First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'Red Baron', 'WWI Warbirds', 'Zeppelins'.

German pilot flew behind enemy lines to deliver letter from Brit he shot down
The amazing tale of gentlemanly conduct in the heat of battle emerged when the letter and photographs of the incident were put up for auction. It was on January 5, 1916, that the British single-engine biplane, crewed by pilot Lieutenant William Somervill and observer Lieutenant Geoffrey Formilli, took off on a flight from Lille. Unfortunately, they encountered Oswald Boelcke – known as the father of the German fighter air force and the aviator who trained the Red Baron – roaming the skies in his Fokker E IV fighter. Boelcke sprayed the British plane, a BE2c reconnaissance aircraft, with hundreds of rounds from his machine-guns, forcing it to crash land.
(dailymail.co.uk)

The Royal Flying Corps came into being 100 years ago and played a key role in World War I
In most accounts of WWI, mention of the Royal Flying Corps goes hand-in-hand with stories of the fighter aces. The romance of gladiatorial combat in the air makes their adventures against such legendary foes as the Red Baron some of the most stirring tales of the Great War. But as a division of the British Army, the main role of the Royal Flying Corps was very different. It was the eyes of the army. For the first time in history, it was possible not only to get a detailed view of the enemy lines from above, but to see what was going on behind those lines - the trench systems, the support routes, the railways and road vehicles that moved troops and weaponry into position.
(bbc.co.uk)

Australian WWI ace Frank Slee had Hermann Goering in his gunsights
Frank Slee's extraordinary story will forever be marked with a simple two-word addendum - what if? What if the young Australian had managed to out-fly Hermann Goering, then a young pilot with the Luftstreitkrafte, over Belgium in June 1917? What if those bullets Slee fired - he saw the tracer bullets hit Goering's plane as the pair dived around each other, straining their machines to breaking point - had ripped open the German ace's fuselage, or crippled his steering?
(theaustralian.com.au)

WW1 "aircraft carrier" discovered rusting by the River Thames (photos)
The worlds' oldest surviving aircraft carrier - the 1918 Thorneycroft Seaplane Lighter discovered rusting by the River Thames - is currently being restored at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset. The 58-feet-long "Lighter T3" was towed behind the RN destroyers allowing aircraft to take off at sea during the First World War. In total 50 of these vessels were build during the war.

The thought of a 58-feet-long aircraft carrier is a bit mind twisting - if you remember that modern aircraft carriers can be up to 1,000 feet long.
(dailymail.co.uk)

Hermann Goring - Fighter Ace by Peter Kilduff (WW1 book review)
In 2009 Peter Kilduff - author of biographies of Baron Manfred von Richthofen and Black Fokker leader Carl Degelow - was having lunch with his book editor John Davies in New York City. Davies asked if he had thought about his next book project. Kilduff pointed to a painting on the wall. It depicted Nazi leader Hermann Goring in his WWI fighter pilot gear. The Luftwaffe boss was a highly-decorated WW1 fighter pilot, but that part of his life story is overshadowed by the Nazi era events. "Hermann Goring - Fighter Ace" is the first in-depth look at Goring as a military pilot and air combat leader during the First World War.
(bristolpress.com)

Fighting The Red Baron: British pilots with only 15 hours' training lasted on average just 11 days
Captain Manfred Freherrn Von Richthofen shot down 80 pilots. His opponents were members of the Royal Flying Corps: boys in unreliable aircraft often with just a dozen flying hours under their belts. A Channel 4 programme called "Fighting The Red Baron" reveals the courage of British WWI pilots. With the elite ex-RAF fighter pilots Mark Cutmore and Andy Offer, and several original First World War aeroplanes, the programme recreates some of the death-defying exploits inexperienced British pilots faced while wrestling with unreliable planes - over half the pilots who died in WW1 were killed in training.
(dailymail.co.uk)

America's "Ace of Aces" - Eddie Rickenbacker downed 21 German aircrafts in 2 months
It was fortunate for Britain that the American Expeditionary Force arrived in France in June 1917. But well before that young Americans were fighting German pilots in the Lafayette Escadrille. Although not a member of that elite squadron, Eddie Rickenbacker earned himself a striking reputation. In two months of aerial combat, he downed 21 German aircraft and 5 balloons - and the Distinguished Service Cross Oak Leaf Cluster. His first victory took place on April 29, 1918, when he downed a Pfalz D.111. He shot his 7th aircraft, one of 13 Fokker DV11s, out of the sky on Sept. 14. By then, Rickenbacker was flying the greatly superior Spad X111.
(washingtontimes.com)

