Who's Who - Oswald Boelcke
Oswald Boelcke (1891-1916) was one of Germany's most successful fighter pilots until his death in 1916.
Boelcke opened his military career in a telegraph unit in 1911. The outbreak of war in 1914 however brought him a transfer to the Flying Corps.
Regarded by many as the father of air combat - concerned with fighter tactics based upon aircraft formation rather than upon the characteristics of any individual machine - by 1916 Boelcke had amassed more 'kills' than any other German pilot, many above the Verdun battlefield.
Following Max Immelmann's death at the hands of George McCubbin on 18 June 1916 Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered that Boelcke be grounded for a month in order to avoid the potential loss of two national heroes within short order. Following a spell in the Balkans he eventually returned to combat duty at his own request in July 1916 above the Somme battlefields.
Revered at home in Germany disaster struck on 28 October 1916 - four months after Immelmann's death - when Boelcke's aircraft struck another German machine during a dogfight with the British and French while he attempted to avoid a French aircraft.
With his aircraft disabled Boelcke crash-landed behind German lines. He died on impact.
A Runner was a soldier who carried messages by hand.
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