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German Airman - Bedford House Cemetery

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

Grave Encl. No.2 I.F.33 Leutnant de Reserve Walter Rode, Pilot, Flieger Abteilung 3. KIA 20 August 1917. He was flying a Rumpler reconnaissance aircraft. His observer Vizefeldwebel Wilhelm donner is buried in Frasnoy German Cemetery, east of Valenciennes, some seventy kilometres from the crash site at Brielen. They were shot down by Captain Gordon Taylor of 66 Squadron flying in a Sopwith Pup.

He was passing over Ypres at 17,000 feet heading for Roulers when he noticed the glint of the sun on tiny specks to the west: ‘I could see their intentions. They had finished their job and were flying north before turning back on a different and probably quieter track over the north Belgian area …. I turned the flight … we were at 19,000 feet now, well above the Rumpler’s level. I think the Huns saw us then and, realising that we had closed in behind them, decided to turn for the lines and try to run through us on their speed. It was their only chance … One was well ahead of the other, and slightly higher, about a thousand feet below our level …. I was shaking with excitement… I turned and came in for the first Rumpler. Tracers came smoking close by my machine and as I opened fire, I could see the rear gunner crouching and firing at me while the Rumpler held a steady course. They had guts. The black crossed aircraft rushed in towards me and swept through below.’ He brought his aircraft round for the second attack but the German aircraft had escaped to the east pursued by others in his flight. He now saw the second Rumpler five hundred feet below him and as the aircraft went underneath him, he put his aircraft into a dive and came up almost vertically below the Rumpler: ‘As his blue-grey belly came forward to the sights I followed through with the Vickers pumping out its rounds till my little fighter stalled and fell away I let her fall till she had speed for flight again; then eased her gently out of he dive. High above, against the clear blue sky, my Hun was still flying, quite straight and level: but a red glow like the end of a cigarette shone out of his fuselage. I watched, fascinated, not yet believing he was on fire. Then black smoke came, trailing like some funereal streamer from the stricken aircraft …. From my wild triumph at this successful end to a long chase, a dull sense of horror came over me. There was something awful about this doomed aeroplane. Then a black object detached itself from the blazing Rumpler a grotesque thing with loose and waiving ends. The rear gunner had jumped from death by fire … The Rumpler, now just a stream of stinking black smoke, slowly put its nose down into a last dive. I watched it go … pieces came off in flame and smoke and finally it hit the ground with a great explosion.’ He went to the crash site near Brielen the wreckage was unidentifiable and a few soldiers were standing around. One asked him: ‘Want to see the bloke? He’s under the sack’ He recounted that the ‘thing’ under the sack had been a German pilot.

WW1 - The Ypres Salient Battlefields, Belgium
Rumpler C.IV Reconnaissance Aircraft

Rumpler Reconnaissance Aircraft

The Rumpler C.IV was a German single-engine, two-seat reconnaissance biplane. It was a development of C.III with different tail surfaces and using a Mercedes D.IVa engine in place of the C.III's Benz Bz.IV. The Rumpler 6B 2 was a single-seat floatplane fighter variant with a 120 kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III engine built for the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy). For a two-seater reconnaissance aircraft, Rumpler C.IV had an excellent performance, which enabled it to remain in front-line service until the end of World War I on the Western Front, as well as in Italy and Palestine. Its exceptional ceiling allowed pilots to undertake reconnaissance secure in the knowledge that few allied aircraft could reach it. 300 aircraft were licence-built by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke as the Pfalz C.I, differing in ailerons on all four wings. From February 1917 they were renamed Rumpler C.IV (Pfal).

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