• Kagohl3 War Diary •

• CHRONOLOGY - APRIL 1917 to MAY 1918 •

3 April 1917

The Headquarters (Stab) of Kagohl 3 was formed out of the Geschwader-Schule Paderborn on 3 April 1917, while the nucleus of the Geschwader was to be Halbgeschwader Nr.1. The order to form Kagohl 3 read:- A new Kampfgeschwader der OHL (Nr.3) is to be established. Former Kampfstaffeln 1, 4 and 6 of Kampfgeschwader 1 will be Kampfstaffeln 13, 14 and 15. Kampfstaffel 16 will be established immediately and the establishment of Kampfstaffeln 17 and 18 will take place in due course in accordance with the availability of personnel and equipment. Its existence was officially recognized in decree KM (Prussian Ministry of War) Nr. 439/4.17 A7L dated 25 April 1917.


Kagohl 3 was subordinated to the 4.Armee in Flanders for administrative purposes, but under the operational control of Generalleutnant Ernst von Höppner, (Kogenluft), who was in turn subordinated to the OHL. In the following list the number of aircraft assigned is theoretical as the unit was never able to reach its full compliment of Gothas.


Stab Kagohl 3: Formed 3 April 1917 from scratch.

Geschwaderkommandeur: Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg.

Based at Gontrode (3 aircraft + 3 spare). HQ at Villa Drory near Gontrode.


Kampfstaffel 13 (Kasta 13): Formed from Kasta 1, Kagohl 1.

Staffelführer: Obltn. Martin Fiebig.

Based Sint Denijs-Westrem (six aircraft).


Kampfstaffel 14 (Kasta 14): Formed 3 April 1917 from Kasta 4, Kagohl 1.

Staffelführer: Obltn. Wolfgand Wesse.

Based Sint Denijs-Westrem (six aircraft).


Kampfstaffel 15 (Kasta 15): Formed 3 April 1917 from Kasta 6, Kagohl 1.

Staffelführer: Obltn. Hans-Ulrich von Trotha to 19.6.17: Obltn. Richard Walter.

Based Gontrode (six aircraft).


Kampfstaffel 16 (Kasta 16): Formed 3 April 1917 from scratch.

Staffelführer: Obltn. Hans-Joachim von Seydlitz-Kurzbach.

Based Gontrode (six aircraft).

20 April 1917

Generalleutnant Ernst von Höppner dropped in at Gontrode to see for himself how preparations were progressing.

23 April 1917

Gotha G.IV 410/16 of Kasta 16 crashed during a training flight.

Obltn. Hans-Joachim von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. Observer & Staffelführer of Kasta 16. Survived.

OfStv. Borsch. Pilot. Survived.

Vfw. Gitzen. Gunner. Survived.


Gotha G.IV 610/16 of Kasta 15 shot down at Vron in France during a training flight.

Ltn. Kurt Karl Josef Scheuren. Observer. Captured and sent to Donnington prison camp in England.

Ltn. Otto Wirth. Observer. Captured and sent to Donnington prison camp in England.

OfStv. Alfred Heidner. Pilot. Captured and sent to Frongoch prison camp in Merionethshire, Wales.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Lloyd S. Breadner flying Sopwith Pup N6181 of No.3 (Naval) Squadron operating from Marieux airfield was flying at 12,000 feet when he caught up with the Gotha, after which he positioned himself directly behind and fired 190 rounds which put both of its engines out of action. It then crash landed at 10.30 a.m. on the allied side of the lines at Vron, near Nampont in France, and was set on fire by its crew. Bredener put down in a field close by, but was unable to converse with the occupants as they spoke no English. The three Germans were then taken into captivity by British soldiers. The pilot later revealed that he had not intended to cross the lines and was under the impression that he was still on his side as he mistook Abbeville for Valenciennes, and the Forest of Crécy for the Forest of Raismes. The wrecked Gotha was subsequently designated G 23 by the RFC which recorded its engine numbers as 29870 and 30111.

24 April 1917

Gotha G.IV 617/16 crashed during a training flight.

30 April 1917

There were 30 Gotha G.IVs 'at the front' on 30 April 1917, while Halbgeschwader 1’s old Gotha G.III training machine, G.III 398/16, had also been inherited by Kagohl 3. Hptm. Brandenburg was reported to have used the red tailed G.III 396/16 as his personal aircraft during early raids on England.

6/7 May 1917

Offizierstellvertreter Rudolf Klimke (pilot) and Obltn. Walther Leon (observer) of Feldflieger Abteilung 19 based at Handzame, near Ostend, made a night attacked on London in an Albatros C.VII dropping five 12.5 kilogramme bombs over the city.

Tacit approval had been given by their commanding officer, though not of the OHL which later delivered a formal reprimand, as preparations were under way to attack London using Kagohl 3, and were worried that the British had been alerted and would be increasing their defences. Klimke and Leon were later transferred to Kagohl 3, and flying the Gotha IV undertook several attacks on England.

10 May 1917

Gotha G.IV 409/16 of Kasta 13 crashed during a training flight.

Obltn. Martin Fiebig, Staffelführer of Kasta 13. Survived.

This aircraft had to make an emergency landing in a ploughed field and ended up on its nose.

Mid May 1917

The middle of May saw Kagohl 3 finally declared operational, at which time Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg and General der Infanterie Erich Ludendorff, two of the most senior officers in the German Army, both visited Sint Denijs-Westrem to give the unit an appropriate send-off as its first mission to London had been planned for 18 May.

18 May 1917 - Daylight Attack

The first raid on London was fully planned and aircraft flew to Nieuwmunster naval aerodrome for re-fuelling, but had finally to return to their home bases due to the fact that there was much more wind then predicted.

25 May 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Thick cloud bank between the coast and London. Visibility good on the coast, four to seven nautical miles above an altitude of 4000 meters. North-West wind.

23 Gothas from Kagohl 3 dispatched, 21 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London: bombs dropped on Folkestone and Dover.

Bombs dropped - 5200 kilogrammes of high explosives.

The Gothas took off at 2 p.m. but one, which almost immediately had trouble with one of its engines, had to abort and make an emergency landing at Thielt (Tielt) aerodrome. The rest of the Geschwader refuelled at the Nieuwmunster naval aerodrome from where they took off again around 3.30 p.m. to cross the sea at 3000 meters.

Another Gotha had to abort later. This was G.IV 602/16 from Kasta 15, crewed by Ltn. Walther Aschoff (observer); Ltn. Erwin Kollberg (pilot); and Vfw. Mayer (gunner), which suffered power loss in its starboard engine due to a clogged fuel line forcing it to return to Belgium where it made an emergency landing on Ghistelles aerodrome at 7 p.m.

Kagohl 3 dropped 4900 kilograms of bombs on troop encampments near Folkestone and the fortress at Dover on the southeast coast of England. Several good hits at Dover including direct hit on the mole. Good hits at Folkestone, seven fires observed. Long distance flights inland also gave good results. Hits on London Docks, presumably Gravesend.

Losses - One Gotha failed to return. One Gotha crashed on return.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 13 shot down into the sea off Dunkirk, France.

Obltn. Ernst von Messerschmidt gen. Manfred Arnim (born Berlin 12.2.1891). Observer Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Willy Neumann (born Frankfurt am Main 14.3.1896). Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Werner Scholz (born Bitsche 24.4.1895). Killed.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

At about 7.45 a.m. five Sopwith Pups from No.4 (Naval) Squadron at Bray Dunes and three Sopwith Triplanes and a Pup from No.9 (Naval) Squadron at Furnes intercepted groups of returning Gothas flying at 18,000 feet some thirty miles out from the Belgian coast and the integrated attacks by the pilots of No.4 (Naval) Squadron resulted in a Gotha being shot down into the sea north of Westende. This aircraft was jointly claimed by Flight Lieutenant G.M.T. Rouse (N6198); Flight Sub-Lieutenant A.J. Chadwick (N6176); Flight Sub-Lieutenant L.F.W. Smith (N6168); and Flight Sub-Lieutenant E.W. Busby (N5196), but as so many pilots had been involved it subsequently proved impossible to credit success to any individual.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 15 crashed on return at Beernen, south-east of Bruges, Belgium.

Obltn.d.R. Kurt Paul Klemann (born Barkenfelde 11.12.1884). Observer. Killed, Originally buried in Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Ltn.d.R. Hans-Henning Parschau (born Allenstein 20.5.1888). Pilot. Killed, Originally buried in Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Uffz. Alfred Dickhaut (born Merseburg 22.4.1895). Gunner. Injured, died at Ghent 26.5.17.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Possibly damaged in combat during its return flight. At about 6.30 p.m. Flt Sub-Lieut Reginald F.S. Leslie flying Sopwith Pup 3691 from RNAS Dover caught up with and overtook a straggler flying at 11,000 feet between Dover and Gravelines. He then positioned himself 150 yards behind and above, before making a diving attack. However, as the first shots passed ahead of the Gotha he increased his dive, closed to 50 yards and fired 150 rounds. The enemy gunner returned fire. As Leslie broke off the Gotha went into a steep dive with smoke and steam pouring back over the centre section. He was then diverted from following its progress by a sudden attack from above by two other Gothas.

Upon its return the Gotha broke up in mid-air killing two women and a man on the ground. Parschau was officially recorded as having suffered a heart attack, but a captured crewman later stated that he’d gone mad.

Early June 1917

During practice missions it had been discovered that the main tanks of the Gotha G.IVs could not be completely emptied due to a faulty fuel line system. As the fuel available was insufficient to reach London without making a re-fuelling stop a second gravity tank was installed on the top wig of the Gothas. In late May and early June mechanics completed the installation of the additional petrol tanks, and this gave the Gothas an extra two hour’s duration, so making the refueling stop at Nieumunster unnecessary and allowing the bombers to deviate slightly from a straight course to London in order to avoid the strongest of the Capital’s gun defences. However, the first third of June was rainy around the channel area and most unfavorable for flying.

5 June 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Very hot. Visibility good, fifteen nautical miles at an altitude of 4000 meters. West-South-West wind.

22 Gothas from Kagohl 3 dispatched, 22 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London: bombs dropped on Sheerness.

Bombs dropped - 5500 kilogrammes of high explosives.

A little after 4 p.m. the Gothas began taking off, and after an uneventful sea crossing Kagohl 3 dropped its bombs on the military harbour of Sheerness. Numerous clearly noted hits on Sheerness town and fortress. Explosions 100 meters high in a rectangular block of buildings in Sheerness. A second explosion ten minutes after the first. Big arsenal hit, many hits on the shore and harbour buildings. Damage to ships, one or two torpedo boats sunk.

Losses - One Gotha failed to return.


Gotha G.IV 660/16 of Kasta 14 shot down into the sea off Sheerness, England.

Ltn.d.R. Hans Francke (born Leipzig 24.2.1894). Observer. Died of injuries in Sheerness Naval Hospital 6 June1917. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Erich Kluck (born Berlin 11.8.1896). Pilot. Drowned, now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Uffz. Georg Gustav Schumacher. Gunner. Captured with a broken leg.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

During the inward flight a Gotha detached itself from the formation and descended to 9000 feet, dropping four bombs close to the Barton’s Point gun site before going into a spin and crashing into the sea at 6.31 p.m., about 3000 yards north of Barton’s Point and close to the Nore lightship. The Barton’s Point gunners, who had fired a total of 93 rounds, subsequently claimed it destroyed. The wreckage was salvaged two days later and it was discovered that the starboard engine had stopped after the magneto drive teeth had stripped.

9 June 1917

Casualty Report:-

Ltn.d.Res. Hans-Georg Lang (born Annaburg 4.5.1894). Pilot of Kasta 13 died at Ghent.

12 June 1917

Casualty Report:-

Vfw. Bruno Brand (born Hamburg 4.5.1889) killed at Gontrode, now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

13 June 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Clear. Visibility very good. Wind slight, aircraft approached above the clouds.

22 Gothas from Kagohl 3 dispatched, 17 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 4400 kilogrammes of high explosives.

Raid Report - The weather forecast was favourable for an attack on London, as a tail wind was expected on the outward flight, with another anticipated on the return journey. So, to make the most of this, and to avoid the thunderstorms and hail forecast for the afternoon, Brandenburg ordered Kagohl 3 to prepare for a morning take off. At 10 a.m. they set out, but almost immediately two crews suffered engine problems and had to return to base.

At 12.00 noon 17 aircraft of Kagohl 3 dropped their bombs on the City of London. A railway station was hit (Liverpool Street). A bridge across Thames hit (Tower Bridge). Many hits on the densest part of the City. An enemy aircraft was shot down in flames over London. While the main body of the Geschwader turned down the River Thames to London itself, the mission of Uffz. Kurt Delang and his crew were to drop bombs on Harwich, on the east coast, far to the north of the mouth of the Thames. That attack went off without complications.


Air Combat Results:-

Two crews from Kasta 16 were later credited with aerial victories. Ltn.d.Res. Meyer and Obltn. Joachim von Seydlitz-Gerstenberg, a single seater near Rayleigh, and Ltn. Schwieder and Vfw. Pfeiffer, a Martinsyde near London. Offstlv. Fleischer of Kasta 13 was also credited with a single-seater near Rayleigh.

Losses - None, although one aircraft was damaged by AA fire over London, and another in aerial combat.

'Tagesmitteilungen über Seekrieg Flandern' (RM 121-1/13):-

Bombing of London by Kampfgeschwader 3 der OHL. Took off 10 o’clock in the morning with 17 G-Type aircraft. London reached 12 o'clock noon. Within 15 minutes 4400 kg of bombs were dropped on the City, good results observed. Despite lively defences all aircraft returned. Two British aircraft were shot down. Arrival back covered by Seaplanes and Kampfstaffel 8.


Report by Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg, Geschwaderkommandeur of Kagohl 3.

On the morning of 12 June weather conditions were to a certain extent favourable. During the afternoon there were several thunderstorms, but in the evening the weather cleared. The wind measurements made by Ltn. Cloesssner for the Geschwader on 12 June showed a prospect of exceptionally favourable weather conditions for 13 June. These hopes were fulfilled. As there were slight easterly winds up to 4000 metres and slight westerly winds above 4500 metres altitude, it was hoped that the attack force would have a following wind for the greater part of the outward and homeward flight. I gave orders for take off at 10.00 a.m. This time was chosen because (1) it was considered that the best results would be obtained by a raid on the City of London between 11.00 and 12.00 a.m. (GMT), (2) it would be possible to make several careful wind measurements up to high altitudes, prior to starting. There was the prospect of further thunder in the afternoon, but Leutnant Cloessner did not think that there would be any storm before 3 p.m.

The Geschwader was assembled in a mass formation with the leading planes headed straight for the target. On flying over Zeebrugge the formation had become concentrated, and when halfway between Zeebrugge and Margate it flew over a layer of clouds which seemed to extend far to the west. After a short while we saw the south bank of the mouth of the Thames halfway between Margate and Sheerness, through a break in the clouds. Then the clouds became less and gave us stretches of clear sky with only a few long ribbons of mist stretched out here and there.

At Southend we were under anti-aircraft fire, but the shots were in general too high, for the British were shooting above the altitude at which the Geschwader was flying, all 17 planes arrived over London. The visibility over London was unusually fine. We could recognize distinctly the Thames Bridges, the railway stations, the ‘city,’ and even the Bank of England. The anti-aircraft defenses of London were not particularly strong and the aiming was poor. In the meanwhile a fairly large number of hostile pursuit planes were climbing to our altitude. In all we counted 16 hostile machines, all of which were flying individually. It may be estimated that about 30 enemy planes took off. Only one of them attacked with energy. All our planes dropped their bombs deliberately while flying back and forth and in circles. From the statements of the observers it is estimated that hits were made on one of the stations in the ‘city’ and on one of the Thames Bridges, probably the Tower Bridge. Regarding the other bombs, it may be said that for the most part they fell on the docks and warehouses in the ‘city’. The effect must have been great. After the bombs had been dropped the squadron assembled and the machines, now lightened, climbed quickly so that the hostile planes gave up the pursuit when over the coast. All our planes landed without injury at the home aerodrome.

Half an hour after landing a thunderstorm began. There was heavy rain mingled with hailstones as large as pigeon’s eggs. If the storm had broken a little earlier the attack force might have come to grief. It is thanks to Ltn. Cloessner this was avoided. On account of the falling out of several aeroplanes shortly before the start owing to troubles which could quickly have been remedied, I was only dissuaded from this because Ltn. Cloessner warned me that there would be thunderstorms after 3.pm.


An account by Ltn. Walter Aschoff of Kasta 15

(The Gotha crew comprised Ltn. Walter Aschoff, the observer, Ltn. Erwin Kollberg, the pilot, and Vfw. Mayer, the gunner)

A view back to Kollberg, so that's it, let's go! The throttles are moved to the full throttle position, a shaking and vibration is going through the body of the bird and also through us and with gathering speed we are rushing over the ground with our heavy load, lift off! Gliding, flying into heaven and to far away shores; and maybe we are flying into our death.

The sun is shining through the haze to the east I can see - like shadows - the aircraft of other squadrons. We are flying a long turn, building formations, at first groups, but finally we become united and fly altogether heading to our target in wing flight formation. We are looking like a swarm of birds, which is flying towards an unknown country. The heading for the moment is northbound, river and channels are blinking up and glittering, and over the meadows there is still a slight fog to be seen. Old little towns wake up from their dreams, villages appear from the nicely coloured Flandric province and disappear while new pictures catch the eye. We are getting more and more close to the coastline, even now, still far away, the long beach can be seen glimmering.

