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Bölcke’s analysis of MvR’s first victory

Event ID: 513

18 September 1916

50.093384977697, 2.985756661265112
Near Bertincourt

Source ID: 29

The dramatic true story of the Red Baron, Wiliam E Burrows, 1972, Mayflower Books

Bölcke was not only the commander of Jasta 2, but also its mentor, so the battle was analyzed the next day, when the weather was too bad for patrols. He had stayed above the battle long enough to catch glimpses of what his men were doing, yet he had also found time to make his own kill, which, raked by bullets, crashed into an observation balloon while making a forced landing, and burst into flames. He explained to each of his cubs what they had done wrong and gave solutions. Richthofen described his fight to Bölcke, who listened silently and did not take his large contemplative eyes off the cub. An interrogation started. Did Richthofen carefully deliberate the circumstances before he went after the two-seater? Did he not, in fact, make a series of wild charges, instead of a controlled attack? Had he checked from time to time to see whether anyone was on his tail? Why had he made wide sweeps around his victim, thereby inviting an enemy to approach him unnoticed? Why, for that matter, had he stayed in the combat area so long, and, above all, why had he landed and wasted time and almost an airplane? Bölcke did not want to embarrass Richthofen in front of his fellows, so he praised the final attack, which, he said, seemed well judged. He decided to have a talk with Richthofen in private.

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