|Boelcke, Oswald (1891-1916)|
| Oswald Boelcke
was born 19-May-1891 in Giebichenstein near Halle/Saale, Germany. After
he graduated from high school he joined a Communication battalion in Koblenz/Rheine.
He transferred to the FLIEGERTRUPPE in May-1914. He recieved his pilot's
training at the school of the HALBERSTADT firm. He passed the third and
final pilot's exam on 15-Aug-1914. His posting to the front followed immediately.
Oswald was initially assigned with his brother Wilhelm to the FLIEGERABTEILUNG 13. Wilhem was five years older than Oswald and served as his observer. After quarrels with other flyers the brothers decided it would be best to be posted to different units. In Apr-1915 Boelcke came to the newly established FLIEGERABTEILUNG 62. This formation was sent to Douai, France. Here Boelcke would meet a new comrade, Max Immelman, whose later aerial expertise would earn him the title of ace and the nickname; "The Eagle of Lille".
Boelcke achieved his first aerial victory on 4-Jul-1915. On 28-Aug-1915 he saved the life of a young local French boy who had fallen into a canal near the aerodrome where Boelcke was stationed. The young officer, seeing the boy in trouble, dove into the water without hesitation and rescued him. The boy's parents recommended Boelcke for the French order of the "Legion d'Honneur". He received the German "life-saving-badge", which he later proudly wore together with his other medals. On 12-Jan-1916 both Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann were awarded the order "Pour le Merite (Blue Max)"; the highest award for bravery in Prussia. These two men were the first flyers to receive this honor. In Mar-1916 the FLIEGERSTAFFEL SIVERY was established. It was the predecessor of the JAGDSTAFFELN. Boelcke was made leader of a group of six pursuit-flyers. In this role, he had a good deal of contact with the German Crown prince WILHELM, who had his HQ in the near village of Stenay. A friendship developed between the two men. Following Immelmann's death, Boelcke was sent off to the Balkans. A short time later Boelcke was ordered back to the western front. The reorganization of the German LUFTSTREITKRAEFTE (German Air Force), which he had inspired, took place. He was given permission by FELDFLUGCHEF von der Lieth-Thomsen, to choose the pilots for his own JAGDSTAFFEL NR. 2. From the pilots of the KAMPFGESCHWADER NR. 2 (FIGHTER SQADRON 2, former B. A. O.), he chose three: Manfred von Richthofen, Erwin Boehme and Hans Reimann. At the beginning of Sep-1916 Boelcke began teaching his JASTA-comrades the theory and praxis of single-seater fighting. Success came soon and the Staffel-Leader was satisfied with his students, as they were with him. "Whatever Boelcke told us was taken as Gospel!" von Richtofen. "We had a great time at our JAGDSTAFFEL. The spirit of the leader was transferred to his students!" Boehme. On 28-Oct-1916 Oswald Boelcke was killed after he had been successful in 40 dogfights. In a dog-fight with No. 24 Sqn RFC his plane collided with that of his comrade; Boehme. Oswald Boelck was buried on the EHRENFRIEDHOF (cemetery of honor) in his home town Dessau. The grave is still there today. One of the wreaths, which were on the fresh grave, had the inscription: "To the memory of Captain Boelcke. Our brave and chivalrous opponent. From The British Royal Flying Corps".