Who's Who - Rudolf Berthold

Rudolf Berthold Rudolf Berthold (1891-1920), with 44 air victories, was one of Germany's highest-rated fighter pilots during World War One.

Born on 24 March 1891 near Bamberg, Berthold signed up with the German Army in 1910, serving with the infantry.  He turned his attention to nascent air technology three years later, learning to fly in 1913.  He was thus well-placed to request (and receive) a transfer to the German Air Service once war broke out in August 1914.

Serving initially as an observer he began flying single-seat fighters in 1916 and in August that year formed Jasta 4.  Somewhat accident prone - no small matter in aerial warfare - Berthold developed a pattern of invariably returning to active duty before his most recent injuries had fully healed.

Handed command of Jasta 14 Berthold suffered serious injury in May 1917 while his Pfalz D.III was shot down.  Despite the severity of his injuries - which included a fractured skull, thigh, pelvis and broken nose - he nevertheless returned to service three months later, taking charge of Jasta 18.

Within two months he was temporarily incapacitated again, suffering a shot wound on 10 October 1917.  Returning to action he was handed a further command, Jagdgeschwader 2.  Berthold held out for longer than usual, suffering fresh injuries on 10 August 1918 when his Fokker D.VII crashed into a house after colliding with an enemy aircraft (he had already shot down two Allied 'planes that day).

Thus Berthold's war was over.  He was murdered by a rioting mob on 15 March 1920 in Harburg: it is claimed that he was strangled with the ribbon from the prestigious Pour le Merite award he received in October 1916.

A 'Toasting Fork' was a bayonet, often used for the named purpose.

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