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Remembered Today:

Pilot Ahlefeldt sought


chrisheal

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Hello

 

I am a complete novice on the German WW1 air force. Any prompts, etc, would be most appreciated. I am looking for:

Leutnant d. Res. Graf Karl Christian von Ahlefeldt (born 13/1/1891 Dresden, died 1/4/1916 Douaumont) found on the denkmalprojekt.org website. He was in the fighter plane division. His unit was Füs.R. 86. Presumably Douaumont means the Battle of Verdun - timing seems right.

 

Thank you

Chris Heal

 

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The date certainly matches the battle of Verdun.

Isn't GRAF a title of some sort, maybe minor royalty? Hopefully someone with expertise will come along shortly to give the full story. Good luck.

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Yes, Loader, thanks. Graf is like a count. A countessa is a Grafin. And the 'von' means noble stock - like much of the upper echelons of the German military in WW1. Thank you for the good luck.

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What sort of info do you want? His prior military career? If he was a Lt. d.R. it implies that he did a tour as a lieutenant but then left active duty for another career, but when the war came returned to active duty and decided to join the adventurous flying service.

 

I have about 60 Ranglisten, but only a couple are Saxon, so I probably would not find him in one on active duty. I have been away from this research for about three years, perhaps there are more on the Internet now. An active duty entry in a Rangliste would give certain information.

 

I have a friend who is Saxon nobility (three grandparents died in the firebombing of Dresden, which he watched from 40 miles away as a child), but he has little interest in military history, I fear, including his own family's, so he probably wouldn't be a help.

 

Again, what are you trying to find?

 

Listing Douaumont as the place of death is curious, as it is a fort, not a village or another geographical feature. (My father was in it at least twice during the Battle of Verdun, I was in it once.) Did his plane crash into it, or very near? Was he killed during a visit on foot? The Germans captured it very early in the battle, and getting to it was very dangerous.

 

 

 

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Any Saxon Rangliste would tell where the regiment was from, and one would think that a nobleman would want to join the local regiment, so you would learn where he was from. A Google or Wikipedia search on his family name might give his home town, which might be his name.

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Quote

 

Hello

 

I am a complete novice on the German WW1 air force. Any prompts, etc, would be most appreciated. I am looking for:

Leutnant d. Res. Graf Karl Christian von Ahlefeldt (born 13/1/1891 Dresden, died 1/4/1916 Douaumont) found on the denkmalprojekt.org website. He was in the fighter plane division. His unit was Füs.R. 86. Presumably Douaumont means the Battle of Verdun - timing seems right.

 

Thank you

Chris Heal

 

 

Hi Chris, 

 

Carl Christian Graf von Ahlefeldt was born in Dresden/Kingdom of Saxony but served as Königlich Preußischer (Royal Prussian) Leutnant der Reserve in Füsilier-Regiment "Königin" Nr. 86 - a unit from Schleswig-Holstein - and was commanded to Kampfgeschwader 2 der Obersten Heeresleitung as observer. His Staffelführer Hptm. Claes reported ina letter to his mother that Graf Ahlefeldt died in aircombat with 3 French biplanes by a shot in the head. This happened during a recon photo mission in the region of Fort Vaux in preparation of a new attack of the ground troops. (source: Helden-Gedenkmappe der deutschen Adels", p 13) 

 

According to "The French Air Service War Chronlogy 1914-1918" there are two French claims by fighter pilots of escadrille N.15 that could (maybe) fit the loss. Sgt Jailler claimed a LVG C destroyed in the area Etain-Spincourt for his second victory. Furthermore Lt Schneider of the same escadrille claimed an Aviatik forced to land near Etain.  

 

Hope this helps! 

 

 

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Chris;

 

"Jasta72s" 's info is concrete, mine was just speculation and suggestions for directions for research. There were four German Armies (national, not field armies), and officers of one army, say the Prussian, were sometimes rotated thru units or military schools of another army, for several purposes, like advanced training, and probably developing a "German" spirit, as opposed to a purely, say, Saxon spirit. I would be surprised if he was actually a Prussian officer, but I could be wrong. I don't even know if it was legally possible, but even if it was, it would be odd if a Saxon nobleman chose to be a Prussian officer, not a Saxon officer.

