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