At 3,000 meters we are high above the entrance to Zeebrugge. From here we are on standby; the torpedo boats lying below should help us in the case of a crash-landing in the water, the black smoke trails are moving to the south-west. Far, endless far, we are looking over the open sea. From time to time my eyes meet with the ones of my pilot, checking the engines and wings, a signal wakes up the rear gunner hanging onto his thoughts. Other aircraft are dancing close to us, flying over and near under us, so that it is necessary to pay attention to prevent a crash with them, which could send us down before reaching the target.

Meanwhile we have reached an altitude of 4,500 meters, just in the middle above the North Sea bay running to the south-west under us. Because of the good visibility today, the view is moving without any limits. Is that not a piece of land there far away, English land, which we are not searching with our souls, but with our strong will to fight. We are closing in; north-west there is to be seen the steep coastline, which we are approaching, to the north my eyes are looking far over Harwich. Moving southward, until they find the delta of the big River Thames, Margate and Ramsgate appear, the white cliffs are gleaming to us until they are interrupted by Dover and Folkestone. I am bending to the rear left and perceive Dunkirk and Calais and above the waters of the channel, streaming to the ocean. Behind us the sun has reached her midday position and it looks like she is greeting us friendly. Finally I have some time to look to the south-east over the Dutch islands, then, our thoughts and eyes are fixed to the things ahead of us.

Suddenly a lot of great and small boats are swimming in the colour changing sea. Warships are changing rapidly their directions, because they are afraid of our bombs, leaving light trails of moving water behind them. We look at them with a smile: our bombs today are for a better target. South-east of Harwich a convoy of more than twenty merchant ships accompanied by torpedo boats and destroyers to protect them against submarines is heading north.

The countryside is getting bigger and bigger, every detail is clearly visible now. Outpost boats and then anti aircraft artillery opens fire at us, most likely the men behind this guns are cursing against us flying high above them. Little white and grey clouds are suddenly in the air, vanishing slowly and covering again the sky. This means nothing to the 'old' crew members, they are used to the smoke of guns and the noise of exploding grenades. The soil of the, until now unreachable and safe, island is flown over in bright daylight by a wing flight of German bombers. The feeling of a great unique event fills our chests and the heartbeat gets higher and our eyes are shining. We are leaving the Thames area and set course directly to the northern part of London.

In the green land appears a dark, black and grey coloured area; it grows and grows like our close attention. There are thousands of houses, hundreds of streets, places coming together, forming the giant city of London. We are above the northern part of the town; the leading airplane is turning to the south now. Railway stations, factories and depots look like little toys. To the east at the many channels and little rivers of the Thames there are big dockyards to be seen. From the big 'stone mass' there is especially outstanding the tower; the St. Paul's Cathedral and the Bank of England.

The anti aircraft fire of the batteries in and around London has started now with great power. Grenade explosions cover the cloudless sky, the noise of the explosions are - when close - sometimes stronger than the noise of the engines. This forces our aircraft to turn and to go down, threatening sometimes to tear apart our formation. We are flying 5,000 meters above London, a very strong impression for us, something indescribable. How about the people down there, in which hurry and fear will they be now, looking desperately for some place to hide?

Another aeroplane beside me is dropping his bombs. I also found my target and show my pilot the direction he should fly. A big area with docks and stores is under us, I take the lever, which will release the bombs and one after the other is falling into the depth. A strong jerk follows every drop. Our aircraft climbs rapidly. I have to clasp myself at my chair; I am shaken and was nearly thrown out of the plane. Finally I am standing again and watch the impacts. It looks like the target was hit, smoke and fire is coming out of the halls.

While standing and watching, I suddenly hear a strange rattle. Enemy aircraft attacking us! Machine gunfire from the rear gunner and me is our answer. In a few seconds my first drum is empty and I try to load a new one, not that simple in an aircraft that fast. New rounds are fired and I can see due to the phosphor trails that they are reaching the fighter. The enemy goes into a steep dive. Did he quit because he was hit, or he gave up because our fire was coming too close to him, we will never find out.

We leave London behind; still the smoke and haze can be seen forming big clouds over the town. In this stress, we are hardly thinking of the people living in this town, people like us, with blood like ours. And this thought should not affect us, it is war, hard war, it takes our whole power to fight. We are crossing airfields, where fighters start to catch us and we see everywhere the fire of the anti aircraft guns. The whole of southern England seems to be alerted. We are flying as quickly as possible to reach the coastline and soon there is the good old sea below us.

The aircraft are flying high level information again to reach the home base. A sign of the rear gunner makes me look behind us; he is aiming at an aircraft coming from the direction of Southend, one of the feared English tri-planes. The enemy fighter pilot seems not to be a big hero, or he is too careful coming close to the formation. We hear his machine guns far away and gave him some bullets in front of his nose.

Our eyes are looking forward again. There! The white houses of Ostend appear in the haze, far behind it the terrible battlefield of Flanders. In 15 minutes we will be overhead the country and safe. German fighters will accompany us and bring us home safely. I am searching the sky and show my pilot and the rear gunner some dark points, which I believe are our fighters. Our heavy engines are singing their special song, which I will never forget. I am always trying to give some words to this song, but I never found some.

The mysterious dark points at the horizon are becoming aircraft and when they get closer, I can suddenly see the cockades of one of them, the enemy! They are coming in quick from the front side; I grasp my machine gun and make some sign to the rear gunner that there is danger ahead, press the gun at my shoulder, aim and start firing. A few moments later we are under attack from the rear above. A Sopwith fighter jumped down on us until he is only 50 meters away and starts shooting at our Gotha. Trails of phosphor are coming closer to us and they are hitting holes into the wing. Without a break the rear gunner is firing at the enemy. The attack is over; the rear gunner is already taking his second gun and tries to destroy the fighter through his downward 'tunnel'. I am creeping to him and provide him with new drums of ammunition, the only thing I can do now, with my gun I cannot reach the enemy plane now.

The pilot is working nervously at the fuel cock, the engines are running roughly, but suddenly the sound gets normal, the gravity tank is intact, both others are hit and empty. We see other German aircraft getting closer; they saw the situation and came to protect us from the enemy fighter. With the last fuel we reach our base and give the distress signal to land immediately. The aircraft is now free of the bombs and fuel, which means it is difficult to handle. We are thrown up and down and once again the pilot has to be fully concentrated at the end of our five hours flight.

A task some inexperienced pilots have failed. At the northern edge of the airfield, close to a single farm we see a crashed plane. Then we see another aircraft lying burning on the ground. Maybe it hit a crater from a bomb attack that took place while we were in the air. But these impressions must be blocked out now, if we want to land safely. We are coming down more and more, hangars and trees growing suddenly out of the ground, people become taller, we are short before touch down, Kollberg pushes the plane with high speed down to the ground, the wheels have contact some little unevenness, the last moving, we have landed

Communication from Generalleutnant Ernst von Höppner, Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte, to Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg, Geschwaderkommandeur of Kagohl 3.

The Geschwader has fulfilled its mission. That is the highest recognition I can accord to you and your crews. The Geschwader attack on London has been for years an objective of our fliers and our technology. With the execution of the attack Kagohl 3 has provided a new basis for air attacks. I thank you and your brave crews…. To the victorious crew of the aircraft of Seydlitz, I convey my special recognition. Good luck in future deeds [to be carried out] under the symbolic slogan: Brandenburg over London.

19 June 1917

Due to the success of the raid on London Kaiser Wilhelm II commanded that Hptm. Brandenburg be immediately presented to him at the Supreme Headquarters at Bad Kreuznach so that he could be awarded the Pour le Mérite (better known as the ‘Blue Max’), the German Empire's highest military order. He was flown the 320 kilometers south as the passenger in a two-seater Albatros and, after spending the weekend at the Supreme Headquarters, he set out for Gontrode early in the morning of 19 June, only to crash almost immediately.

Albatros communication aircraft of Kagohl 3 crashed on take off at Bad Kreuznach.

Obltn. Hans-Ulrich von Trotha (born Potsdam 1.7.1889). Pilot & Staffelführer of Kasta 15. Killed. Buried at Bad Kreuznach. Later re-interred at the Friedhof St Nikolai at Schkopau in Germany. Previously an officer in 1. Garde Regiment zu Fuß.

Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg (born Sophienfelde 4.6.1883). Passenger & Kommandeur of Kagohl 3. Seriously injured.

Before the Albatros had achieved a safe altitude its engine failed and in the ensuing crash Brandenburg was so severely injured that one of his legs had to be amputated.

20 June 1917

Gotha GIII (LVG) 395/16 (training aircraft ?) crashed near Gontrode. It was commanded by Ltn. Noack and piloted by Vizefeldwebel Paul Witte of Kasta 13, both of whom who were injured.

23 June 1917

On 23 June 1917 Generalleutnant von Höppner appointed a replacement for Brandenburg. The man selected was Hptm. Rudolf Kleine, a 30 year old pilot who was then serving as Gruppenführer der Flieger 1 (Grufl 1), the senior air officer at the Army Corps Headquarters at Rheims.

30 June 1917

During the second half of June the weather was too unsettled to undertake operations against England. On 30 June 36 Gotha G.IVs were recorded ‘at the front’.

4 July 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Hazy. Cloud bank between mouth of the Thames and London. Visibility five to seven nautical miles at altitudes. Easterly wind.

25 Gothas of Kagohl 3 dispatched, 18 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - Harwich & Felixstowe.

Bombs dropped - 4400 kilogrammes of high explosives.

Due to the possibility of thunderstorms developing en route to London, it was decided instead to mount a raid against the British naval base at Harwich and the nearby Felixstowe naval air station. The attackers were to depart from Belgium at dawn hoping, not only to avoid any developing storms, but also to catch the defences off guard. At 5.30 a.m. the Gothas took off, but even before the formation had crossed the North Sea engine problems had forced seven of the bombers to abort the mission.

During the morning Kagohl 3 attacked military establishments and coastal works near Harwich. In spite of the strong defences from the ground and by fighters, the Gothas succeeded in dropping bombs on the objectives and in observing the good effects thereof. Several hits on Harwich town, barracks and sheds. Hits noted on docks causing big fires. Several observers noted direct hits on naval vessels. Two hits on a hangar (one fire). One hit on a railway station (fire). There were also six air battles.

Losses - None.

7 July 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Visibility excellent, splendid conditions for observation.

24 Gothas of Kagohl 3 dispatched, 22 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped 4475 kilogrammes of high explosives.

A break in the thundery weather conditions that had prevailed over the North Sea gave the opportunity for Kagohl 3 to carry out another raid on London. Several Gothas were also fitted with cameras in order to undertake photo-reconnaissance and damage assessment work over the Capital. At about 8 a.m. the Gothas began taking off but as they flew across the North Sea two were forced to turn back suffering from engine problems.

At 11.30 a.m. Kagohl 3 freely dropped their bombs on London during a bright day in an attack which lasted a quarter of an hour. It was primarily directed against storehouses and factories. Bombs were dropped on the docks, harbour works and warehouses and northern bank of the Thames, between Charing Cross station (which was hit several times) and east of the Tower Bridge. Very serious damage was observed in the areas north and north-west of St Paul’s cathedral. Results were observed by smoke clouds from the fires and by explosions. Obltn. Martin Fiebig, the Staffelführer of Kasta 13, took a number of photographs at 11.40 a.m. while flying over Central London at an altitude of 4300 meters in Gotha G.IV 623/16.

A second attack by a single aircraft was directed against Margate harbour which was hit with 200 kilograms of explosives. Here also good results were obtained.

British anti-aircraft guns harassed the Gothas during the whole raid, and were very violent at London. Enemy airmen also attacked, but without result, and were dispersed.


Air Combat Results:-

It has been confirmed that Ltn. Radke (observer) and Vzfw. Kurt Gaede of Kasta 13 shot down a British single-seater over London. However, another Kasta 13 crew, Off. Stv. Rudolf Klimke (pilot);; Obltn. Walter Leon (observer); and Vfw. Keintrup (gunner); claimed a Sopwith over London, while Vfw. Fritz Senf (pilot); Ltn. Franz R. Schulte (observer); and Uffz. Schulz (gunner); of 17 Kasta, also claimed an enemy aircraft brought down over the Capital.


Losses - One Gotha failed to return. One Gotha destroyed on landing. In addition, a Gotha G.IV from Kasta 17, the aircraft commanded by Ltn. Franz Schulte, with Vfw. Fritz Senf (pilot) and Uffz. Schulz (gunner), forced landed on the beach at Ostend having sustained serious combat damage.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 14 down in the sea north of Zeebrugge, Belgium.

Ltn.d.R. Max Elsner (born Berlin 14.3.1890). Observer. Killed.

Vfw. Franz Hölger (born Berlin 16.1.1879). Pilot. Killed.

Uffz. Georg Mickel (born Schirgiswalde 28.11.1890) Gunner. Killed.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Three claims were made regarding Gothas shot down into the sea during their return flights, one from the RFC and two from the RNAS. They could possibly refer to the same victim.

Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 B247 from ‘B’ Flight No.50 Squadron at Throwley, crewed by 2/Lt. Frederick Arthur Darien Grace and 2/Lt. George Murray, sighted a returning Gotha formation when flying 20 miles north of the North Foreland at 11.30 a.m. Grace then took up the chase and finally attacked a bomber in the rear of the formation flying much lower than 14,000 feet of the main group. He dived on the Gotha, firing his Vickers as he closed from 800 to 400 yards, jinking to distract the gunners, and then pulled up above its starboard side. Murray, the observer, then took over with his Lewis gun and within moments black smoke poured from around the Gotha’s centre section and it dived into the sea, the starboard wing becoming submerged. Shortly afterwards two of the crew were seen on the sinking bomber’s port wing, but being short on fuel all Grace could do was to fite Very lights in the hope of attracting ships to the scene.

After sighting some returning Gothas near the Kentish Knock lightship, Sq.Cdr C.H. Butler flying Sopwith Triplane N5424 from RNAS Manston became involved in a 30 minute pursuit. On catching up with the Gothas he fired 100 rounds into one of the bombers from close quarters, before administering similar treatment to a second. Breaking off, he saw what he thought was his first target hit the sea and sunk at a point about 20 miles west of Ostend.

Flt. Lt. J.E. Scott flying Sopwith Camel B3774 from RNAS Manston, came up with a Gotha flying at 8000 feet about 35 miles east-north-east of the North Foreland and made a prolonged attack, firing 475 rounds, after which it spun into the sea. The tail and part of a wing remained visible on the surface and Scott saw on eof the crew swimming.

In addition, Flt Sub-Lt. Rowan Daly flying Sopwith Triplane N5382 from RNAS Manston, also reported shooting down in flames an aircraft of unspecified type from 17,000 feet, some 15 miles off the coast between Ostend and Zeebrugge. His victim was possibly one of the fighters sent out to escort the Gothas home.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 13 crashed on return to Sint Denijs-Westrem aerodrome.

Ltn.d.R. Max Röselmüller (born Berlin 22.10.1892). Observer. Seriously burned died at Ghent 10.7.17. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Ltn. Hans Richter (born Weissenfels 12.3.1897). Pilot. Killed.

Vfw. Wilhelm Weber (born Haylen 23.5.1893). Gunner. Killed.

The wind was strong making it very difficult to land the Gotha which came down in a field alongside Derbystraat, Sint Denijs-Westrem, and caught fire.

Mid July 1917

In July, following the completion of the new airfield at Mariakerke, two new Kasten were formed, bringing the complement of Kagohl 3 up to six.


Kampfstaffel 17 (Kasta 17): Formed 15 July 1917 from scratch.

Staffelführer: Obtn. Helmuth Mentzel.

Based Mariakerke (six aircraft).


Kampfstaffel 18 (Kasta 18): Formed 29 July 1917 from scratch.

Staffelführer: Obltn. Karl Angerstein.

Based Mariakerke (six aircraft).


A spell of appalling weather during July made it impossible for the Gothas venture out over the North Sea for much of the month. In fact conditions remained so unsettled that it was not until 22 July that the weather permitted another incursion against England.

22 July 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Unusually clear and good visibility. Ten to thirteen nautical miles above an altitude of 3000 meters. North-West wind.

23 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 22 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - Harwich.

Bombs dropped - 5225 kilogrammes of high explosives.

The Gothas selected to take part began taking off at about 6.30 a.m., but one aircraft was forced to return to base due to a mechanical malfunction before the crossing the English coast. Good hits on Harwich town and on the barracks and docks reported by all observers. Good results certain.

Losses - One Gotha crashed on landing.

29 July 1917 - Daylight Attack

On 24 July the weather had entered another dismal period characterized by heavy rain and high winds, conditions that once again put a stop to Gotha sorties across the North Sea. This situation lasted for about a month, and so frustrated did Hptm. Kleine become that he started overruling the advice of Ltn. Walter Georgii Kagohl 3’s new meteorologist. This began on 29 July when Kleine insisted on mounting an attack on England, only to be forced to return home shortly after flying out over the Belgian coast due to unfavourable weather conditions.

Early August

The Allies launched their long awaited assault on the lines near Ypres on 31 July 1917, and in response Kagohl 3 was specifically directed by the OHL to bomb ports in South-East England as soon as possible in order to interrupt the transport of supplies across the Channel to the Western Front. However, due to the atrocious weather the Gothas stayed grounded until 12 August.


12 August 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Clear. Strong South-West wind.

13 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 10 dropped their bombs on England.

Objectives - 1st Chatham; 2nd Southend; 3rd Margate and Shoeburyness.

Bombs dropped - 2125 killogrammes of high explosives.

Kagohl 3 was only able to dispatch 13 Gothas as the crews were not notified until the early afternoon and, it being a Sunday, many men had already left their aerodromes to spend the day in Ghent. At around 2.30 p.m. the Gothas began taking off, but soon two crews had returned with engine trouble, while a little later as the formation flew over the North Sea, a very strong south-westerly wind slowed their advance considerably and drove them much further north than intended. With the strong headwind still severely reducing the Gothas speed, and dark rain clouds gathering over the Thames Estuary, Obltn. Richard Walter, the Staffelführer of Kasta 15, who was flying as leader in place of Kleine, then signalled the bombers to make for Southend.

