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Who was the Albatros pilot?

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Saw a documentary on thew final fight of WERNER VOSS. It says a lone Albatros joined the fight but was shot down or at least put out of the fight. Has it been established who this brave airman was & his unit? Did he survive or was he killed & truy shot down or just OOC to leave the fight damaged? He deserved an award for jumping into that mess.Alos why was he alone up there & not with his unit? Seems dangerous policy for any pilot. Thanks for any info on this brave man.

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Malcolm12hl

Menckhoff has long been identified as the Albatros pilot, but he does not apparently mention the episode in his memoirs (recently re-discovered and published in the United States with a rather stiff price tag), so he might not have been the man involved.

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Loader

Thanks for the possible name. No doubt there was such an attempt to help Voss as most of 56 Sqdn saw it too. I'd hate to think that this brave man will never be fully identified & given the credit he deserves for such a brave action.

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David Filsell

Mr M12

I would be interested in details of the publisher and tile of the Menckhof memoirs if you can provide them.

Regards

David

 

 

 

 

Edited by David Filsell

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Malcolm12hl

Sure thing - the book's details are as follows:

 

Hannes Trager (ed.), Carl Menckhoff: Reminiscenses of War and Captivity: A Knight of the Pour Le Merite Reports, Aeronaut Books, 2014

 

Aeronaut Books are U.S. based and appear to publish only on short print runs at high cost.  Amazon shows only five sellers, four of them in the U.S., with prices in the £58 to £63 range.

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alex revell

 

 

Hello all,

It’s amazing how the subject of Voss’ last fight reappears every now and again.  While researching the history of 56 Sqdn for HITEB, I was fortunate to be able to talk to Beery Bowman about it and  had access to Cronyn’s unpublished memoir, plus other, related material.  

There certainly was a red nosed Albatros involved in the fight, which joined  Voss after the beginning of the action.  Voss and its pilot cooperated very well. At one point, Maybery  zoomed away after firing a burst at Voss, and  found the Albatros on his tail. He climbed away, turned and dived on Voss again, firing both guns until his Lewis stopped. Both Voss and the Albatros then together attacked him and he was only saved by the intervention of two other SEs. It was after this that the red nosed Albatros disappeared, although none of the 56 Sqdn pilots claimed to have sent it down out of the fight or driven it off.

At this point in the fight Voss was fighting McCudden, Rhys Davids, Bowman, Maybery, and Hoidge, having despatched Cronyn out of the action with a badly shot up SE and Muspratt with a bullet in his radiator at the beginning of the action.  

After Rhys Davids had last fired at Voss, and zoomed away, he saw a red nosed Albatros a little to the south east of him. To quote from HITEB: ‘Evidence points to the possibility that this was Karl Menckhoff  of Jasta 3, although there is no evidence to suggest that Menckhoff was the pilot of the red nosed Albatos that had earlier  fought so superbly with Voss.   Rhys Davids attacked Menckhoff, opening fire at a 100 yards, and firing a continuous burst until, at 30 yards, his Lewis gun drum was finished and his Vickers had stopped. He zoomed away. When he looked again the Albatros was spiralling steeply down , 600 feet below him. Rhy Davids was sure the Albatros did not clear east , and this matches Menckhoff’s account of the fight, which states that his aeroplane damaged by Rhys Davids fire, he was forced to crash land north of Zonnebeke.’ EOQ   

I have not read the recently published biography of Menckhoff  so I can’t comment on anything that  might be said in it about the events of the evening of the 23 September,  but while researching HITEB  I discussed all aspects and questions appertaining to German involvement with Alex Imrie, whose knowledge of the GAS has, in my opinion at least,  never been equalled  to this day.  We spent many hours going through his vast and extensive material on the GAS, plus his knowledge gained by his personal friendship with many of its pilots. My mention of  ‘Menckhoff’s account of the fight’ came from Alex.  Please note that at the time of writing I was careful to say that there was no evidence that M was the pilot of the red nosed Albatros involved in the fight.  I am confident that this was because M’s  account of the evening, held by Alex, makes no mention of him being in the fight, only of his being shot down north of Zonnebecke.  

Hope this helps to clarify things a little, although, by the very nature of such things, there will no doubt still be additional speculation. :-)  

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Loader

Thanks for the info. It does seem that M was the pilot involved even if now it can't be proven. I've often played the what it game with VOSS. What if he had survived & was a POW or wounded & never able to fly again? How would he have fared in the coming dark days of the 1930's & 1940's? He was a brave man in any case & skilled flyer.

I read once that as a former 2 seat pilot he had a soft spot for such crews & would try to hit only the engine & spare the crew when he attacked such targets. Thank you all for your input on my question.

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josquin

Menckhoff may have confirmed that he was brought down by Rhys Davids but omitted his earlier participation in Voss's

last fight because he had qualms about telling posterity that he withdrew in mid-fight and left Voss on his own.  A prudent

choice, perhaps, but not a decision that reflects particularly well on Menckhoff--or whoever was the pilot of the red-nosed

Albatros.  Such an omission from the historical record is perfectly understandable, and I also suspect that Menckhoff was

the other German pilot in the Voss fight.

