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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

20/21 July 1916 Somme

Terry Carter

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“Late that evening an exciting aerial fight was witnessed. A British plane chased a German, and both 'planes came so low down that from the support line in front of Caterpillar Valley the spectators could look down on the 'planes. Cheers were raised when it was seen that the British airman was victorious.”

The quote used above came from the book "The First Birmingham Battalion in the Great War" The incident happened whilst the battalion was occupying the support lines overlooking Caterpillar Valley (Between Bazentin le Grand and Montauban) around 20/21 July 1916.

Would anyone have a bit more information of this incident.



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Would anyone have a bit more information of this incident.


Air fighting over the Somme battlefield was pretty intense, so it's rather difficult to identify the fight you refer to. I've looked in a few references to see if I can find mention of air fights which descended to low level.

It may not be the incident witnessed by the Birminghams, but there was a [by 1916 standards] large fight between four DH 2s of No 24 Sqn RFC and eleven German machines (five LVGs, three Rolands and three Fokker Eindekker) between 8 and 9 pm on 20 July. The Commander of No 24 Sqn, Major L G Hawker, reported that three or four enemy machines were brought down:

Lt McKay attacked a Roland that was seen to fall in a spinning nose dive;

Lt Chapman saw a Fokker crash and burst into flames; and

Capt Chamberlain caused a Fokker or a Roland, or perhaps both, to fall out of control.

Lts Collier and Scaife, in a BE 2c from No 9 Sqn, saw a hostile machine crash in flames on the Bazentin le Petit railway, another machine crashed east of Bazentin le Petit, while a third crashed in flames south east of Martinpuich. German records don't indicate any fatal casualties over the Somme that day.

On 21 July a patrol of 6 Martinsyde Elephants from No 27 Sqn attacked an enemy aeroplane which dived away vertically but flattened out at 1000 feet. Capt Boyd followed the enemy aircraft down and presumably accounted for it. No time or location for this fight is given in the RFC Communiqué.

It's not conclusive by any means, but I hope that the above helps.


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  • 7 years later...

Just ran into this one, there was one loss that day, Reinhard Walt(h)er from KEK I was taken a POW.

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