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Ernst Udet joins MvR

Event ID: 522

15 March 1918

50.1042, 3.5445
Le Cateau

Source ID: 29

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

One of the many squadrons that were ordered to support the great offensive was Lieutenant Ernst Udet’s Jasta 37. On March 15, Udet was told to move his group to Le Cateau and support General von der Marwitz’s twenty-one divisions. When Jasta 37 got there, a few days later, Udet began helping his men erect tents beside a road while a heavy drizzle came down. ‘I had pulled on a leather jacket, and was helping my mechanics to drive tent pegs when a motor car drove along the road’, Udet wrote in his memoirs. ‘So many cars passed us that we took no notice of it We continued our work, silently and doggedly.’

‘The I felt a tap on the shoulder, and turning around I saw Richthofen. Rain trickled from the peak of his cap and ran down his face. “How do you do, Udet”, he said, negligently acknowledging my salute. “Nice weather we’re having today.” ‘I looked at him and noted the calm expression and the big, cold eyes, half shaded by heavy lids. He was the man who at that time had brought down no fewer than sixty-seven machines – our best fighter. His car was waiting on the side of the road, and he had climbed down the embankment in the rain to speak to me. I waited. “How many have you shot down to date, Udet?”, he asked.” “Nineteen recognized, one waiting for confirmation”, I replied. He raked the mud with one point of his walking stick. “Hmmm, twenty”, he commented. Then he raised his eyes and scrutinized me for a while. “That about qualifies you to join us. Would you care to?”. Would I care to? It was the most attractive suggestion anyone had ever made me. If it rested with me, I would have packed up and followed him then and there. There were many good squadrons in the German Army, and Jasta 37 was by no means the worst of them. But there was only one Richthofen squadron.

“Yes Sir, Captain”, I said.

We shook hands and he left. I watched him – a tall, slender, fragile-looking man – as he climbed the embankment. He then jumped into the car and disappeared in the rain.’

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