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Langemarck German Cemetery

Buried here are two of the German Air Service’s Pour le Merite holders

Langemark German Cemetery. Leutnant Erwin Bohme. Ypres Salient. Flanders
Langemarck German Cemetery. Leutnant Erwin Bohme

Leutnant Erwin Bohme was born in Holzminden on 28 July 1879. Both studious and athletic, he became a champion swimmer, proficient ice skater, and expert skier, as well as an alpinist. After serving his mandated military service in 1899, and earning a civil engineering degree, he moved to Switzerland for three years of mountaineering.

He became interested in Africa. Walking solo, he crossed the Alps southward to Italy; there he took ship for German East Africa. From 1908 to 1914, Böhme completed a six-year employment contract on a timber plantation in Tanganyika where he oversaw construction of the Usambara Railway to export raw cedar timber to the Hubertus Mill in Germany. In July 1914, contract ended, Böhme sailed to Europe for an alpine holiday. He disembarked into World War I. Despite being 35 years old, he immediately returned to his old infantry unit, then trained as a pilot.

After serving in a bomber unit, he was transferred to Germany's first fighter squadron Jagdstaffel 2. During Böhme's combat career, he was a friend and eventual subordinate to Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. He was also friend, subordinate, and wingman to Germany's leading ace of the time, Oswald Boelcke. Böhme was inadvertently responsible for Boelcke's death on 28 October 1916. Although haunted by guilt, Böhme carried on, becoming a 24-victory ace (and a squadron leader). He also found heart for courtship via correspondence.

Erwin Böhme was killed in action on 29 November 1917, a month after his betrothal, while leading his squadron into combat. He died five days after receiving notice that he had won the German Empire's highest award for valour, the Pour le Merite. In 1930, his edited collected letters were published as Letters From a German Fighter Pilot to a Young Maiden.

Langemarck German Cemetery. Werner Voss. Ypres Salient. Flanders
Langemarck German Cemetery. Leutnant Werner Voss

Leutnant Werner Voss - German flying ace credited with 48 aerial victories. A dyer's son from Krefeld, he began his military career in November 1914 as a 17‑year‑old Hussar. After turning to aviation, he proved to be a natural pilot. After flight school and six months in a bomber unit, he joined a newly formed fighter squadron, Jagdstaffel 2 on 21 November 1916. There he befriended Manfred von Richthofen.

By 6 April 1917, Voss had scored 24 victories and awarded Germany's highest award, the Pour le Mérite. A month's leave removed Voss from the battlefield during Bloody April. Soon after Voss returned from leave, he was at odds with his squadron commander. He was detailed from his squadron to evaluate new fighter aircraft and became enthusiastic about the Fokker Triplane. After transferring through three temporary squadron commands in two months, Voss was given command of Jagdstaffel 10 on 30 July 1917 at Richthofen's request. By now, his victory total was 34.

His last combat came on 23 September 1917, just hours after his 48th victory. Flying a silver-blue Fokker Dr.1, he singly fought James McCudden, Keith Muspratt, Harold A. Hamersley, Arthur Rhys-Davids, Robert L. Chidlaw-Roberts, Geoffrey Hilton Bowman, Reginald Hoidge, and Richard Maybery. After he fell in solo opposition to those eight British aces after a dazzling display of aerobatics and gunnery that put bullets in his every opponent, he was described by his preeminent foe, Victoria Cross winner James McCudden, as "the bravest German airman". The pilot who actually killed Voss, Arthur Rhys-Davids, wished he had brought him down alive.

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