 

Likewise, a heavy artillery officer might be posted to a field artillery regiment for two years, he would learn about the situation and skills of the field artillery, and he would impart his skills to the field artillery officers he served with. In this case an infantry officer was made an air observer, one would think that an artillery officer would be a better fit. Possibly our Saxon officer was a difficult personality and first ended up in a Prussian infantry unit, and then again migrated to an air unit. One of my father's very best friends in New York City was a Prussian officer, a baron, of a very famous noble family who had to leave his unit and migrate to a head-waiter's job in the US because of friction with another officer over a woman, a duel with pistols was the other possibly fatal option. 

 

Military frontiers, at least the French one, required more troops, and for example, military resources from other parts of Germany were stationed in Alsace. There also was the possibility of some locals having divided loyalties. There was a similar but less well known situation on the Danish border. My grand-father, a Prussian officer, when made officer from the ranks (very unusual) was posted to a heavy artillery regiment on the Danish border, where he started a second family with a Danish woman.

 

I ramble, but I hope it is entertaining and possibly useful.

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Brilliant Jasta72s. Thank you very much for taking the time to look this matter up. As part of researching for a book, I have met the extended family of von Ahlefeldt's wife. They are German-speaking and I know they would be most interested to see this report in the original in Helden-Gedenkmappe des deutschen Adels. I've looked the book up and it'll be £80 with postage. Pushy, I understand, but is there any way that you could get to me a scan of page thirteen? Thank you again.

Best wishes

Chris

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Thank you very much, Bob, for your 'rambles'. Certainly entertaining and also most useful background. Sounds like you have one of those families with plenty of stories to tell. By way of connection, Karl von Ahlefeldt's, wife Eva had gone, by the end of WW2, from being a wealthy woman to a near pauper. Her emigration in 1949 to Boston, USA, and thence Grand Rapids, was paid for by a religious charity and she made ends meet on arrival by working as a housemaid. Other members of the extended family were caught in the fire bombing raid on Würzburg, in its way more devastating and more useless than the raid on Dresden.

 

Happy New Year

Chris

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Chris;

 

A bit more background. I have studied and written a lot about the Battle of Verdun, for a couple of book projects of my own (my father fought there and was wounded twice there, as a flame-thrower trooper), and the fighting for Fort Vaux, which occurred after von Ahlefeldt's death, was fascinating. If you can believe it, the Germans used flame-throwers in the narrow corridors, until it became too awful even for the operators. The Germans stopped up the air supplies for the French defenders and periodically fired flame-throwers into the French-held areas of the fort, to burn up the oxygen, and then stoppered the area up again. Eventually a lantern would not even burn in the French area, due to low oxygen levels. And previous 420 mm howitzer strikes had cracked the French concrete water tanks, and suddenly the French defenders had no water. When the French had to surrender the Germans extended the exiting defenders military honors, for their brave defense, but the French soldiers spoiled the ceremony by rushing past to throw themselves down and lick mud, due to their thirst. The French commander was invited to dinner with the Crown Prince, the commander of the attacking Fifth Army, and was allowed to go into captivity with his pistol, a presented sword, cakes, a servant, and his dog, and was sent to Switzerland. (He still grumbled about his treatment, but admitted that Crown Prince Wilhelm spoke excellent French. I recently had beer and pizza with Prince Fritz, Wilhelm's grandson, and was able to tell him stories about his grand-father and great-grand-father, the Kaiser, visiting and inspecting my father's company. One especially funny anecdote especially amused Prince Fritz, who himself is a Oblt. d. R.) If you find the details of the fighting interesting and useful I could point you in the right direction.    

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Thanks, Bob. Nothing is stranger than the truth. Please point. Chris

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Thanks very much Jasta72s - email address sent (I think), Chris

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Hello Jasta72s

Your scan received. Thank you very much. Very kind. I did reply direct to your personal email but my email was rejected by the gmail server. My server company is having problems with gmail at the moment and all emails to them are being rejected.

Best wishes

Chris

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Chris;

Forts Douaumont and Vaux are not very far apart, a few miles, I think, and von Ahlefeldt could have easily been photographing Vaux and been hit and then crashed on or near Douaumont. 

 

I almost never read secondary sources, and my Verdun research is entirely based on material in German and French, and encompass many dozens of sources. I must have a hundred or more pages of timelines that cover my Verdun research over the last 16 years. So it is not easily presented. Perhaps if you give me an idea of what sort of background would be useful I could see what might be of interest.