 

Josquin

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alex revell

Josquin,

I agree,  M may well have well omitted from his report  as being there in the initial stages of the fight. Very natural that he would not want to admit that he was driven out and didn't return before Voss was finally shot down. I doubt we will ever know the whole truth of the matter. Barry Diggins in his book September Evening, published by Grub St in 2003, went into the question of the fight very thoroughly,. and it's well worth a read. I'd be interested in reading M's account, in the recent biography, of his being in action and forced down on the evening of Sept. 23, but frankly the book is too expensive for me.  As for my own conclusions in HITEB: over thirty years have  gone by since researching the book, but I know that Alex and I must have been convinced of the conclusions we drew that the Albatros that RD attacked and forced to land after the fight was M. All the evidence pointed to that.

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madrid

Not Menckhoff. Very unlikely that a small red nose was remembered, but not the large “M“ in bold letters on both sides of the fuselage of the highly decorated/camouflaged Albatros.

 

A realistic view of the aerial fight by Russ Gannon, 18 January 2008 in the other Forum:

 

„My take on the Voss fight is that Voss along with an Albatross (Wendelmuth?) and a Pfalz (Bellen?) attacked the rearguard of 60 Sqn damaging both SE5's. A three strong B/56 intervened with a dive and zoom attack on Voss. In this Cronyn's engine chocked scotching his zoom whereupon Voss set upon him, badly damaging his SE. McCudden & Rhys Davids then returned to the fray joined by Bowman, Mayberry and Hoidge. Up till this point Voss had been dictating terms. Now however low on ammo & fuel it became a fight for survival as 5 proven pilots in 5 very good fighters drove him down, his only support the gallant red nosed Albatross. Voss could not break off because he could not outrun the 200hp SE's - moreover he would provide a straight shot. It was the conumdrum of Hawker in his last fatal fight with MvR. Eventually Voss's luck ran out, probably hit as Alex Revell states by Rhys David's penultimate attack. Thereafter in my humble opinion wounded and at only 1,000 ft over British lines, he flew straight so as to work out which way to make his last bid for safety. It was at this point that RD administered the coup de grace. Jumping back to the red nosed Albatros. Gottsch of Js 8 was credited with his 15th luftseige in a fight on 6 Sep 17 - a time and loc match to an engagement fought by 10 Naval in which 2 Albatross were claimed OOC. One of these Albatross was described as having a red nose. For the record Nav 10 had no losses - possibly someone was shot about. On this date however a Vfw Klein of Js 8 is recorded in Kofl 4 returns as being wia as the result of an airfight. This loss has been overlooked in the JWC.“

 

 

Ltn.d.R. Friedrich Rüdenberg, who flew in the Kette with Ltn. Werner Voss, wrote to his brother shortely after Voss' death:

 

"I told you that he flew a special machine that did not allow us to catch up with him. When he attacked a single-seater our cover of his rear was missing and fate took it course. It was quite obvious that the single German triplane was attacked from all sides because every Englishman could figure out that it did not contain a beginner. It's a bad loss for the army here. Please inform Papa of the special circumstances that he does not get too upset."

 

Later on Rüdenberg remembers:

 

"At night we received news from our first line about an aerial fight between one German  and six Englishmen, the German crashed. The next morning we all flew over the front and dropped a letter with a long black-white-red  banner requesting notification about the fate of Voss.  About ten days later the Geneva Red Cross reported that Werner Voss was found dead after the aerial fight and was buried by the RAF."

 

Edited by madrid

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alex revell

Madrid,

Just a small comment on your post, regarding Russ' take in 2008. Russ and I have been friends for many years and there is no one who admires his research more than I. I trust it implicitly. However,  his statement  that Voss could not escape from the fight, 'could not outrun the SEs,' is not correct. In Bowman's statement to Bolitho he said ' This left Voss alone in the middle of six of us which did not appear to deter him in the slightest. At this altitude he had a much better rate of climb or rather zoom than we had and frequently he was the highest machine of the seven and could have turned east and got away had he wished to, but he was not that type and always came down into us again.'

I checked this with Beery B in conversation and he confirmed it. I also asked why McCudden thought he was the only one to see the triplane crash. Surely, I asked it would have come out in later conversation in the Mess about the fight that he too had seen it. He was a little testy in his answer. I remember it well; 'We didn't chew the fat about such things, you know. It wasn't a bloody cricket match.'

 

 

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madrid

Werner Voss fought for his life, no chance to escape.

 

Interesting Rüdenbergs comment: „that did not allow us to catch up with him“.

Speed? Climb?

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alex revell

 

Madrid

No chance for escape?  I'll take Bowman's word for it. After all he was there!

Plus what we know about the relative performance of the aeroplanes involved

Alex

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madrid

When Voss tried to escape he was shot down.

 

"He made no attempt to turn until I was so close to him I was certain we would collide. He passed my right hand wing by inches and went down. I zoomed. I saw him next with his engine apparently off, gliding west. I dived again and got one shot out of my Vickers. However I reload and kept in the dive, I got another good burst and the triplane did a slight right hand turn still going down. I had now overshot him (this was at 1,000ft) zoomed and never saw him again."

2/Lt. Rhys Davids

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