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German Airmen - The Huts Cemetery

German Airmen. The Huts Cemetery. Ypres Salient. Battlefields Belgium. Flanders
Authors image. The Huts Cemetery.

Grave II.A.1 Ernst Hadrich. Observer. Feldflieger Abteilung 8. KIA 17.10.17 Grave II.A.1 Heinrich Horstmann, Pilot. Feldflieger Abteilung 8. KIA 17.10.17. They were shot down by British Ace Major Jimmy McCudden and were his seventeenth victory. McCudden wrote about the action in which he shot down Heinrich and Hadrich in his autobiography ‘Flying Fury’: ‘Very soon I got to my position, and fired a good burst from my Vickers, when the LVG at once burst into flames which issued from the centre section. While the Hun was turning to the left, I could see the unfortunate observer standing up in an attitude of abject dejection. As he turned, I saw the flame, which had burned the fabric off his rudder, had gone out, for apparently there was not much petrol in the centre section to burn for long. By now the Hun was gliding down towards the North, as he had no means of turning either way, I was interested in following him down until he landed in our lines, for we were now over Vlamertinghe. But another member of the patrol arrived and at once commenced shooting at the poor unfortunate Hun, who went in a dive and broke into pieces… I followed the wreckage down till the Hun crashed and then landed alongside… I went to take a look at the Hun, and I found two groups of Australian infantry. I pushed my way into the middle of the first group and found that the attraction was the observer, who had fallen from the machine at about 5,000 feet. He was a huge man named Ernst Hadrich… I went over to the other group of men and found the remains of the machine and the pilot.

Major James Thomas Byford McCudden, VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar, MM was a British flying ace and among the most highly decorated airmen in British military history. McCudden joined the Royal Engineers in 1910. Having an interest in mechanics he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in 1913 at which time he first came into regular contact with aircraft. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he flew as an observer before training as a fighter pilot in 1916.

Major Jimmy McCudden. The Huts Cemetery. Ypres Salient. Battlefields Belgium. Flanders
Major Jimmy McCudden RFC

McCudden claimed his first victory in September 1916 flying the Airco DH.2. He claimed his fifth victory - making him an ace - on 15 February 1917. For the next six months he served as an instructor and flew defensive patrols over London. He returned to the frontline in summer 1917 flying the S.E.5a. That same year he dispatched a further 31 enemy aircraft while claiming multiple victories in one day on 11 occasions. With his six British medals and one French, McCudden received more awards for gallantry than any other airman of British nationality serving in the First World War. He was also one of the longest serving. By 1918, in part due to a campaign by the Daily Mail newspaper, McCudden became one of the most famous airmen in the British Isles.

At the time of his death, he had achieved 57 aerial victories, placing him seventh on the list of the war's most successful aces. Just under two-thirds of his victims can be identified by name. This is possible since, unlike other Allied aces, a substantial proportion of McCudden's claims were made over Allied-held territory. The majority of his successes were achieved with 56 Squadron RFC and all but five were shot down while McCudden was flying the S.E.5a. On 9 July 1918, McCudden was killed in a flying accident when his aircraft crashed on take-off due to engine failure. His rank at the time of his death was Major, a significant achievement for a man who had begun his career in the RFC as an air mechanic. McCudden is buried at the British war cemetery at Beauvoir-Wavans.

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