in pain,” he wrote in his letter to sister. Yet he was flying, leading, organising,
but his spirit was gone. Old comrades were dying and he was not on the
same wave with the new ones. He scored his penultimate an ultimate victory on
August 10. These were one S.E.5a and one DH.9. After shooting down DH.9
as his 44th victim, he found the controls of his Fokker were destroyed by the
suppressive fire. His attempt to use a parachute to bail out failed because it
required the use of both hands and so he stayed in his Fokker, which crashed
into the house in Ablaincourt. It is interesting coincidence that just handful miles
away over the Chaulnes another famous German ace, Erich Loewenhardt collided with another pilot from Jasta 10 Alfred Wenzel. Loewenhardt managed
to bail out, but his parachute failed to open, and he died. Berthold stayed in
his plane, crashed, and survived. German infantrymen plucked him from the
rubble and rushed him to the hospital. His right arm was rebroken. Two days
later, on August 12, Berthold returned by his own will to the Jasta 15, where
he got rid of the new commander of Jasta 15 (Heinz Freiherr von Brederlow)
with words: “Here I am the boss." After that Berthold took to bed with intention
to command the JG II from there. The following day, he was moved back to the
hospital because he was feverish and writhing in pain. Kaiser Wilhelm II personally ordered the ace to hospital. Berthold returned to the clinic of Dr. Bier
and after that he took the advantage of staying at home. He was still thinking
about return to his Jagdgruppe, but during his convalescence the war ended.
The months and years after the Great War were difficult for the Germany.
Berthold stayed in army as officer of the newly formed Reichswehr. He was
tasked with commanding the Berlin airbase in Döberitz and he used his skills
to transform dilapidated facility into the impeccable military base. His effort
was hollow, as the base was closed shortly afterwards. After the Munich putsch,
where the „Reds“ tried to turn the Bavaria into the Soviet Republic, disillusioned Berthold decided to form combat unit within the Freikorps organisation
in April 1919. With the name Fränkische Bauerndetachement Eiserne Schar
Berthold (Franconian Farmer´s detachment Iron Troop Berthold) the unit went
into battle in Baltics with Bolshewiks and Lithuanian leftists. Berthold´s troops
returned at the end of 1919 to Germany. During the military putsch against
the Friedrich Ebert´s government, the leaders (Wolfgang Kapp and General
Walther von Lüttwitz) called Freikorps upon keeping the “order” in the streets.
The Chancellor reacted with the general strike announcement. The situation in
Hamburg was critical, so Berthold and his troops commandeered a train and
moved to join the coup. They arrived to the Harbourg city on March 14 and
used the Heimfelder Middle School as the base. Trade union leaders tried to
negotiate disarming the Freikorps, but with no success. Union workers were
then armed to face the Freikorps. Mayor of the city Heinrich Denicke offered
Freikorps free and safe passage if they would disarm. Berthold refused again
and past noon his men opened fire to clear a passage out of the school. The
workers shot back and in the ensuing firefight there were losses on both sides.
The Freikorps were running out of ammo in the late afternoon, so Berthold
started to negotiate safe passage for those of his men who would disarm, and
they finally did. But the crowd was surrounding the school in anger due to the
civilian casualties of the putch.
photo: Jörn Leckscheid collection
The „Ordenskissen“ (Orders Cushion) on display after Berthold´s death, framed
by a bunch of photos of him and several of his comrades.
Apart of many his colleagues Berthold preferred the Pfalz D.III
over Albatros D.III. His personal symbol, the winged sword
of vengeance was painted on blue fuselage with red nose.
The colours of 3rd Brandenberg Infantry Regiment.
Side view from Eduard plastic model kit No. 8047 (marking B)
INFO Eduard - January 2021