Erwin Bleckley was killed while dropping emergency supplies by air to the "Lost Battalion"
9 decades after his plane was shot down Lt. Erwin Bleckley, a First World War Medal of Honor winner, will have his name placed on a bronze memorial plaque alongside that of his pilot, Lt. Harold E. Goettler, in ceremonies that will include a flyover of vintage WWI planes. On Oct. 6, 1918, the two WWI aces volunteered to drop supplies from a biplane to 600 men of the "Lost Battalion," which had been encircled by Germans during a battle in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. "What they did was a major historical event in air service. They were the forerunners of the US Air Force," said Jerry Hester, a WWI aviation historian.
(kansas.com)

Scale model of Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a legendary aircraft. 5490 were made, and having been issued to No.4 and No.70 squadrons in 1917 the aircraft appeared on the Western front in July 1917. Despite some peculiar and dangerous flying characteristics, she was a great fighting machine in the hands of a skilled pilot and by November 1918 had claimed the end of at least 3,000 enemy aircraft, more than any other type. World War I aircraft are a satisfying way of approaching the scale modelling hobby. They fly slower than the WW2 fighters and don't suffer the complication of retracting undercarriage installations, or flaps.
(modelflying.co.uk)

New photograph of Edward Mannock, Britain's best First World War ace, discovered
The WWI aces - like the Red Baron - left a rich mythology that remains even today. But the man who was, perhaps, Britain's best pilot, is little known. A photo album discovered in France, reveals possibly the last picture of Britain's "highest scoring" WWI fighter pilot. It's an innocent photograph: A highly decorated RAF pilot poses for the camera. Within days of this picture being taken the pilot - Major Edward "Mick" Mannock VC - would be dead. Photographs of Edward Mannock, Britain's highest scoring World War I ace who won Distinguished Service Order 3 times in little over a month, are rare.
(bbc.co.uk)

Over the Front: the Great War in the air - A permanent exhibition in Canberra
First World War aerial history is being brought to life with the display of rare aircraft and a dramatic short film at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. "Over the Front: the Great War in the air" is a permanent exhibition includes 5 restored Allied and German fighter planes and 12 minute film by Peter Jackson that captures the warbirds and pilots in action over the Western Front. "Clearly there was a story to tell about aviation in the First War from its very simple forms, almost kite-like machines, at the beginning of the war to the technology they'd introduced by 1918," Curator Peter Burness said.
(abc.net.au)

CSAF honors World War I aviators - The Lafayette Escadrille memorial ceremony
Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley, along with hundreds of American and French citizens, paid respects to a group of First World War aviators May 24 at the Lafayette Escadrille memorial ceremony outside of Paris. The Airmen of the Lafayette Escadrille were the United States' first combat aviators. It was an American squadron of volunteers who flew under the French flag during WWI. "To be able to establish that heritage piece and to understand where we are and how we got here and what that means is vitally important," said General Moseley.
(af.mil)

Nov. 5, 1915: USS North Carolina becames the first ship to launch a plane while under way
On November 5, 1915, the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (CA-12) became the first ship to launch a plane while under way. "U.S. Armored Cruisers: A Design and Operational History" by Ivan Musicant, says that the catapult bolted to the North Carolina's quarterdeck was made of narrow-gauge track, 50-feet long. It rose 4 feet above the deck. The plane was launched on this track using 300 psi compressed air from the ship's torpedo air service. Although its catapult was primitive, the AB-2 "flying boat" biplane zipped down the track and over the side of the ship at 50 mph.
(starnewsonline)

90 years ago the newly formed RAF paved the way for the modern fighting machine
One summer's afternoon in 1917, Grahame Donald tried a new manoeuvre in Sopwith Camel. He flew the machine up and over, and as he reached the top of his loop, hanging upside down 6,000ft above the ground, his safety belt broke and he fell out. He was not wearing a parachute; they were not issued to British pilots in the view that they would spoil fighting spirit. Hurtling to earth Donald's death was seconds away. "The first 2,000ft passed very quickly and terra firma looked damnably 'firma'. As I fell, I began to hear my faithful little Camel somewhere nearby. Suddenly I fell back on to her."
(telegraph)

