23/9/1917 German fighter ace Werner Voss shot down over Ypres #1917Live

Against doctor’s orders, Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, came back to active service in late July after being wounded earlier that month. Since then he has managed to shoot down several enemy aeroplanes but is still suffering the after effects of his head injury. He is currently once more on sick leave but hopes to be back in action soon.

Richthofen is not Germany’s only star pilot. Another flier who has made a name for himself is Werner Voss, a subordinate commander of the Red Baron’s Flying Circus. Voss is now flying the new Fokker Triplane, a highly manoeuvrable and fast climbing aircraft. He has shot down some 47 enemy aircraft since his first kill in November 1916.

Voss’s squadron has been deployed to Flanders, where it is contesting Allied control of the skies above Ypres. Voss returned from leave yesterday and this morning he returns to the skies and shoots down a British bomber. On returning to his base he celebrates by looping the loop. Nevertheless his colleagues note that he appears unusually tense, with one reporting “He had the nervous instability of a cat”.

In the evening Voss and his comrades set off again. This time they find themselves caught in a battle royale with a large number of enemy aircraft. In the confused dogfight that develops, Voss finds himself being targeted by six British aircraft, all flown by ace fighter pilots. Accounts vary but he appears not to try to evade his pursuers, instead taking every opportunity to turn the tables on his opponents. He scores hits on most of the British aeroplanes but does not bring any down.

The uneven battle can have only one end. British bullets strike Voss and his aeroplane smashes into the ground on the British side of the line. That evening the British pilots drink a toast to the brave flier they have killed. Voss was 20 years of age.

See also: “Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 14: Lieutenant Werner Voss” by Eugene Frandzen

image sources:

Werner Voss (Wikipedia)

Werner Voss’s Fokker Triplane (Aerodrome: Roden 1:72 model kit cover) The model kit is for sale, priced €7.99

21/9/1917 The Seeadler’s captain captured #1917Live

The Seeadler, a German raiding ship, has preyed on Allied shipping in the Atlantic and Pacific before being accidentally wrecked on the island of Mopelia in the Society Islands. Felix von Luckner, the Seeadler‘s captain is however determined to continue his war. He leaves Mopelia with five of his men in an open boat, hoping to capture a ship that he can use to continue his raiding.

Pretending to be Norwegians crossing the Pacific for a bet, Luckner is able to obtain supplies from the New Zealand authorities on the island of Atiu. He travels on to the Fijian island of Wakaya (a journey of some 3,700 kilometres in an open boat) but here his luck runs out as the local police see through his Norwegian-sailor ruse. Luckner and his men are arrested and sent off to New Zealand as prisoners-of-war.

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1919 image of Felix von Luckner (Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log: Marauders of the Sea, German Armed Merchant Raiders During World War I)

Mopelia (Maupiha’a), Fiji and New Zealand (Badass of the Week: Felix von Luckner)

20/9/1917 3rd Ypres: a limited assault on the Menin Road #1917Live

Fighting at Ypres continues in fits and starts. The weather has improved somewhat, making it easier for the British. Plumer, the new local commander, is staging a series of limited offensives, though Haig continues to dream of a breakthrough. Today the British attack on a wide front straddling the Menin Road from Ypres. Artillery blasts German front line positions, with the guns then being retargetted to hit enemy forces staging counterattacks.

Plumer’s men make modest gains, advancing on average less than a kilometre. But this is deliberate, with the attack intended to seize and hold territory and then force the Germans to fight at a disadvantage. Now after the initial gains both sides attempt to reorganise their defences and take the best possible positions.

image sources:

British troops resting in a trench (Wikipedia)

Wounded Australian troops (Wikipedia)

19/9/1917 As Eleventh Isonzo draws to a close, Austria plans to strike back #1917Live

After initial gains the eleventh Italian assault on the Isonzo has turned into another slogging match. The Austro-Hungarian decision to retreat to the eastern edge of the Bainsizza plateau has paid off: the Italian advance has been contained. After a series of massed attacks fail to break through Italy’s Cadorna orders his men to halt and assume a defensive posture. The battle is now over.

Italian losses have been great: they have taken some 166,000 casualties, with 25,000 losses in a series of fruitless attempts to take the mountain of San Gabriele. Two thirds of the units involved in the battle are now at half strength or less. Cadorna trumpets the battle as a victory on the basis of the early gains achieved, but a few more victories like this will break the Italian army.

The situation on the other side of the hill is not so good either. At 140,000, Austro-Hungarian casualties are also very high. Their army on the Isonzo is smaller than the Italians so the proportionate losses are greater.

