger Abteilung II

Just the same situation as in Zeebrugge, this unit’s work was in fact melted in the work of the Seeflugstation. Lot’s of combined operations happened.

The location of the airfield

The most easy thing to explain, as it was on the Spuikom, an artificial lake, which was constructed with the idea that the tides would take care of the baggering of the harbourentrance if they connected it with this specially constructed bassin. A costly joke afterwards. However the bassin was quickly used for the construction and take off landing area for the seaplanes of the Marinekorps Flandern. The hangars stood to the east, near the Schietbaanstraat.

The area now

The so called Spuikom, still remains. For how long is very difficult to say, as there are works going on all around it for the new harbour of Oostende.
It is now laying partly dry and this will only get worse. On the other hand it is very special view, that gives you a very good idea of the vastness of it’s surface. If you look at it from the coastal road, you can situate the base very well, it was just in front of the blue white colored watertower at Bredene.
There is still a gliding ramp left that was used for the seaplanes, a very good way to get them quickly into the water. The best way to acces by car is by the Polderstraat at Bredene. Otherwise a long walk awaits you along the Vicognedijk-Schietbaanstraat.
It also seems that there is at least still one wreckage of a seaplane in the mud of the ‘Spuikom’. However this is not an invitation to start searching for it, as it is a very dangerous and hazardous place !
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:11    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

OOSTENDE GRAVEYARD

At the graveyard of the Stuiversstraat is a very well maintained section especially for the CWGC burrials from WW I and II. However very exceptional are also a few French, one Dutch and one Polish burrial.
This part of the cemetary has the typical style of the other graveyards of the CWGC in West Flanders.
Among the burrials quite a number of air personnel :

- 1st AM Charles Edward Statham RNAS 21st August 1914 and belonged to HMS Pembroke.
HMS Pembroke can sound misleading for someone who’s not from the UK as this was in fact RNB Chatham - The Royal Naval Barracks, home to the men of Chatham Port Division until 1961.
From the 27th to the 31st August, 1914, Oostende was a British plane base, and for four days at the end of the month it was protected by the British Marine Brigade. From the 7th to the 12th October it was the seat of the Belgian Government. On the 8th October the 3rd Cavalry Division landed at Oostende, but the port was closed on the 14th already and entered by the Germans next day.

- Flight Lt. Taunton Elliott Viney DSO, RN - RNAS died on the 21st May 1916 and was from Frinton on Sea, Essex.

- Flight Lt. Charles Jarvis Moir RNAS who was shot down the 10th May 1917 near Zeebrugge flying a Sopwith Pup N6185.A of 4 Naval Sqdn. We do not have any idea for the moment on his loss, possibly Flak.
He was from Greenwhich, Sydney, Australia. He received the Croix de Guerre from the French authorities.

- 2nd Lt. CM De Rochie RFC was last seen over Zarren for bombing it seems on the 14th July 1917 flying his Martinsyde G102 A1572 of 27 Sqdn. He had been shot down in fact over Leffinge at 17.50 hours by Vizefeldwebel Buckler of Jasta 17.

- Lt. HB Hay MC of the West Yorkshire Rgt. was shot down the 17th july 1917 near Oostende flying an Bristol F2b, A7166 from 48 Sqdn. and killed,while Lt. OJ Partington was wounded and became a POW. No record of Hay could be found.

- Flight Sub Lt. Frederick William Akers RNAS died the 20th july 1917 during combat with two enemy planes over Middelkerke and Wilskerke crashing his Sopwith Camel B3806 from 4th Naval Sqdn. He was shot down by Lt. Jons from Jasta 20.

- Flight Commander George Gordon Mac Lennan RNAS and the date says 21st July 1917. In fact he was also shot down on the 20th by Lt Jons of Jasta 20 also. The battle happened in the same area as with Akers. He flew a Sopwith Camel N6360 from 6th naval Sqdn.
His father was a reverend, he himself was a Civil Engineer who had graduated at Toronto University. Has received the French Croix de Guerre.

- 2nd Lt. Charles Frederick Pritchard from Shrewsbury and Lt. Thomas Grosvenor, RFC, 17th September 1917. Little seems to be known on this fight. They left for recon at 6.20 am flying an DH4 A7492 of 57 sqdn. Grosvenor was born at Codsau, Wolverhampton and lived at Bradmore, also Wolverhampton.

- Flight Sub Lt. Frank Thomas Henry Williams from Torquay and 1st AM CA Leitch RNAS, probably last seen on the 30th january 1918 over Oostkamp and in battle over Wilskerke with Lt. K. Bolle of Jasta Boelcke crashing aound 1.20 pm. They flew an DH4 N5982 of 5 Naval Sqdn. Leitch was from Rathglass House, Ballysaheery, Ballina, Co. Mayo.

OOSTKAMP en zijn twee vliegvelden

Flieger Abteilung A 211

Arriving on the 6th december 1917 and leaving again on the 9th march 1918

Flieger Abteilung A 227

They served a long time within 4 German Army(Flanders) from 25 May 1917 until circa 8 March 1918 and they had served within the 6th Army prior to that and at least from mid Aug 1916.
Hptm Walter Fricke was the commander of FAA 227 from at least August 1916 (perhaps even earlier) until at least Jan 1918.
During his vacation from 8 Dec 1917 until 3 Jan 1918 Oblt Schmidt(O) hold the temporay command. He "perhaps" also took over the real command on 10 Feb 1918..? This still remains a questionmark.

Flieger Abteilung A 233

Stayed here from the 24th august 1917 till the 15th of november.

Flieger Abteilung A 258

Stayed only for about a good week, as they came here on the 7th of november and left already on the 15th, the same day as Flieger Abteilung A 233.

Schusta 21

From 4th of june 1917 till the 22nd november 1917 and the unit was coming from and went back to the 6. Deutsche Armee.

Schusta 26

Schusta 26 was here a first time from the 4th of july 1917 till the 26th of september when the unit moved to Oostkamp and returned from there to the Erkegem part of the aerodrome from the 6th december 1917 till the 23rd february 1918. Afterwards the unit was on the Oostkamp part from that 23rd till the 6th of march 1918. The unit moved to the area of the 2nd German Army.

Schusta 27 B

Arrived the 5th of november 1917 and stayed here till the 9th march 1918.

Jasta 12

Arriving the 5th of november from Roucourt, they already left the 16th of the same month for Phalempin.

Jasta 17

Was at Erkegem from the 6th till the 20th november. They came from Wasquehall and went to Neuvilly.

2nd Belgian Escadrille

On the 24th of october the Belgian king Albert I landed at Oostkamp aerodrome. This had all to do with his plans to visit Brugge the next day. Just before the 2nd Escadrille of Commander Iserentant had already Oostkamp as it’s new base. By the end of the month the unit was going to move to the Male airfield.

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Belgian Escadrille

All arrived by the end of october. On the 30th they certainly were all here.
Units 3, 5 and 8 were on the northern part of the airfield, and the 4 and 7 on the southern part stationed.
It is very probably that the 4th Escadrille arrived earlier, as it is known that Lt. Crombez, flying a Spad XI, almost flew daily in the last weeks of october from Oostkamp to De Panne, where he always landed at the beach, as close as possible to the Royal Villa to pick up king Albert I, as his majesty was very anxious to survey the front. First they flew back to Oostkamp, from where they went again in the air to see how the Offensive was going. It canbe said that he was in fact the one and only commanding officer of an Army, and a King to do such dangerous exploits !

The 5th had been a fighter unit, but was an observation unit by the end of the war. They flew Spad XI, under the command of Commander Hugon.
The 3rd (Commander Dhanis), 4th (Commander Richard), 6th (Commander Desmet) had al been observation units, also flying Spad XI. The 8th was used af bomber and night recon unit. They were flying Farman and Sopwith planes.

The location of the airfield

The area now

RUDDERVOORDE

As far as we were able to find out, this airfield was never used. It probably was a reserve airfield. In any case it was not in use in april 1918, as it was marked as an airfield that was empty, but there was also noted that the location was not to be used for agricultural purposes. It is also a fact that there were no guards on duty over there in the same period. So it looks rather like a reserve airfield or an airfield that may have been only very shorlty in use.

The location of the airfield

The area now


SNELLEGEM (also called Jabbeke or Varsenare)
and it’s two airfields

It has to be mentioned that the second airfield, located at the Kouter, was never in use as an airfield. It was a reserve aerodrome for the naval units in 1918. It seems that only once a plane was reported to have landed there and taken off again. Probably just for trials.
Snellegem was without any possible doubt the most important airfield of the whole of northern West Flanders.

Flieger Abteilung A 233

Stayed at Snellegem from the 18th of july 1917 till 24th of august same year.

Flugzeugfuhrer Brand Albert + 18 august 1918 at Eernegem, burried at Vladslo
Lt.d.R. Kurt Dobberstein + 11 september 1917 at ? , burried at Vladslo
Oblt.d.R. Fromm Robert + 17 august 1917 at Vladslo, burried at Vladslo
Lt.d.R. Schwartz Ernst + 17 august 1917 at Vladslo, burried at Vladslo

Flieger Abteilung A 293 B

Arrived the 26th of mai 1917 and was to stay here till ....
Commander of this unit was Hauptmann Julius Staab, born 31st July 1882 Würzburg, married on the 14th July 1902 stepped in the 10th Infanterie-Regiment on the 1stMarch 1914 Oberleutnant, summer 1914 Fliegertruppe, observer badge 9th september 1914, 9th August 1915 became a Hauptmann and since 2nd August 1914 with Feld-Flieger-Abteilung 2 b in the Field, 1915 severly wounded at the nose by AAA, back to a FEA, 19th August 1915 to Feld-Flieger-Abteilung 4 b, 21st September 1915 again to a FEA on the 21 stJanuary 1916 leader of Armee-Flugpark von Strantz, 6th November 1916 leader of Feld-Flieger-Abteilung 7 b, 7 b became FA(A) 293 b, 9.August 1917 Staab left FA(A) 293 b.

II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

On the 27th of april 1917 the unit moved to Jabbeke. The airfield was just ready and works for it had started by the end of 1916. If we say ready, we mean concerning fase I.
On an aerial photograph of the 3rd of july 1917 can clearly be spotted that there were 8 big planehangars on the aerodrome.

Jasta 2 Boelcke

From the 27th August 1917 till the 30th september of the same year.

During their stay at Jabbeke-Snellegem one of the most famous aces of Germany could call himself for the very first time a real ace, as he got his fourth, fifth and sixth victory of a total of 43 confirmed victories flying from this aerodrome. His name was :

Lt. PAUL BAUMER
Baumer was born at Duisburg-Ruhrart on the 11th May 1896. He was an aisstent dentist and learned to fly at Holten in Westfalen, getting his licence from the German series during the summer of 1914. This must have been after the 15th july as we have all licenses till that day, and he’s not figuring amongst them. First fought with the Infanterie Regiment 70, was wounded and got in the flying service as a... assistent dentist ! Learned again to fly, joined Flieger Abteilung 7, got fightertraining, got to Jasta 2, shortly after to Jasta 5, to return to Jasta 3 after his 3rd victory in August 1917. He got the Pour le Mérite on the 2nd of november 1918. After the war his was active for Blohm and Voss and became finally a dentist. He never stopped flying and this would become fatal to him as he crashed in a Rohrbach Rofix fighterplane near Copenhague on the 15th july 1927 and had become one of the best sporting-acrobatic pilots of Germany together with Udet. He was burried at Ohesdorf at Hamburg.
His 4th victory was on the 9th of september when he shot down a RE8 of 52 Sqdn. flown by Lt. Arthur Gerrard B. Davidson from Old Aberdeen and 2nd Lt. B.B. Bishop around 15.25 hours over Mannekensvere. Both were killed in this incident and are burried at Zuydcoote Military Cemetary, France.
5th victory concerned a Sopwith Camel of 9 Naval Sqdn on the 20th of September at 15.10 hours over Ramskapelle. The pilot Flight Sub Lt. R. Sykes got wounded during this action.
His 6th and final victory on Snellegem airfield was the next day above Boezinge, also a Sopwith Camel at 17.50 hours. It was a plane of 70 Sqdn. The pilot, 2nd Lt. H.D. Layfield got wounded in action.
Baumer was the biggest ace serving on the Snellegem aerodrome.

The unit also suffered four losses while flying from here.

Jasta 8

From 30 september untill the 19th november of 1917 dured their stay.
CO of the unit was Hauptmann Hans Constantin von Bentheim.

