Who's Who - Werner Voss

Werner Voss Werner Voss (1897-1917) was one of Manfred von Richthofen's closest rivals as an air ace during the 1916-17 period, with 48 victories to his credit.

Born on 13 April 1897 in Krefeld in north-west Germany, Voss joined the cavalry in November 1914 while aged just 17.  Stationed on the Eastern Front Voss earned rapid promotion and the Iron Cross.

Despite continuing promotion Voss seemingly tired of the cavalry war and requested (and received) a transfer to the German Air Service flight training school in August 1915.  The move was not necessarily seen as a radical departure, with the Air Service an adjunct to the Cavalry during the early stages of the war.

Following the completion of his training Voss served as an instructor with FEA7 until February 1916.  Acting initially as an observer he received his pilot's certificate in late May 1916.  Within four months he received his Lieutenant's commission.

As a fighter pilot Voss quickly established a reputation as something of a rival - in terms of combat success - to the legendary Manfred von Richthofen (the 'Red Baron', who freely admitted the competition), attaining his first confirmed victory - or 'kill' - on 26 November 1916 while temporarily attached to Jasta 2.

His success ensured a permanent assignment to Jasta 2, remaining until May 1917, by which time he had amassed 28 victories and earned the prestigious Pour le Merite award.

Given acting command of Jasta 5 Voss was credited with a further five victories, and was handed command of Jasta 29 - for just five days - and then Jasta 14.  Richthofen expressed keen interest in having the remarkably successful young pilot transferred to his own 'Flying Circus', with the result that Voss was duly attached to Jasta 10.

After achieving a further 14 victories Voss was caught in a dogfight with the renowned British 56 Squadron 'B' Flight on 23 September 1917, the latter comprised of such luminaries as James McCudden and Arthur Rhys Davids.  All seven pilots in 'B' Flight were accredited aces, each flying an S.E.5a.

After weaving successfully around the British pilots for some ten minutes in the skies north of Frezenberg Voss's propeller appeared to fail.  He was quickly downed by Davids, who later expressed a wish that he had been able to bring Voss down alive (Davids also shot down Carl Menckhoff when the latter flew to Voss's aid).  The encounter is one of the best-known aerial dogfights of the war.

"I shall never forget my admiration for that German pilot, who single handed, fought seven of us for ten minutes.  I saw him go into a fairly steep dive and so I continued to watch, and then saw the triplane hit the ground and disappear into a thousand fragments, for it seemed to me that it literally went into powder."
James McCudden

A "box barrage" was an artillery bombardment centred upon a small area.

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