Kagohl 3 than attacked military works at Southend and barracks near Shoeburness with 2000 kilograms of bombs. Good results were observed. Practically all hits on objectives observed in town of Southend and Shoeburyness. Southend railway station was hit several times. Military works at Margate was also attacked with 125 kilograms of bombs. On the return flight there were numerous intensive air battles, and the delay they caused to the returning Gothas meant that they were almost out of fuel by the time they arrived in the vicinity of Ghent. This resulted in a number of aircraft suffering landing accidents, most on, or close to, their home airfields.


Account by Uffz. Kurt Delang of Kasta 15.

My crew was assigned to bomb Harwich. When the main formation appeared at the mouth of the Thames, we were met by a large number of British fighters. They followed most of Gothas, which turned down the Thames. One single-seater fighter followed us on our course along the east coast of England. This Englishman attacked our Gotha constantly from above and very soon caused heavy damage to our aircraft. We were already down to 500 meters above the water when the Englishman again attacked. Then he flew beneath us for a long time and, off our left wing, he pulled up straight in order to gain altitude and strike again from above. I then put the Gotha into as steep a right hand bank as I could in order to give our machine guns a clear field of fire. Thus, at the end of his climb, when the British single-seater had attained only a modest speed, he was right in the sights of our machine guns. Flames burst out in the single-seater and, leaving a trail of black smoke, he plunged into the North Sea.


Air Combat Results:-

It has been confirmed that Ltn. Paul Döge, Vzfw. Paul Ruhl and Uffz. Kurt Delang of Kasta 15 shot down a British single-seater near Southend; Ltn. Martin Emmler, Vzfw. Emil Haes and Vzfw. Heinrich Schreiber of Kasta 16 shot down a British triplane near Margate; and Ltn. Werner Gieser, (? Ltn. Haas) and Uffz. Otto Hanky, also of Kasta 16, shot down a British two-seater near Southend.

Losses - One Gotha failed to return. Four Gothas crashed on return, and one of these was G.IV (LVG) 983/16.


Gotha G.IV 656/16 of Kasta 16 crashed into the sea off Dover, England.

Ltn.d.R. Hans Rolin (born Schrimm 28.3.1895). Observer. Killed.

Uffz. Rudi Stolle (born Altgersdorf 22.8.1891). Pilot. Killed.

Uffz. Otto Rosinsky (born Lebus 27.9.1895). Gunner. Killed.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Flt. Sub-Lt. Harold S. Kerby took off from RNAS Walmer at 5.30 p.m. in Sopwith Pup N6440 and had soon chased a Gotha nearly all the way across the North Sea before losing his quarry. However, on his way back he spotted in the distance eight Gothas making their return flights. Kerby then climbed above the bombers and made a diving attack, before noticing a single aircraft 4000 feet below and trailing behind. Flying at 18,000 feet, he made a diving frontal attack on that Gotha, which flew straight on down into the sea and turned over. Circling the wreck, Kerby saw one man clinging to the tail and threw him a life jacket, then, as he returned to base, he fired red Very cartridges hoping to divert four nearby destroyers to the spot, but they failed to understand and continued on their way. Kerby finally landed back at Walmer at 8.20 p.m.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 15 crash landed near Gontrode aerodrome.

Ltn. Paul Döge. Observer. Uninjured.

Uffz. Kurt Delang. Pilot. Uninjured.

Vfw. Paul Ruhl. Gunner. Injured.

As the pilot glided in for his landing off to his right, from the north, came another Gotha, with one engine turned off. A collision seemed likely, so he gave both his engines full throttle. The collision was avoided, but midway over the landing area the fuel ran out. At this low altitude a banking turn was impossible. He managed to put down in a field where the Gotha broke up completely. The observer and the pilot were uninjured; the gunner suffered a broken leg when he jumped out of the Gotha just before it touched down. He thought it would burn up. He was taken to a field hospital.

18 August 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Strong westerly wind.

26 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3.

Objective - The commander intended to decide his objective upon reaching the English Coast at the Isle of Thanet and then lead the attack force to the selected target.

Although Kagohl 3’s meteorologist warned against it Hptm. Kleine insisted that at 6.30 a.m. every available aircraft was to be ready to depart for England. Consequently, 26 Gothas took-off (the largest number ever to be dispatched to England), but the result was a disaster that has since become known as ‘Hollandflug’.

The flight across the North Sea was carried out above a cloud bank. After about three hours the English coast was sighted near Harwich, but owing to the freshening south-westerly winds the attack force had been driven about 50 kilometers north of the calculated course. In view of the amount of fuel remaining, the commander decided to turn back without raiding Harwich. Though the strong south-westerly wind was taken into account in setting the course for the return flight, the Gotha formation made landfall south of the Dutch island of Schouwen. The Dutch coastal batteries fired warning signals.

Some of the aeroplanes reached their home aerodrome by flying over Netherlands territory, but two came down in Holland. They were both only a short distance from the German frontier when they ran out of fuel and were forced to make emergency landings to the west of Groningen, one in a field near Beerta, and the other near Blijham. Both crews were unhurt and were interned in the Netherlands for the duration. The Dutch authorities also reported that although a further two Gothas had been severely damaged by fire from their anti-aircraft guns they succeeded in limping across the border into Belgium where one crashed.

The remainder of the formation flew against the strong south-westerly wind over Zeebrugge and then along the Belgian - Dutch frontier, after which some had to land on account of fuel shortage. In so doing, and in general during this entirely unsuccessful raid, heavy losses, both of aeroplanes and crews resulted (crews taken prisoner and crashes).

Losses - Two Gothas made emergency landings in the neutral Netherlands. About nine other Gothas were involved in controlled crashes with heavy casualties among the crews while landing back in Belgium.


Gotha G.IV 1055/16 of Kagohl 3 forced landed between Oude Pekela and Beerta near Groningen in the Netherlands.

Ltn.d.R. Hermann Kolhase. Observer. Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Uffz. Heinz Keiser. Pilot Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Vfw. Otto Ehleben. Gunner. Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.


Crash Information (from Dutch sources):-

About 1.30 p.m. two Gothas had been seen flying over Winschoten and were fired at by Dutch soldiers with rifles near Tutjeshut, a hamlet that no longer exists. The man who caused the damage to the Gotha was Sergeant Lok, who was subsequently presented with a golden watch with an inscription and an amount of money.

The crew said that they took off that morning from the Ghent area to participate in a raid against England. They had maps of the east coast of England and also maps of the Dutch and Belgian coast area. They wanted to fly to Germany and explained that they didn’t want to violate the Dutch neutrality. So they intended to fly along the coast, but in the end they were fired at and hit. A piece of one of the the propellers came off and damaged the upper wing, so they had to land, ending up in the middle of a field hardly damaged. In the aircraft were lots of empty cartridge cases. The crew was quickly joined by some Dutch soldiers, and they were soon standing beside the aeroplane eating bread and drinking milk given to them by the soldiers. The fuselage carried the marking ‘KK’ for Kolhase and Keiser, while the engines were numbered 28721 and 28400.


Gotha G.IV 1059/16 of Kasta 14 forced landed at Blijham near Groningen in the Netherlands.

Ltn.d.R. Bernhard Lechler. Observer. Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Gefr. Eugen Schleyth (Schleith). Pilot. Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Uffz. Fritz Köbe (Käbe). Gunner. Interned in Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.


Crash Information (from Dutch sources):-

Forced down short of fuel during the early afternoon. The crew set fire to their aircraft soon after they have landed. The engines were numbered 28451 and 28462.


Casualty Report:-

Ltn.d.Res. Adolf Hochgräbe (born Schüren 17.7.1895). Observer with Kagohl 3, killed at Ghent on return from England.

22 August 1917 - Daylight Attack

Weather - Visibility good.

15 Gothas dispatched, 9 dropped their bombs on England.

Objectives - 1st Southend or Sheerness; 2nd Chatham; 3rd Dover.

Bombs dropped - 1900 kilogrammes of high explosives. 500 kilogrammes on Margate; 500 kilogrammes on Ramsgate; 900 kilogrammes on Dover.

The Gothas began taking off around 9 a.m., but during the outward flight five aircraft, including Kleine’s machine, suffered mechanical failures and were forced to abort the mission, leaving Obltn. Richard Walter, Staffelführer of Kasta 15, to lead the raid. During the aerial attacks on the English coast the military establishments at Margate, Ramsgate and Dover were successfully bombarded. During numerous aerial engagements the enemy lost three aeroplanes.


Account by Obltn. Richard Walter, Staffelführer of Kasta 15

Just before reaching the English coast the leading aeroplane had to turn back on account of engine trouble. I took over command of the attack force, which still consisted of nine aeroplanes. The dropping out of the leading aeroplane created a momentary disquietude amongst the formation flying behind it as the red flares agreed upon produced only a trail of smoke. I then gave orders for star shells to be fired from the machine gun post. On reaching the English coast and flying inland I observed numbers of enemy AA defence aeroplanes, some of which were flying at a higher altitude than our attack force. In view of the strong wind, the well prepared AA defence and the small number of our aeroplanes, I considered that as it would anyhow be impossible to reach London, it would be inadvisable to proceed further inland. I therefore tried, by firing three star shells in quick succession, several times, to instruct the crews to raid objective No.3 (Dover). A raid on Dover, in view of the importance of this town to the battle proceeding in Flanders, would have been of the utmost importance. The crews failed to understand the signals and the bombs were dropped along the whole coastal area from Margate to Dover. Hits easily observed at Dover, Ramsgate and Margate.


Air Combat Results:-

It has been confirmed that Obltn. Mentzel, Ltn. Schiessler and Vzfw. Kerler of Kasta 17 shot down a British single-seater west of Deal. Ltn.d.Res. Alfred Schliessler received the Honour Cup for a victory in aerial combat.

Losses - Two Gothas failed to return. One Gotha crashed on return.


Gotha G.IV 663/16 of Kasta 15 shot down in the sea off Margate, England.

Ltn. Walter Latowsky (born Rübelsdorf 22.2.1893). Observer. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Werner Joschkowitz (born Magdeburg 31.7.1889). Pilot. Killed. Buried Den Helder in the Netherlands. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Ysselsteyn in the Netherlands, Block B, Grave 46.

Uffz. Bruno Schneider (aged 19). Gunner. Captured. Previously served in 1st Dragoon Regiment.


Crash Information (from British and Dutch sources):-

Shot down by AA gun fire. Crashed into the sea at 10.45 a.m. one mile off Cliftonville. According to the gunner the crew had intended to atack Dover. Near Ramsgate the AA fire was extremely accurate and put the starboard engine out of action. As a result the aircraft got into a spin from which it never recovered. After coming down in the sea the Gotha sank nose first and the gunner climbed up the fuselage and sat on the tail plane for about ten minutes before being rescued by ‘H.M.S. Kestral’. The wreckage was later recovered. On 27 September 1917 the body of a German aviator was washed ashored near Den Helder in the Netherlands. He was a Ltn., and on his underwear was found the initials J.W. The man was buried with full military honours in Den Helder on 29 September.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 16 crashed near Garlinge, Margate, England.

Obltn. Eckart Fulda (born Berlin 9.5.1890). Observer & Staffelführer of Kasta 16. Killed. Buried in Margate Cemetery. Later re-interred in the CWGC Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase, England. Previously an officer in the Infanterie Regiment Nr. 82.

Uffz. Heinrich Schildt (born Hessen 8.8.1895). Pilot. Killed. Buried in Margate Cemetery. Later re-interred in the CWGC Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Ernst Eickelkamp (born Mönchenglattbach 28.7.1894) Gunner. Killed. Buried in Margate Cemetery. Later re-interred in the CWGC Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase, England.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Shot down by AA gun fire. The aircraft nose dived, burst into flames and fell spinning like a top before crashing between Flete Farm and Vincent’s Farm at 10.36 a.m. One wing landed just outside Westgate seaplane station, another fell on allotments at the top of Bird’s Avenue, Garlinge, near Hengrove Golf Links, while the engines and the fuselage, with the remains of the crew, came to earth in a corn field at Flete Farm. The bodies were removed to a barn at nearby Vincent’s Farm, and although the pilot and observer were burnt beyond recognition, the gunner was still recognizable, his head and face being untouched. The crew was initially buried by the R.N.A.S. with full military honours in Margate Cemetery at daybreak on 27 August 1917.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 15 crashed near Ghent, Belgium.

Obltn. Walter Dachne (born Berlin 3.11.1890). Observer & Staffelführer of 15/KG 3. Killed.

Vfw. Walter Brennecke (born Leipzig 8.9.1894). Pilot. Killed.

Gerf. Max Dittmann (born Berlin 29.3.1895). Gunner. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

26 August 1917

Gotha of Kagohl 3 crashed at Knackenburg, Belgium.

Lt.d.R. Ewald Gustav Sperling (born Hanau 20.1.1894). Observer. Killed.

Vz.Wachtmstr Max Haas (born Burscheid 7.12.1893). Pilot. Killed.

Gefr. Josef Bronner (born Muthausen 4.9.1883). Gunner. Killed.

31 August 1917

On 31 August 1917 34 Gotha G.IVs and 3 Gotha G.Vs were recorded ‘at the front’.

Late August - Early September 1917

On its last daylight attack on England on 22 August Kagohl 3 had been beaten off by well co-ordinated fighter interceptions and un-precedently fierce anti-aircraft fire. This situation had been accurately predicted back in February 1917 when Obltn. Wolfgang Wesse, an officer then serving with Kagohl 1 who later became the Staffelführer of Kasta 14, had presented a treatise entitled 'Air Attacks on London' in which he prophesied that a daytime assault would be limited to three months at the most, as by that time the effect of Britain’s air defences would be felt and it would be necessary to switch to raiding at night.

During August elements of Kagohl 4, equipped with the A.E.G. G.IV, which could carry up to about 700 kilogrammes of bombs, were known to have been on Armee Flugpark IV at Sint Denijs-Westrem. On the nights of 2/3 and 4/5 September 650 and 600 kilogrammes of high explosives respectively were dropped on Dover, and the culprits were Kagohl 4, which often carried only two instead of three crewmen while undertaking night bombing with their A.E.G.s.

2/3 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +1)

During the evening Calais was attacked and a little later in bright moonlight one aeroplane (probably an AEG G.IV) from Kagohl 4 dropped 650 kilogrammes of bombs on Dover.

3/4 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +2)

Weather - During outward flight low moon, very bad visibility. During return flight towards the moon, visibility very good. Very slight wind.

5 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 4 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - Chatham.

Bombs dropped - 1315 kilogrammes of high explosives. 715 kilogrammes on Chatham; 550 kilogrammes on Sheerness; 50 kilogrammes on Margate.

Hptm. Kleine selected five of Kaghol 3’s most experienced crews, including his own, for the trial flight to Chatham. At 10.00 p.m. the aircraft took off, but only one soon turned back with mechanical problems. The other four carried on and good hits observed at Chatham and Sheerness. Explosions were seen in the vicinity of Chatham Docks.

Losses - None.

4/5 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +3)

Weather - Clear moonlight. Visibility very good. No wind.

11 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 9 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3060 kilogrammes of high explosives. 2125 kilogrammes on London; 350 kilogrammes on Southend; 585 kilogrammes on Margate.

The crews, all volunteers, took off at five minute intervals starting at 9.30 p.m. and five of them made an attack on London, and owing to the incomplete extinguishing of the lights the individual sections of the city could be distinguished clearly. For 1½ hours the harbor and the city were targeted, the bombs being released at an altitude of 2000 to 4000 meters. Hits in the city easily observed. One aircraft bombed Southend and one bombed Margate; fires were spotted. Good hits on blocks of houses in Southend and Margate.

In addition, one aeroplane (probably an AEG G.IV) of Kagohl 4 dropped 600 kilogrammes of high explosives on the harbor and city of Dover.

Losses - One Gotha failed to return.


Gotha G.IV of Kasta 13 crashed into the sea off Eastchurch, England.

Obltn. Helmuth van Zanthier (born Stralsund 19.10.1894). Observer. Killed.

Uffz. Theodor Fries (born Schweinfurt 3.4.1894). Pilot, killed.

Vfw. Hans Hansen-Beck (born Flensburg 15.1.1893). Gunner. Killed.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Shot down by AA gunfire at 11.37 p.m. The Borstal AA gun site searchlight operator held the Gotha for about seven minutes crossing from right to left. When attacked it changed course and approached the gun. It then gradually receded. It was apparently disabled by their gun fire and became practically stationary. A direct hit was then scored and it was observed to fall almost perpendicularly for a short distance turning over and over. It then fell at an angle of descent of about 70°. Where it actually fell could not be observed from the Borstal gun position. A dredging operation followed in the Medway but no wreckage was ever found. However, some 15 miles to the east a Sheppey gun section reported an aircraft with heavily lumbering engines and showing a white light slowly descending out at sea off Eastchurch.


Report to Generalleutnant Ernst von Höppner, Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte, by Hptm. Rudolf Kleine Geschwaderkommandeur of Kagohl 3

The two successful moonlight raids carried out by a small, experienced section of the Geschwader should in no way constitute a reason for going over definitely to night raids. These raids were necessary in a period when the Geschwader was being equipped with its full strength of new and faster aeroplanes (Gotha G.V) in order to arouse further disquiet in Great Britain. We must reckon with the obvious possibility that the enemy, after these moonlight raids, when the weather during the day was highly favourable as well, would assume that were not to be entrusted with the execution of any further daylight raids at all and in organizing the defence would relax the day defensive organization.

