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The “Aces” of the Air!
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THE ROAD TO WAR -
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The “Aces” of the Air!
 
At the beginning of “The Great War” many aero-plane enthusiasts and professional pilots from Britain and the Commonwealth countries, and later in the war from the USA and Canada made their decision to fight for freedom and support the Allies against the hated enemy, more so they were determined to face them above in the early days in the Western Front in aerial combat. They were superb in flying, and had then been trained in every conceivable manoeuvre in their training to adjust their own individual flying skills to eventually face the enemy in the war in the skies.
Many hundreds came to join up and were more than willing to use their expertise in flying against the foe, although the “spirit was willing” many made their mark on the enemy that they were about to face in this “Do or Die” attitude of this new type of war, warfare in the air. They would all contribute to the eventual overthrow of the enemy in the skies…but only a few would be heralded as “Aces of the Air”
Of All these exceptionally Brave men, only a few despite all of them facing severe onslaught of the battles fought high in the skies above would become famous “Aces” or “Gladiators” of the air, from every country that flew and battled in the skies above Europe. Even though each pilot had shot down the enemy on whatever side it was, depending on the situation below with the enemy close-by, some would land their plane near the crashed plane and the dead pilot killed and show…with humble recognition, and would demonstrate their respect to the pilot they had shot down and killed as a sign for a fellow aviator
But the eventual “Aces of the Air” would certainly and assuredly be recognized by the Country that they fought for.
Their names would remain in the annals of flying history as the Greats of “The First World War”… To name but a few pilots who flew during “The Great War”.
   
J.M. Guder,
William Thaw,
Max Immelmann,
Dorme Deullin, Bert Hall,
Victor Chapman,
William Moorhouse (the first V.C. to be won in the air)
M. McCudden (V.C.)
Roderick Dallas
W.G. Barker (V.C.)
Roland Garros
Willy Coppens
Rene Paul Fonck… had 75 victories
Oswald Boelcke.
William “Billy” Bishop.
 
 
The “Ace of Aces” or “Top Fighter Aces” was in a very different class of pilot’s. They were “Heroes of Ariel Combat” and Heroes of their own Nation…
   

Albert Ball (V.C.)
Eddie Rickenbacker
 
Georges Guynemer
Mick Mannock had 73 victories.
 
But the Greatest “Ace of Aces” was …Manfred Von Richthofen …who had 80 victories.
 
Baron Manfred Von Richthofen “The Red Baron” shot down a total 80 aircraft…54 of these planes burnt in the air, causing unbearable, agonizing deaths to the Brave Pilots that were killed.
On 21st April 1918, he was shot down by Allied guns either by Captain Roy Brown of No 209 Squadron after chasing and firing at his plane, or an Australian machine-gunner of the 53rd MG Company firing from the ground? Finally crashing his plane and killing him. The crash site is on the Bray to Corbie road, near Amiens.
 

The remains of the “Red Barons” Crimson Fokker Tri-Plane.
 

(Left) Manfred Von Richofen…in Death
   
Burial of the “Red Baron” at Bertangles, cemetery, Amiens and his Burial on 22nd April, 1918.
 
The exact spot in Bertangles cemetery, near Amiens, where “The Red Baron” was buried with full military honours. His body was later exhumed and taken back to Fricourt, Berlin, Germany, to be re-buried in a family plot. (Image Ian R. Bridle Copyright 2012)
 
All these pilots received the most prestigious decorations from their countries, being awarded by Presidents, Kings, Queens, and Prime Ministers. This does not include the “Aces” from other countries, although they were in their own right…Heroes of the Air!
These Brave and Heroic Pilot’s had brought many benefits from their flying activities, priceless information was gathered from the pilot’s and observers to give to High Command resulting in the saving of many lives.
In total there were…Fifteen British “Aces”, four French “Aces” and eleven German “Aces” all who shot down well over 50 plus aircraft each.

The total casualties during these aerial battles on the Western Front were…
German pilots killed…5,853
 
The Royal Flying Corps & Commonwealth Pilots killed…6,166
 
(Please forgive me that I have missed out...Many Heroic Pilots from all Countries...who All deserve a mention!)
   
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