Pilot of a Big Fighter
Event ID: 671
16 March 1916
Source ID: 57
The month of March brought release. He was appointed to Fighter Squadron No. 2 as a pilot. This was the second squadron of the Carrier Pigeons; its headquarters were at Metz, but it lived in a special train, complete with sleeping- and dining-cars for the officers and men. The quarters were somewhat narrow, but their inmates had a chance to make themselves comfortable because they were never parted from their belongings. There were, however, a number of dogs, pets of various pilots and observers, which roamed about the train on the chance of being able to nose their way into a sleeping-compartment and gnaw the owner’s boots. On joining Richthofen was warned that he left his footgear about at his own risk.
When he joined this squadron, he found the train more or less permanently anchored on a siding somewhere between Landres and Marville, in the Verdun area, so that he was quite close to his old friends, the Ostende Pigeons. His new messmates had done their best to make themselves at home in a desolate locality. They cleanded up an old, deserted public-house and turned it into a jolly mess, to which they transported the piano they always carried about with them.
But the best thing about this squadron was the fact that it was commanded by Wilhelm, the elder brother of the famous Oswald Boelcke. Oswald himself had returned to the neighbourhood after a spell of fighting at Douai, so that there was every chance of renewing acquaintance with him.
Richthofen felt pleased with life. Although flying a Big Fighter, he regarded himself as one stage farther on the way to his goal – the Fokker on which he had set his heart. He resolved to anticpate the final promotion. He wanted to fight as well as fly, and thought the combination could even be managed by the pilot of a Big Fighter.