They are also of the utmost importance as trials for the night flights of R-planes and further night raids by the Geschwader.

The Geschwader should again prepare for big daylight raids on London, using at least 25 aeroplanes, flying at an altitude of 4500 metres. It may be assumed that, even if we lose three to five aeroplanes out of an attack force of 20 aeroplanes the morale and material affect of our success would still outweigh the success of the British AA defence.

With a steady improvement in the enemy countermeasures it will soon be necessary, if the air raids on Great Britain are to be continued, either to employ aeroplanes which can climb to over 6000 metres or else carry out the raids solely at night.

Night raiding by the whole Geschwader, which means also by the less experienced crews, will need careful reorganization. There can be no doubt that the mission will be more difficult for the individual.

September 1917

During September Kagohl 3 was ordered to assist Hptm Alfred Keller, the commander of Kagohl 1, in mounting raids on the Channel ports. Dunkirk had thus become as important a target as London, and Kagohl 3 had lost its exclusive and unique function of long range strategic bombing.

5 September 1917

Casualty Report:-

Ltn.d.R. Robert Raulfs (born Holzminden 16.10.1896). Observer of 13 Kasta, killed in the vicinity of Emden.

9 September 1917

Casualty Report:-

Gefr. Arno Gäbler Anro (born Lotzdorf 4.7.1892). Pilot of Kasta 15 was killed at Gontrode aerodrome.

22 September 1917

Casualty Report:-

OfStellv. Gustav Höhne (born Platkow 11.4.1892). Pilot of Kasta 14, killed at Sint Denijs-Westrem aerodrome. Now buried in the Luisenstädtischer Friedhof in Berlin.

24/25 September 1917 - Moonlight Atttack (Moon 1st Qtr)

Weather - Visibility poor, patches of cloud.

16 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 13 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 4285 kilogrammes of high explosives. 1090 kilogrammes on London; 2055 kilogrammes on Dover; 365 kilogrammes on Southend; 375 kilogrammes on Chatham; 400 kilogrammes on Sheerness.

At 7.00 p.m. 16 aircraft of Kagohl 3 took off on an attack against England. They reached their objective and attacked as follows: three aircraft over London, seven aircraft over Dover, one over Southend, one over Chatham and another over Sheerness. At London hits were made on the Admiralty, also on warehouses and storehouses on the Thames in the City observed. Four fires just east of the City and near the Admiralty. Two big fires in Dover. Anti-aircraft fire was heavier than on the last flights.

Losses - One Gotha crashed on return.


Gotha of Kasta 14 crashed landing at Gontrode aerodrome.

Ltn. Hermann von Scharfenort (born Gumbinnen 8.12.1892). Observer. Killed.

Flg. Hermann Mochatzky (born Markee 5.8.1895). Gunner. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

25/26 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon 1st Qtr + 1)

Weather - Misty.

15 Gothas dispatched, 14 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 4000 kilogrammes of high explosives. 500 kilogrammes on London; 3500 kilogrammes on Ramsgate, Margate and Dover.

During hazy weather at night Kagohl 3 attacked England. Only one aircraft reached London. Others attacked Ramsgate, Margate and Dover. No special observations as visibility was very bad. No aerial engagements. Other Gotha dropped 500 kilogrammes of bombs on Calais, Dunkirk, Graveline, and Boulogne with Kagohl 1. Especially good results were observed in Boulogne and Calais.

Losses - One Gotha failed to return.


Gotha G.IV 1064/16 of Kasta 15 on an ‘England flight’ crashed at Zuydcoote, France.

Ltn.d.R. Franz Rahning (born Bünde 25.3.1894). Observer. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Alfred Herzberg (born Elberfeld 24.10.1895). Pilot. Killed. Buried in the British Cemetery at Koksijde in Belgium.

Vfw. Wilhelm Wienecke. Gunner. Captured injured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Hit by AA gunfire near Oostdunkerke. Allocated RFC number G.74. Engine numbers 27040 and 30552.

28/29 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full -2)

Weather - Heavy cloud.

25 Gothas of Kagohl 3 and 2 R-planes of Rfa 501 dispatched, 3 Gothas and 1 R-plane dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3100 kilogrammes of high explosives. Gothas 1300 kilogrammes; R-plane 1800 kilogrammes.

For the third strike of the week 25 Gothas were ordered to London. They took off at short intervals, one after the other, but once in flight a thick fog rose up which extended across Belgium. Consequently, the operation could not be completely carried out as visibility was severely limited by the clouds and some aircraft bombed Dunkirk with those of Kagohl 1.

Over the North Sea the Gothas encountered towering clouds building up ahead and as Kagohl 3’s meteorlogical officer Ltn. Walter Georgii had advised the crews to return rather than fly blindly over a solid cloud cover some 15 took his advice, while another crew was forced to abort their mission due to a faulty engine.

One R-plane, and a small number of Gothas continued, and one of the Gothas was flown by Ltn. Kurt Küppers and commanded by Obltn. Fritz Lorenz, the new Staffelführer of Kasta 14. Hptm. Muehlich-Hoffmann, an OHL staff officer visiting the Kagohl 3, occupied the gunner’s position, to experience an attack for himself. Unfortunately cloud cover over England prevented them from locating London visually and so the 400 kilogrammes of bombs they carried were released by dead reckoning.

They were the only crew credited with having bombed London, and finally landed back at Gontrode after a flight of nearly five hours.

Three other Gothas dropped their bombs through breaks in the cloud on places on the South Coast, including Sheerness and the Thames area. No aiming was possible and no hits were observed and reported. Of R-planes, Staak. R.VI 33/16 turned back and Staak. R.IV 12/15 bombed Ramsgate, Margate and Sheerness.


Communication from Generalleutnant Ernst Hoeppner, Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte, to Hptm. Richard von Bentivegni, Kommandeur of Rfa 501.

I congratulate the participating crews on the occasion of the first successful attack with which the R-planes have begun their important assignment on the Western Front. I am confident that the R-planes will grow from flight to flight into an ever stronger offensive weapon.

Losses - Three Gothas failed to return. In addition, confused by the clouds and low on fuel six other crews crashed landing back in Belgium, three of which came down near Gontrode aerodrome.


Gotha G.IV 602/16 of Kasta 13, crashed at Sas van Gent in the Netherlands.

Obltn. Rudolf Bäuerle. Observer & Staffelführer of Kasta 13. Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Ltn. Metzger. Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Ltn. Baumann (Buman). Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.


Crash Information (from Dutch sources):-

During the early morning of 29 September 1917 the Gotha came in very low just missing the treetops at Sas van Gent in the Province of Zeeland, before gliding down to make a crash landing in a beet field behind the sugar factory. The aircraft had been returning from a mission to attack London when it ran out of fuel. It was reported in a telegram from Sluiskil that Bäuerle and one of the others had attempted to escape and reach the nearby Belgian border before being captured. Bäuerle was sent directly to the internment camp at Bergen, while the other two were also transferred there after brief treatment in the hospital in Terneuzen.

A large serpent was painted along the fuselage of the aircraft and six bombs (including four 12.5 kilogramme high explosives), together with three machine guns, were found in the wreckage. The remains were salvaged under the leadership of Lieutenant Wallast, commander of the Aviation Department (LVA Flushing) and Sergeant H.A. Boevink, and on 8 October 1917 they were delivered to Soesterberg aerodrome. The engines, which were both 260 hp Mercedes, were numbered 30019 and 29967.


Gotha G.V 668/16, possibly of Kasta 16, crashed at Sneek in the Netherlands.

Ltn. Hans Starck. Observer. Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Fw. Wolfgang Dietz. Pilot. Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.

Flugschüler Herbert Fliege. Gunner & trainee pilot. Interned at Camp Bergen, near Alkmaar.


Crash Information (from Dutch sources):-

At 8 p.m. (7 p.m. UK time) on 28 September 1917 the Gotha took off. However, the crew later became lost in cloud and mist and at about 23.00 hrs (22.00 hrs UK time) were reported flying at high altitude over Sneek in the Dutch Province of Friesland. The aircraft, which had come in from the west, then circled twice before its engine cut-out and it glided down into a meadow between Sneek and the village of Scharnegoutum, close to the railway. Although the crew, who were all unhurt, claimed that their overheated engines had caused the aircraft to catch fire after landing, they had in fact set it alight themselves. The Germans were initially held in a workhouse at Sneek, which had been taken over as a barracks, prior to being dispatched to the internment camp at Bergen, near Alkmaar.


Gotha G.IV 1065/16 of Kasta 16 crashed into the Zuiderzee about 20 kilometres west-south-west of Kampen in the Netherlands.

Ltn.d.R. Martin Emmler (born Breslau 4.1.1886). Observer. Killed. Body washed up 10.10. 1917. Buried 13.10.1917 in Kampen Cemetery, Netherlands. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, Ysselsteyn, Netherlands, Block B, Plot 30. Previously a Ltn.d.R. in Reserve-Jäger-Battaillon Nr. 5.

Vfw. Emil Haes (Haas) (born Kehl am Rhein 29.9.1890). Pilot. Killed. Body washed up 15.10.1917. Buried in Vollenhove Cemetery, Netherlands, Grave No. 570 on 18.10.1917. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, Ysselsteyn, Netherlands, Block A, plot 23.

Vfw. Heinrich Schreiber (born Paderborn 11.1.1896). Gunner. Killed. Buried 25.10.1917, Blankenham Cemetery, Netherlands. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, Ysselsteyn, Netherlands, Block A, plot 22.


Crash Information (from Dutch sources):-

The Dutch first became aware of the Gotha’s demise on the night of 3/4 October 1917 when fishing boat EB 91, which was operating south-west of Elburg in the Province of Gelderland, caught its nets on some wreckage which the fishermen then hauled on board. This turned out to be part of the Gotha’s wing attached to rigging wire, and the crew subsequently brought it ashore it at Elburg.

Then, on 10 October, Mr. J. Wakker aboard the fishing boat UK 125 operating near the island of Schokland discovered the floating body one of the Gotha’s crew. After landing the corpse at Urk in the present day Province of Flevoland, a doctor there reported that both of the man’s legs had been broken and that he had not only suffered a fractured skull, but had also received gunshot injuries to the left temple, an upper leg and right upper arm. The body, which was identified as Ltn. Martin Emmler from Ober-Düsseldorf, was then taken to the military hospital at Kampen, while his funeral, which was carried out with full military honours, took place at Kampen Cemetery on the morning of 13 October.

On 15 October 1917 the second body from the Gotha was found by Johannes Tukker and Jurrien Jongman who were operating the fishing boat VN 90. They landed it the following day at Vollenhove in the Province of Overijssel and the unidentified airman was buried there with full military honours on 18 October. In February 1918 the Germans informed the authorities in Vollenhove that he was in fact Vfw. Emil Haes.

Finally, at 8 a.m. on the morning of 25 October 1917 Gerrit Berendsen, a policeman, and Wouter Fledderus, a clerk, both residents of Kuinre, discovered a badly decomposed body washed up on southern end of the beach at Blankenham in the Province of Overijssel. A letter found on the corpse identified him as Vfw. Hans Schreiber of Paderborn, who was buried the same day in Blankenham cemetery.

Meanwhile, on 20 October, a Lieutenant from Soesterberg aerodrome went out to the crash site of the Gotha aboard a fishing boat from Urk and from the shallow waters of the Zuiderzee succeeded in recovering its two engines, numbered 28498 and 30325, along with a section of fuselage carrying the bestellnummer 1065.

Between 1950 and 1957 the area where the Gotha came down was drained and the land reclaimed. This revealed some more remains of the aircraft on Plot S-55 alongside Zeeasterweg, some eight kilometers west-south-west of Dronten in Oostelijk Flevoland. The site was excavated in July 1963, and on 7 August the RNLAF recovered several small bombs, parts of the undercarriage, a Parabellum machine gun dated 1913 and some smaller copper fragments. Today a memorial (Pole 13) is sited nearby at Lisdoddeweg 24.


Gotha of Kasta 15 crashed near Ostend on return to Belgium.

Ltn. Paul Döge. Observer. Slightly injured.

Uffz. Kurt Delang. Pilot. Injured, light brain concussion.

Vfw. Jödicke. Gunner. Injured, broken arm.

After bombing through breaks in the cloud what the crew took to be wharves at Sheerness they were caught by searchlights and probably hit by AA fire which damaged an elevator control cable making it impossible to keep the Gotha on an even keel. Dipping through the clouds again, the machine went into a nose dive and dropped to 1800 meters. The pilot then switched off the ignition for both engines so that they would cool off during the final dive. As a result, after crossing the coast of Belgium the Gotha crashed into the tops of a row of poplar tress lining a country road before coming to earth in a field beyond. Döge was only slightly wounded, Delang was found under the wreckage, while Jödicke was found at the rear of the fuselage. The crew was later reunited at Feldlazarett 396, the German Field Hospital at Eernegem, south east of Ostend.

29/30 September 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full -1)

Weather - Visibility greatly hampered by cloud.

7 Gothas of Kagohl 3 and 3 R-planes of Rfa 501 dispatched, 4 Gothas and 3 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3375 kilogrammes of high explosives. Gothas 675 kilogrammes, R-planes 2700 kilogrammes. 1575 kilogrammes on London, 1800 kilogrammes on Ramsgate, Margate and Sheerness.

Heavy cloud hampered orientation, visibility and observations. Two Gothas and one R-plane reached London. Good results in the eastern and western parts of the City of London, the West Indian Docks and Woolwich, and there were several fires in London. Of the R-planes, Staak. R.VI 25/16, Staak. R.VI 26/16 and Staak. R.VI 39/16 took part attacking London and Sheerness (R 39).

Losses - One Gotha shot down.


Casualty Report:-

Gefr. Friedrich Egener (born Saarbrücken 27.10.1980). Gunner of Kasta 18, killed on 30 September at Lemberge, near Merelbeke in Belgium. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery.

30 September/1 October 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full)

Weather - Good weather. Visibility good.

11 Gothas and 1 C-Type single-engined aeroplane dispatched by Kagohl 3, 10 Gothas and 1 C-Type dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3690 kilogrammes of high explosives. Gothas dropped 2175 kilogrammes on London, 1415 kilogrammes on Margate. The C-Type dropped 100 kilogrammes on Dover.

The crews of Kasta 18 at Gontrode were put on stand-by status, and told at the last minute that they did not have to fly as Hptm. Kleine considered 11 Gothas to be sufficient to carry out the attack.

Although one Gotha returned early with its engine misfiring, six aircraft from Kagohl 3 were especially effective in dropping their bombs on the City of London, the Admiralty and warehouses in London; there were numerous fires. Good hits observed in the City of London. Admiralty, warehouses on the Thames. Many hits and fires observed. Four aircraft dropped their bombs on Margate and one dropped its bombs on Dover. Kagohl 3 considered this raid especially effective.

The C-Type aircraft, which was normally employed by Kagohl 3 for Spazierfluge (local flights) having been declared no longer useable on the front lines, was said to have flown by Obltn. Martin Gerlich, an observer and Kagohl 3’s adjutant, who also used it as night interceptor. Other sources claim it was flown by Ltn. d.R. Immanuel Braun, an observer with Kasta 13 whose Gotha had been damaged during the previous raid. The C-Type was loaded with 12.5 kilogramme high explosive bombs which were subsequently dropped on Dover.

Losses - None.

Early October 1917

Beginning on 25 September Kagohl 3’s aerodromes were attacked by the Allies nearly every day and night for over a week. Sint Denijs-Westrem received eight tons of bombs from the RNAS. The RFC concentrated on Gontrode dropping hundreds of darts in addition to high explosives. On 29 September the old airship hangar was set on fire. Both aerodromes were raided the following evening while the Gothas were attacking England. Damaging hits at Gontrode were few, but at Sint Denijs-Westrem a blazing hangar could be seen nearly 50 kilometers away.

This steady Allied bombing forced the dispersal of the Kasten concentrated at Gontrode, and so Kasta 15 and Kasta 16 were moved to Mariakerke, while Kasta 17 and Kasta 18 relocated from Mariakerke to Oostakker, which was just to the north-east of Ghent. In addition the Stab Kagohl 3 moved from the Villa Drory, near Gontrode, to a large house owned by Countess Hemptin in Ghent itself.

1/2 October 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +1)

Weather - Thickening mist made navigation difficult.

18 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 11 Gothas dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3705 kilogrammes of high explosives. 1325 kilogrammes on London, 350 kilogrammes on Sheerness, 980 kilogrammes on Harwich, 1050 kilogrammes on Ramsgate and Margate.

During the last of the ‘Harvest Moon’ attacks one Gotha dropped 425 kilogrammes of bombs on London and one R-type aircraft dropped 900 kilogrammes on the City*. There was one big fire and several small ones. One Gotha aircraft dropped its bombs on Sheerness, three aircraft dropped theirs on Ramsgate and Margate, and one aircraft dropped its on Harwich.

*German records for this night are incomplete and confused. The official air services information bulletin stated that one R-plane attacked London, and although Staak. VI R.39/16 was in the air on that night, the list of raids painted on its nose did not include this raid.

Losses - None.


Casualty Report:-

Vfw. Alois Keiler (born Eppishausen 28.9.1893). Of Kasta 18 (previously served with Kasta 17), killed 1.10.17 at Gontrode aerodrome. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

4 October 1917

On 4 October 1917 Kaiser Willhelm II awarded Hptm. Rudolf Kleine, Geschwaderkommandeur Kagohl 3, the Pour le Mérite for outstanding leadership and distinguished military planning and successful operations of his Geschwader. The award was also given in recognition of his leading six bombing raids on London between September 24 and October 2, 1917. Hptm. Kleine also organized bombing raids against the English cities of Harwich, Dover, Chatham and Sheerness and the French coastal city of Calais.

