Werner Voss

Werner Voss (German: Werner Voß; 13 April 1897 – 23 September 1917) was a World War I German flying ace credited with 48 aerial victories. A dyer's son from Krefeld, he was a patriotic young man while still in school. 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.

Werner Voss
Werner Voss, with the Pour le Mérite on his collar
Born(1897-04-13)13 April 1897
Crefeld, Prussia, German Empire
Died23 September 1917(1917-09-23) (aged 20)
near Poelcappelle, West Flanders, Belgium
Allegiance German Empire
Service/branchLuftstreitkräfte
Years of service1914–1917 
RankLeutnant
Unit11th Hussar Regiment;
Kampfstaffel 20;
Jagdstaffel 2;
Jagdstaffel 5;
Jagdstaffel 10;
Jagdstaffel 14;
Jagdstaffel 29
Awards

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; in his absence, Richthofen scored 13 victories. Nevertheless, Richthofen regarded Voss as his only possible rival as top scoring ace of the war.

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 stand 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. The dogfight remains a subject of debate and controversy among aviation historians and interested parties.


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