photo: Jörn Leckscheid collection
Photo taken in May 1916 when Pour le Mérire recipient Hans-Joachim Buddecke visited his old unit FFA 23 in Vaux. There was an artist invited, apparently to create portraits of
Buddecke and other airmen. Left to right: unknown, commander of KEK Vaux Rudolf Berthold, visiting artist, flak officer Ltn. Warth and two members of FFA 23 - Vzfw. Hermann
Margot and Ltn. Hans-Joachim von Seydlitz-Gerstenberg. The dog seems to be the same that Berthold is holding in the famous Sanke postcard photo (used as lead photo here as well).
personnel from previous unit to the new one and stretched it to the extent never
seen before. He simply moved everybody and swapped the personnel and
planes with Jasta 15, which effectively become „new“ Jasta 18, while „new“
Jasta 15 became the wing's Stab Staffel (command squadron) and retained its
red-blue colours (new Jasta 18 opted for red and white colours).
The airfield at Toulis was heavily damaged by the heavy artillery fire on
April 12. Most of the aircraft were also destroyed. While waiting for new
ones and changing airfields Berthold wrote to his diary: “And I will fly again...
even if they must carry me to the airplane.” According to witnesses he also
voiced that repeatedly, although his physical condition was bad. He was moving around the base with his right hand in the scarf, frequently under influence
of the narcotics and his wounds were healing slowly. In his letter to sister written
on April 25, he wrote: “A bone splinter protruded from my lower wound. My
very capable medical orderly came immediately with a pair of tweezers,
and with much skill and force, he removed it… I passed out during this violent
procedure. The pains were horrific. But the lower wound is beginning to close.
Only the upper wound still festers very heavily.”
Back in the air
It was new Fokker D.VII what made flying for Berthold possible again. Its light
and precise controls enabled him to control the plane one-handed. Seven and
half months after the bullt crippled his right hand, on May 28, 1919, he led his
pilots to the combat again. Prior to the take-off he had a briefing, saying: We
are not here to carry out cavalier aerial combats at 500 metres. The infantry
is out there in the mud, waiting for us, and we have to help them.
Although it was a close air support flight, Berthold managed to score his 29th
victory, downing one SPAD. During next days and months, he was quite successful. On May 29 downed two more opponents, despite his synchronising gear
malfunctioned, causing the machine gun to hit the propeller, nearly destroying
it. He crash-landed but survived without injury. Berthold than added six more
kills during June, but still suffered severe pains. „My arm has worsened. Beneath the still open wound it is badly swollen and inflamed. I think the bone
fragments are forcing their way out, as the cyst that formed is quite hard. The
pains are just awful. Yesterday, during my aerial combat… I screamed loudly
Fokker D.VII made it possible for Berthold to fly again.
Side view from Eduard plastic model kit No. 2133 (marking A)
INFO Eduard - January 2021