Late October

The 4.5 kilogramme incendiary bomb containing benzol, oil residues and kerosene was introduced in the autumn of 1917, but unlike high explosives hundreds of these small projectiles could be carried by comparatively few aircraft. Kagohl 3 waited for the new moon to introduce the incendiaries into service, and although it was nearly full on 29 October, stormy weather was also advancing across England. This caused the first fire raid to be postponed, and instead Kagohl 3 sent a token force to attack the English coast.

27 October 1917

Air Combat Results:-

It has been confirmed that Obltn. Köhl and Uzfw. Neubauer of Kampfstaffel 17 shot down an R.E.B at 10.50 a.m. north of Lake Zillebeke which is south-east of Ypres.

29/30 October 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full -1)

Weather - Visibility bad.

3 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 1 Gotha dropped its bombs on England.

Objective - South coast of England.

Bombs dropped - 450 kilogrammes of high explosives.

Three of Kagohl 3’s more experienced crews were dispatched. However, as clouds obscured the moon on the outward flight two crews elected to attack Calais where they dropped 750 kilogrammes of bombs. In spite of bad visibility the other reached England and claimed to have attacked a row of searchlights east of Sheerness.

Losses - None.

31 October 1917

On 31 October 1917 there were 35 Gotha G.IVs and 20 Gotha G.Vs ‘at the front’.

31 October/1 November 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +1)

Weather - Overcast and misty, visibility bad.

22 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, 22 dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 5815 kilogrammes of high explosives.

1900 kilogrammes of high explosives and 1500 kilogrammes of incendiary bombs on London; 550 kilogrammes of high explosives and 550 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Chatham; 275 kilogrammes of high explosives and 175 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Margate & Ramsgate; 175 kilogrammes of high explosives and 290 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Dover; 100 kilogrammes of high explosives and 300 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Gravesend.

Kagohl 3 made a night-time attack on military objectives in the heart of London, and harbour installations at Gravesend, Chatham, Ramsgate, Margate and Dover dropping a total of ? 5765 kilogrammes of incendiary and explosive bombs. This was the first use of the 4.5 kilogramme incendiary bomb. A departure schedule was worked out to stagger the take off over a period of almost three hours. The attack plan called for a stream of Gothas to reach the English coast at Deal. From there, they were to approach London from the south, thereby avoiding the heavy defences in the east. However, in view of the weather no satisfactory observations of the effect of the bombs was possible. One observer reported 'bombs dropped over Dover, 58 incendiary bombs were dropped and 15 fires started of which three or four appeared persistent'. Another observer reported 'large fire visible for a distance on the east side of London. Big fires observed at Chatham and Ramsgate.'

Losses - Five Gothas crashed on landing in the mist.


Casualty Report:-

Flg. Fritz Wagemann (born Werden 9.7.1895) of Kagohl 3 was killed at Mariakerke aerodrome.

November 1917

All through November, a month in which the weather made flights across the North Sea impossible, the crews of Kagohl 3 was kept busy with a crammed training programme. Pilots went up for practice landings and gunners were sent to the firing range. Observers were lectured on celestial navigation, and they studied maps of the south of England until they were able to trace its coast and rivers from memory. Inexperienced observers were also first flown as gunners, which served to introduce them to combat flying before risking a bomber to their command.

6 November 1917

Honour Awards:- Ltn.d.Res. Alfred Schliessler was awarded the Goldene Militärische Karl-Friedrich-Verdienstmedaille (by the Grand Duchy of Baden). Vzfw. Emil Haas was also awarded the Goldene Militärische Karl-Friedrich-Verdienstmedaille.

9 November 1917

Casualty Report:-

Flg. Rudolf Morgenstern (born Wilsdruff 25.10.1897) was killed at Gontrode.

11 November 1917

Gotha G.IV 991/16 of Kasta 17 crashed into a Belgian farmhouse.

Lt. dR. Paul Mongs. Observer.

(? Lt. Roland. Pilot.)

Uffz. Hermann Tasche. Gunner.

This L.V.G. built machine had the stylized initials MoRoTas on the fuselage sides which stood for the crew. It fell on a farm house while making a night landing approach. A Belgian farmer and his wife were killed in bed.

Early December 1917

Moonlight alone was not enough to enable night raids to be undertaken, it had to be accompanied by cloudless skies. Consequently, beginning in December a single-engined Rumpler C.IV equipped with two-way wireless telegraphy equipment was sent out to observe conditions off the English coast. Whenever the weather was un-favourable for a raid Kagohl 3 was promptly alerted and the Gothas remained grounded.

By late December 1917 six R-planes had been assigned to Hptm. Richard von Bentivegni’s Rfa 501 for attacks on England, and these consisted solely of Staaken machines: R.IV 12/15; R.V 13/15; R.VI 25/16; R.VI 26/16; R.VI 33/16; and R.VI 39/16, the only one to carry the three 1000 kilogramme bombs subsequently dropped on England. This aircraft was crewed by Hptm. Richard von Bentivegni, commander; Ltn. Frhr. von Lenz, first pilot; Ltn. Buth, second pilot; Uffz. Matern and Uffz. Walter, engine mechanics; Klickermann, wireless operator; W. Teichert, gunner; along with a fuel attendant.

5/6 December 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Last Qtr - 1)

Weather - Calm. Second quarter of moon. Visibility good.

19 Gothas dispatched by Kagohl 3, and 2 R-planes dispatched by Rfa 501. 16 Gothas and 2 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 7700 kilogrammes of high explosives and 4.5 kilogramme incendiary bombs.

Gothas dropped 5320 kilogrammes of incendiary bombs and 430 kilogrammes of high explosives. 2505 kilogrammes of incendiaries and 430 kilogrammes of high explosives on City of London and Admiralty; 450 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Sheerness; 350 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Chatham, 450 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Gravesend; 1565 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Margate & Ramsgate.

R-planes dropped 820 kilogrammes of incendiary bombs and 1200 kilogrammes of high explosives. 450 kilogrammes of incendiaries and 550 kilogrammes of high explosives on Sheerness; 370 kilogrammes of incendiaries on Margate; 650 kilogrammes of high explosives on Dover. Staaken R.VI 39/16 was one of the aircraft involved.

Our aviators bombed London, Sheerness, Gravesend, Chatham, Dover, and Margate. Six aircraft of Kagohl 3 dropped incendiary and explosive bombs on London. All crews reported that very little could be observed of the effect of the incendiary bombs in London and the coastal towns. Only two or three small fires started by the bombs; the majority did not take effect. During the return flight there were numerous aerial combats along the coast of Flanders.

Losses - Two Gothas brought down by gunfire, one Gotha missing, one Gotha crashed on landing. (Another German report stated that the Kommandeur's aircraft and another were forced to land along the coast within our lines following aerial combat; two aircraft were wrecked on landing. Three aircraft of Kagohl 3 are missing).


Gotha of Kasta 16 crashed into the sea off Dunkirk, France.

Ltn.d.R. Albert Zander (born Quedlinburg 12.2.1897. Observer. Killed.

Ltn. Erich Schwieder (born Kaltberge 4.5.1895. Pilot. Killed.

Vfw. Paul Pfeiffer (born Breslau 1.8.1894). Gunner. Killed. He had joined Kasta 13 on 30.4.1917.


Gotha G.IV 906/16 of Kasta 18 crashed near Rochford, England.

Ltn. R.O.W. Wessells. Observer. Captured.

Gem. J. Rzechalski. Pilot. Captured.

Vfw. O.E.A. Jakobs. Gunner. Captured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

This aircraft made landfall off the North Foreland at 3.40 a.m. and proceeded steadliy up the Thames estuary towards London. However, at 4.20 a.m. over Canvey Island the port propeller was shattered by an AA shell burst. The bombs were then jettisoned, but as the Gotha was unable to maintain height, the pilot made for Rochford aerodrome which was lighted and clearly visible a few miles north-east. Firing the British recognition colours of the night by pure chance he made an unharrassed approach, only to strike a tree and crash land on the adjacent Hengrove Golf Links at 4.45 a.m.

Mechanics from the aerodrome, thinking it was a British aeroplane, ran to the crash site and found the three crewmen crawling out of the aircraft uninjured except for a few bruises. They were quickly taken into custody before they could completely destroy their aircraft. Some officers from the aerodrome then came to the scene to remove the bombs. The machine was a wreck, the tanks had burst, and petrol had flooded the ground around. The Equipment Officer had picked up a Very Light pistol and put it into his pocket, but as he walked away, he pulled the gun out of his pocket to show a colleague, the trigger caught on his pocket flap, and the pistol went off. The white-hot magnesium flare bounced along the ground towards the wreck, reached the petrol soaked ground, sending the whole lot up in flames.

The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 2 by the RFC. On 29.6.2012 the Grimmer Scouting & Clan placed a geocahe to mark the crash site. The best way to find this from the parking location at the golf course is to follow public footpath 16 south to the boundary of the churchyard, where you’ll find a track that runs east across the golf course which is a public footpath.


Gotha G.V 674/16 of Kasta 17 crashed near Canterbury, England.

Ltn.d.R. Franz R. Schulte. Observer. Captured. Died of influenza at Keighley War Hospital No.59 on 2.3.1919.

Vfw. B.Senf. Pilot. Captured.

Ltn P.W. Bernard. Captured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

This Gotha was hit by AA fire at about 5 a.m. while bombing over London. Its port radiator was seriously damaged causing the engine to gradually overheat and catch fire. Loosing height the crew smashed their instruments and jettisoned a machine gun, which was later found by the police in a gravel pit. At 5.50 a.m. the aircraft was finally crash landed in the marshes south of Folly Farm, adjacent to Broad Oak Road, at Hackington Marsh near Canterbury, just missing a mill and several houses. According to an eye-witness the Gotha ended up on the Sturry Road side of the River Stour in a meadow behind what was then the ‘Rising Sun’ public house (265 Sturry Road), a site which today is covered by the Marshwood Trading Estate.

First on the scene was Mr J. B. Wilford of nearby Mandeville Road, Canterbury, an orderly in the Red Cross. He noticed that two of the crew were injured and offered to render first aid. However, one of the men promptly produced a revolver and held Mr Wilford at gunpoint while his comrade set the aircraft on fire. Mr Wilford was then joined by two special constables, the Reverend Somerville, who was also the rector of nearby St Stephen's church, and Mr G. W. Haimes from Sturry.

The Germans quickly surrendered their equipment and arms to the Reverend Somerville without protest. The rector said that when he arrived on the scene the men were standing by the wrecked aircraft which was in flames with machine gun cartridges exploding right and left. An ambulance waggon conveyed the men to Canterbury police station and the two who were injured were then taken to hospital where they were well treated and most profuse in their thanks to the hospital authorities for the attention they received. The Gotha was subsequently inspected by thousands of people who flocked to Broad Oak, and the Red Cross took full advantage of the situation and made a collection which raised £32. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 3 by the RFC.

9 December 1917

Report by the Geschwaderkommandeur of Kagohl 3 to the OHL on the effect of the 4.5 kilogramme incendiary bombs dropped during the night raids on England on 31 October and 6 December.

The crews’ reports show that only two or three well established fires were caused by 500 incendiary bombs. The British report (London official report dated 6 December 1917) referred to a large number of fires. This report makes it open to question whether the fires spread beyond the local fire caused by the slow burning away of the bombs. I consider it not impossible that the enemy make a point of mentioning these fires to induce us to continue dropping these bombs instead of the heavy calibre H.E. bombs (100 and 300 kilogramme).

The experience of the R-planes tallies with the above. Only a few bombs were seen to burst. On 6 December 1917 R-plane caused 16 small fires which were easily extinguished. It is possible that these blazes were cause by the ignition of combustible material in the bomb itself.

From the present experience it cannot be assumed that the dropping of even larger quantities of incendiary bombs of the present type will have the desired effect. In any case in no locality were a larger number of fires observed than during previous raids when H.E. bombs were used. The incendiary bombs lacked the great morale effect of the H.E. bombs.

12 December 1917

Bombing attacks were carried out on the 4. Armee front against enemy camps near Ypres. The Gotha’s were flying at 2500 meters when they were intercepted by fighters. One Gotha was shot down.


Gotha of Kagohl 3 crashed north of Frelinghien, near Armentières on the Franco/Belgian border.

Hptm. Rudolf Kleine (born Minden 28.8.1886). Kdr. Kagohl 3. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium. Grave 5/1004.

Ltn. Werner Bülowius (born Königsberg 24.12.1893). Observer. Killed. Originally served with Jäger Batt. 5.

Ltn. Güuther von der Nahmer (born Berlin 27.4.1897). Pilot, Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium. Originally from the Garde Regiment zu Fuss 3.

Gefr. Michael Weber (born Neudorf 16.7.1895). Killed. Originally an aircraft mechanic.

Aircraft was set on fire. Bülowius and von der Nahmer jumped out with no parachutes and their bodies were never recovered. Kleine remained in the Gotha and his battered body, which had been shot through the head, was discovered behind the lines by a German soldier who recognized the Pour le Mérite around his neck. His corpse was then repatriated to Bogohl 3. A heroes funeral was subsequently given to Hauptmann Rudolf Kleine, which was presided over by Hauptmann Ernst Brandenburg who was still on convalescent leave.

Mid-December 1917

Oberleutnant Richard Walter, Staffelführer of Kasta 15, took over as temporary Geschwaderkommandeur of Kagohl 3 on 13 December 1917, and carried on acting as such until 18 February 1918.

To counter the threat posed by America’s entry into the war General der Infanterie Erich Ludendorff strongly urged that aerial bombing capacity be increased on the Western Front. The immediate answer was to increase the number of Geschwader by decreasing the number of Kampfstaffeln within each from six to three, the sole exception being Kagohl 3, with its strategic commitment, which kept its strength at six. Consequently, on 18 December 1917 the Kriegsministerium announced that the existing Kampfgeschwader der OHL were to be transformed into six Bombengeschwader der OHL, abbreviated to Bogohl, while the individual Kasten were re-designated Bosten. So it was that Kagohl 3 became Bogohl 3, and Kasta 13 to Kasta 18 were re-titled Bosta 13 to Bosta 18.

18/19 December 1917 - Moonlight Attack (First Qtr -3)

Weather - Feeble moon. Visibility good owing to snow.

15 Gothas of Bogohl 3 and 1 R-plane of Rfa 501 dispatched, 13 Gothas and 1 R-plane dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 5125 kilogrammes of bombs. Gothas dropped 4125 kilogrammes of high explosives. R-plane dropped 600 kilogrammes of high explosives and 400 kilogrammes of 4.5 kilogramme incendiaries.

Gothas dropped 2475 kilogrammes of high explosives on the City of London, 800 kilogrammes of high explosives on Ramsgate, 450 kilogrammes of high explosives on Margate, 400 kilogrammes of high explosives on Harwich.

R-plane - The Staaken R.IV 12/15 commanded by Obltn. Hans-Joachim von Seydlitz-Gerstenberg dropped 600 kilogrammes (2 x 300 kilogramme) of high explosives and 400 kilogrammes of incendiary bombs on London.

Attacks on Ramsgate, Margate, Harwich and London. Reports from the seven crews who reached London where 3575 kilogrammes of bombs were dropped. "Big fires in the City (near the Bank) spread quickly and were still visible at a distance of 80 kilometers. A 100 kilogramme high explosive bomb caused a big fire 800 to 1000 meters north of the Bank. Good hits near the Admiralty". Good effects at Sheerness and Harwich. La Panne in France was also attacked.

Losses - One Gotha shot down, one Gotha crashed on return, six Gothas crashed on landing.


Gotha G.V of Bosta 15 crashed in the sea off Folkestone, England.

Obltn. G. von Stachelsky. Observer. Captured.

Ltn.d.R. Friedrich Ketelsen (born Pellworm 10.1.1896). Pilot. Killed.

Gefr. A. Wiesmann. Gunner. Captured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

The Gotha made landfall over the Blackwater Estuary in Essex at 6.35 p.m. and headed directly for London. Capt. Gilbert W. Murlis Green flying Sopwith Camel B5192 from No.44 Squadron at Hainault took off at 6.43 p.m., his aircraft equipped with two upward-angled Lewis guns mounted above the top wing, instead of the usual pair of synchronized Vickers guns. At 7.15 p.m., at 10,000 feet over Goodmayes, he turned to investigate nearby searchlight activity and picked up the Gotha’s exhaust flames.

Closing to 30 yards under the bomber, with both aircraft then held in the searchlight beam, he opened fire to find that the starboard Lewis gun had frozen solid and the flash from the other temporarily destroyed his night vision. At 7.25 p.m. he noticed bombs dropping from the Gotha, and banked away to avoid being hit. He kept his quarry in sight for the next five minutes then moved in to make two more attacks from slightly longer range, again being blinded by gun flash, and also distracted by a persistent searchlight. This left him alone for his fourth attack, during which he fired some 60 rounds to finish the drum. The Gotha the began to dive, causing the Camel to spin as it hit the slipstream, and after regaining control Murlis Green was unable to find it again. Throughout the encounter the Gotha’s return fire was wild, and the Camel received no hits.

The Gotha continued on its way but soon after crossing the Thames the bullet damaged starboard engine began running badly and finally expired in a sheet of flame when it was about halfway to the coast. At first the aircraft lost height gradually, and the crew thought there was some prospect of returning to Belgium on the remaining engine, but when the Gotha was down to 3000 feet, and only ten miles out to sea, they turned back and ditched off Folkestone at about 9 p.m. Shortly afterwards the armed trawler ‘Highlander’ arrived and took two of the crew on board, however, the pilot fell from his refuge on th eupper wing moments before rescue and was drowned.

