WE went on a shooting expedition on the twentieth of April.
We came home very late and lost Schäfer on the way.
Of course everyone hoped that he would come to hand before
dark. It struck nine, it struck ten, but no Schäfer was visible. His
benzine could not last so long. Consequently, he had landed somewhere, for no
one was willing to admit that he had been shot down. No one dared to mention
the possibility. Still, everyone was afraid for him.
The ubiquitous telephone was set in motion in order to find
out whether a flying man had come down anywhere. Nobody could give us
information. No Division and no Brigade had seen anything of him. We felt very
uncomfortable. At last we went to bed. All of us were perfectly convinced that
he would turn up in the end. At two o'clock, after midnight, I was suddenly
awakened. The telephone orderly, beaming with pleasure, reported to me:
"Schäfer is in the Village of Y. and would like to be fetched home."
The next morning when we were sitting at breakfast the door
opened and my dear pilot stood before me. His clothes were as filthy as those
of an infantryman who has fought at Arras for a fortnight. He was greeted with
a general Hurrah! Schäfer was tremendously happy and elated and
tremendously excited about his adventure. When he had finished his breakfast he
told us the following tale:
"I was flying along the front intending to return home.
Suddenly I noticed far below me something that looked like an infantry flier. I
attacked him, shot him down, and meant to fly back. However, the English in the
trenches did not mean me to get away and started peppering me like anything. My
salvation lay in the rapidity of my machine, for those rascals, of course,
would forget that they had to aim far in front of me if they wished to hit me.
"I was at an altitude of perhaps six hundred feet. Suddenly,
I heard a smash and my engine stopper running. There was nothing to do but to
land. I asked myself whether I should be able to get away from the English
position. It seemed very questionable. The English noticed my predicament and
started shooting like mad.
"As my engine was no longer running I could hear every
"The position became awkward. I came down and landed. Before
my machine had come to a standstill they squirted upon me heaps of bullets from
machine guns in the hedge of the village of Monchy near Arras. My machine
became splashed with bullets.
"I jumped out of it and down into the first shell hole.
Squatting there I reflected and tried to realize exactly where I was. Gradually
it became clear to me that I had landed outside the English lines, but cursedly
near them. Happily it was rather late in the evening and that was my salvation.
"Before long the first shell came along. Of course they were
gas shells and I had no mask with me. My eyes started watering like anything.
Before darkness set in the English ascertained the distance of the spot where I
had landed with machine guns. Part of them aimed at my machine and part at my
shell crater. The bullets constantly hit its rim. "In order to quiet my nerves
I lit a cigarette. Then I took off my heavy fur coat and prepared everything
for a leap and a run. Every minute seemed to me an hour. "Gradually it became
dark, but only very gradually. Around me I heard partridges giving a concert.
As an experienced shot I recognized from their voices that they felt quite
happy and contented, that there was no danger of my being surprised in my
"At last it became quite dark. Suddenly and quite close to
me a couple of partridges flew up. A second couple followed. It was obvious
that danger was approaching. No doubt a patrol was on the way to wish me a
"I had no time to lose. Now or never. First I crept very
cautiously on my chest from shell hole to shell hole. After creeping-
industriously for about an hour and a half I noticed I was nearing humans. Were
they English or were they Germans ? They came nearer and I could almost have
fallen round their necks, when I discovered our own musketeers. They were a
German patrol who were nosing about in No Man's Land.
"One of the men conducted me to the Commander of his
Company. I was told that in the evening I had landed about fifty yards in front
of the enemy lines and that our infantry had given me up for lost. I had a good
supper and then I started on my way home. Behind me there was far more shooting
than in front of me. Every path, every trench, every bush, every hollow, was
under enemy fire. The English attacked on the next morning, and consequently,
they had to begin their artillery preparation the evening before. So I had
chosen an unfavorable day for my enterprise. I reached the first telephone only
at two o'clock in the morning when I phoned to the Squadron."
We were all very happy to have our Schäfer again with
us. He went to bed. Any other man would have taken a rest from flying for
twenty-four hours. But on the afternoon of this very day friend Schäfer
attacked a low flying B. E. above Monchy.
The Anti-Richthofen Squadron
THE English had hit upon a splendid joke. They intended to
catch me or to bring me down. For that purpose they had actually organized a
special squadron which flew about in that part which we frequented as a rule.
We discovered its particular aim by the fact that its aggressive activity was
principally directed against our red machines.
I would say that all the machines of the squadron had been
painted red because our English friends had by-and-by perceived that I was
sitting in a blood-red band-box. Suddenly there were quite a lot of red
machines and the English opened their eyes wide when one fine day they saw a
dozen red barges steaming along instead of a single one. Our new trick did not
prevent them from making an attempt at attacking us. I preferred their new
tactics. It is better that one's customers come to one's shop than to have to
look for them abroad.
We flew to the front hoping to find our enemy. After about
twenty minutes the first arrived and attacked us. That had not happened to us
for a long time. The English had abandoned their celebrated offensive tactics
to some extent. They had found them somewhat too expensive.
Our aggressors were three Spad one- seater machines. Their
occupants thought themselves very superior to us because of the excellence of
their apparatus. Wolff, my brother and I, were flying together. We were three
against three. That was as it ought to be.
Immediately at the beginning of the encounter the aggressive
became a defensive. Our superiority became clear. I tackled my opponent and
could see how my brother and Wolff handled each his own enemy. The usual
waltzing began. We were circling around one another. A favorable wind came to
our aid. It drove us, fighting, away from the front in the direction of
My man was the first who fell down. I suppose I had smashed
up his engine. At any rate, he made up his mind to land. I no longer gave
pardon to him. Therefore, I attacked him a second time and the consequence was
that his whole machine went to pieces. His planes dropped off like pieces of
paper and the body of the machine fell like a stone, burning fiercely. It
dropped into a morass. It was impossible to dig it out and I have never
discovered the name of my opponent. He had disappeared. Only the end of the
tail was visible and marked the place where he had dug his own grave.
Simultaneously with me, Wolff and my brother had attacked
their opponents and had forced them to land not far from my victim. We were
very happy and flew home and hoped that the anti-Richthofen Squadron would
often return to the fray.
We Are Visited By My Father
MY father had announced that he would visit his two sons on
the twenty- ninth of April. My father is commander of a little town in the
vicinity of Lille. Therefore he does not live very far away from us. I have
occasionally seen him on my flights.
He intended to arrive by train at nine o'clock. At half past
nine he came to our aerodrome. We just happened to have returned from an
expedition. My brother was the first to climb out of his machine, and he
greeted the old gentleman with the words: "Good day. Father. I have just shot
down an Englishman." Immediately after, I also climbed out of my machine and
greeted him "Good day. Father, I have just shot down an Englishman." The old
gentleman felt very happy and he was delighted. That was obvious. He is not one
of those fathers who are afraid for their sons. I think he would like best to
get into a machine himself and help us shoot. We breakfasted with him and then
we went flying again.
In the meantime, an aerial fight took place above our
aerodrome. My father looked on and was greatly interested. We did not take a
hand in the fight for we were standing on the ground and looked on ourselves.
An English squadron had broken through and was being
attacked above our aerodrome by some of our own reconnoitering aeroplanes.
Suddenly one of the machines started turning over and over. Then it recovered
itself and came gliding down normally. We saw, with regret this time, that it
was a German machine.
The Englishman flew on. The German aeroplane had apparently
been damaged. It was quite correctly handled. It came down and tried to land on
our flying ground. The room was rather narrow for the large machine. Besides,
the ground was unfamiliar to the pilot. Hence, the landing was not quite
smooth. We ran towards the aeroplane and discovered with regret that one of the
occupants of the machine, the machine gunner, had been killed. The spectacle
was new to my father. It made him serious.
The day promised to be a favorable one for us. The weather
was wonderfully clear. The anti-aircraft guns were constantly audible.
Obviously, there was much aircraft about.
Towards mid-day we flew once more. This time, I was again
lucky and shot down my second Englishman of the day. The Governor recovered his
After the mid-day dinner I slept a little. I was again quite
fresh. Wolff had fought the enemy in the meantime with his group of machines
and had himself bagged an enemy. Schäfer also had eaten one. In the
afternoon my brother and I accompanied by Schäfer, Festner and Allmenroder
flew twice more.
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