Biggest aces in this unit where Lt. Walter Götsch, a total of 20 victories by the end of the war and Lt. Rudolf Francke, who ended with 15. During the Snellegem period Götsch was recovering but Rudolf Francke shot down two planes, his 7th and 8th victories.
First one on the 13th of October around 09.05 am, a Sopwith Pup of 54 Sqdn over Keiem-Beerst flown by 2nd Lt. P.C. Norton who was becoming POW and the second was on the 9th of november southeast of Diksmuide around 10.40 am, a Nieuport of 29th Sqdn, flown by 2nd Lt. L.C. Tims who had to do a forced landing because of the fact that his tank had been shot up and he had lost all of his fuel.

Two other victories are known, Vizefeldwebel Hans Körner got his 3rd on the 13th october over Bovekerke, a Sopwith Pup of 54 Sqdn, probably 2nd Lt. J.H.R. Salter who was killed in this incident.
And one by Lt. Rudolf Wendelmuth who scored his 11th on the next day at 12.25 hours near Zillebeke on a Sopwith. However this can not have been a Sopwith as none were lost that day. It still remains an open question who was his victim.

Jasta 20

Arriving the 31st of august and leaving the area to Guesnain on the 23 november 1917.
CO was Hauptmann Fritz Heising.
Wendelmuth transferred from Jasta 8 to Jasta 20 and was that way again amongst the scoring aces of the unit during their stay at Snellegem. He scored his last three victories with this unit, and all from Snellegem aerodrome. He was shot down seven days after the unit had left here.
Victory no 12 was on the 28th october at 13.25 hours, a Sopwith Camel over Ramskapelle, unknown who the crew could have been.
The 13th was on the 9th of November around 12.00 hours, an RE8 above Oostkerke, crewed by 2nd Lt. E.W. Morris (burried at Zuydcoote Military Cemetery, France) and 2nd Lt. Norman Ernest Williams from London (same burrialplace) who both were killed, and his final 14th was on the 18th at 13.10 hours over Lampernisse, an BF2b of 48th Sqdn. 2nd Lt. William Sommerville McLaren of Fairnington, Roxburgh was wounded in this action and died later of these the next day. 2nd Lt. David Whyte Hardie was killed instantly. They are burried respectively at Zuydcoote Military Cemetary and Steenkerke Belgian Military Cemetary at Veurne.
Other smaller aces in this unit were Lt. WIlhelm Schwartz (8), Lt. Hans Viebig (5)

Jasta 28

Arrived the 27th of august and left on the 25th november 1917, only to return again on the 7th of december and to leave definitively to Wingene on the 5th of february 1918.

The day they arrived here Lt.d.R. Merz Arthur of this unit died at Mons, and is now burried at Vladslo.

On the third of september the unit’s CO Hauptmann Otto Hartmann was shot down by a British Bristol fighter, probably by Lt. R.E. Dodds and T.C.S. Tuffield of 48th Sqdn. Being hit twice in the head he must have been killed instantly. His plane crashed into the sea, and his body washed ashore four days later. It is not clear where he is burried. Some sources say at Steinbach cemetary. Others say Vladslo Military Cemetary. There is on both places a grave that is a fact ! Others say that he has been transferred again from Steinbach to Vladslo.

Hartmann was replaced by Oblt. Werner Jahns, who was shot down on his turn and killed on the 24th september already at 15.30 hours near Slijpe !

The new CO was another famous German ace, Lt.d.R. Emil Thuy, with a confirmed total of 35 victories !

But Thuy was not the only ace of this Jasta ! Among them stayed at Snellegem Rittmeister Karl Bolle (36), Lt. Max Ritter von Müller (36), Lt. Ernst Hess ( 17), Lt. Franz Ray (17) and Lt. August Hanko (5).

Jasta 51

A very short stay for this unit indeed, arriving the 1st of february and leaving the 5th in the year 1918, moving to Aartrijke.
CO of the unit was Oblt. Hans-Eberhardt Gandert, who totalled 8 victories. The unit had only been created on the 27th of december 1917.
The only other ace in this unit at the time was Vizefeldwebel Hans Bowski, who ended with 5 victories.

KEST 8

One of the units arriving in August 1917 at Varsenare. In November 1917 they seem to be located at Jabbeke, so they probably moved from the eastern side towards the western side of the airfield.
It seems the unit moved on from here to the Vogesen area at the end of 1917 or very early 1918.
By the end of the war they were stationed again at Bitsch, Germany. But they had changed of name also. It seems that on the 3rd of October there was decided they would become Jasta 88w.
No victories were found it seems.
During their stay at Jabbeke they also suffered one loss :
Ltn.d.R. Johann Wiedenmann, KIA, 17Oct17 between Ostende and Zevecote.

I Marine Feldjagdstaffel

Arrived the 3rd april 1918 and stayed here untill retreat of the German Marinekorps Flandern. The units CO was Oblt.z.S. Gotthard Sachsenberg.

On the 12th of August 1918 the Marine Jasta 1 and 2 and the Seefrosta had an excellent day. For the Allies it was one of the worst of the month. No less than 11 claims were made on British and US planes.
Vizeflugmeister Thöne of MFJ I opened the day at 08.45 hours claiming a Camel over Poelkapelle, his 3rd victory. It is unclear who this may have been.

At 11.50 he claimed his 4th, once more a Camel over Wenduine. This was B3894 from 204 Sqdn, piloted by Capt. JEL Hunter, DSC who got wounded in this action.

Flugmaat Clemens Kähler of Seefrosta 2 cmaimed a Camel at 11.29 hours over Wenduine, his 2nd victory.
Lt. R. Spiess of the same unit claimed a Camel over Middelkerke at 11.40 hours for his 3rd victory.
About these two it is not clear who shot down who. Fact is that they were two planes from 204 Sqdn, D6624 of Lt. Richard Alecander Cawthorne Hill of Claverton Manor, Bath and from the Somerset Light Infantry, who was killed and is remembered on Arras Flyng Services Momorial and D3355 from Lt. SCJ Akin who became a POW.

CO Sachsenberg claimed two planes, a Camel and DH4 over sea near Oostende in three minutes ! The Camel at 12.53 hours and the DH4 at 12.55 hours. This were his 20th and 21st. The Camel was D9507 from 17th Aero, a US unit and Lt. RD Gracie was killed.
The DH4 was D1691 from 218 Sqdn and Ensign Mosely and Lt. M.M. Lowry were both OK.

Flugmaat Gerhard Kuken Hubrich of Seefrosta II was not far away as he claimed an Camel over Westende at 13.10 hours his 2nd victory. This was D9648 of Lt. W.A. Pomeroy who was forced to land at Mardyke but was OK.

Lt.z.S. Max Stinsky found another Camel at Middelkerke at 20.00 hours, his 1st victory.

And finally Uncle Theo, Osterkamp, claimed three that evening. His 21st was confirmed but the other two not.
The first and confirmed one was a Camel over Ramskapelle at 20.50 hours, a plane from 17th Aero US piloted by 1st Lt. HB Alderman who got wounded in action. It seems he was visted by King George in hospital who asked him where he got wounded and he replied : Over Oostende, Your Majesty.
The second a Camel also at Diksmuide around the same hour. There still are a number of possibilities with combats that have no hour mentioned in the reports.
And the final and third one a Martinsyde G100 north of Oostkerke at 21.00 hours.
We do not know of any Martinsydes missing that day.

When they returned, a big party was thrown in the chateau of Snellegem. We have seen pictures of it, and everybody was enormously drunk ! It seems there was a lot of ‘Wein, Weib und Gesäng’.
The next day they would have a very serious hangover in more than one way ! More follows under the II MFJ about it !

II Marine Feldjagdstaffel

Arrived also on the 3rd april of 1918, under the command of Lt.z.S. Theo Osterkamp.

In the RAF communique of the 12th of august not one word on the heavy losses of that day.

About the raid on the airfield the very next day, the following was found in the RAF Communique of the 13th august 1918 :
A raid was carried out by 17 American Squadron on Varssenaere Aerodrome, in conjunction with squadrons of the 5th Group. After the first two squadrons had dropped their bombs from a low height, machines of 17 American Squadron dived to within 200 feet of the ground an released their bombs, the proceeded to shoot at hangars and huts on the aerodrome, and a chateau on the NE corner of the aerodrome was also attacked with machine gun fire. The following damage was observed to be caused by this combined operation : - a dump of petrol and oil was set on fire, which appeared to set fire to an ammunition dump; six Fokker biplanes were set on fire on the ground, and two destroyed by direct hits from bombs; one large Gotha hangar was set on fire and several hangars were seen smouldering as the resukt of phosphorus bombs having fallen on them. In spite of most of the machines taking part being hit at one time or another, all returned safely, favourable ground targets being attacked on the way home. 211 Squadron bombed the aerodrome after the low flying attack was over, and demolished the chateau previously referred to.

Of course this looks very good. The attack was very good, but not that good... Five Fokkers were destroyed (a big succes at the time!) on the ground, one of them with a pilot who burned alive in it, something my grandfather had always told me too as he was a first hand whitness of the whole raid, one hangar was destroyed, several personnel barracks damaged, but the fuel dump and the ammo would have given such a firework the witnesses would have seen it. And this was not the case. The castle destroyed ? No way, there was a small fire, that was it. It finally burned down at 1929. 26 pilots killed ? No way. 3 pilots were killed and one mechanic, a few other pilots and personnelmembers were wounded. At the 18th of august there was a service for the dead at the chateau Blauwe Toren at Varsenare.

The DFC and DSC of Hamilton were well owned ! The day after the attack, coincidence or not, he shot down a plane near Brugge-Oostkamp of the I Marinefeldjasta manned by Flugmt Karl Goldenstedt. Goldenstedt crashed near Oostkerke, killing the 21 year old Bremer. At the time of the attack the I, II, III Marinefeldjasta's were stationed on the Flugplatz Jabbeke.

Lloyd Andrews Hamilton
Hamilton was born in Troy, New York on the 13th of june 1894 and was the son of the reverend JA Hamilton of Vermont. Went to the army in may 1917 and was trained as an officer at Plettsburgh, also NY. Than went to the Massacusetts Institute of Technoligy and was completed his training at the UK as a pilot in the US Air Service. First posted with 3rd Sqdn RFC. Would obtain 5 victories with this unit and in july 1918 went to the USAS as Flight Commander of 17th Aero Squadron. He scored his last and 10th victory on the 24th august, and was afterwards hit by machinegun fire from the ground. Being fatally wounded he crashed his plane near Lagnicourt.

Concerning the DSC, here’s what we found :

From Decorations U.S. Army 1862 - 1926:

At Varssenaere, Belgium, Aug. 13, 1918. R(esidence) -- Pleasanton, Kansas; B(orn) -- Freeman, Missouri. G.O. No. 20, War Department, 1919.

First lieutenant, 17th Aero Squadron, Air Service.
Leading a low bombing attack on a German aerodrome 30 miles behind the lines, he destroyed the hangars on the north side of the aerodrome and then attacked a row of enemy machines, flying as low as 20 feet from the ground, despite intense machine-gun fire, and setting fire to three of the German planes. He then turned and fired bursts through the windows of the château in which the German pilots were quartered, 26 of whom were afterwards reported killed.

Poshumously awarded. Medal presented to father, Rev. John A. Hamilton.

We have three witnesses about this raid, one was my grandfather from my mother’s side, Jules Desmet, another villager of Snellegem, and Theo Osterkamp himself.

17 Aero Squadron were stationed at Petite Synthe, south west of Dunkirk until about the 16th of august when they went to Auxi-le-Chateau, that is north of Amiens and WNW of Doullens.

III Marine Feldjagdstaffel

From the 23rd of june 1918 till the retraet of the whole Marine Jagdgeschwader.
The unit was created at Jabbeke.
One of the first scoring of the unit was Vizeflugmeister Hans Goerth, who had seven confirmed victories. He would become one of the pilots that was flying with the Sachsenberg Geschwader in the Baltic in 1919.
The third victory of the ace, on the 16th july 1918 was on a DH4 A7868 from 202 Sqdn over Zevecote, near Gistel. Both crewmembers and both lieutenants, L.A. Ashfield and M.G. English were killed.

IV Marine Feldjagdstaffel

From its creation on the 1st september 1918 till retreat.
One of the CO’s two last victories concerned another ace from the former RNAS. On the 14th of October Poss shot down three planes. The last two were over Houthulstbos and both were Camels. One victim was F1940 of 70 Sqdn in which 2nd Lt. DDA MacKay was killed in the afternoon. He was from aberdeen and is now burried at Dozinghem Military Cemetary at Poperinge.

