Photo: Küstner via Greg VanWyngarden


In the background of this photo is a captured DH 4 bomber (A7703) of No. 55 Squadron, which was forced to land at Amannweiler on August 30th, 1918 after engine hits. Both crew

members, American 2/Lt. H. H. Doehler and 2/Lt. A. S. Papworth, were captured. Herbert Hermann Doehler, who was born to German parents in Brooklyn, escaped for three days

before he was captured. The bomber was apparently shot down by August Raben and after transfer to Jasta 18 base received unit´s red and white paint, including the white radiator.

Monnington is pictured posing with the unit's canine mascots. Standing behind him, from left, are Lt. Kandt, Lt. Müller, Staffelführer Raben, Lt. Baier and Lt. Heinz Küstner (2 v.).

Raben's unit handed over its Fokkers Dr. I to other parts of JG II, and

with the transfer of personnel ordered on March 19th, Staffel left the

Berthold´s Geschwader. Raben's Staffel retained the Albatros and

Pfalz fighters, and had the red and blue markings of the original Jasta 18 changed to red and white. On the fuselages of most of the unit's

aircraft was painted a raven (Raben in German), which was naturally

associated with the commander's name. However, Raben later flew

a Fokker Dr. I as a backup to his Fokker D.VII.

Kurt Monnington achieved his first victory on May 11th, 1918 when he

managed to shoot down SE 5 near Bailleul. Lt. R. H. Stacey suffered

injuries but managed to land on his own territory.

During the fight on June 3rd, near La Bassée he managed to force to

land a bomber DH 4, but the British crew apparently landed on their

own territory and for Monnington it did not count as an aerial victory.

Monnington recorded a second confirmed success in aerial combat

on June 5th, north of Violaines. He hit a Bristol Fighter from No. 22

Squadron piloted by Lt. John Everard Gurdon, his gunner Sgt. John

Hall sustaining injuries. The British crew claimed two aerial victories in the fight. Gurdon was credited with a total of 28 kills and was

awarded a DFC for another action in 1918.3)

Against the Independent Air Force

In mid-June 1918, Jasta 18 moved to the base Montingen (Montoy)

near Metz and its mission was to prevent raids on German production plants and transport infrastructure. It reinforced the six other

units already defending the area. Staffel operated at this airfield

until the end of the war. Due to the planned attacks on factories in

the area, the RAF organised a tactical long-range bomber group in

early June, known as the Independent Force, better known as the

Independent Air Force (IAF). It consisted of No. 55 Squadron with DH

4 aircraft, while No. 99 and 104 Squadron were equipped with DH 9



machines. British crews faced both heavy losses and trouble with

unreliable engines in the following weeks. A number of machines had

to abandon their formations well before the finish.

Jasta 18 first encountered IAF bombers on June 27th. It was not until

July 30th, 1918 that Monnington scored his first success against these

brave bomber crews, this being his third victory. He managed to shoot down DH 9 of No. 99 Squadron. The gunner, Lt. S. G. Burton, was

killed by the fire of a German airman, but pilot Lt. Martin managed to

land on Allied territory, albeit with a gunshot wound in his leg.

The next day Monnington took off against the same unit and No. 99

Squadron lost a total of seven bombers over German territory. A total

of four Jasta made the same number of claims, including one reported by Monnington. But, for reasons still unknown, none of these have

been officially confirmed.

Among the memorable events in the history of Jasta 18 was Monnington's fourth aerial victory, which he achieved on August 12th, 1918. In

an air battle with No. 104 Squadron he forced to land at Bühl aerodrome crew of 2/Lt. O. F. Meyer and Sgt. A. C. Wallace. The fight could

have ended tragically for the British as Monnington hit the fuel tank

of DH 9. However, Meyer promptly landed and both airmen were captured unharmed.

The very next day brought Monnington an unexpected success. Jasta 18 chased a superbly defending No. 104 Squadron formation. The

Germans failed to break the formation until the crews of DH 9 approached the front during return. While firing on the bomber of 2/Lieutenants Frank H. Beaufort and Bryant, Monnington observed the British machine disintegrate and collide with another aircraft in which

2/Lt. Leyden was flying with observer Sgt. Windridge. Both machines

crashed to the ground wedged into each other and all four airmen

were killed. According to British reports, the cause of the tragedy

was a flak explosion just below the Beaufort´s bomber. However, both

INFO Eduard - June 2021