First World War flying ace William Rhodes-Moorhouse had Maori roots
He was a pioneering aviator and a war hero to boot, but the mystery of William Rhodes-Moorhouse's Maori link has never been solved. He was the first airman to get the Victoria Cross medal after a daring WWI mission that took his life. Now film-maker Julian Arahanga is following the trail, with the search focused on an unknown Maori grandmother who gave up her daughter (the pilot's mother) as a child: "We're having real trouble trying to find out who his grandmother was." William Rhodes-Moorhouse became friends with the Wright brothers, and was one of the first people to hold a pilot's licence.
(stuff)

Rampant Lion: The Life of Eduard Ritter von Schleich: Black Knight of WWI   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A contemporary of the Red Baron, Rampant Lion provides the reader with a detailed look into the colorful life of Eduard Ritter von Schleich, a highly decorated WWI fighter pilot. His courage and self-sacrifice earned him the coveted "Blue Max" and the respect of his fellow countrymen. Containing over 150 photos, along with maps and charts, Rampant Lion is both informative and entertaining. Many first hand accounts of aerial combat have been included, providing the reader with a look at what it really was like to fly and fight in the skies high above the trenches during the First World War.
(rittervonschleich)

The war against the U-boat in the first world war
The primary role of Naval Aviation in WW1 was antisubmarine warfare. "The United States Naval Air Force, Foreign Service, executed 30 attacks against enemy submarines, of which 10 were considered to have been at least partially successful; it dropped 100 tons of high explosives on enemy objectives, and it had to its credit a total of 22,000 flights... almost always the damage inflicted by aircraft, when operating against surface craft, was of a contributory and indirect nature—the seaplane summoned destroyers to the scene of action and the submarine was destroyed` describes what is meant by ‘indirect` in this sense." Spoke LCdr. W. Atlee Edwards in 1925.
(warandgame)

Establishing the US aviation arm: Canadian Royal Flying Corps   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Many people - like the U.S. naval attache - were surprised to learn that the Canadian Royal Flying Corps played a major role in 1917 in establishing the aviation arm of the U.S. Navy and the Naval Reserve. Much of the flying was done in Deseronto and that the man who brought a lot of the Canada-U.S. co-operation in WWI to light was Ken Brown. The story began with the arrival of 24 "U.S. college boys" in Toronto. They had answered an ad in the States for those who wanted to be fighter, bomber and seaplane patrol pilots. The U.S. govt was poised to enter World War I and contacted Canada to bring the budding pilots, who knew nothing about flying, to Canada to earn their wings.
(intelligencer)

Family returns souvenir from WWI dogfight to son of German ace   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The families of two WWI enemies have been brought together by a souvenir that a rookie American pilot took from the plane of a famous German ace. 89 years after Walter Avery and Karl Menckhoff battled in the sky, Avery's daughter Bette Avery Applegate presented the remnant from Menckhoff's plane to the German pilot's son Gerhard. The transfer was made during a ceremony at the League of World War I Aviation Historians gathering. The dogfight was the American pilot's first. Menckhoff had 39 victories, far more than the 5 required for the "ace." His plane was adorned with 3 large "M"s as a symbol of his prestige.
(iht)

Medals awarded to one of Britain's first RAF pilots are up for sale
4 medals awarded to Second Lieutenant Ernest Brownhill who was one of Britain's first RAF pilots are up for sale again, just 18 months after they were sold for £1,900. Now the medals could fetch more, since they are auctioned at prestigious auction house Spink in London. He joined the RAF just weeks after it was formed towards the end of WW1. Just 6 weeks later he was dead, after his De Havilland plane was shot down. His first Military Medal was awarded "for gallant conduct on Sept 5, 1916, in going out several times from a sap in Thiepval Wood to collect casualties from No Man's Land who had been lying out for 36 hours".
(sheffieldtoday)

WWI Military Aviation display at Great Lakes Military Museum
The Great Lakes Museum will unveil a new exhibit, "World War One-The Birth of Military Aviation," including images, artifacts and sounds of WW1. Many of the photographs are from the Kenneth Holden WWI collection. August 1, 1907 the fledgling US Air Force had its start as an Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps, the goal was to study the new "Flying Machines" as a military tool. With one officer, two men, and no aircraft the study began. Prior to the War, airplanes were in use for reconnaissance, artillery spotters, bombers, and message delivery. When the US entered the War in 1917, the Army Air Corp had 55 obsolete aircraft and only 35 pilots.
(chestertontribune)

Sailor of the Air - Naval aviator during World War 1   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Irving Edward Sheely arrived overseas to patrol for German submarines and engage in combat missions from a machine-gunner's perch. The experiences of naval aviators - the unit was so underequipped it borrowed planes from France and England and the men bought their own helmets and goggles - captivated Sheely's nephew who turned his adventures into a 1993 book, "Sailor of the Air, the 1917-1919 Letters and Diary of USN CMM/A Irving Edward Sheely" complete with letters from abroad. "I'd read a lot about WWI, the infantrymen who fought so valiantly in France, the American Army aviators who flew, but I knew absolutely nothing about U.S. naval aviation."
(timesunion)

The first Blitz: Britain's 1915 air raid by enemy bombers
The year 1917 and the air assault on Britain. This was a first. There had never been an air raid by enemy bombers on London before. What shocked not just the neighbourhood, but the country, was that the slaughter had happened in their own backyard. The war they thought was being fought many miles away on battlefields in France was now being waged against them. It was morning when a squadron of 14 new Gotha bombers, the Prussian Cross painted on them, appeared over London with their 1,000lb bomb loads. A large twin-engined bi-plane with a 3-man crew, the Gotha was the latest in technical know-how, built for speed with a range.
(dailymail)

Canadian soldiers executed German fighters trying to surrender   (Article no longer available from the original source)
One of the Canada's leading war historians has amassed evidence that German troops trying to surrender during World War One were "frequently executed" by Canadian soldiers gripped by fear or revenge. In an article that appears in the Journal of Military History, Canadian War Museum historian Tim Cook explores the complex "politics of surrender." He found, in a startling number of cases, "unlawful" killings of Germans after they had given up the fight, laid down their guns and thrown up their hands. "Becoming a prisoner was one of the most dangerous acts on the battlefield of the Great War."
(-)

Seversky - Aviation pioneer and WW1 Combat Pilot   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Alexander Prokovief de Seversky (1894-1974) was born into privilege in pre-Soviet Russia and entered a military school at age 10. His father had owned an airplane and taught him to fly it. In 1914 Lt. Seversky was assigned to an Imperial Navy warship when WWI began. He became a naval combat pilot in 1915. On his first combat sortie, against a German destroyer, enemy gunners shot him down. The bombs that were hanging from his plane's wings exploded in the crash. He lost a leg, but returned to aerial combat in July 1916 and became Russia's top World War I ace with 57 combat missions, 13 German planes shot down.
(Peter Benesh )

The victories of WW1 great flying aces could have been luck
The legend of Manfred von Richthofen, aka the Red Baron, has taken a knock. The victories notched up by great flying aces of WWI could have been down to luck. Von Richthofen chalked up 80 consecutive victories. Study of the records of German fighter pilots found a total of 6745 victories, but only about 1000 "defeats." The imbalance reflects that pilots scored easy victories against poorly armed aircraft, making the average German fighter pilot's rate of success as high as 80%. Statistically, at least one pilot could then have won 80 aerial fights in a row by pure chance. While aces were in the upper 30% of pilots by skill, they were no more special than that.
(newscientist)

WWI aerial photography - The Eyes of the Army   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Great War, or the First World War as we know it today, ended with an Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918. In August 1919, there was an announcement that at the US School of Aerial Photography in Ithaca, military men were learning to decipher German attempts to camouflage strategic sites. In 1914, aerial photography was still in its infancy, but the potential was not lost on the military and soon after the start of the Great War, the French put together a squadron of men to take and develop photographs of enemy sites. The English too, created a photographic corps. Aerial photography, called "the Eyes of the Army," was able to penetrate where military personnel could not see.
(theithacajournal)

Overwhelmed demand for "von Richthofen Trial"
More than 3,000 Brazilians are clamoring for a seat at court where 22-year-old Suzane Louise von Richthofen, descended from the family of Germany's "Red Baron," goes on trial for the murder of her parents. At the time of the murder newspapers highlighted von Richthofen's relation to Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen, a World War I pilot who won 80 dogfights and became known as the Red Baron. The defendant's father, who had the same name as the Baron, kept in his office a genealogical tree showing their links to the German national hero.
(bloomberg)

