Who's Who - Victor Utgoff
Victor Utgoff (1889-1930), while not a recognised air ace, was nevertheless the recipient of many decorations in his Russian homeland.
Born on 14 July 1889 in what is today Lodz in Poland, Utgoff enlisted as a naval cadet in the pre-war Russian Navy and went on to serve with the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
With the establishment of an air service attached to the Black Sea Fleet in 1912 Utgoff seized his opportunity to gain air training, gaining his pilot's license in July the same year.
With the onset of war in Europe in August 1914 Utgoff - by now a decorated Lieutenant - became the Navy's first wartime pilot, attached to the Black Sea air service and flying seaplanes.
March 1915 brought Utgoff a fresh challenge, that of flying combat missions against Turkey. A recipient of the Order of St. George Utgoff received a promotion to Captain and was made second in command of the Russian air arm. His continued industry - by now flying seaplanes on bombing raids against the Bulgarian port of Varna - received further recognition in August 1916, this time by means of the Golden Sword of St. George.
With the advent of the February Revolution in Russia Utgoff travelled to the U.S. with his family in 1917, initially temporarily and then - once the Bolsheviks seized power in October 1917 - permanently.
German losses at Messines were 25,000, of which 7,500 were taken prisoner. British casualties were 17,000 killed or wounded.
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