Boroevic, the Austro-Hungarian commander, Boroevic fears that the next Italian offensive will cause the collapse of his line. However Emperor Karl has promised him that the next battle will be a counter-offensive against the Italians. Now he prepares to approach the Germans, to ask them to supply more troops for the Eastern Front that will allow him to send more Austro-Hungarians from there to the Isonzo.

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Italian position on the Carso (Storia e Memoria di Bologna: 11 Battaglia dell’Isonzo (History and Memory of Bologna: 11th Battle of the Isonzo))

18/9/1917 Carzano: an Italian attempt to utilise Austro-Hungarian turncoats #1917Live

The Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo is beginning to wind down, with the Italians having made some gains but at a terrible cost in lost men. Other sectors of the front are relatively quiet but tonight in the Trentino sector the Italians launch a surprise attack on the town of Carzano. Italian troops here have made contact with the troops opposite, who include Serbs and Czechs hostile to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The rebels have arranged to let Italian troops advance through their positions to Carzano, to be followed by the main body of Italian troops who will exploit this hole in the enemy lines.

Unfortunately the more senior Italian commanders in the sector are half-hearted in their support for the attack, suspicious that some kind of trap is being laid for them. The first wave of Italian troops move through the enemy lines to Carzano but the followup troops advance far too slowly. Eventually the Austro-Hungarians realise that something is up. The Italian commander orders a withdrawal, abandoning the troops who have made it to Carzano itself. Italian artillery shells them as they surrender.

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Fighting in Carzano (Wikipedia: Sogno di Carzano)

August 1917

Muddy horror at Ypres. Crisis for Austria-Hungary on the Isonzo. Kornilovmania in Russia. France attacks at Verdun. A bad month for U-boats.

2/8/1917 German sailors mutiny in Wilhelmshaven

2/8/1917 Disaster strikes the Seeadler

3/8/1917 Kerensky shuts down the Finnish parliament but loses Czernowitz to Austria

3/8/1917 The Green Corn Rebellion: Oklahoma rises up against the war

10/8/1917 Third Ypres: mud and the Germans block British progress

14/8/1917 New enemies for Germany as Siam and China join the Allies

15/8/1917 As Italy prepares for another offensive the Pope calls for peace

16/8/1917 The Bolsheviks adopt an ominous new slogan

16/8/1917 Hindenburg & Ludendorff sack the head of Germany’s Supreme War Office

16/8/1917 Third Ypres: more failed attacks

18/8/1917 Third Ypres: mud

19/8/1917 11th Isonzo: Italy smashes Austria-Hungary

20/8/1917 Return to Verdun: France recaptures the Mort Homme

21/8/1917 Anti-war riots in Turin while crowds in Milan demand a Cadorna dictatorship

22/8/1917 Crisis on the Isonzo

22/8/1917 Ypres: tanks v. mud, the Siege of Fray Bentos

24/8/1917 11th Isonzo: Austria-Hungary retreats

25/8/1917 Ypres: the siege of Fray Bentos reaches its conclusion

26/8/1917 French gains at Verdun

27/8/1917 Kornilovmania eclipses Kerensky

28/8/1917 11th Isonzo: the Italian advance contained

29/8/1917 Canada moves towards conscription

31/8/1917 U-boats v. Dazzle Ships

image source (Wikipedia)

see also:

Monthly Archive 1917

July 1917

@ww1liveblog (Twitter)

World War 1 Live Blog (Facebook)

14/9/1917 The Petrograd Soviet swings behind the Bolsheviks #1917Live

Kornilov‘s coup against Kerensky‘s government has failed. Alexeev, Kerensky’s new army commander, takes over at the Mogilev headquarters. Kornilov is placed under arrest, albeit in very agreeable circumstances. Krimov, who had led his march on Petrograd, is less fortunate. After a fraught meeting with Kerensky, in which he accuses the prime minister of having betrayed Kornilov, Krimov shoots himself, believing Russia to be doomed.

Kerensky attempts to reassert his authority. In place of his recently dissolved cabinet, he forms a five man Directory headed (naturally) by himself. He declares Russia a socialist republic, formally ending he monarchy that everyone had forgotten about. He orders all militias to disarm. But the workers militias that formed in Petrograd to oppose Kornilov keep their weapons.

Russia is still in a chaotic state, gripped by agrarian and industrial unrest. And the Kornilov affair has weakened Kerensky. Conservatives hate him for failing to support the general. Others suspect him of intriguing with Kornilov before their rupture. With Kerensky’s support ebbing away leftwing groups like the Bolsheviks find themselves in the ascendant. Now the Petrograd Soviet for the first time has a Bolshevik majority. Today it agrees to a motion, proposed by the Bolshevik Kamenev, calling for the establishment of a Soviet government.

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A meeting of the Petrograd Soviet (Awful Avalanche: Biography of Bolshevik Leader Lev Kamenev)