The second victim was D3409 of 213 Sqdn, a plane crashing in flames, piloted by 15 victory ace Capt John Edmund Greene, DFC.

GREENE, Captain John Edmund
Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1918. Born 2 July 1892 in Winnipeg; lived at Edmonton, Alberta ; passed tests at Curtiss School, Toronto, December 1916; appointed Probationary Flight Officer, RNAS, in Ottawa, 19 December 1916. In UK, 18 February 1917; at Cranwell, 9 June 1917; to Dover, 30 July 1917; to Dunkirk, 20 October 1917, joining No.12 (N) Squadron, 22 October 1917. Assigned in November 1917 to Seaplane Defence Squadron, redesignated No.13 (N) Squadron, 15 January 1918. Missing, believed killed, 14 October 1918. Burried at Coxyde Military Cemetary. Mention in Despatches - awarded as per London Gazette dated 1 January 1919.

The DFC award was gazetted (published) with no citation, and when I last visited the PRO in 1999 I did not find a recommendation that would have provided a text. However, Public Record Office Air 1/74 had a report by the Commanding Oficer, No.213 Squadron, filed on 21 August 1918 recommending him for promotion as follows:

"This officer has great ability to command and is very trustworthy. He has complete command of his men and understands them thoroughly. In the air his abilities as a leader and fighter cannot be too highly praised. He has been in command of a flight for one month and carried out his duties with complete satisfaction. He is strongly recommended for promotion to the rank of Captain."

On the 1st of April 1918 his squadron claimed three seaplanes, of which he shot down one. Two of the planes are identified and were from Seeflugstation Flandern I at Zeebrugge. It were Fl.Ob.Mt. Hermann Behrendt and Lt.d.R. Georg Hauptvogel in one plane and Flgm. Bruno Fricke and Lt.z.S. Walter Tornau in the other one. They were shot down near the Thorntonbank. This shows very clearly that the British and also the French naval units were involved in regular fights with the German counterparts.

61st Wing RAF

Seemed to have stayed at Snellegem for a very brief period, no details are known.
It must have been by the end of october when the 61st wing was stationed on the airfield.

202 Sqdn RAF

Our different sources are not completely in agreement concerning the arrival of this unit at Snellegem. Fact is that the unit came from the French town of Bergues. Some say they arrived on the18th of november other say on the 20th. Also concerning the date that they left there seems to exist some smaal disagreements. Some say they left on the 23rd of march 1919 and arrived at Driffiel, UK on the 24th. Others say that they only left on the 26th of march towards Driffield.

There was however no discussion about the CO of the unit, Major R. Gow.

The location of the airfield

In the north limited by the Oudenburgweg, in the east by the new access to the motorway E40 towards Gent-Brussels, in the south by the Gistelsteenweg, and in the east by the Kasteeldreef. At the time she was about a hundred meters more to the east then now. The Kasteeldreef ended on the chateau de Pélichy. The castle was the officers residence and HQ. The ferm Yftepoort was the reparationarea for the planes. There stood baracks for the planes on al sides of the field, with exception of the southern part.
In the corner of Kasteeldreef and Oudenburgweg stood a personnelbunker. At the beginning of the Kasteeldreef near the Oude Gistelsteenweg stood a very large bunker. Near house no at the Gistelsteenweg stood an AA gunpost. Another one stood on the eastern side of the Kasteeldreef itself.

The area now

The airfield can still be found, but in bits and pieces. In the middle of it runs the Motorway towards Veurne and Oostende. Some smaller parts of it have become forests. From the Gistelsteenweg, standing near the Halfweghuis on the old part of the road, you can still see the old road towards the chateau de Pélichy. Where is now the entrance to a small bridge over the motorway stood once the big bunker, next to the tramroad towards Brugge.
If you cross the bridge by foot, you will have an excellent view on top on the old situation on your left. On the same side, just below stands the former farm the ‘Yftepoort’, which had a hangar used for the maintainance of the airplanes. It is now completely restorated, but private property.
Go down the bridge to you right. On your left is the castle. It is not the same one as in 1918 for the upper part, as this was destroyed in a fire in 1929. But the front stairs and the columns on it still are a very good referencepoint to the old pictures. The castle can be visited, as it now a very famous international antiques shop.
In fact the complete look of the castle hasn’t changed that much except for the roof where there was places a very modern and very hught window into it.
On the other side there is a small path going towards the motorway. If you follow it, you will see on your left, and very close to the motorway, the almost complete remains of an AA and guardpost for one person.
If you go back to the road leading over the motorway, but go to your right, you come on the Oudenburgweg. Take it to the right and almost directly on your left side, you will see the foundations of a pill box, which still give you a very good idea how it originally looked.
Near the farm stood some more hangars of the airfield.
If you return to the Gistelsteenweg, you will meet a round traffic point. The road to the right is now going towards the motorway. You will see that there is a smaller road just over it. Almost near the motorway, which is quite close from here, stood at both sides of this road a number baracks and hangars. This is the part the Germans called Jabbeke in 1918, a matter of clearly deviding the airfield in parts to know on what side a unit was stationed.
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

STALHILLE

Schlasta 16

Arrived possibly during April or Mai 1918 and in this case changed of name from Schusta to Schlasta on the 24th March 1918 in the sector of another German Army and left again somewhere in October 1918 during the general retreat from this part of West Flanders. The unit’s CO was Oblt. Hermann Ramdohr and this since at least March 1918.

We found some burrials of this unit on the Vadlso German military cemetary :

Lt.d.R. Boethelt Friedrich + 17 july 1918 at Dunkirk.
Friedrich Boethelt was one of the original observers of FAA 235 when formed in July 1916.
He is supposed to have scored one confirmed victory together with Lt.d.R. Lehmann but we couldn’t find the date for this incident....
He left sometimes during 1917 to Flugpark 6 and than went to Schlasta 16.

Fl. Uffz. Holtmeier Hugo + 3 september 1918 KIA at Jonkershove
Holtmeier was killed together with Wilhelm Becker, both were reported MIA in the night 3 to 4 Sept 1918 (ref Kofl 4).
Flg Holtmaier arrived to Schusta 16 from Schusta 26 on 7 Oct 1917 (TB4)

Uffz. Kurt Busch + 21/10/1917
Busch was killed together with Max Häfer. Uffz Busch ariived from FP 4 on 22 Sept 1917 (TB 4).

Some more names are known of this unit, among them the later general Hans von Fichte, who was the Staffelführer through Oct. 1918 of Schlasta 16.

Flieger Abteilung

It is a fact that a few Flieger or Feldflieger Abteilungen have been stationed at Stalhille earlier in the war. However it is not known which unit’s these were.

The location of the airfield

In the north the limit was near the church. Over there the Cathillestraat and Spanjaardstraat form an V which is running open towards the north. The northern limits of the airfield can be formed by making a line between the private road running to the northeast along the Cathilleweg and the Langendorpweg who’s running west from the Spanjaardstraat.

The area now

Also cut in two because of the expressway towards De Haan or Jabbeke.
However if you park your car near the crossroad with the Spanjaardstraat or the Cathilleweg, you will still get a pretty good idea of the airfield.
Still a big part of it is owned by the open space. Little has changed here, but no remains will be found however.
And while your here, don’t forget to pay a visit to the community’s burrial ground.

Burrial Ground CWGC

On the Stalhille Churchyard are two CWGC graves. They are from one crew of the RAF. Lt. R Mc Kay-Hall, son of John J. and Cordelia Hall, born at Woodstock, Ontario, Canada on the 10th january 1893 and Lt. Frederick Holmes Reilly, aged 20, from Welland, Ontario. They belonged to 98 Sqdn.
They were shot down not far from the town center by Flugmaat Bieber of the Seefrosta, who’s third confirmed victory they became on the 28th May 1918. There are sources however mentioning that it was only his second confirmed victory. One of the first two may never have been officially confirmed.

TORHOUT

Apparently there seem to have been two airfields at Torhout. The first one was near the hamlet ‘Twaalf Gemeten’ just north of this small city. The second one was along the Oostendesteenweg and was near the Tivoli tavern, on the corner of ‘s Gravenwinkelstraat and Aartrijkestraat. The general idea is that the first aerodrome was only used for a very short period.

Flieger Abteilung 40

It is unknown when the unit has arrived on the Torhou aerodrome but it is for shure that they left on the 24th of august 1917.

Flieger Abteilung 48

Stayed at Torhout from womwhere in the middle of july 1917 till probably the middle of october of the same year.

Flieger Abteilung A 211

Arrived on the 10th of october 1917 at Torhout and departed on the 6th december 1917. The unit was on the second aerodrome.
There is a story of Hauptmann Siber CO of the unit on their arrival that is known to us :
Lt.d.R. Kuhn and I drove in front towards our new location at Torhout. The Abteilung arrived there on the 10th of october at 1 o clock in the morning. Still being busy with unloading, the British offered us a an aerial attack.
After a short stay in the nearby school the men were quartered in the houses of citizens, something that was a problem with the many army units staying here already. Shortly after the 10th five planes landed on our new homebase. They were first housed in tents, but already after a few days we received the wooden hangars of the Flieger Abteilung that had left Torhout (This could only be Flieger Abteilung 48).

One casualaty of the unit is known to us of that period, it concerns Lt.d.R. Georg Behnisch, who was born at Posen on the 30th september 1889 and died on the 12th november 1917 in unknown cicumstances. He is burried at Hooglede.

Schusta 26

Ss 26b stayed at Torhout from 26th september 1917 to 6th december 1917.
Oblt Schmalschläger took over the command on 20 Sep 1917 and hold it until 23 Feb 1918...

Jasta 7

The unit arrived on the 6th of june 1917 and stayed untill the 21st august of the same year.
In the early days Oblt. Otto Schmidt had something against Belgian balloons it seems. He destroyed a first one on the 27th of june at Elzendamme, and a second one on the 29th at Westvleteren. It were his 3rd and 4th victories. The next day he became commander of Jasta 32, the 19th august of Jasta 29. He would get a total of 20 confirmed, was recommended for the Pour le Mérite by the end of october 1918, but never received it.

Above Bovekerke, on the 21st of july 1917 at 19.45 hours, Oblt. Fritz Bronsart von Schellendorf, the CO of the unit and this since the creation on the 11th august 1916 wqas killed. He was born at Hannover on the 12ht january 1891 and had probably only one confirmed victory.
He was probably shot down by Captain John Theibald Milne from 48th Sqdn, who claimed a victory at about the same hour, somewhere east of Westende, which can fit the decription, as there are no other victories which could possibly correspond that day. Milne got 9 confirmed victories, had won the MC and was shot down himself on the 24th october 1917 by Lt. Fritz Kieckhafer of Jasta 29 in or around Merkem. Milne and his observator Lt. Stanley Wright MC, flying a Bristol F2b - B1117, were both killed.
Milne was from London and Wright was from Hull and they are both remembered at the Arras Flying Services Memorial at Pas de Calais. The Arras Flying Services Memorial commemorates more than 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force, either by attachment from other arms of the forces of the Commonwealth or by original enlistment, who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave.

Jasta 29

Arrived the 1st august 1917 and was leaving on the 13th of september of the same year.
Co of the unit was till the 18th Lt. Erwin Böhme who got that moment the command of Jasta Boelcke. He was succeeded by Oblt. Otto Schmidt. The 10th of August Böhme had got wounded in action.
The first victories for the unit in thier stay were scored on the 12th of August by Vzfw H Fritzsche (his first) and Vzfw Misch (his second). Fritzsche claimed a Spad 7 - B3491 of 23 Sqdn, killing 2nd Lt. CW Elliot say some sources, but this is not possible concerning the hour of the battle. Elliot was killed by Oblt. Dostler of Jasta 6, no doubt about it. Mirsch claimed a Nieuport. Untill today both victories remain a mystery.
The same day the unit lost Lt. Erich Schlegelmilch at 10.55 Hours between Staden and Houthulst.

The location of the airfield

As we already mentioned, it was bordered by the Noordlaan in the north, the Aartrijkestraat in the east, the Oostendestraat in the west and the ‘s Gravenwinkelstraat in the south-south-east.
On the corner of the ‘s Gravenwinkelstraat and Oostendestraat stood some airplanetents.