 

I could look and see what was going on at Fort Vaux on April 1, 1916. The actual assault on the fort was a bit later, the German forces (from memory, I'm sitting in bed with a laptop) were probably approaching the fort then. I think the actual assault was about June 1. (I have not been working on Verdun for a few years.)

 

I have an interest in German aviation at Verdun, for a curious reason, which I might get to you by PM. Do you know von Ahlefeldt's flying unit, and where it was based? Not at Stenay-sur-Meuse, by any chance?

 

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Chris;

 

Looked in my relevant timeline on the fighting at Verdun and in a major attack on March 31 German forces, including a platoon of flamethrowers (probably 8 devices) captured the heavily fortified village (not the Fort) of Vaux, capturing, as un-wounded prisoners, 11 officers and 720 men, and capturing 5 machine guns, as reported in the daily communique of the High Command. French counterattacks were broken up. Two flame-thrower troopers were lost in the attack.

 

So it is reasonable that the Germans would be flying photo missions over this area the day after, to assess the new situation.

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Thank you. Bob. Very useful background for me and fascinating in its own right. I think I now have sufficient about the story on the ground for my immediate purposes so, again, thank you, for making the effort. I gather, from what you say, that you have not written a Verdun book. Have any of your researches in this area made it into print? If not, despite your commendable dependence on primary sources, can you recommend a history of this battle?

 

You mention a particular interest in aviation at Verdun 'for a curious reason'. Sounds interesting?

 

You ask about von Ahlefeldt's flying unit: he was an observer in Kampfstaffel 9 (Kasta 9); Kampfgeschwader 2 der OHL'. I have some translation to do, but I don't believe I know his flying base. You can see more information here: http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67000&page=3; including pictures of von Ahlefeldt and his grave.

 

Best wishes

Chris

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Chris;

 

If you are writing a book or other piece on this I could whip up a bit more detailed description of the situation on the ground, which probably triggered his flight, and including properly cited references for the material. The German advance toward Fort Vaux made dramatic gains on the 31st, probably triggering his photo-reconnaissance the next day. (I am interested in the Flammenwerfer aspect as my father was (later) a flame-thrower operator at Verdun, wounded on Hill 304 and then a bad wound on Dead Man's Hill. I have a piece of his left arm bone from that wound, which probably saved his life, keeping him out of combat for almost two years.) 

 

The eventual fighting in Fort Vaux was extremely dramatic, fighting foot by foot down narrow corridors. A flame attack was successful if the crew survived, even though injured. The active defenders were burdened with an almost equal number of French deserters and malingerers, who had no intention of fighting, but expected rations and the precious water. The French commander was a real character, a crusty disabled guy. Imagine being a POW and being allowed to wear a sword and a pistol. (I doubt if that lasted.) He was given so much cake that he fed it to his dog. (At Christmas my father was dreaming of potatoes for Christmas dinner, but they didn't get that luxury, and was wounded three days later, then lying in No-Man's Land for three days before being found. Happy New Year!

 

My father's company commander stole the men's money to buy beer to impress fighter pilots, and otherwise abused the men, and was a coward. He came back drunk from an evening with the pilots, further abused the men, and my father and others killed him. Very funny incident. The CO had no direct superior officer for 60 miles, and thought he could get away with anything, as he never went into combat. The command of the regiment knew about the killing, and after a detailed investigation punished no one, and in fact rewarded the men, indirectly. I would like to know more about fighter units stationed at Stenay-sur-Meuse. Did your pilot's unit also fly fighters? 

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Thank you, again, Bob. Amazing stories. Sorry for the delay in replying - family getting in the way of other interests. I have taken the opportunity to re-read what I have on von Ahlefeldt and to think about how I am going to fit it in. I've decided that I have enough for my immediate purposes. So, thank you for your kind offer of writing me up something but, while I would certainly be interested, it is unlikely that I would use more material other than as footnotes.

 

I really know nothing more about von Ahlefeldt's flying unit: its composition or location. All that I gathered came from either this forum or the other one I mentioned in my last post. They were all extremely helpful people and possibly either forum could help you with a direct enquiry on the flying side.

 

Best wishes

Chris

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