However, when ‘Highlander’ tried to take the wrecked bomber in tow it began to break up. Then came an explosion, probably caused by a hung-up bomb, which fatally injured 47 year old 2nd Hand RNR, Frank W. Gee, SA 2592, who was helping to bring the aircraft aboard. The trawler suffered only slight damage, but the Gotha was completely destroyed.


Gotha of Bosta 14 crashed at Munte near Merelbeke, Belgium.

Ltn. Hans Baasch (born Frankfurt 3.7.1893). Observer. Killed. He had only been with Bosta 14 since 7.12.1917 and previously was with Kasta 17 and before that with FA 246.

Vfw. Reinhold Nesemann (born Osterode 28.3.1894). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Hauptfriedhof at Braunschweig, in Germany.


Gotha of Bosta 14 crashed and burnt out landing back at Mariakerke aerodrome.

Ltn. Otto Vullers (born Hannover 30.7.1892). Observer. Killed.

Some sources say the two other crewmen were Vfw. Ernst Heberstreit, a gunner who died at Ghent 29 December 1917 and Lt.d.R. Hans Kirsch (born Plantieres 30.1.1896), a pilot of Bosta 14 who died at Mariakerke on 4 January 1918 (alternatively 22 December).

Late December 1917

The night attack of 18/19 December 1917 was the third and last incendiary raid. A great deal of time was spent over the design of the 4.5 kilogramme incendiary bombs, on whose effects on the densely populated London area, such high hopes were based. Large numbers of these bombs were dropped with no success. The bomb was a complete failure. The sound idea of creating panic and disorder by numbers of fires came to nothing owing to the inadequacy of the materials employed.

22/23 December 1917 - Moonlight Attack (Moon First Qtr +1)

Weather - Hazy. Visibility poor. South-East England cloudy.

3 R-planes dispatched by Rfa 501, 2 R-planes dropped their bombs on England. Bogohl 3 also dispatched a number of Gothas to England.

Objectives - Coastal towns in Kent.

Bombs dropped by Rfa 501 - 2000 kilogrammes of high explosives. 1000 kilogrammes on shipping in the mouth of the Thames, 1000 kilogrammes of high explosives on Dover and Deal.

Staaken R.IV 12/15 and R.VI 39/16 attacked the port of Margate, and positions between Deal and Dover. A few hits on British patrol boats in the mouth of the Thames and Margate were observed. The third R-plane attacked the alternative target of Boulogne, where there were big fires.

During unfavorable cloudiness, Bogohl 3 claimed to have attacked Dover and Sheerness, as well as the city and harbour of Dunkirk and the munition depots behind the English and French lines. There were two big explosions and numerous fires.


Gotha of Bosta 15 forced landed near Margate, England.

Ltn. W. Döbrick. Observer. Captured.

Uffz. G. Hoffman. Pilot. Captured with an injured arm.

Vfw. H. Klaus. Gunner. Captured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

After a stormy passage over the North Sea the Gotha’s starboard engine stopped and severe vibration set in. In an attempt to reach safety the pilot turned to port imagining this would takethe aircraft towards the French coast, and at 6.45 p.m., just as it broke cloud, land was sighted. The bomb load of four 50 kilogramme and eight 12.5 kilogramme bombs was quickly jettisoned and a red flare fired as the bomber approached to attempt a forced landing.

In reality the crew had sighted the Kent rather than the French coast, and the Gotha was soon seen flying westward at low level over the centre of Westgate-on-Sea prior to turning east in the direction of Hartsdown. Then, at 6 p.m., it descended near the Hartsdown Waterworks tower then, close to Westfield Road, it went on to make a forced landing in a ploughed field at Hartsdown Farm, during the course of which the pilot dislocated his left arm.

The observer then set fire to the bomber using a flare cartridge, and at 6.07 p.m. Mrs Hatfield’s bailiff telephoned to say that the Gotha had come down in a field at the back of the farm and that it was on fire. Soon after two policemen, Chief Inspector Haycock and Inspector Jamison, arrived in a taxi, and together with Lieutenant Commander Lockyer RNAS, jointly took the crew into custody and removed them to nearby Margate police station. Machine guns thrown overboard were found next day in the Alderman Pilcher’s garden at Grosvenor Place in Margate, and also at Twenties Farm.

According to the ‘East Kent Times’ the crew stated at the time that they had been engaged in bombing Dunkirk when they had been carried across the water by the wind and the engine trouble that had developed. Later their interrogators established that the observer, who they described as a disagreeble witness, had only joined Kagohl 3 in September 1917, and that this was his fifth flight. The pilot was judged a fine stamp of a man and considered a first rate pilot, although he refused to speak. However, the gunner was deemed a poor specimen who had only joined the flying service a few weeks before to get out of serving in the trenches. His inquisitors said that he appeared quite pleased to be taken prisoner. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 4 by the RFC. Today the crash site is said to be covered by part of the Connaught Road housing estate.


Casualty Report: -

Flg. Hubert Lessmann (born Gütersloh 22.1.1898), of Stab Bogohl 3, killed at Sint Andries near Bruges on 22 December. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Gerf. Ernst Gerhardt (born Kleinega 28.1.1898) of Kasta 17 died at Ghent on 23 December 1917. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery.

25/26 December 1917

Three R-planes of Rfa 501 were sortied against England, but the alternative target of Boulogne was attacked instead due to a heavy fog blanket over England. Calais was also attacked on 25 December.

29 December 1917

Honour Award:-

Uffz. Eugen Stich, Goldene Militärische Karl-Friedrieh-Verdienstmedaille.


Casualty Report:

Vfw. Ernst Heberstreit (born Ammern 14.11.1894), a gunner from Bogohl 3, died Ghent. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

31 December 1917

On 31 December 1917 there were 19 Gotha G.IVs and 33 Gotha G.Vs 'at the front'.

4 January 1918

Casualty Report:-

Lt.d.R. Hans Kirsch (born Plantieres 30.1.1896), a pilot from Bogohl 3, died at Mariakerke.

7 January 1918

Casualty Report:-

Ltn.d.Res. Arthur Lincke (born Leipzig 1.6.1895), an observer from Bogohl 3, died at Dunkirk.

22/23 January 1918 - Night Attack (Moon First Qtr +3)

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to Dunkirk and Calais.


Gotha of Bosta 14 crashed near Sint Denijs-Westrem aerodrome.

Obltn. Rudolf Schmidt (born Seestemünde 11.12.1893). Observer and Staffelführer of Bosta 14. Killed. He had previously served with Infanterie Regiment 149.

The Gotha was returning to its home aerodrome after an attack on Calais when it crashed. Schmidt’s body was discovered in a tree-top at Drongen-Mariakerke with a fractured skull, sternum and limbs.

23 January 1918

Staaken R.VI 27/16 was flown from Döberitz to join Rfa 501. By this date R.VI 36/16 also appears to have been serving with Rfa 501.

25/26 January 1918 - Night Attack (Moon Full -2)

Three R-planes from Rfa 501, along with the Gotha’s from Bogohl 3, had to return from a planned attack on England due to heavy fog. Boulogne, Dunkirk and Calais attacked by Bogohl 3 (Rfa 501 attacked Calais).

Staaken R.V 13/15 of Rfa 501, flown by Vfw. Schmitz, took off at 9.25 p.m. and routed to its targets at Calais and Dunkirk via Ostend flying at 3500 meters. It dropped 1090 kilogrammes of bombs over Calais, but the left nacelle gearing failed, the left rear engine crankshaft broke and lights failed before it landed safely at 2.05 a.m.

28/29 January 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Full +1)

Weather - Very thick weather at first, later clear, then ground mist and danger of fog.

13 Gothas of Bogohl 3 and 1 R-plane of Rfa 501 dispatched, 7 Gothas and 1 R-plane dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3700 kilogrammes of high explosives. Gothas dropped 2500 kilogrammes, R-planes 1200 kilogrammes.

Gothas dropped 1250 kilogrammes of high explosives on London, 400 kilogrammes on Sheerness, 850 kilogrammes on Margate and Ramsgate.

R-planes - Staaken R.IV 12/15 dropped 1200 kilogrammes of high explosives on London.

Owing to ground fog only 13 Gothas took off. London, Sheerness, Margate and Ramsgate attacked. Orientation very difficult. Three Gothas dropped bombs in the City of London and Admiralty. A big fire was observed. Big explosion at Sheerness. Good hits observed at Margate and Ramsgate.

The R-plane crew noted hits by two 300 kilogramme bombs near the Admiralty. Big fires started by three 50 kilogramme and one 300 kilogramme bombs. The fire due to the 300 kilogramme was visible as a red glow at a distance of over 100 kilometers. This aeroplane was intercepted by fighters on its inward flight, but managed to evade its attackers and bomb London.

Losses - One Gotha shot down, four Gothas crashed on landing.


Gotha G.V 398/16 of Bosta 14 crashed at Downham, near Wickford, England.

Ltn. Friedrich von Thomsen (born Wilhelmshafen 8.9.1893). Observer. Killed. Originally buried at St Margaret’s, Downham. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England. Originally served with Feld Artillerie Regiment 46.

Uffz. Karl Ziegler (born Stuttgart 22.10.1898). Pilot. Killed. Originally buried at St Margaret’s, Downham. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Uffz. Walter Heiden (born Hamburg 11.6.1895). Gunner. Killed. Originally buried at St Margaret’s, Downham. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

This aircraft came in over the Naze at 8 p.m., skirted Clacton and folowed a steady course to London. After unloading its bombs on Hampstead, its return across north-east London was indicated by the pilots of two Sopwith Camels from No. 44 Squadron based at Hainault. One of these was B3827 flown by 2/Lt. Charles C. Banks, and the other, probably B3402, piloted by Capt. George H. Hackwill. It appears that they independently sighted the Gotha at about 10,000 feet over Romford by its exhaust flames.

Banks attacked first, closing to about 30 yards under the Gotha from the left before opening fire with his three machine guns, (one upward firing Lewis, and two standard forward firing Vickers). Meanwhile Hackwill had moved in from the right and also engaged, presenting an almost impossible situation for the German gunner firing down the ‘Gotha Tunnel’, whose tracers mostly passed between the two Camels. The combat lasted for about ten minutes, during which time the three aircraft lit up the sky with their tracer ammunition as they and followed the course of the main London to Southend railway line and flew over Shenfield and Billericay. At some point Banks had to break off when an electrical fault put two of his cylinders out of action, and when he turned for another look at the Gotha, which had received a few more bursts from Hackwill, he saw it falling, partly on fire, then explode into a mass of flames on hitting the ground.

With smoke and flame pouring from an engine the Gotha had rolled over and impacted some sources state, at ‘Frunds Farm’. However, there was no ‘Frunds Farm’ in the parish of Wickford in 1918, although in the adjacent parish of Downham there was a Frierns Farm, and that was where the incident actually took place. In fact the aeroplane came down at 10.10 p.m. in a field between the River Crouch and London Road, and for many years locals referred to the location as ‘Gotha Field’. Since World War One much of the area has been built over, but the crash site was close to that part of today’s Elizabeth Drive which runs between Victoria Avenue and Louvaine Avenue.

It appears that the pilot had been shot through the neck, and a member of No.3 Divisional Cycle Company, who was one of the first on the scene, noted the aircraft’s serial number along with a small metal plate in the wreckage which gave the factory number as 1696. The crew was originally buried with full military honours at St Margaret’s church yard at Downham on 2 February 1918. Frierns Farm is not far from Downham church which stands on a hill overlooking the crash site. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 5 by the RFC. One engine was numbered 80286.


Gotha V of Bosta 15 crashed on its return flight at Desteldonik near Ghent, Belgium.

Ltn. Hellmuth Birkenstock (born Weissenburg 16.5.1896). Observer. Killed. Now buried in the Garnisonfriedhof at Berlin- Hasenheide. Previously in the Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 6.

Ltn.d.R. Paul Döge (born Leipzig 5.9.1889). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium. Previously a Ltn.d.R. in the 5. Badischen Infanterie Regiment Nr. 113.

Vfw. Georg Petzke (born Onruhstadt 4.3.1895). Gunner. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.


Casualty Reoprt:-

Ltn.d.R. Franz Ludwig (born Mühlendorf 22.10.1895). Observer, Bosta 14, killed Mariakerke (England Flight). Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

29/30 January 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Mooon Full +2)

Weather - Misty. Visibility hampered.

4 R-planes of Rfa 501 dispatched, 3 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 3000 kilogrammes of high explosives. 2000 kilogrammes of high explosives on London, 1000 kilogrammes of high explosives on Southend.

First raid with four R-planes successfully carried out. London attacked without the Goths for the first time. One R-plane turned back with engine trouble. Hits observed on the City of London. Bombs dropped on Southend with good effect.

Losses - None.

30 January 1918

Casualty Report:-

Lt.d.R. Immanuel Braun, an observer with Bosta 13, was injured in a crash. He remained in hospital until 21 February 1918.

16 February 1918

Two Gothas of Bogohl 3 were involved in fatal accidents during training flights.


Gotha of Bogohl 3 crashed at Oostacker aerodrome.

Ltn Hans-Heinrich Graf von Schwerin (born Stolpe 10.7.1897). Observer. Killed

Vfw. Emil Niemeyer (born Detmold 23.1.1892). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

This aircraft plunged almost vertically into the ground shortly after take off.


Gotha of Bosta 14 crashed at Landeghem, near Ghent, Belgium.

Obltn. Wilhelm Siegfried Graf von Adelmann und zu Adelmannsfelden (born Schloss Adelmannsfelden 25.2.1892). Observer. Killed.

Ltn. Joachim Frhr. Von Schlieben (born Halberstadt 26.12.1894). Observer. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Wilhelm Jackson (born Rheine 12.5.1896). Observer. Killed.

Vfw. August Fels (born Mülhausen 7.7.1890). Pilot. Killed. Buried in Ghent Wester Cemetery Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

The aircraft exploded while attempting a night landing. The King of Wütttemberg sent a telegram ordering the body to be shipped home, but due to the explosion all that was found of the entire crew were one piece of shoulder and one arm.

16/17 February 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Moon First Qtr -2)

Weather- Bad weather. Overcast.

5 R-planes dispatched by Rfa 501, 5 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objectives - London or coastal towns.

Bombs dropped - 4250 kilogrammes of high explosives. 2000 kilogrammes on London, 1250 kilogrammes on Dover, 1000 kilogrammes on shipping at Deal.

Staaken R.VI 39/16 dropped the first 1000 kilogramme bombs on London with apparently good effects. R.IV 12/15 dropped 2 x 300 kilogramme bombs on Woolwich Arsenal and 8 x 50 kilogramme bombs in the vicinity of the Crystal Palace. R.VI 25/16 dropped 1000 kilogrammes of bombs on Dover with good effect (R 12 and R 39 observed big fires in Dover on their return flight). R.VI 36/16 also attacked Dover. R.VI 33/16 dropped 1000 kilogrammes of bombs on naval vessels at Deal and just got across the sea on one engine flying at 200 meters altitude.


R.12, commanded by Oblt. von Sedlitz-Gersenberg flew into the balloon apron stretched between Woolwich Works and the West India Docks. The aircraft was first pulled to starboard, then port and finally side-slipped out of control to the port side. The first pilot, Lt. Götte, immediately throttled-down all engines, then opened up the throttles on only one side, whereby the aircraft regained equilibrium once again after having fallen 300 meters. The impact of the balloon apron was so severe that the starboard mechanic fell against the glowing exhaust stacks, which severely burned his hands, and the port aileron control cables sprang from their roller guides. The aircraft itself remained intact with the exception of minor damage to the leading edge of the starboard wing, propeller and mid-fuselage section.

Losses - None.

17/18 February 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Moon First Qtr -1)

Weather - Mist but good vertical visibility.

One R-plane dispatched by Rfa 501, 1 R-plane dropped its bombs on England.

Objective London.

Bombs dropped - 1000 kilogrammes of high explosives.

Staaken R.VI 25/16, commanded by Lt. Max Borchers, dropped 1000 kilogrammes of bombs on the City of London, which was brightly illuminated. One explosion, a fire, and several hits observed. AA defences over London proper weak, but very active anti-aircraft defences on the outskirts. Several AA hits, port rear propeller damaged so that engine had to be stopped. Smooth landing.

Crew comments - An attack by a single R-plane is sufficient to alert the entire British defence system and to cause the expenditure of vast quantities of ammunition. It is seemingly from nervousness that not only anti-aircraft guns in the vicinity of the aircraft but also some 30 kilometers distant were being fired blindly into the air. For example, on our homeward flight a great barrage was being laid down over Sheerness while we were still south of Rochester.

Losses - None.

Mid-February 1918

Oberleutnant Richard Walter remained as acting Geschwaderkommandeur of Bogohl 3 until 18 February 1918 when Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg, complete with new artificial leg, had recovered sufficiently from his injuries to resume command of Bogohl 3, a position he held until the end of the war. He had already been told of the high losses among the crews, but was surprised at what he found, for despite the steady flow of men and machines the six Bosten were at little more than half-strength. As a result Brandenburg, realizing that the Geschwader was exhausted and deteriorating rapidly, received permission frm Kogenluft to halt all combat flights until late March, the six week period being necessary to re-organize and re-equip.

20 February 1918

Honour Awards:-

Obltn. Wilhelm Siegfried Graf Adelmann von und zu Adelmannsfelden, Ritterkreuz II. Klasse des Freidrich-Ordens (a posthumous award by the Kingdom of Württemberg).

28 February 1918

On 28 February there were 10 Gotha G.IVs and 34 Gotha G.Vs 'at the front.'