The area now

It is as good as impossible to still get an idea of the airfield, if you can not fly over the area. The very last bits of open terrain are now being used for housingprojects and it is only a matter of a few years before the whole terrain will have completely been swallowed by houses. And the open space left is just a few acres. Torhout is groing so fast and this is not just a recent activity, but has started slowly in the twenties. A hospital has also risen on these grounds as have lot’s of stores and other facilities.
There are also no remains whatsoever left of the aerodrome that once was here.

UITKERKE

Marine Schusta I

The order to the creation of the unit came on the 14th of september 1917, together with the same order came the creation of three Kustenfliegerstaffeln.
It seems to have happened all very fast, they seem to have been already operational on the 23rd of September and were having three Albatros CVIII and three DFW planes.
The first commander of the unit was Lt.d.R. Leffler, who also had served with I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

A very good example of their activities is this story : On the 17th of October three Schusta and two artilleryplanes, that had taken off at 7.16 am, were doing reconnaissance over the Northsea. They saw that there was no ‘Sperrbewachung’.
Near the Thorntonbank they were attacked by a Sopwith and two Spads, who thought to have found an easy prey. It seems they mad a bad judgement. The crew of the Friedrichshafen FF30L no 1240 got slightly wounded, but both planes returned to safety at the Oostende Base, so they must have been from the II Kustenfliegerabteilung or Kustenfliegerstaffel.

The unit was probably created at the Snellegem airfield, before going to Uitkerke around 7 march 1918. This would be quite logical as the I and II Marinefeldjasta arrived at Snellegem in the beginning of April.

Marine Schusta II

Untill now it is not completely clear when the II Marine Schutzstaffel was created, but it must have been march or april 1918.

In May 1918 both units changed of name. De Marineschutzstaffeln became the Marine Schlachtstaffeln or Schlasta’s. It may have been earlier, but there is no certitude about this, as the army units already had changed names on the 24th of march 1918. However it was not very Navy do adabt directly to these ‘paperchanges’.

By may of 1918 it is a fact that the Co of this unit was Lt.d.R. Bruno Majewski, who also had served with I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

The unit probably was created here or at Snellegem but became operational at Uitkerke aerodrome.

Kustenflieger Abteilung III

On the 14th of septmber 1917 there was decided that a number of units had to been created for the Marinekorps Flandern. It concerned I, II and III Kustenflieger Abteilungen and also one Marine Schusta.

Marine Kustenflieger Abteilung Flandern was under the command of Kap.lt. Franz Schröter, who so became Gruppenkommandeur der Küstenflieger.

III Kustenfliegerstaffel Uitkerke its first CO was Oblt.d.S.l. Schwarzlose with 5 HFT airplanes

Construction works on the Aerodrome Uitkerke, of which two personnelbunkers have remained, started in the spring of 1917.
It was along the Brugse Baan near the ‘Meiboom’ as very small hamlet of Uitkerke, on the eastern side of the road, and so also very close to the batteries Sachsenand Hessen.
This is nowadays all the territory of Blankenberge.

The local priest of Uitkerke says in his diary that there were no planes on the airfield before March 1918, what is very bizar, as the III Kustenflieger Abteilung had the very specific name Uitkerke.
What is wrong or not, is not known, but anyway, the aerodrome got a first bombardment by Allied planes on the 6th of December 1917. It seems that there was only very light damage, and all concerning the terrain itself.

In a global rapport on all the naval units from May 1918 we found also that the Co of the unit was Oblt.d.R. Albert Reusch and this since the 21st of march 1918.

On aerial pictures clearly can be remarked that by times it was very crowded on the airfield and also very busy !
On wednesdayevening the 6th of October this unit left the airfield as the Allies were coming to close.

Kustenflieger Abteilung IV

The units CO from the creation untill the end of war seems to have been Lt.d.R. Nagel

They also left the Uitkerke aerodrome on the 6th of October 1918, retreating for the Allied armies. With them came a final end to the history of the Uitkerke airfield.

The location of the airfield

It was bordered on the west by the Brugsesteenweg and in the east by the railway from Brugge to Blankenberge. In the south by the Pasteistraat.
There stood some hangars on the left side of the Brugsesteenweg, just over the bunker that is left nowadays.

The area now

It always makes me happy when I can tell you that there is still something left of the airfield. And here there is. If you drive towards Blankenberge, you will see on your left side a big pill box. Many people think that this is a WW II construction, but they couldn’t be less wrong !
It can even be found back on the old aerial photographs of the airfield. Unfortunately there is some very nasty graffiti on it. This was a personnel bunker. The airfield itself was on the other side of the road.
And take a good look on that other side of the road. About a hundred meters further on the right stands another big pill box. It has also two entrances but is a bit smaller than the one on the other side of the road. There are also two small lookholes on the side towards the railway. In the immediate area were also two German coastal batteries, the Sachsen with it’s four 17 cm guns stood right next to the St. Jan chapel. Near the Donkerklok farm stood the Hessen batterie, this is just over the railway you can see on you right, with it’s four 28 cm guns. It were however railwayguns. Untill some years ago you could find some remains of it.

BLANKENBERGE GRAVEYARD

Several burrials of the CWGC can be found here. The most famous burrial over here has nothing to do with the airwar and is Lt.Commander GN Bradford, VC, RN of HMS Iris who died on the 23rd april 1918. And so concerns the raid on St. Georges Day 1918 on the harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende. Of course HMS Iris was at Zeebrugge. The body of Bradford washed here at Oostende ashore, as he had fallen in the sea during the Mole attack.
But back to the aircrews now.

- Lt. C Briggs, RAF, died on the 27th june 1918, flying a DH9 D5687 from 218 Sqdn together with 2nd Lt. William Henry Warner who was also killed, but seems to be burried at Hamburg Cemetary, yes in Germany !!! This is really unbelievable. And what follows is even worse ! The text on the CWGC says that here are burried only POW’s !!! How did his grave end up here ? He was from Blackburn, Lancs.
They were in a fight with Vizeflugmeister Alexandre Zenses from Marine Feldjasta II over Zeebrugge - Blankenberge.

- Lt. WB Craig and Lt G Howard + 26 th September 1918 are mentioned on page ...............

- 2nd Lt. Leslie Seymour Ross Jones of the 3 Bn Devonshire Rgt. Attd. RAF 6th October 1918 stands on the gravemarker but he was downed the 7th it seems. He was last seen over Ieper at 11.30 am flying an Sopwith Camel H7001 from 65 Sqdn. He was born at Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. He could be one of II Marine Feldjasta’s Vizeflugmeister Scharon’s victories of that day.

VLISSEGEM

I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung

The location of the airfield

It is diffucult to situate the aerodrome, as it was about in the middel of the terrain laying between the Vijfwegenstraat and Lepelemstraat, being limited to the south by the Brugsebaan and Noord-Ede. A good reference point can be if you have the Brugsebaan to your back, the farm landinwards on your right side, not far from Lepelemstraat, as this was where the limit of the field of the aerodrome to the east.
The terrain was rather big also, but as it is polderground is suffered also from water, although not heavily.
As to the officers, these were housed in the nearby farms as were the men.

The area now

You’re indeed very close to the Stalhille airfield, it’s just a few hundred meters away. It is still almost exactly the same field as it was at the time. But that say’s it about all. Nothing else will remind you of the former well visited airfield by Allied or should I say British bombers !
However you will see that you still have a lot of reference points with the aerial photo’s of the time.
The farm I mentioned in the location of the airfield is still there and stays a very good referencepoint.

The Houthave Churchyard

One CWGC grave can be found in the very small Houthave town cemetary. It is just on your right when entering.
Flight Sub Lieutenant LFW Smith, DSC, of the RNAS is burried here. He was born at Philipsburg Quebec, Canada.
He joined the RNAS in september 1916. He had 8 confirmed victories and at least three non confirmed claims. All confirmed victories were on West Flanders territory. Was posted to 4 Sqdn RNAS on the 25th april 1917.
On the 13th June 1917 at 12 p.m. this officer was flying Sopwith Camel No. N 6362 of No. 4 (Naval) Squadron. Sent up to intercept 16 Gotha aircraft, his aeroplane was hit by enemy fire subsequently breaking up to crash about 5 miles north west of Bruges-Ghent according to British sources. Posted as Missing in Action, he was later listed as being killed in action. The loss of this aircraft is recorded as being the first Sopwith Camel casualty on active service!
Infact he was stuntflying over the german Vlissegem airfield when all of a sudden the structure of his plane was fractured and he crashed on the grounds of the airfield. The german marine personnel hurried to the aircraft but he had already died.
He still rests on his original burrial place. On his grave is marked the 12th of june, but it seems he was killed the next day.
Concerning his DSC the following was found : From the LONDON GAZETTE 11th August 1917 pg 8207.
Flt. Sub Lieut. Langley Frank Willard Smith, RNAS (since missing).
"For exceptional gallantry and remarkable skill and courage whilst serving with the RNAS at Dunkirk during May and June 1917, in repeatedly attacking and destroying hostile aircraft".
He also received two Belgian awards : the Croix de Guerre and was made a Chevalier de la Couronne.

WINGENE

Flieger Abteilung 32

Arrived the 27th of october 1917 and was to leave again on the 15th november of that year.

Flieger Abteilung 256

Arriving the 24th of august 1917 they left again by the end of march 1918.
We know of a number of casulaties of this unit, as they are burried at the German military cemetaries of Vladslo or Hooglede.
Walter Königsberger, born on the 5th of february 1893 at Berlin, died at Vijfwege on the 31st august 1917 and is burried at Hooglede.
We know also of the loss of Lt.dR. Hans Fleischer, who was born in Berlin on the 14th april 1895 and who was shot down on the 24th september 1917 over the Houthulst wood. He is burried at the Evangelischer Friedhof at Bornstedt, Germany.
Unteroffizier Max Lehmann, was born 30.08.1889 at Ponch and died on the 14.01.1918 near Vijfwegen and is also burried at Hooglede.
Lt. Hans Schultze, was born on the 21.05.1899 at Königsberg and died at Torhout on the 12.03.1918. He is burried at Vladslo.

Schusta 4

They came to Wingene on the 24th of august too of 1917 and stayed here till the 25th of november.

Schusta 12

Arrinving on the 18th of september in 1917 they were gone by the end of october that year. CO in this period was also Oblt. Johannes Missfelder.

Jasta 3

Arrived the 17th of october 1917 to leave again on the 13th march the next year.
Already the next day the unit claimed a victory of Vizefeldwebel Rudolf Eck at 09.55 hours, shooting down a DH5. It could have been the DH5 of 24 Sqnd, manned by 2nd Lt. GW Forbes, who became a POW or the Bristol F2b of 22 Sqdn from Capt. H. Patch and Pte. R. Spensley, both becoming POW’s but Patch died later of his wounds.
On the 20th another claim for the unit by Lt. J von Busse, an RE8 west of Houthulst at 14.15 hours which was a plane from 9th Sqdn, in which 2nd Lt. H. Hirst got wounded.
After this it beame very quiet around the unit. The next victory was scored on the 28th November by Karl Menckhoff at 11.40 hours near Pilkem and on the 5th December at 10.15 hours near Passendale, who would continue to score for the unit on a rather regular base. Not one loss was seen in this period neither.





Major Albert Debrisay Carter
The first one and only loss we found during their stay at Wingene was Lt. Hans von Puttkamer who was shot down on the 19th february at 11.30 hours near Hollebeke while flying Albatros DVa 4495/17 and who was taken POW. He had only one confirmed victory and flew earlier with Kampfeinsitzer Staffel 5.
His victor was Major Alfred Desbrisay Carter of 10th Naval Squadron, a professionel soldier from Pointe de Bute, New Brunswick, Canada and was born on the 5th of July 1892.
Originally served with 13th Reserve Battalion, CEF to RFC, 26 May 1917; qualified as a pilot in the summer and was with No.19 Squadron from the 1st October 1917 to the 19th May 1918 when he was shot down by Lt. Paul Billik from Jasta 52. He was one of four known Commonwealth aces known to be downed by Billik.
Carter had totalled the number of 29 confirmed victories by the time he was taken prisoner.
Repatriated 13 December 1918. However he wa killed in a flying accident not very long after this with No.123 (Canadian) Squadron on the 22 May 1919.