Red Baron fans hope to wing in skies with Spad XIII   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Three men are seeking permission to build a grass airstrip in Petsworth to fly antique bi-wing warbirds. World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbaker was legendary for flying a Spad XIII biplane in pitched duels with Red Baronesque pilots high over Europe. While it's unlikely Rickenbaker ever prowled the skies of Gloucester, three men plan to do just that in replicas of the antique warplane they want to keep in Petsworth at an airstrip they propose to build. the Spad XIII was designed in 1916 by French engineers to counter twin- gun German fighters. "We're hoping to have three Spad XIII at the same airfield. That hasn't been seen since WWI."
(dailypress)

WWI pilots - No oxygen, no radio and no parachutes   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Charles Woolley Jr. was vaguely disappointed in his father and his armed service. Instead of being a dashing doughboy, fighting in the trenches, his father was a mere pilot. After his father died, he started going through the attic and found his father's jacket and leather helmet from the 95th Aero Squadron. Then he started going through the pictures from WW1. The more he learned, the more he wanted to learn. The dogfights, the gallantry, the rooms at the French chateau, the trips to Paris. There was no oxygen, no radio and no parachutes. Woolley started collecting diaries and letters from the families of the fliers.
(bangornews)

Plans for tribute to WWI aircraftwoman
Plans are under way to commemorate the last surviving woman to have served in the first world war, who died earlier this year. Alice Baker was 18 when she volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps, serving as a leading aircraftwoman at Dover, where she repaired biplanes for the airforce. At her funeral in March, the 107-year-old was honoured with an RAF flypast by two Jaguar jets from the Coltishall airbase.
(eveningnews24)

Vintage Photographs - Aviation
archive photographs taken during, before and after the war. Specifically this sub-section contains photos of aircraft and aviators. -- Aeroplane in the Balkans watched by a group of Serbians. -- Painting the Iron Cross on an aeroplane.
(firstworldwar.com)

Technology Helps the Allied Forces Win World War One
The leader of American forces in Europe was General John J. Pershing. General Pershing used a weapon new to the world of war: air power. Airplanes were used first simply as 'eyes in the sky'. They discovered enemy positions so ground artillery could fire at them. Then they were used as fighter planes. They carried guns to shoot down other planes. Finally, planes were built big enough to carry bombs. General Pershing also used another new weapon of war: tanks. He put these inventions together for his battle plan against Germany.
(voanews)

The silent classic "Wings" is a tribute to aviators during the WWI   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The silent classic "Wings" is a star-spangled tribute to aviators during the first World War. What it lacks on the ground, it more than makes up for in aerial fight footage, still some of the most exciting on- screen. Jack and David are red-blooded American boys who enlist as soon as war erupts in 1917. A training montage shows them learning to fly, spun around in test cockpits and learning to shoot machine guns while under fire. On their first dawn patrol, they engage in a dogfight with German aces. When David's gun jams, the enemy waves him off. A title card calls it chivalry in the air.
(freep)

Red Baron brought down by a shot fired the previous year
A head wound suffered by the Red Baron the year before his death was the underlying reason he was eventually shot down, according to a study by neuroscientists. There has been endless speculation over who killed the 25-year-old WW1 flying ace but the study suggests that more credit is due to the British airman who grazed his skull in 1917 than to the Australian gunner who eventually brought him down in 1918. The killing machine feared by the Allies and revered by his countrymen suffered significant brain damage to his frontal lobes when a machinegun round fired by Second Lieutenant A E Woodbridge of the Royal Flying Corps splintered his skull.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Aircraft of the Aces - Austro Hungarian Aces of World War I
World War One brought with it the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had dominated Central Europe for centuries. Starting the war with only 35 aircraft, Austro-Hungarian industry went on to produce only moderate numbers of poor quality warbirds. The fliers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire operating on the Serbian and Russian fronts were fortunate at first - faced by small numbers of aircraft yet more obsolescent than their own. Serbia fell in 1915, but when Italy declared war the Austro-Hungarians were still faced with a two-front war - a static front against Italy, and a fluid one against Russia.
(powells)


See also

'Red Baron'

'WWI Warbirds'

'Zeppelins'.