1 March 1918

Casualty Report:-

Uffz. Paul Bäcker (born Remscheid 7.6.1892), an observer from Bosta 16, was killed in action at Gontrode aerodrome. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

7 March 1918

On 7 March 1918 Rfa 501, based at Gontrode, moved its R-planes from there to Scheldewindeke, an aerodrome which was equipped with a specially constructed concrete apron.

7/8 March 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Moon Last Qtr +1)

Weather - Overcast at times. Fairly strong wind. A very bright night because of the Aurora Borealis, although there was no moonlight.

6 R-planes of Rfa 501 dispatched, 5 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objective - London.

Bombs dropped - 5020 kilogrammes of high explosives. 4720 kilogrammes of high explosives on London, 300 kilogrammes of high explosives on Sheerness and Margate.

Five R-planes dropped 4720 kilogrammes of bombs (including one 1000 kilogramme) on the City of London and Docks with good effect. Two big fires noted. 300 kilogrammes of bombs dropped on Sheerness and Margate.

Staaken R.V 13/15, flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 11.05 p.m. routing via Ostend and flying at 3300 meters. 1200 kilogrammes of bombs carried. After two hours flight the right front clutch burned out and the engine stopped. Land back safely at 6.05 a.m.

Losses - Two R-planes crash landed on return flight. These were R.VI 27/16 and almost certainly R.V 36/16.


An account by Hptm. Arthur Schoeller, commander of R.VI 27/16

Our six aircraft are rolled out on to the T-shaped concrete apron and parked in prepara­tion for the take-off. We have been ordered to ready the machines for a night attack, and for this task the R-plane crew, which consists of two pilots, one observer/navigator, two mechanics, one fuel attendant, one wireless operator and one machine-gunner, is assisted by a ground crew of some forty men. The highest-ranking officer on board is the R-plane commander, who also acts as the first pilot or navigator. Under the commander's super­vision every crew member bends to his assigned task. The wireless operator tests his equip­ment for readiness to receive and send messages; the fuel attendant sees that the ten 245 litre fuel tanks are properly filled and topped, the mechanics, who are situated between the two engines in the nacelles, tune the engines and prepare them for the start and the machine-gunner arms the four machine-guns. A good deal of time elapses before the R 27 is ready to accept its bomb load. The bombs, which may range from 50 to 1000 kilogrammes and are released electrically, are hung in long, rectangular bomb bays underneath the fuselage floor between the wings and enclosed with folding doors.

On top of these preparations there is just enough time for a frugal supper and dissemina­tion of orders. A last comprehensive study of charts and orientation material with my observer, Obltn. Günther Kamps and the second pilot Uffz. Bühler, then out to the armed R 27, whose idling engines sing a song of subdued power. At exactly 8 p.m. Hptm. von Bentivegni fires the starting flare and the first of the R-planes strains forward with an ear-deafening roar. We are next to taxi to the take-off strip and ten minutes after the first aircraft, with full throttle R 27 heads into the clear dark night.

Slowly the heavily-loaded machine rolls over the ground; finally it is airborne, and after a wide curve around the aerodrome we head in a direction along the pin-marked course on our maps. Inside the fuselage the pale glow of dimmed lights outlines the chart-table, the wireless equipment and the instrument panel, on which the compass and other navigation instruments are mounted to help guide us through the darkness. Before long, we spot the signal cannon at Ostend, which fires star shells into the night to assist us on our way.

We approach the coast; the night is so dark that the coastline below is but a mere sugges­tion. Under us is a black abyss, no waves are seen, no lights of surface vessels flicker as we head for the Thames estuary at Margate. On our right, in the distant north, is our only light, the weak pulsating glow of the aurora borealis. Ahead of us a black nothingness — are we on the correct course? We have neither a weather report from the high seas nor wind measurements to go by.

The R 27 started in clear sky. Now thin but continually thickening cloud shreds streak past. We climb over the cloud cover, through which holes now and then appear, but beneath nothing is sighted, although from our elapsed time we must now be over England. The flight continues without a sighting; did we possibly miss the English coast? Suddenly, a breath of relief. Directly ahead the searchlights illuminate the sky in their hunt for us, their bright beams making glowing circles in the thin overcast, but do not spot us. Now we are certainly over England, but where? Because all surface lights are blacked out, it appears as if we are soaring over a dead land. But the enemy has heard us, therefore we are free to request wireless bearings. The operator sends a pre-arranged signal which is received by two specially-alerted stations in Belgium. In a few minutes we receive a message giving our location at the time we flashed our signal. We are south-east of London.

Accompanied by searchlights which seem to guide our way, we fly towards the Thames, whose dock installations are our target. Can we recognize the docks through the low overcast, against the darkened countryside which lies beneath? Directly ahead, the landing lights of an English airfield flare up as the enemy prepares to intercept us. The machine-gunners arm their guns and fire at the searchlights below. On this particularly bright-lit aerodrome Obltn. Kamps releases four bombs, and the detonations are clearly seen. This is in return for attacks on our aerodromes. All at once, through a hole in the cloud cover the grey band of the Thames momentarily appears. We continue on course, and during the next sighting Obltn. Kamps, who is standing next to the bomb-release mechanism in the open bow of the machine, presses the bomb-release keys. Not far ahead we can see a portion of the balloon barrage which surrounds London's eastern and southern periphery.

We turn for home along the Thames, whose banks are dotted with anti-aircraft batteries that soon have us under fire. As we approach the coast the overcast becomes thinner and thinner; before long the searchlights catch us and the bursts of the anti-aircraft move dangerously closer. A shell splinter tears through our upper wing without causing any damage. The flaming shells come so close we can almost touch them. Beneath us, we spot the exhaust flames of a pursuing night fighter, but it does not threaten us. In this manner, we reach the open sea at Margate and steer for Ostend, where well-known signals will guide us home. After a seemingly endless flight, they come into view and we feel secure again.

But fate wills differently. As we come into sight of the coast, the steady rhythm of our engines begins to falter, until suddenly all four propellers stop. Some split-second thinking: the fault can only be in the fuel system. The last two fuel tanks had just been connected. What had happened ? The fuel lines had frozen due to water-contaminated petrol. To thaw them out is impossible, and so a forced landing becomes a certainty. The question is, will we reach the coast, or are we to sink in the sea? In any case, life-jackets are strapped on. Fortunately the great gliding qualities of our R-plane enable us, in spite of stopped engines, to reach the coast behind our own front which we recognize from the firing of artillery.

By means of flares we search the darkened landscape on which we must land, but only trenches and hollows are discernible. At best, the landing will end in a crash, but it means annihilation if the heavy, ponderous machine should collide with an obstacle on the ground. Therefore, by pulling sharply on the controls I stall the aircraft letting it fall almost vertic­ally against the ground. With a mighty impact it hits in front of a wide ditch. The right landing gear collapses and the right lower wing shatters, but no crew member is injured.

At 4.30 a.m. we find ourselves close to a command bunker of an infantry brigade, and like shipwrecked sailors we are hospitably received. We notify our squadron, which makes arrangements to save valuable instruments and the engines from the wrecked R 27, which later was destroyed by enemy shell-fire. A few days later, the whole crew is on the way to the Schütte-Lanz Works at Zeesen to pick up a replacement for the R 27 in the form of the Staaken R.VI 28/16 and deliver it to the Front.

8 March 1918

Casualty Report:

Uffz. Paul Hohm (born Schneidemühl 11.7.1893), a pilot of Bosta 14, was killed in a crash at Mariakerke aerodrome.

11 March 1918

Honour Award:-

Ltn.d.Res. Immanuel Braun of Bosta 13, Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse.

12/13 March 1918 - Night Attack

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Boulogne.

Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 7.36 p.m and routed via Bruges flying at 3400 meters. 2000 kilogrammes of bombs carried to Boulogne. Right front engine r.p.m. too high, housing fractured, engine stopped. Left rear engine seized a piston causing engine to stop. Landed back safely at 3.59 a.m.

Mid-March 1918

Revitalized by Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg, Bogohl 3 was ready to resume raids on London in mid-March, but the OHL had more important plans. A gigantic offensive calculated to crush the Allies before effective American help them was unleashed on 21 March 1918. All available air units were ordered to support the German advance, and consequently during a one week period beginning on 20 March, the Gothas were dispatched to Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne almost nightly.

20/21 March 1918 - Night Attack

During a temporary clearing of the weather, 25 Gothas from Bogohl 3 were dispatched to attack railway stations at Calais and Dunkirk. There were several hits on the targets.

Rfa 501 also dispatched R-planes to Boulogne.

Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 11.38 p.m. and flew to Ypres with 2160 kilogrammes of bombs. The aircraft refused to climb, crossed the front at 600 metres. It received 19 hits and returned home without dropping its bombs. It landed safely at 0.23 a.m.


Gotha of Bogohl 3 crash landed on return from operations near Ghent, Belgium.

OfStv. Ernst. Pilot. Slightly injured.

Vfw. Herter. Gunner. Seriously injured.

21/22 March 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Boulogne and Calais. The Gothas bombed railway stations at Loulogne, Wimereux, Calais, St Pol and Lillers. At Lillers there were continuous ammunition explosions of the most severe kind and raging fires.


Gotha of Bosta 17 crashed on take-off from Gontrode.

Ltn. Holzhauser. Observer and Staffelführer of Bosta 17. Seriously injured.

Ltn.d.R. Paul Glück (born Eisenberg 14.7.1888). Pilot. Seriously injured, died of his injuries 22.3.1918.


Gotha G.V 947/16 of Bosta 16, landed intact at St Idesbald, Belgium.

Ltn. Eberhard Frhr. von Zedlitz und Neulich. Observer. Captured.

Ltn. Michael Frhr. von Korff. Pilot. Captured.

Gefr. Willi Speier. Gunner. Captured.

This aircraft, which came down near Koksijde beach, carried the marking KZ on the side of its fuselage. Later it was returned to flying condition by the Aviation Militaire Belge and was test flown on 27 August 1918 at Calais-Beaumarais by pilot Proper Georges and Beaumarais’ chief technician Mathieu Demonty.


Gotha of Bosta 17 had a landing accident at Gontrode.

Ltn. Kientrup. Observer. Slightly injured.

Ltn.Prehn. Observer. Slightly injured.

? Uffz. Giesebrecht. Injured in action.

23/24 March 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Boulogne. Railway stations were bombed at St Pol, Doullens, Lillers and Béthune.


Gotha of Bogohl 3 failed to return.

Ltn. Wittmeyer. Observer. Captured.

Ltn. Bestehorn. Pilot, Captured.

Uffz. Christiansen. Gunner. Captured.

The crew survived a crash landing while on an attack against St Pol and managed it to burn their Gotha before being captured.

26/27 March 1918 - Night Attack

Bagohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Boulogne, Dunkirk and Calais. Bombing was carried out at Boulogne, Calais, Outreau, Gravelines and Dunkirk.


Gotha of Bosta 16 failed to return.

Ltn.d.R. Werner Gieser. Observer. Captured.

Uffz. Richard Linke. Pilot. Captured.

Uffz Otto Hanky. Gunner. Captured.


Gotha of Bosta 17 failed to return.

Ltn. Paul Mongs. Observer. Captured.

Gefr. Heinrich Wierzbimski. Pilot. Captured.

Vfw. Otto Teschner. Gunner. Captured.

30 March 1918

Gotha of Bogohl 3 crashed south of Chérisy, near Dreux, France.

Ltn. Marterer. Observer. Injured in action, died of injuries at Peronne 2.4.1918.

Flg. Phillip Meyer (born Kleinfangenheim 11.12.1879). Killed.

Early April 1918

Although the German armies exhausted themselves short of Amiens before the end of March 1918, the OHL followed up with an attack on the British in Flanders in early April. The desperate drive to capture the Channel ports began, and the Gothas and R-planes were again dispatched to raid troop camps, ammunition dumps and railways behind the British front. Consequently, only Zeppelin airships could be spared for raids on England.

1 April 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Boulogne. Included Staaken R.VI R39/16.

11/12 April 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack St Omer.

20/21 April 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Poperinghe. Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack St Omer. Included Staaken R.VI R39/16.

Losses - 1 R-plane crashed after combat.


Staaken R.VI R 34/16 of Rfa 501 brought down near Westrozebeke, Belgium.

Obltn. Johannes Leistner (born Lengenfeld 18.6.1892). Commander & observer. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Ltn.d.R. Martin Böhme (born Holzminden 22.2.1890). Observer. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Obltn. Hans Sturm (born Dresden 28.8.1891). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Nordfriedhof in Dresden, Germany. Previously an officer in Feld-Artillerie-Regiment Nr. 78.

Vfw. Hermann Böse (born Hannover 23.1.1887). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Uffz. Wilhelm Wiech (born Thalheim 29.2.1892). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Flg. Peter Antoni (born Köln 15.1.1897). Mechanic. Killed.

Flg. Gustav Kinzel (born Mögglingen 20.2.1897). Mechanic. Killed.

Crashed about three miles from the front line in a field between Schaap-Balie and Poelcapelle.

24 April 1918

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to Poperinghe.

3 May 1918

Staaken R.VI 29/16 taken on charge by Rfa 501.

7/8 May 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Abbeville.

8/9 May 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Calais.

Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 1.18 a.m. and routed via Ostend at 2700 meters. It carried 1600 kilogrammes of bombs to Calais and landed back safely at 4 a.m.

9/10 May 1918 - Night Attack (Moon New -1)

Rfa 501 dispatched four R-planes to attack Dover, but due to the weather French coastal towns of Calais and Dunkirk were bombed as alternatives.

Losses - 3 R-planes crashed on return.

On 9 May 1918 four Staaken machines (R.VI 26/16, R.VI 29/16, R.VI 32/16 and R.VI 39/16) took-off at 22.05 hours from Scheldewindeke to bomb Dover, but were ordered to attack the alternative targets of Calais and Dunkirk instead. The prevailing north-west wind was considered favourable because the aircraft, flying into the wind, would be able to anticipate oncoming bad weather. Orders had been given to return to the airfield immediately if a fog warning was received by wireless. R 32 and R 39 had successfully dropped their bombs on Dunkirk when a wireless message was received warning the aircraft that the amount of ground and low-altitude fog over the airfield was increasing. R 32 and R 39 headed back at once, but the two other aircraft flew on for they were just a short distance from their target, Calais.

R 32 and R 39 arrived over their airfield shortly before 01.00 hours, when the airfield signalled by wireless: 'Cloud height 100 metres, Brussels clear visibility.' For reasons not documented, both aircraft decided to risk the landing at Scheldewindeke in spite of the wireless warning. The elapsed time between the wireless message and landing attempt was about 25 minutes, during which time a fog bank had descended on the airfield. The R 32 made several landing approaches, but each time it lost its direction in the fog. The searchlight beacons could be seen from the top of the fog layer as washed-out circles of light. It was these beacons that established the position of the airfield. However, as itwas not possible to see them from within the fog bank, the landing approach was made on instruments, intuition and luck until the searchlight beacons appeared again out of the fog. R 32 was flying towards these when it hit a row of trees 700 metres short of the field and crashed. The explosion of an unreleased bomb and remaining fuel completely destroyed the R 32 and most of its crew. The R 39, as it emerged from the fog, flew directly between the two beacons at the edge of the airfield and barely rolled to a safe stop at the end of the runway, within inches of a ditch.

The first Rfa 501 learned of the R 32’s end when a badly-injured crew member stumbled across the airfield with the news that most of its crew had perished in the crash. The crew of the R 39 owed their lives to its skilled pilot, Lt. Frhr. von Lenz, whose experience and precise knowledge of the beacons’ position brought the machine down safely.

At 01.30 hours the R 26 and R 29 arrived over the airfield and a wirpless message was received by them which said: 'Landing impossible, clouds 100 metres high, Ghistelles clear for landing.' A further message, received at 01.50 hours said: 'Land at Ghistelles, otherwise use parachute.' In spite of these orders, the R 26 and R 29 chose to land under the presumption that below 100 metres, at least, there were no clouds and visibility was good. The R 26 flew into the ground and burned; all, except one mechanic, were killed.

R 29 made an approach along the edge of the fog bank, using its landing lights to avoid flying into the ground. As it was impossible to locate the airfield under the fog layer, the R 29 climbed over it using its gyro-compass. Having picked up the beacons and under the impression that the cloud bank was still at 100 metres, R 29 attempted a glide approach. In the clouds the aircraft turned 60-80° to starboard in spite of the pilots’ efforts to the contrary and lost its course. Suddenly, at the bottom of the cloud layer, the pilots saw tree tops. They immediately opened up the engines to pull the aircraft into a climb, but it was too late. The landing gear caught, the tree tops, pulling the fuselage down into the trees. Although the fuel tanks burst, the R 29 did not catch fire, thanks to the quick-witted pilot who had at once shut-off the ignition of the engines and motor-dynamo. The remains of the completely demolished R 26 were not found until the next day, but enough remained of the R 29 to be dismantled and salvaged.

A ceremony to honour the victims was held on Thursday, 16 May 1918, and most were laid to rest at the Wester Cemetery in Ghent.


Casualty lists are unclear as to which aircraft the following crews belonged.

Died Ghent, Belgium.

Vfw. Ernst Rungwerth (born Falkenberg 4.6.1888). Mechanic. Killed. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Uffz Heinrich Wäsche (born Hötensleben 22.5.1895). Mechanic. Killed.

Gerf. Walter Grüneberg (born Berlin 7.1.1896). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Flg. Alois Langner (born Königshütte 19.10.1895). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Flg. Richard Oberländer (born Esslingen 2.10.1897). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.


Died Scheldewindeke aerodrome.

Obltn. Fritz Pfeifer (born Bernfastel 26.8.1891) Observer & Commander of R 26. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Wilhelm Pier (born Meyerich 21.9.1893). Pilot of R 26. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Lothar Friedrich (born Danzig 18.10.1888). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

Uffz. Josef Belz (born Westerhausen 1.6.1891). Mechanic. Killed.