Received the Croix de Guerre from Belgium, awarded as per London Gazette dated 15 April 1918.
The day after he was shot down and taken prisoner he was Mentioned in Despatches - awarded as per London Gazette dated 20 May 1918.
And afterwards he still received the Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 18 February 1918; citation in issue of 18 July 1918.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He destroyed two enemy aeroplanes, drove down several others out of control, and on two occasions attacked enemy troops from a low altitude. He showed great keenness and dash as a patrol leader.
and a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 16 September 1918.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as a fighting pilot. In three and a half months he destroyed thirteen enemy machines. He showed the utmost determination, keenness and dash, and his various successful encounters, often against odds, makes up a splendid record.


Jasta 7

This was the unit of Lt. Paul Billik, just previously mentioned.
Arrived the 22nd of august 1917 and left already on the 14th of september.
That very same day they had already their first victory flying from Wingene, and it was only the first one of a whole series in this short stay ! Uffz. H. Horst opened with shooting down a Sopwith Camel (claiming it was a Pup) over Houthulst forest at 19.45 hours wounding 2nd Lt. BCL Barton from 70th Sqdn in the leg. They suffered no losses at all in this period. Most succesfull day was the 3rd September when they claimed one Spad and three Sopwith Camel’s at 08.25 hours. The Spad was a claim from Lt. E Thun, the Camels from Lt.’s Paul Billik, Georg Meyer and Carl Degelow. Area surroundings of Diksmuide. These battle actions are however very unclear concerning possible victims.

Jasta 28

Arriving the 5th of February and leaving already on the 1st March 1918
Very bizar is the fact that this famous Jasta didn’t score one victory in this period, but also didn’t suffer any losses.
Jasta 33

Came here on the 17th of october and stayed untill the 27th November 1917
The first victory followed on the 21st of October when Lt. Fritz Kuke claimed a Sopwith Camel somewhere northeast from Ieper at 14.15 hours. A victory remaining a mystery untill today. His next claim followed on the 27th about which is no doubt (there were five losses in that area) but it seems the confirmation of the first only followed sometime after the second !
On the 18th of November the loss of Lt. Fritz Kuke occured when he was killed in an accident during a test flight with an unknown plane over Wingene airfield.
He had been the only scoring pilot in the period they were, but finally would also become the units onl y loss.

Jasta 37

Came here on the 10th of october 1917 and wasn’t leaving untill the 5th february 1918
First victory of this unit under the command of Oblt. Kurt Grasshoff untill the 7th of November and then Lt. Ernst Udet, was scored on the 17th October by Vfw. Bärwald at 09.30 hours over the Tolhoek on a Sopwith Camel. Udet would score five times in the period he was at Wingene.

Lt. Ernst Udet
Was the son of an engineer, born on the 26th April 1896 at Frankfurt am Mainz. Since childhood he seems to have been interested by flying and airplanes as he was already making model airplanes at the time ! While he was at school near Munich he already tried to make his first glider flight, however with little succes it seems.
When war broke out he volunteered but was rejected several times as he was found too young with his 18 years of age (this would soon change in the war) but finally entered with the 26 Württemberger Reserve Division where he was active as a volunteer motor cyclist at the front, where he also got injured and was relieved from duty. He tried to volunteer for the airforce but was again rejected and finally decided to pay for his flying lessons at Otto Manufacturing. Again trying to volunteer for the airforce in 1915 he succeeded, first doing service with a Reserve Flieger Abteilung at Darmstadt where he became his license as a military pilot. His first assignment was Flieger Abteilung A 206 as a Gefreiter in the Alsace where he earned the 2nd class of the Iron Cross. He got the 1st class of the Order for attacking a bomber at Mülhausen (in fact a Farman F40 which he downed and was his first officially credited victory) when his new assignement followed at FA 68 at Habsheim, now flying single seaters as the unit would become KEK Habsheim.
On the 28th September 1916 he moved to Jasta 15 under the command of another ace who recieved the Pour le Mérite, Lt. Heinrich Gontermann, where he had an undecided meeting, due to chivalry, with Georges Guynemer.
He moved to Jasta 37 after 6 official victories, on the 19th june 1917. After he had 19 victories Mannfred von Richthofen asked him to join his Squadron and both men went into the air as MvR wanted to know what he was worth. During the test flight Udet shot down a Bristol, enough for von Richthofen to gain his respect it seems. His command of Jasta 11 followed on the 25th March till the 8th April 1918.
The 9th April 1918 followed also the Pour le Mérite, after his 23rd victory on the 6th. The command of Jasta 4 followed on the 20th May untill the 29th june when he was wounded in action being shot down by a Breguet over Cutry and having to use his parachute. He was back in command on the 19th September.
By the 26th September 1918 he score had risen till 62, but then he got wounded in the thigh, which ended his war flying it seems.
After the war he became a sportflyer and lot’s of spectacular shows were performed together with another famous ace, Robert, Ritter von Greim, also a bearer of the Pour le Mérite. He even manufactured his own airplanes for a while and took his skills to the USA. He also performed in a few films and was a test pilot.
With the new Luftwaffe Göring persuaded him in rejoining and when war broke out he was Generalluftzeugmeister. In June 1940 he became Generaloberst. However he had a lot to learn from politics and the dirty games of the Nazi’s especially the ones of Generaloberst Erhard Milch. Not able to cope with the jealousy, competition and other political internal fights in the Luftwaffe he finally committed suicied on the 17th November 1941.


Jasta 40

Also had arrived on the 10th of october, just like Jasta 37 but left already on the 22nd of the same month.
The unit under command of Oblt. Eilers had no victories or losses in thier brief stay at Wingene aerodrome.
Carl Degelow, previously mentioned under Jasta 7 would become later this unit’s commanding officer from the 11th of July 1918 on till the end of the war.

Jasta 51

Stayed for quite a short period, arriving the 10th of january 1918 and leaving on the 1st of february already.
There were no claims or losses of the unit in this period that was under the command of Oblt. Hans-Eberhardt Gandert nd which moved to Jabbeke from here.

The location of the airfield

The area now
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

ZANDE

As far as we know this aerodrome was never in use. On a list of the Armee Oberbefehl of the 21st April 1918, it is not even mentioned ! It is neither mentioned that it had been given free for agricultural use. So if there was an airfield (and some bunkers seem to prove this) it has to posterior to this date.

The location of the airfield

Still unknown. There is a small possibility that it was in the surroundings of the Fesselballon Abteilung at Zevecote, which was stationed on the border of Zevecote and Zande.
More evident would be however near the crossraods of the road Koekelare Zande and the road towards Moere.

The area now

At this last location are a small number of remains of personnel bunkers, which seems to confirm that this is the right location. Aerial photo’s are not giving any real indications and probably there was made use of the farm buildings as possible hangars and workstations.

ZEDELGEM, VELDEGEM AND LOPPEM SUD

There are indications that this was one and the same airfield. Geographically these municipalities all have borders with one another and are even nowadays all part of the new community Groot-Zedelgem (groot being big).
It is a fact that by april 1918 Veldegem and Loppem Sud were not in use at all. On the list of the 4th German army it is clear that although not in use, it was forbidden to use it for agricultural purposes. There are also no guards on duty over there. Concerning the part Zedelgem it is stated that it is constantly under guard. So this could mean that it was also a reserve airfield or perhaps during a very short time even an active aerodrome.

The location of the airfield and The area now

No photographic or other evidence could be found of the airfield. It clearly must have been a reserve airfield. However old maps give possible indications of a location where the three formerly seperate village join.

ZEEBRUGGE

Seeflugstation Flandern I

It is not entirely clear when the creation of the unit has been exactly decide, but there are a number of clews that point us in the direction of the end of October 1914. It was meant to create a unit with seaplanes on the Belgian coast.

On the 24th November 1914 the German Marine-Amt made clear what it wanted by appointing the following personnel at the new unit :
- Commander : Oblt z S von Arnauld de la Perriere
- 2nd commanding officer : Oblt z S Prandzynski
- Technical command : Ing.Asp.d.R.n Dr Stein
- Beobachtungsoffizier : Oblt z S Moll
On the 26th followed the confirmation of the appointment of the commander.
And by the 5th of december the unit was baptised at Zeebrugge Mole.

By the 17th of december the unit was already known to be operational and is on a list of that day concerning operational units of the 4th Army.

Especially for the creation of the unit there had to be done a number of works on the Zeebrugge Mole. The travellerscentre that was on it was reconstructed into a big base for seaplanes. Just next to it were constructed a number of sheds and during the war many more new constructions of that kind would follow. Some of these sheds even seem to have been almost bombfree concrete shelters.

There was also taken care of new build storage rooms for fuel, munition, bombs, etc. The big harbourcranes on the Mole were very handy and welcome for the unit as this was a fast way of placing seaplanes in the water or retrieving them from the sea.

Lot’s of time the seaplanes didn’t even stand in the hangars, especially not during the day, but on the mole, near the harbourcranes, ready to placed in the water and get in action as fast as possible. Sometimes they even stood on the beach between the harbourentrance and the claire voie of the harbour mole. This had on big advantage, as the planes were having the possibility to start very quickly, and being very close to the officers quarters at the Palace hotel. It was a residence in style for the officers and pilots ! And they never had to worry about having not enough space. This maner of working was used a lot after the attack of St. George’s Day 1918.

Otherwise, flying from the sea had a number of limitations. In cases of rought weather it was difficult to land or take off. And sometimes quicky impossible. It is understandable that these situations led to a number of accidents. Accidents that ended upside down, broken fuselages, damage on the floaters, etcetera are just a few examples of the porblems these airmen encountered.

The unit was very lucky with the railwayconncetion from the harbour mole to the shore. This made it possible to transport the planes by train towards the village of Lissewege, where a big repair and revisionhall had been constructed for the seaplanes. This was the place were engines were taken apart and were a number of damaged planes were repaired and in some cases even partially reconstructed. It seems they called it the miracle repairshop.

Part of this infrastructure has survived untill today. It is not evident to see anymore, but along the road between Zeebrugge and Lissewege near kilometerpost 17.6 stands a house that is in fact nothing else than one of the original hangars.

Certainly worth mentioning was the mess of the troops of the Marinkorps at Lissewege, in the tavern De Drie Koningen (the three kings). This tavern was very richly decorated with drawings of the hand of Richard Fiedler, who also wrote and made comics and shadowdrawings for the magazine of the Marinekorps, already mentioned a few times before. In 1959 fourteen scenes were left. They were most all of a very homelike order, but some of them concerned also life of a nurse, marine-infanterist, a matrose, a huzar. There was also a cruiser and a U-boat amongst the other scenes.



The most famous commander of this unit would be without any doubt Oblt.d.R. Friedrich Christiansen, also called the fighterpilot of zeebrugge. The story of this pilot-commander is totally different than the one of the other German aces. He flew as good never a one seater plane and if you looked at him between the rest of the men he was already an old man ! He was 3 years old when he had his first successes ! His collegues were not even 20 years old or just over that age.
Although his age he became a real ace and his value as an instructor in his own ranks was at least comparable at the value of another legend of the skies, Boelcke, who had 40 victories on his name.
The score of Christiansen was much lower, in the area of 20 or 21 and according to a number of people it was even much lower, because a number of his victories concerned ships he brought in or did sink, during his attacks over the Northsea.

FRIEDRICH CHRISTIANSEN aka ‘Olle Krischan’ sometimes also ‘ Olle Fiede’

Born at Wyk am Föhr in a family of seamen on the 12th December 1879. When he was 16 years old he werved on the Parchim as a cabin-boy. Cape Horn had no secrets for the men on this ship. When 20 years old he became second helmsman on the world’s biggest clipper
of the time, the five masts ship Preussen. But for him too the era of the fast clippers ended when he became a recruit in 1901 at the I Torpedo-Abteilung for his military service. He ended as Bootsmann der reserve. He got his captainpatent and got the helm in his hands of the Pera, a steamer. Early 1914 he returned with his Christiana to Hamburg and saw the planes at Fühlsbuttel, and from that very moment on he knew he had lost his heart to the sea and the airplane ! The 27th March 1914 he got his pilots license 707 in the German series. The day after he nearly missed the worldrecord on flightduration. That ought to say something about the man !
On the 3rd of August he joined the Imperial navy and the next day he was already appointed flying instructor at the Flieger Abteilung Holtenau ! People like Sachsenberg and Christiansen would get and had a very big respect for the men as they told after the war.
The 15th of january 1915 he joined Seeflugstation Flandern at Zeebrugge. He was one of the only pilotes with experience on flying over the sea. On the 1st of september of the same year he made a worldrecordflight with aspirant Exner as observer, by flying from Zeebrugge, via the Dutch coast, to Germany, a flight of over 700 kilometers without a stop ! Three days later he was back at Zeebrugge.
Two stories show the man he was and who would become Co of the unit on the 15th September 1917 and who would receive Germanies highest reward the Pour le Mérite.

On the 16th of March 1916 Christiansen together with the new Co of the unit as an observer, Kap.lt. von Tschirsky und Bögendorff was flying with his Staffel for a bombing raid on Dover. While attacking one of his floaters was hit by AA fire. On the return flight the following happened : During the flight back and still 10 kilometers inland over England, we were attacked from behind and out of the sun by a small agila British landbased singleseatfighter and we were so taken by surprise that our opponent was able to get within 20 meters from us to give his first greeting with a stream of machinegun fire. A hailstorm of hits on our aircraft. The radiatorline had been shot away and a valve-rocker on one cylinder of the engine was destroyed. In addition von Tschirschky was shot in the shoulder and grazed at the head, and so could no longer make use of his Mauser automatic rifle, as at the time seaplanes didn’t have yet machineguns.
For Christiansen it wasn’t easy to fly either. The hot water of the radiator sprayed in his face and he had to crawl as good and as bad as possible into the fuselage to fly. The engine was malfunctioning and he got lower and lower with the plane. He flew just over the roofs of some houses at Dean and dove into the fog hanging over the sea, the British plane stopped immediately following them (this was infact Flight Commander Bone). Five miles of the coast he landed the plane, not knowing that he was in the middle of a minefield ! It didn’t they long for the punctured floater took water and the plane started to get pulled in a list, one wing touching the water. Christiansen was himself wounded at his thigh and hands, but repaired the radiator and filled the cooler with seawater !
von Tschirschky stood on the other floater and tried to turn the propellor to start the engine. Meanwhile British ships were heard looking for them, but because of the fog they were invisible. Finally they got discovered and the first waterfountains of exploding shells were getting near them whenthe Mercedesengine finally decided to do what it was made for.
Christiansen had the luck that he knew the Goodwins as the back of his pocket and the plane bumped over the water like a duck that is to fat to take off. He went straight over the sandbanks, an obstacle for the following ships and so was able to get away. He reached the base nine hours after the start of the operation, and seven hours after his enginetrouble. No wonder everybody thought they were dead or POW.

The second story is concerning a rescue mission on the sea. Christiansen had done many, it has to be said, but this was the most spectacular one :
He was flying together with Vizeflugmeister Maukisch during a battle on two frons, naval and air. It was the 5th of July 1917. The S20 a German light destroyer was hit and sank. Christiansen landed his plane and took three of the surviving crewmembers on board his seaplane. However there were more survivors, and over 20 men were swimming towards the seaplane, all desperate to save their lives. For taking the other men on board he had removed the machinegun, the ammunition and a hundred liters of fuel. The engine refused to start and meanwhile other men were holding on to the floaters. The situation became extremely dangerous for everybody. He knew very well that the only way to save these men their lives was in getting back as fast as possible to base. The engine started, those holding on to the floats were removed with hard hand, and Christiansen would never forget the sight when he flew away. Men trying desperately to grab on to the floats, the fear on their faces and in their eyes. It was a very hard decision to take, but one that would rescue many lives. Men yeeling and screaming, even calling him a Fliegerhund. It ringed for a long time in his ears. A quick stop in Zeebrugge and he returned with twelve seaplanes and four torpedoboats. Night was starting to fall. Twentyfive more men were saved due to Christiansen, but also 38 bodies were found in the water during a 2 hours search. The bodies found eternal peace at the Zeebrugge cemetary, next to some British sailors and pilots. Christiansen received the Rettungsmedaille for this and seems to have commented that he rather had saved some more men.

Finally the text on his recommendation for the Pour le Mérite says also a lot on the man :
Since 16th September 1917 he is commander of the Seeflugstation Flandern. Since February 12th 1915 he has flown 440 flights against the enemyn his flyaing hours totalling 1164. He has many air victories to record. He has dropped bombs on Dover, etc. He kept 27 shipwrecked sailors, who met with accident through English monitors, with his squadron at the accident site over water until boats came to save the crew. Seven men still drifting in the water later were fished out by his squadron, and sheltered in the planes. He himself brought three of the men in his plane to Zeebrugge. Furthermore, together with U-boats he brought in five steamships and one Dutch sailboat. Through him five damaged aircraft end their crews were saved. In December 1917 he attacked an English ariship off the coast of England and destroyed it. Christiansen counts as the best and most succesful German seaplane pilot.
The destroyed airship concerned the C27 that was shot down at the eastcoast of England.

FIRST BOMBS ON BRITISH SOIL

It wouldn’t take long to see that these guys were daredevils. On the 21st december 1914 a seaplane appeared off Dover and dropped two bombs in the sea near the Admiralty pier and quickly made off again ! So far just two missers.
However on the 24th of december a bomb was dropped at Dover. It was the CO of the base, Oblt.z.S. Friedrich von Arnauld de la Pérriere with observer Oblt.z.S. Moll that was doing this action, whilst on reconaissance over Calais-Dover-Sheerness. A plane was sent up to but seems to have failed finding them.

On the 25ht of December 1914, the unit would loose the second in command, Prondzynski. Flying a Friedrichshafen FF29 No 203, they were shot down near Erith in the Thames Estuary, having shot down also a British plane with Fanhrich z.S. von Frankenberg from 7 Sqdn, a Vickers FB4 No 664 of 2nt Lt. M.R. Chidson and Cpl. Martin who flew from Joyce Green. They were both OK. This was the only Vickers FB4, infact a pusher prototype that was fitted with a Maxim (!) machine gun and it even seems that ot was the only operational aircraft of the time that was so armed.
von Frankenberg was wouded in the elbow. He and Prondzynski were taken prisoner and told their interrogators all they wanted to know. Except for the fact that it were all enormous big lies !
However this was also the second crew and the second time that bombs feld on British soil. They had dropped two bombs on Cliffe, Kent, no casualties were suffered. From 1915 on, but especially from 1916 on these units would pay regular visits to the UK for bombing !

On the 12th of august 1915 a British doubledecker-seaplane was shot down near Zeebrugge. It was not clarified if this happened by AA fire or by a plane of the Zeebrugge basis, but it seems to have been Flak. So probably it was Marine Flak. The pilot, a lieutenant was taken prisoner and parts of his plane were salvaged.
The plane seems to have come from Felixstowe and the pilot was Flight Sub Lt J M Darcy-Levy POW from Felixstove flying Sopw.Schn No. 3717.

On the 14th december 1915, plane no 504 was shot down, by what were called shrapnelhits, and the plane had to make a force landing. It was destroyed by the both crew members, Lt.z.S. Uhle-Wettler and Obersteuermansmaat Fischer who were taken POW.
Some sources mentioned that the plane crashed while on fire which is not correct, but this probably will have to do with the fact that the crew burned the plane down. It was one of five planes that had done a bombardment on the harbour of Dunkirk, an action in which three hits were noted on ships.

INCE, Flight Sub Lt. Srthur Strachan
They had been shot down in fact by an aeroplane, manned by Flight Sub Lt. Graham and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Strachan Ince - who got a Distinguished Service Cross for this action, awarded as per London Gazette dated 24 February 1916.
Ince was born on the 31st October 1892 and live at Toronto where he was a salesman for Fairbanks-Morse.
He passed his tests at Curtiss Flying School on the 11th July 1915 and was appointed Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, RNAS the very next day and sailed from Montreal on SS Scandinavia, 24 July 1915. Was appointed to Dover on the 11th of September 1915 and transferred at Calshot by the 18th December 1917. He was the very first Canadian-born RNAS recipient of an award. This is the text of the London Gazette concerning his DSO :
For his services as gunner and observer on 14th December 1915, when with Flight Sub-Lieutenant Graham he attacked and destroyed a German seaplane off the Belgian coast.

A remarkable German victory on a British airship was scored by Oberflugmeister Karl Meyer on the 21st april 1917 east of North Foreland. Meyer had 8 confirmed and two non confirmed claims. He was born at Mulhausen on the 29th of january 1894. He was a pupil of the two masters of Germany’s flying scene, Stöffler and Ingold and was to become the very first ace of the German Naval Air service, as he had his first five victories by the 23th october of 1916 ! However in that month he also ran through the eye of the needle ! On the 1st of that month he was involved in a combat with three British flying boats, Shorts. His first victim crashed on fire at sea, the second had to do a forced landing, but the third was getting as close as ten meters and Meyer had a gun jam, leading to the result that he saw the bullets fly all over the place ! He was able to get away, and had to do himself a foreced landing near the coast as he had been hit by a bullet in the underthigh, he got some first aid and returned the plane to base where they already had reported him missing. And on arrival at Zeebrugge more then 70 bulletholes were found in the seaplane !
He served some time with the I Marine Feldjasta, but it seems he didn’t feel at home in this unit and returned to the Seeflugstation Flandern I. On the 1st of february 1917 he shot down a Sopwith Pup N6161 from 3 N Sqdn. between Bredene and Blankenberge, his 6th victory. The plane of Flight Sub Lt. G.L. Elliot, who became a prisoner of war, fell intact in German hands and was given German markings ! He died on the 31st of december 1917 at Leipzig from injuries sustained in a flying accident. Meyer was a very popular men at his unit, who loved a good laugh.

THE C 17 STORY
Is another story of Karl Meyer. It was to become his 7th victory.
We found it in the magazine of the Marinekorps Flandern, called ‘An Flanderns Küste’.

On the 21st of april at 12.30 hours Meyer and Marine Oberflugmeister Käftner took off from Zeebrugge, in search of a prey. Both oneseaters flew along the Belgian coastline towards the west and discovered around 13.00 hours at about 15 seamiles from Gravelines and at only 500 meters high over the Northsea, an Allied airship, which was the C17.

Almost directly both planes dived on to the airship, but after 150 rounds the gun of Käftner was jamming and Meyer continued the attack alone, that only had started for a few seconds. The almost 100 meters long airship had a gondola with a crew of eight and two machineguns. It desperately tried to get away, but it’s speed was no match for the faster seaplane. At a distance of a hundred meters, about a hundred rounds hit the balloon, without any result. It was even so that Meyer escaped dead himself as he was fired on by one of the machineguns. Renewing the attack he fired continually on the gondola, shutting up the machinegun. He fired another twohundred rounds into the airships national marking on the balloon, which led up, turning the airship into a firecolumn. Meyer turned and got away from it as soon as possible. It seems the gondola turned upside down and crashed into the water, followed by the burning remains of the airship. Meyer still flew over to see if there were any survivors, but there weren’t any, after which he returned to Zeebrugge.

THE COASTAL CLASS AIRSHIP AND THE C17

C.17 was a 'Coastal' Class airship.

LOA - 196 Feet
Capacity - 170,000 cu ft
Power - 1 x 150 HP Sunbeam Tractor, 1 x 220 HP Renault Pusher
Armament 2 x MG (one on the top of the envelope), 4 x 112 lb bombs or 2 x 230 lb bombs or depth charges

C.17 was built at Kingsnorth. Trials 10 Aug 1916, captained by Flt Lt Wheelwright. To Pulham from Kingsnorth 31 Aug 1916.

On 21 April 1917 proceeded on patrol, but no contact made with base after 08:00. Captain was Sub Lt Edward George Oliphant Jackson, Observer Assistant Paymaster R A P Walters. Deleted Pulham 21 April 1917, destroyed by fire. It was assumed C.17 was shot down by German seaplanes. There were no survivors. Jackson is remembered at Chatham Naval Memorial Kent, United Kingdom . Walters had only gone on C.17 as a passenger for some air experience.

Up until the loss of C.17 the upper Lewis gun was not usually carried. As a result of the loss instructions were issued that the upper gun was to be manned whenever 'Coastals' were operated out of Pulham over the North Sea.

Op 15 februari 1918 werd een Curtiss H12B neergehaald, hiermee viel ook het eerste slachtoffer van de US Naval Air. Het was Ensign Albert D Sturtevant, een Amerikaans navaal piloot. Zijn toestel N4338 werd neergehaald door Christiansen en alle vier inzittenden kwamen om. Het andere toestel die terugkeerde, beweerde dat ze aangevallen waren door tien eenzitters. Waarschijnlijk een uitleg om hun reden te verdoezelen waarom ze het hazepad kozen. Ze werden aangevallen door de I C staffel, dus tussen de drie en vijf toestellen maximum.

STURTEVANT, Ensign Albert D - FIRST CASUALTY US NAVAL AIR
Albert D. Sturtevant was the very first US naval air casualty in WW I, shot down on the 15th february 1918 by the I C Staffel of Seeflugstation Flandern I in Curtiss H12B N4338.
Born 2 May 1894, in Washington, DC. Enlisted 24 March 1917, with 28 others as First Yale Unit. Commissioned Ensign two days later (promotions seem to come fast in wartime!). Designated a Naval Aviator 1 May 1917, reported to RNAS Felixstowe Oct 1917. Received a posthumous Navy Cross.
The above is from The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, volume 6? (R-S), since DD-240 was named Sturtevant for him (hit a mine of Key West, Florida on 26 April 1942). The later DE-239 was also named for him. See also The First Yale Unit, by Ralph D Paine, published 1925 for further details of him and the First Yale Unit.

The base didn’t suffer a lot from the raid on St.-Geroge’s Day 1918 concerning its sheds or planes. A bigger problem however was that the claire-voie was destroyed, so no more planes could be taken from or to the Mole to or from Lissewege by rail. To be able to react very fast a number of planes were placed at the beach near the harbourentrance.
In the first days a lot of observation and photo flights came from British side. A Canadian did get the DFC for one of these flights, it was :
ROBINSON, Captain John
of 202 Sqdn. It was awarded as per London Gazette dated 3 June 1918. No citation. However, in the report could be found the following concerning the action in which he got the Distinguished Flying Cross :
On April 25, 1918, with Lieutenant Russell, carried out photo recce of Bruges and Zeebrugge. Exposed 11 plates over Bruges docks and five plates over Zeebrugge Harbour and Mole. Three enemy aircraft observed off Ostend which made towards convoy but turned away on our machines turning to attack. Heavy and accurate AA was experienced, machine being hit in several places, main spar of lower starboard plane being badly shattered and also rear flying wire; a piece of shrapnel entered pilot's view finder, smashing watch on dash-board and scratching pilot's face, nevertheless the machine carried on and took photographs of Zeebrugge. Height 19,500 feet, visibility good.
Robinson also got the Croix de Guerre with Palm from France and was made Chevalier in the Order of Leopold a Belgian award, both of these were received in 1919. Before he was already twicely mentioned in dispatches and was born on the 27th February 1887 in London, Ontario and lived at Toronto.

The sixth of june 1918 another flyingboat was shot down from Felixstowe, with five planes. Lt. Col. EDM Robertson, de commander of the base, was one of the crewmembers. They were picked from their wreckaged plane after eight hours of drifting on the Northsea, by a couple of Curtiss H12 flyingboats from their base, who were apparently searching for them.

Kenneth James Nelson, THE ROYAL AIR FORCE AWARDS, 1918-1919 gives the following incident (without giving his source and without identifying who "he" is):
"While flying on an H.12 flying boat from Felixstowe Air Station on 5 June 1918, he had the Station Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel E.D.M. Robertson on board. He became involved in a fight with five German seaplanes from Zeebruge and during the scrap lost an engine. He had to make a forced landing on the water and wrecked the aircraft in doing so. The crew climbed aboard the upturned keel and a few minutes later one of the German seaplanes landed and taxied close to the wreckage and told them they were close to the Eglish coast and asked if they would like to be picke up and taken to Zeebruge as Prisoners of War, or would they prefer to take their chances on being found and rescued by British aircraft and ships. Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson declined the offer, whereupon the enemy pilot produced a camera, took a photograph, waved a cheery farewell and took off."

This story has been confirmed to be reel by the members of the Seeflugstation Flandern I. So chivalry was still possible at that time of the war !

Kustenflieger Abteilung I

As most of this units work was done in combination with the Seeflugstation Flandern I we can not tell very much of them. They were helping the coastal batteries firing on their targets. The important batteries all had their own plane for this purpose.

Friedrich Christiansen

Torpedostaffel II

The nit arrived halfway march 1917 at Zeebrugge. She was officially created on the 16th of that month, and the same day arrived also two new planes from Flensburg, the numbrs 701 and 702.
Three planes had already arrived before, the 678, 700 and 703.
Commander of the unit was a pilot, Oblt.z.S. Hans-Albrecht Wedel.

They flew Hansa Brandenbrug GW and Friedrichshafen FF41A seaplanes and also Friedrichhafens FF33’s were used.

It is a fact that already earlier, by the end of 1916 it seems, had arrived a number of torpedoplanes, which can indeed also be seen on a quite large number of photograph’s.
The three planes already mentioned were probably the ones brought along by Lt.z.S. Becker. This crew and all later crews from the Torpedostaffel were also finding a residence in the Brugge, the former SS Brussels of Captain Fryatt. Also quite a number of personnel from the Seeflugstation was staying here.

These first planes already sank a freighter on the 9th of november 1916, when they attacked the last ship of convoy that was only protected by a torpedoboat and some fishingvessels ! Two of the three torpedo’s dit hit the ship that sank. It is possible that this unit was the I torpedostaffel that has been dissolved and recreated a number of times !

Anyway, the II Torpedostaffel sank a baggership near Ramsgate on the 19th april 1917, an action undertaken by Lt.d.R. Freude and Flgmt. Berhoff. Untill now it is not known what the name of the ship was.

Two other ships were confirmed to the II Torpedostaffel :

- May 1, 1917 GENA (GBR, 2784) 3/4 mile SxW1/2W of "A" War Channel Buoy Southwold
- June 14, 1917 KANKAKEE (GBR, 3718) about 1 mile N of Sunk Head Buoy

On the 13th of november the order came to dissolve the unit from the Marineflugchef. This seems to have happened all quite fast, as by the 26th of the month all personnel that was not transferred to another Zeebrugge units had left the base.

Torpedostaffel I

The I Torpedostaffel(II) was re-established on 1 Sep 1917 in Flensburg under the command of Lt zS Stinsky and on the 4th of September 1917 the unit arrived to Zeebrügge.
Only five days later the unit already scored it’s first succes. At 14.10 hours three torpedoplanes took off,
- 995 with Lt.z.S. Stinsky, Flugmtr. Neuerberg
- 1211 with Schürer en Mertens
- 1213 with Hübrich en Rowehl
They were accompanied by three planes of a C Staffel as protection. Nortwest of the base they attacked a steamer and scored two hits. They rapported to have sunk a 500 BRT ship. At 16.55 hours all the planes were safely back at Zeebrugge.
This ship seems to have been from British origine and was known as the ‘Storm’ or ‘Storm of Guernsey’ and had only 440 BRT ! It sank one mile south east of the Sunk lightvessel.

Then on the 18th of September 1917 they already left Zeebrügge for transport to Windau where they arrived on 23 Sep 1917. On the 8th of October they were active in operation Albion (the on the Baltic islands) but due to heavy AA fire and torpedoproblems their operation near Zerel and Mento. Another try was done by a hydroglider but this was exploded, it is not known if it struck a mine, or if the torpedo went of while still on the ship. The I Torpedostaffel seems to have stayed at Windau until 6 Nov 1917 when they returned to Zeebrügge and arrived on 12 Nov 1917.
They were dissolved for the probably third time somewhere in April 1918.

Some of the flyers like Stinsky were experienced flyers who already had served within the unit during its first period in 1916 and both Lt zS dR Paul Schürer(P) and Flugobermaat Mertens(O) received the Ehrenpreis for the destruction of the British steamer.

The location of the ‘airfield’

The area now

Nothing is really left of the old harbour mole. The big new harbour seems to have swallowed the old one completely, but this is not really the case. You still can find the exact spot where the sheds were of Friedrich Christiansen’s unit. You just have to follow the Leopold II dam. On a sudden moment you will see a knick in the road. Just a few yards further on you right stood the sheds of the seaplanebase !
Unfortunately nothing will remind you here of the mole at which the Vindictive, Iris and Daffodil anchored for their attack on St George’s Day 1918, while the blockships were searching their way towards the harbourentrance in an heroic attempt to block it and close the harbour for the devastating raids and attacks of the submarines of the UBand UC types of the Flandern Flottille of admiral von Schröder.

The Zeebrugge cemetary

The Zeebrugge cemetary was originally from german origine, but during the war there were also burried a number of British soldiers. The most famous ones resting here are of course from the St.-George’s day raid on Zeebrugge in 1918.
However also a number of RFC/RAF/RNAS personnel is resting here.

Highest in rank is Capt. Valentine Edgar Giberne Sieveking DSC + Bar, a Londoner, who was killed on the 18th may 1918. Lt. Henry Alfred Haviland-Roe from Nottingham is also burried here, they were shot down near Zeebrugge flying a HP 0/400 of 214 Sqdn on the 19th May 1918. So the date on the gravemarker of Sieveking is incorrect. The third member of the crew Air Mechanic F. Spencer was wounded and made prisoner. Their Handley Page seems to have been captured in quite good condition.

Other crew is the one concisting of Lt. CZ Hains and Flight sub Lt. W Houston-Stewart of RNAS, 2 N Sqdn, flying DH4 N5963, last been seen over Oostduinkerke and killed the 26th may 1917, probably not very far from Oostende. It is generally the idea that there were 4 french seaplanes shot down that day by Seefrosta pilots. However this seems to put some questions marks at these claims. Lt.z.S. Strang shot two down, Vizeflugmeister Müller one and so did Flugmaat Burgstaller.

The 2nd Lt. Charles Leslie Bray from Essex and Lt. NA Taylorson of the RAF who were shot down the 19th may 1918.
Taylorson and Bray were flying a DH4, D2784 of 211 squadron when they were attacked near Blankenberge (probably over Uitkerke) by Flugmaat Karl Engelfried of the Seefrosta. They were shot down by him at 13.30 hours and became so Engelfrieds first victory.

There is also an unknown burrial of the RAF, dating 20th may 1918, probably a body that washed ashore.

Lt Fitzroy Arthur Bell Gasson, London, of RAF, killed 26th september 1918. He was flying a DH4 of 202 Sqdn, together with 2nd Lt. Stewart King from Parkstone, Dorset, when they were attacked by Lt.z.S. Freymadl of the I Marinefeldjasta near Oostende around 11.15 hours. Both crew died in the crash. It was Freymadl’s second victory. King is not burried overhere but at Bredene churchyard, which is very unusual. He is the only WW I Commonwealth burrial over here but there are also 12, from which 4 unidentified, from the second World War.

On the 11th of august 1918 were lost Lt. Harry Fawdry from Torquay, Devon and 2nd Lt. JS Cryan, who were flying a DH9, C1207 from 218 Sqdn, when they were hit over Zeebrugge by AA fire from Marineflak, killing them both in the crash and had been going down in flames.

The most famous german airman burried here is Lt.z.S. Hans Rolshoven. He died the 6th of may 1918.
Rolshoven was born the 23rd december of 1894 at Straifund. He started flying when 18 years old, before war broke out and had one year of training by the Shoreham compagnonship in England where he got his international pilots licence. He joined the Seeflugstation Flandern at Zeebrugge and was one of the very first to do bombardmentflights to England, especially Dover and Shernetz. He posessed both classes of the Iron Cross and was also awarded the Königlichen Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern. When the Seefrontstaffel was established on the 1st of october 1917 he became the commanding officer of the unit.
He had done a reconaissance flight on the 6th of may 1918 and while returning he suffered structural damage on his plane above Zeebrugge, crashing immediately at 18.30 hrs. Some nearby marine personnel ran to the wreck, but all help was to late. A In Memoriam was published on him in the magazine of the Marinekorps Flandern, titled ‘An Flanderns Küste’. He had three confirmed victories.

Other crew burried here is the one of Flugobermaat Wilhelm Debrodt and Matrose Karl Specht, who were shot down the 31st of may 1918.

RETREAT

Even when retreating during October 1918 some of the German units were still fighting even with more determination than ever.
The units that were among the most dangerous by halfway and towards the end of that month were the Marine Jasta’s.
For example on the 23rd october they held a new massacre under the 204 Sqdn planes who ran into 12 planes of the Marine coming back from a bombing operation. Five were shot down for shure near Termonde before noon.
- D8223 was shot down killing Sgt. MCA Mahon, for shure a victory of Zenses
- D9608 killing Capt. Thomas Walter Nash, DFC from Littlehampton, burried at Cement House Cemetary at Langemark Poelkapelle. He also received the Croix de Guerre.
- D9613 in which Lt. Osborne John Orr, DFC was killed. He was from Vancouver British Colombia. He is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
- E4420 in which Lt. Frederick Gordon Bayley, DFC perished, probably a victory of Sachsenberg. Bayley is also burried at Cement House Cemetary at Langemark Poelkapelle.
- F3101 of 2nd Lt. G Scutliffe US, who was also killed, probably a victory of Sachsenberg.

Two were claims of Sachsenberg, three by Zenses and one by Scharon. So one was given to two pilots.
And Sachsenberg downed also a plane in the afternoon from 108 Sqdn, a DH9 probably C6314 of Capt. Charles Graham Haynes from Hove, burried at Boekhoute Churchyard at Assenede and 2nd Lt. G Brown who’s burried at the same place, both being killed in action.





Major Roderic Stanton Dallas

He was born on the 30th July 1891 at Mount Stanley, Queensland, Australia. His pre-war occupation was assayer. He enlisted in 1913 and at outbreak of war tried to join RFC but rejected and got into RNAS. Flew with 1 Naval Wing from Dunkirk. Flew one and two-seaters. Flew also Sopwith Triplane when the unit had become 1 Naval Squadron. And later also became it’s CO. In April 1918 posted to 40 sqdn RAF. Shot down on the 1st of june 1918 attacked by three Fokker DR I’s of Jasta 14, finally being killed by Lt. Hans Werner, his 6th victory and crashing near Lievin. Dallas aka Bréguet ended with 32 confirmed victories.

On the 20th may 1916 he claimed his 2nd victory, a seaplane (of Seeflugstation Flandern) that was destroyed 4m of Blankenberge at 0700 hrs in the morning (British time).
I know of an operation between 02.00 and 06.00 hours, German time, of 6 seaplanes who bombed Dover, Deal, Margate and Ramsgate. Not aware of any losses. Am I missing a piece ? I really don’t know.
In his own words he flew during 1.40 hours in Nieuport 3993 :
.....when off Blankenbergue encountered German seaplane dived and shot him down, saw him sink. .......
Untill now no corresponding loss was found.


Record of Two Airmen, London Times, June 1918
____________________


Major Roderic Stanley Dallas, D.S.O., D.S.C. (and bar). R.A.F, (late R.N.A.S.), aged 25, who was recently killed in an aerial combat abroad, was the son of Mr. Dallas, of Taranga, Queensland, Australia. At the beginning of the war he obtained a commission in the Australian Army, and afterwards obtained permission to take up flying. Joining the R.N.A.S. on June 25, 1915, he quickly became an efficient pilot, and proceeded on active duty on the Belgian at the end of November that year. As a scout pilot he was with the R.N.A.S. squadrons cooperating with the French at Verdun, and afterwards with the R.N.A.S. squadrons attached to the army at the Somme. He gained the D.S.C. and the Croix de Guerre for his work on the Belgian coast and with the French, and the bar to the D.S.C. whilst attached to the army. He was also awarded the D.S.O., and was several times mentioned in dispatches. Major Dallas was officially credited with having destroyed 39 enemy machines, more than half of which where destroyed by him while he was in command of an R.N.A.S. squadron.
Captain Robert Alexander Little, D.S.O. (and bar), D.S.C. (and bar), R.A.F. (late R.N.A.S.) aged 22, who was also recently killed abroad in an aerial combat at night, was the son of Mr. R. Little, 263, College St, Melbourne, Australia. He joined the R.N.A.S. in January, 1916, and proceeded on active service on the Belgian coast in June of that year. Afterwards he went with the R.N.A.S. squadrons cooperating with the army on the Somme, and soon established himself as a fearless fighting pilot. He was officially credited with having destroyed 47 enemy machines, and was awarded the D.S.O. (and bar), D.S.C. (and bar), and the Croix de Guerre. At the time of his death he held the "record" among pilots of the R.N.A.S. for enemy machines destroyed. His entire lack of fear was well evidenced at Dover immediately before crossing to France. An R.A.F. pilot flew into Dover cliffs on a foggy day and crashed. Captain Little scaled down the cliffs and rescued the pilot.




Article sourced from the London Times June 1918 courtesy of Andrew Smith.



Distinguished Service Cross
London Gazette 6th September 1916;

"Flight Sub-Lieut. Dallas, in addition to performing consistantly good work in reconnaissances and fighting patrols since December, 1915, has been brought to notice by the Vice Admiral, Dover Patrol, for the specially gallant manner in which he has carried out his duties. Amongst other exploits is the following:

On the 21st May, 1916, he sighted at least 12 hostile machines, which had been bombing Dunkerque. He attacked one at 7,000 feet, and then attacked a second machine close to him. After reloading, he climbed to 10,000 feet, and attacked a large hostile two-seater machine off Westende. The machine took fire and nose-dived seawards. Another enemy machine then appeared, which he engaged and chased to the shore, but had to abandon owing to having used all his ammunition."

Bar to DSC

London Gazette 22 June, 1917

"In recognition of his services on the 23rd April, 1917, when with two other machines he engaged a formation of nine hostile scouts and two-seater machines. Two two-seater machines were shot down, one of them by Flt Cdr Dallas unassisted."







This text remains the complete property of Johan Ryheul, and was finished on the 26th March 2002 at Jabbeke
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Regulus 1



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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 1:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Hmm, ik heb gelogen, als je dit wil uitlezen ben je wel een paar uur zoet ! Embarassed Evil
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BerichtGeplaatst: 02 Mrt 2007 20:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus, hartelijk dank voor al dit leesvoer.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Mrt 2007 20:27    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus 1 @ 02 Mrt 2007 1:14 schreef:
Hmm, ik heb gelogen, als je dit wil uitlezen ben je wel een paar uur zoet ! Embarassed Evil


Jammer dat ik dit pas lees na de laatste punt van het verhaal. Laughing Indrukwekkend werk. Smile
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Mrt 2007 22:21    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Blij dat het toch iemand leuk vond ! Cool Laughing
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Mrt 2007 22:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dat is een hele kluif. Ik ga mijn printertje laten rollen, zodat ik in de zomer aangenaam leesvoer heb!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Mrt 2007 22:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Het zal nog leuker worden, binnen een paar maanden doe ik een rondvlucht over alle vliegvelden in die regio, zal enkele fototoestellen meezeulen en mijn camera...
Kan ik het resultaat hier dan mmoi bijplaatsen...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Aug 2007 21:18    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Bedankt voor deze verhelderende informatie.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Aug 2007 18:21    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus 1,

Iemand van Oostkamp beweert dat het vliegveld aldaar
zich aan het rondpunt met de Siemenslaan bevond.

Verder vernam ik dat bij de terugtrekking van de Duitsers, zij vanuit
Moerbrugge Oostkamp bestookten waar,bij het kasteel Gruuthuyse,
1 boer en 2 personen gedood werden. Kan dit in verband gebracht
worden met dat vliegveld?
Volgens dezelfde persoon gaat het niet om WO2!




*Ben wel benieuwd naar je rondvlucht, van sommige velden
moet er één of andere structuur van bovenaf te zien zijn.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Aug 2007 19:56    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

bedankt voor de heerlijke info regulus ik heb dus heel wat leesgenot te gaan schater schater schater schater schater schater schater schater schater schater schater
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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Sep 2007 21:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Marty,

Verband met het vliegveld bij die bestoking is er zeker niet.

Hierbij even de situering van het vliegveld. Siemens rondpunt ligt net iets hoger.


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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2007 12:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Johan, als je de foto's hebt, post ze dan gerust.

Ik denk er namelijk over om je tekst een beetje te vormgeven, meteen een gelegenheid om mij een beetje in te werken met Adobe Indesign (is wel nodig: is jaren geleden dat ik nog aan DTP gedaan heb en dat was toen nog voornamelijk met Quark en Calamus...). Dus wat grafisch materiaal is nooit weg!

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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2007 19:54    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik wacht nog altijd geduldig op mijn piloot...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2007 20:11    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Thanks Johan,

Ik maak weer iemand gelukkig!
Wat Koning Albert 1 betreft, dat had ik reeds ergens gelezen
maar dat zie ik nu serieus bevestigd.

Groeten.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 06 Sep 2007 21:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

De grootste vreugde is vreugde verschaffen zegt mijn pa altijd ! Laughing
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 10:24    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Afdrukken hoor ;')
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 11:22    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus 1 @ 06 Sep 2007 22:07 schreef:
De grootste vreugde is vreugde verschaffen zegt mijn pa altijd ! Laughing

beste johan ik heb gelezen dat er te hooglede gits ook vliegvelden waren klopt dit of ??????????? laat eens iets weten ;ik denk dat er een was bij het station (onledemolen)
dank bij voorbaat uit genegenheid
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 11:34    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Er was een vliegveld te Gits/Beveren, nabij het instituut aldaar.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 20:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

bedankt om te antwoorden makker en ook van het vliegveld van torhout dat aan de weg naar het huidig kasteel de maere in torhout aartrijke lag heb ik nog gehoord want ik werk daar niet ver van
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 20:26    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus,

Die voormalige vliegtuig-site ligt in de wijk Nieuwenhove (Oostkamp)
die ik zeer goed ken. Zo te zien had dit vliegveld een serieuze oppervlakte
in vergelijking met bv. Uitkerke, ...of heb ik dat mis.
Heeft dit te maken met het soort vliegtuigen of andere functies?

Zijn er soms lucht- of grondfoto's van Oostkamp/Erkegem gekend.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 20:36    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik heb één luchtfoto van Oostkamp vliegveld maar niet van de beste kwaliteit. Voor de rest heb ik nog nooit een grondfoto gezien van het vliegveld tot op heden, wat wel bizar is...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 07 Sep 2007 20:37    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ahja, wat de oppervlakte betreft, gewoon te maken met het feit dat men hier heel wat meer eenheden voorzag om te verblijven dan te Uitkerke. Maar onderschat ook de oppervlakte van dit vliegveld niet, het is een stuk groter dan de meesten denken.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Sep 2007 20:43    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus,

Snel tussen werk en basket die mannen van Oostkamp gezien.

Is het mogelijk die lucht-foto of plan eens te posten of wat zijn de herkenningspunten.
Van autostrade was er natuurlijk geen sprake maar volgens hen kwam Nieuwenhove tot de Siemenslaan.
Gekker nog, aan het ronde punt om 8u werden speciaal 2 waterputten gedolven door oa 2 Italianen (hoe komen die daar terecht).
Finaal voor de bewaking vh vliegveld waren Uhlanen voorzien.

... en zeggen dat ik enkel foto's zocht van 2 noodbruggen, dan kom je dan zulke verhalen tegen.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Sep 2007 20:09    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

beste johan ik heb al een heel deel van je boek gelezen en plots stond er daar dat gits een vliegveld had aan het station en dat het daarna naar beveren en meer bepaald het land van belofte is verhuist nietwaar?????????
MAAR het land van belofte is gelegen te gits
ik ben daar 100% zeker van want in feite ben ik afkomstig van gits en het land van belofte ligt aan de lichten om rechts naar hooglede af te draaien en om rechtdoor naar roeselare te rijden en dit punt ligt op 1 km van het oud station
wat is er daar van beste johan kun je me mij wat uitleg geven aub
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Okt 2007 20:06    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Regulus 1 @ 07 Sep 2007 21:37 schreef:
Ahja, wat de oppervlakte betreft, gewoon te maken met het feit dat men hier heel wat meer eenheden voorzag om te verblijven dan te Uitkerke. Maar onderschat ook de oppervlakte van dit vliegveld niet, het is een stuk groter dan de meesten denken.


Regulus,
zaterdag jl. ben ik even langs Erkegem gereden, pff dat was toch even verschieten.
Niet te verwonderen dat het vliegveld opgesplitst werd, zo'n oppervlakte !!
Misschien had m'n postje niet gezien, maar je kunt die luchtfoto mailen
of plaatsen, dank/
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Okt 2007 20:40    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote


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patten



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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Okt 2007 20:58    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

zeg regulus (johan) heb je nog foto's van de vliegvelden rond gits aub
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Regulus 1



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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Okt 2007 21:25    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ja ik heb die, maar ga moeten zoeken, heb een beetje te veel foto's...
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Okt 2007 19:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

oke regulus 1 maar als je de foto's gevonden hebt me dan niet vergeten he want ik kijk er naar uit schater schater
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Okt 2007 20:13    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

dank je Regulus,

ik zal even zien wat de ouderen hieruit kunnen maken.
heb die afbeelding als foto, indien ja, zou ik je vragen deze
mee te brengen op Uw tentoonstelling.
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Regulus 1



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Okt 2007 20:17    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ja hoor heb het als foto. Doe ik, maar mail me nog eens de dag voordien, want is nogal drukke bedoening.
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