Gefr. Paul Schnigge (born Elbing 13.11.1891). Mechanic. Killed.

Flg. Julius Winand (born Isenburg 28.3.1895). Mechanic. Killed.


Died Moorseele, near Wevelgem, Belgium.

(During World War one there was a German airfield at Moorselle. It was situated between the town’s Leperstraat and Wittemolenstraat)

Hptm. Fritz Wieter (born Halberstadt 4.9.1890). Observer. Killed.

Ltn.d.R. Wilhelm Landwehrmann (born Sollenbeck 14.8.1886. Pilot. Killed. Buried in Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium. Previously Ltn.d.R. in the Eisenbahn-Regiment Nr. 2.

Ltn.d.R. Karl Freund (born Hagen 19.8.1892). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Buschey-Friedhof Hagen/ Westfalen, Germany. Previously a Lt.d. R. in the Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 7.

Gefr. Alfred Bröske (born Cottbus 22.2.1896). Mechanic. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

This appears to be R 29, which did not catch fire. Four were killed and Unteroffizier Koch, a mechanic, was seriously injured.

14/15 May 1918 - Night Attack

Boghol 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne and St Omer.

15/16 May 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne (with Bogohl 6).

18/19 May 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl dispatched Gothas to attack St Omer (with Bogohl 5, 6 and 8).

19/20 May 1918 - Moonlight Attack (Moon First Qtr +2)

Weather - Several cloud strata. London clear.

38 Gothas, 2 C-Type of Bogohl 3, 3 R-planes of Rfa 501dispatched, 18 Gothas, 2 C-Types and 3 R-planes dropped their bombs on England.

Objectives - London, with Dover as secondary target.

Bombs dropped - 14,550 kilogrammes of high explosives. 11,350 kilogrammes by Gothas and C-Types: 7000 kilogrammes of high explosives on London, 2350 kilogrammes of high explosves on Dover, 2000 kilogrammes of high explosives on Sheerness, Chatham, Gravesend and Southend.

R-planes: 3200 kilogrammes of high explosives: 1100 kilogrammes of high explosives on London, 2100 kilogrammes of high explosives (including one 1000 kilogramme bomb on Chelmsford by Staaken R.VI R39/16).

Eighteen Gothas and one R-plane reached London. Effect of the bombs on brightly illuminated London easy to observe. Four big fires in the City, one being visible as far as North Foreland during return flight. Very strong AA defences. 20 to 25 British aerodromes lit up, several air flights. Close formations of scouts encountered.

Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 10.24 p.m. and flew to its target at 3300 meters. It carried 1100 kilogrammes of bombs to London and landed back safely at 4.06 a.m.

Losses - One Gotha forced down in England, five Gothas shot down, one Gotha crashed on return.


Gotha G.V 925/16 of Bosta 15 crashed near St Osyth, England.

Ltn.d.R. Wilhelm Rist (born Göppingen 14.9.1895). Observer. Killed. Buried in Clacton-on-Sea Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Max Gummelt. Pilot. Captured.

Vfw. Rudolf Hunsdorf. Gunner. Captured.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

On approaching the English coast this Gotha encountered cloud, and consequently let down for a position check. It broke clear at 2000 feet and at 11.35 p.m. came in over Bradwell-juxta-Mare, before turning to the north-east and circling for a while. The Germans then headed off over the Blackwater Estuary, which they mistook for the Thames, before running into a cloud. The pilot then dived down through it, emerging near Clacton at an altiude of only 600 feet, and immediately opened up the throttles to check his descent. However, this caused the starboard engine to choke, leaving no option but to attempt a forced landing on Park Farm, Clay Lane, St Osyth at 11.50 p.m. after firing red, green and white Very lights. The Gotha, which had hit a tree and crashed into a hedgerow, was little damaged, but the observer in the front cockpit was killed.

By the time Police Constable F.H. Havers, the village policeman at Great Clacton, had cycled the three miles to the crash site the farmer, John Edwards, together with three of his men were already on the scene. The army at Clacton-on-Sea was then informed by telephone, and after Police Constable J.G. Dibbin arrived the policemen took charge of the two surviving crewmen. Although one was unhurt, the other appeared to be seriously injured. Next to arrive was P.C. Wedlock and some soldiers sent to guard the wreckage and take the Germans into custody. P.C. Havers finally removed the body of the dead airman to the mortuary at Clacton, and he was subsequently laid to rest in Clacton cemetery. According to an eye-witness the crash site can be reached by following the main Colchester road out of Clacton, turning left into St Osyth Road, which soon becomes Little Clacton Road, and proceeding in the direction of Bockings Elm. The aircraft came down in a field on the right had side of the road, near Earls Hall. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 7 by the RAF, and was marked ‘Pommern’, which was underlined, on the fuselage side.


Gotha G.V 979/16 of Bosta 17 crashed at Frinsted, England.

Ltn. Joachim Flothow (born Frankfurt 29.10.1897). Observer. Killed. Buried at St Dunstan, Frinsted. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Albrecht Sachtler (born Alerisbad 30.12.1896). Pilot. Killed. Buried at St Dunstan, Frinsted. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Uffz. Hermann Tasche. Gunner. Captured with a broken arm.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

At 0.25 a.m. Major Frederick Sowrey, officer commanding No.143 at Detling, who was flying S.E.5a, C1804, near Maidstone encountered an outbound Gotha, after which a comabt ensued during which the pilot was probably injured. However, while escaping from Sowrey the Germans had diverted some miles west of their homeward track. This resulted in them being picked up at 0.30 a.m. over South Ash, near the present day Brands Hatch motor racing circuit, by the crew of a Bristol Fighter, C851, of No.141 Squadron from Biggin Hill flying at the eastern edge of their patrol area.

The ‘Brisfit’ was piloted by Lt. Edward Eric Turner, who carefully positioned himself below and behind the Gotha, before signalling his gunner, Lt. Henry B. Barwise, to open fire with his Lewis gun. The first burst hit the Gotha’s port engine, and although his victim put its nose down and went into a flat spin, Barwise managed to get in two more bursts, hitting the fuselage and starboard wings before his gun jammed. The Gotha continued to loose height, with the rear gunner shooting erratically for some moments, as the pilot made for an illuminated flare path at Frinsted airfield where he could attempt a landing. Then Turner saw its front gun firing vertically downwards, but he was unable to resume the attack as the Bristol’s engine, throttled back during the descent, refused to pick up for a while, during which time the Gotha was lost to sight.

However, their victim went on circle and fire a Very light, prior to crashing at about 0.45 a.m. during an attempted forced landing between Frinsted and Harrietsham, about 300 yards south of Frinsted church. The only survivior was the gunner, who received a broken arm, while on 23 May his two companions were buried in the churchyard of nearby St Dunstan’s in Frinsted. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 8 by the RAF, and was marked ‘FST’ on the side of the fuselage.


Gotha G.V 960/16 of Bosta 15 crashed on the Isle of Sheppey, England.

Ltn.d.R. Rudolf Bartikowski (born Berlin 5.2.1894). Observer. Killed. Buried at St Thomas the Apostle at Harty. Late re-interred at the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Fritz Bloch (born Neidenburg 27.6.1889). Pilot. Killed. Buried at St Thomas the Apostle at Harty. Later re-interred at the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Heinrich Heiligers (born Gedenhahn 19.5.1891). Gunner. Killed. Buried at St Thomas the Apostle at Harty. Later re-interred at the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

This Gotha had taken off at 9.30 p.m. and had come in over Ramsgate, heading south, at about 11 p.m. Fifteen minutes later Major Christopher Joseph Quintin Brand, officer commanding No.112 Squadron at Throwley, took off in Sopwith Camel D6433 ‘Makhabane II’. Having gained height over the aerodrome he was making his first run along his patrol line to Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey at 8500 feet when, at 11.23 p.m., he saw the Gotha flying west over Faversham 200 feet higher up, its exhaust flames clearly visible from more than 400 yards.

As Brand approached the bomber its front gun opened up at 50 yards’ range, firing high and to the left. He retaliated with two 20 round bursts which stopped the bomber’s starboard engine. It then banked steeply and dived away to the north-east, making desperate S-turns as he followed, gradually closing the distance to 25 yards. There was no fire from the rear gunner, and Brand aimed three 25 round bursts, causing the bomber to burst into flames and then fall to pieces. Although his face and moustache, along with the nose of his aircraft, were scortched by the flames, he followed the main wreckage down to 3000 feet before, at 11.36 p.m., watching it come to earth near the Harty Emergency Landing Ground on the Isle of Sheppey.

The Gotha in fact crashed near a farm close to the sea wall between Harty and Leysdown-on-Sea, about 1½ miles east of Harty Ferry, and was totally destroyed. The bodies of the three crewmen were discovered near the farm. Two of these had fallen into marshy ground and were deeply embedded in the mud, while the third man’s head had struck a wall and was shattered like an egg shell. All three were removed to a local aviation establishment, prior to burial on 23 May in the churchyard of St Thomas the Apostle at Harty. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 9 by the RAF, and fabric from this aircraft is in the RAF Museum at Hendon (RAFM 1994/0526/C).


Gotha of Bosta 18 crashed at East Ham, England.

Ltn. Paul Sapkowick. Observer. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Vfw. Hans Tiedke (born Kiel 1.9.1898). Pilot. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.

Gefr. Wilhelm Schulte (born Dortmund 21.10.1897). Gunner. Killed. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

This Gotha came in over the Latchingdon Peninsular at 11.30 p.m., flying in a south-westerly direction. Meanwhile, at 10.56 hours Bristol Fighter C4636 ‘Devil in the Dark’ of No.39 Squadron at North Weald had taken off. Crewed by Lt. Anthony J. Arkell, the pilot, and 1/AM Albert T.C. Stagg, the gunner, they had been flying at 11,000 feet for just over an hour when, five minutes after midnight, north of Hainault and near the souhern extremity of his ‘B’ patrol line, Arkell picked up the twin exhausts of a Gotha 1000 feet lower. He dived down and began closing from 200 yards under its tail, giving Stagg the opportunity to fire half a drum. He then zoomed up to deliver a long burst from his forward firing Vickers guns, levelling off to offer Stagg another chance.

The Gotha started to dive, making flat turns, with both its gunners firing as the opportunity arose, and Arkell delivered several more bursts. He then moved in much closer, sitting under its tail and able to make out all its details, while Stagg fired two more drums. He zoomed up once more for another long burst from the Vickers, and in all fired 350 rounds. The fight was then down to 3000 feet, with the Gotha still descending. At 1500 feet Arkell once more positioned underneath, and a final burst from Stagg set the Gotha’s starboard engine on fire. The bomber spun for about 1½ turns and hit the ground off Roman Road, East Ham, bursting into flames at 0.20 a.m.

The Gotha had actually come down about 200 yards from the Royal Albert Dock, by the north bank of the River Thames, the wreckage being spread over 100 yards of a bean field between Roman Road and Beckton Road. The crew jumped to their deaths before the crippled bomber hit the ground, and the body of the pilot was found on an allotment in Brooks Avenue, about half a mile north-east of the crash site. The observer was discovered in a ditch 300 yards south of the wrecked Gotha, while the gunner fell a quarter of a mile south in the next field, on the bank of a ditch. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number AB 6 by the RAF.


Gotha of Bosta 18 lost over England.

Ltn. Heinrich Geiger (born München 12.10.1894). Observer. Killed in the sea off Dover.

Ltn. Hans Gundelach (born Metz 8.7.1898). Observer. Killed.

VzWachtMstr Josef Jacob Arnold (born Hilbringen 6.3.1894). Pilot. Killed. Buried in Dover. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Cannock Chase, England. He had previously served with Rfa 501.


Crash Information (from British sources):-

Brought down in flames in the sea off Dover by AA guns. The wreckage of the aircraft and one body was found soon after near floating near the Knuckle light by the armed trawler ‘W.H. Podd’. The body was buried at Dover on 22 May, the coffin being carried by RAF officers.


Gotha of Bosta 17 forced landed at Thielt aerodrome in Belgium.

Ltn.d.R. Karl Pfeiffer (born Waldbroich 29.8.90). Observer. Fatally injured. Died 17.5.1918. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium. Previously an officer in the Reserve FAR 61.

Uffz. Kurt Peuckert (born Dresden 30.9.1894). Pilot. Seriously injured.

Uffz. Gustav Bunte (born Bielefeld 31.8.1893). Gunner. Killed.


Gotha of Bosta 17 crashed taking off from Mariakereke aerodrome.

Vfw. Franz Löwenthal (born Tettnang 10.3.1895). Pilot. Seriously injured, died of injuries 28.5.1918. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery.

Vfw. Max Boese (born Stettin 18.4.1887). Gunner. Fatally injured, died same day. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.


Crew of a Gotha of Bosta 16 died at Maria Aalter aerodrome near Ghent, Belgium.

Ltn. Erich Leonhardt (born Leipzig 24.6.1897). Observer. Killed.

Vfw. Hans Schlack (Scheack) (born Berlin 23.3.1894). Gunner. Killed. Buried in Ghent Wester Cemetery. Later re-interred in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.


Other Casualties Recorded.

Vfw. Erich Richter (born Limbach 14.2.1895). Gunner of Bosta 15. Injured in combat (Maria Aalter). Died of injuries at Aurich in Germany on 22.8.1918.

Gefr. Ernst Jostmeyer (born Neesen 9.5.1896. Killed. Pilot of Bosta 15 (? England flight).

Vfw. Erich Richter. Gunner of Bosta 15. Wounded in action.

Gefr. Walter Jungnickel (born Lagau 16.7.1896). Pilot of Bosta 18 (Margate, U.K.).

Gerf. Franz Poley (born Marienthal 25.3.1887). Gunner of Bosta 18 (Dury, France).

Late May 1918

Although during the raid on London on 19/20 May Bogohl 3 had suffered heavy losses, Hptm. Ernst Brandenburg began planning another. However, events overtook him as on 27 May the OHL launched an offensive on the Aisne. As the German divisions reached the Marne near Château-Thierry, the Gothas bombed St Omer on three occasions. The R-planes were attacking Abbeville and other targets, and even after the drive began to slacken, the bombers kept pounding Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne.

21 May 1918

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack Abbeville. Two failed to return.


Gotha G.V of Bosta 14 put down at Conchy-sur-Canche near Crécy, France.

Obltn. Hermann. Observer. Captured.

Ltn. Schrink. Observer. Captured.

OfStv. Wabnitz. Pilot. Captured.

Uffz. Wolany. Gunner. Captured.

All crew members were injured, but burnt their aircraft before capture. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number G/3 Bde/6 by the RAF. Engine numbers 36605 and 36386.


Gotha G.V 969/17 of Bogohl 3 brought down by AA fire at Villers au Bois, France.

Ltn. Schiffer. Observer. Captured.

Vfw. Lüdke. pilot. Captured.

Uffz. Wallerand. Gunner. Captured.

The crew burnt the aircraft before capture. The wreck was subsequently allocated the number G/HQ/3 by the RAF.


In perfect weather on 21 May the first of a series of high-speed photo-reconnaissance flights took place over England. The Rumpler C.VII (Rubilt) of Fl Abt 5Lb based at Tournai, which had been fitted with additional fuel tankage, came in near Shoeburyness at an altitude of 5700 meters and passed over London at 11.45 a.m. It had returned to its home aerodrome by 2 p.m. after a flight of just over six hours. It was crewed by Ltn. Carl Drechsel (pilot) and Ltn. Reinhold Foell (observer).

23 May 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Abbeville.

24 May 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Boulogne.

26 May 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Abbeville. Included Staaken R.VI R39/16.

27/28 May 1918 - Night Attack

In connection with the Battle of the Aisne the Bombengeschwader sought to disrupt the rear area transport routes from Calais to Abbeville by a concentrated attack on Abbeville. At the same time they attacked St Pol near Dunkirk, Doullens, Aire, Lillers and St Omer. Altogether 33,000 kilogrammes of bombs were dropped, many large fires were observed.

The R-planes of Rfa 501 concentrated on Abbeville, including Staaken R.VI R39/16. Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 10.38 p.m. and flew to Abbeville at 3400 meters with 1200 kilogrammes of bombs. It landed back safely at 2.38 a.m.


Gotha of Kasta 15 shot down during an attack on Abbeville, France.

Ltn.Wilhelm Schmitt (born Kassel 27.1.1898). Observer. Killed.

Uffz. Jakobs. Pilot. Captured.

Vfw. Jödike. Gunner. Captured.

29/30 May 1918 - Night Attack

Bogohl dispatched Gothas to attack St Pol, near Dunkirk. Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Abbeville.

Staaken R.V. 13/15 flown by Vfw. Schmitz took off at 10.50 p.m. and flew at 3800 meters to Abbeville with 1400 kilogrammes of bombs. It landed back safely at 3.17 a.m.

30 May 1918

Bogohl 3 dispatched Gothas to attack St Omer.

Casualty Report:-

Flg. Franz Nowaczky (born Kattowitz 1.12.1896). From Bogohl 3, killed in action at Lemberge, near Gontrode. Now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.

31 May/ 1 June 1918

Rfa 501 dispatched R-planes to attack Etaples and St Omer. Including Staaken R.VI R39/16 which attacked Etaples.

Staaken R.V 13/15 flown by Vfw Schmitz took off at 11.14 p.m. flying at 3300 meters to St Omer with 1300 kilogrammes of bombs. It landed back safely at 2.03 a.m.


Casualty Report:-

Uffz. Siegfried Lindemann (born Hamburg 26.9.74) of Rfa 501, died at Ghent. Buried Ghent Wester Cemetery, now buried in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium.