Monday, January 14, 2019

Gotcha! Göttsch

So.....There I was*, over at one of my favorite wasting daylight blogs, Daily Timewaster..  

(Relax, muy viejo sargento de la Fuerza Aérea, I waste lots of daylight on this blog daily also. Voluntarily and enjoyably, of course.)

A couple of days ago, he had posted this picture.
 
Source
As usual, it caught my eye and I scoured it for details. Not many. Offizier-Stellvertreter Göttsch, which I correctly took to be the man's name and rank.  The stuff in the lower left was harder to discern.  The number 518 and some indecipherable German then the word "Sanke".

A little help, and a nice deposit of more information about my interests, from Google and Voila'

No, not this!

Source
 This.

The photograph appears on a series of postcards from a gentleman named Willi Sanke.  The 600-700 postcards in the series were all of World War I Aviators.  While the source says WWI Aviators, since he was based in Germany, I'm assuming the majority, if not all, were of WWI German Aviators.

Evidently, much like Baseball cards in the US were when Sarge was young (and dinosaurs roamed), Sanke cards are very collectable, rare and therefore, valuable.

Armed with the pilot's last name and his Sanke card number 518, his identity was relatively simple to find.  He is Officer-Deputy Walter Göttsch in the picture. He would eventually rise to Leutnant Walter Göttsch.


Source
Researching his story was interesting, even if there aren't a lot of details available. (Persistence pays though, I found a gem on Google page 8, more to follow.)

He was born in Altour Germany in June of 1896, joined the German Army in July 1915.  He was later trained as a Fighter Pilor and assigned to Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 8 in September 1916. 



Source
He scored his first victory (against a Belgian Balloon...No, we're not going there) in November. By February of 1917, Göttsch had scored 6 victories (only the first was a balloon....No, we're still not going there.)

Unfortunately, at that point, the odds caught up with him and he was shot down and injured.  He recovered from those injuries and returned to duty in April.  Between April 6 and May 5, he shot down another 6 Aircraft before again being shot down and injured.  Returning to duty in July, he shot down 5 more aircraft before being shot down and injured for the third time. 


While recovering, he was given command of Jasta 19, a squadron that had a somewhat lackluster record, thought to be because of poor leadership.  Göttsch took over in February 1919 (oops) 1918, and started bringing the squadron out of its funk.
Göttsch's airplane is in the middle (the one with the, at the time, a symbol of good luck on it)                         Source

Between the time he took over and 10 April,  he shot down an additional 3 aircraft bringing his total kills to 20.  Unfortunately, when he shot down his last aircraft, an RE-8, its observer managed to shoot him down also.  Göttch died in the crash.

German policy at the time was 20 kills qualified you for the Pour le Mérite, AKA the Blue Max.  Unfortunately, because he was killed along with his 20th victory, it was never awarded.
RE-8 Source

Wow....just Wow!

20 kills and 4 crashes.  My well known credo was certainly applicable, "I'd rather be lucky than good".  Although in this case, I think he was good in the first column and lucky in the second column (well...3 out of 4 anyhow).

Rest in Peace, Warrior!

Oh, that gem I found on Page 8?  Actual footage of Richtofen.






Goring is in the film at about 3:30.  Göttsch is on the right side of the group at the 2:32 point.




*SJC

Primary Source for Facts and Figures in this post: The Aerodrome

76 comments:

  1. I bow down the the master of Google-foo! I was only able to get as far as finding the postcard for sale, and was also stumped as to whether Offizier Stellvertreter was a deputy lieutenant or a senior NCO. Didn't help that the sites I was finding were in German. Thanks!

    /
    L.J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, LJ. Forgot to hit the publish button on my reply earlier. See Sarge's explanation of the rank below. As for the German sites, Google's translate this page (on the search results page) does a passable job in translation. It also helps if you've got a little information already. Makes the rearranging of the literal translation into readable format a bit easier. IMHO.

      Delete
  2. Shazam.......talk about running down the rabbit hole.....your Google-foo is most stronk juvat. Another warrior who did his duty and gave all for his country. Another website to peruse, hmmmmmm........good thing I'm retired.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I did request and receive spousal leave from the kitchen drawer project she's got me working to work on this. Back on it this morning. It's a relaxing, yet satisfying process. I think I could get used to this retirement thing.

      Delete
  3. Wow, so much good historical stuff in this post juvat.

    As to the rank of Offizier-Stellvertreter, one source indicates that this was either a high NCO rank, a warrant officer rank, or an officer cadet rank. Yeah, I know, pick one. The grade was common to both the Austrian and German armies in Worl War I. The Austrian grade was intended to cover the losses in junior officers by selecting deserving NCOs to eventually become officers (so I understand). In the German military it was my understanding that due to concern with the officer corps being dominated by the Junker class (think Prussian land owners) the grade was created so NCOs/middle class types could become officers. Interesting. To my knowledge that rank didn't exist in WWII.

    Herr Göttsch didn't seem very lucky to me, other than surviving being shot down a few times before it killed him.

    An excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well...surviving being shot down is almost the very definition of luck in a flying career. No skill involved at that point. Your chute works (nowadays), or it doesn't. You're rescued or you're not.

      I kinda figured the rank was something along those lines, but ran out of time before I had a chance to look. Thanks

      Delete
    2. Okay, surviving being shot down in WWI did involve quite a bit of luck (no 'chutes until later in the war). Aircraft not on fire, control surfaces still somewhat functional, controls still intact, yes, a lot of luck with quite a bit of flying skill. as well.

      But four times? Seems to be tempting the Fates doesn't it?

      Delete
    3. Every time I proofread the post, I saw the work SNAKE where it was clearly Sanke. I guess it's just my love of those slithery things or something. Probably affected my ability to find other errors. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

      Delete
    4. "Probably affected my ability to find other errors." It is a good thing that there is no one looking over your shoulder and saying Tsk, tsk.

      Paul

      Delete
    5. Ah! But there is!

      (Sleep in today, Paul?)

      Delete
    6. There's ALWAYS one more bandit in the fight than you think. :-)

      Delete
    7. A juvat rule to live by, right up there with "Speed is Life."

      Delete
    8. "Ah! But there is!"

      Certainly you are not referring to me. I didn't point out a single error.

      Paul

      Delete
    9. "(Sleep in today, Paul?)"

      As a matter of fact, I did. Went to sleep somewhat after 2300 hrs. ( heard the six bells for hour ) and woke up about 0800 hrs. Was out of bed by 0845 hrs. Not counting the potty break and turning on the heat ( the house was down to 61 degrees ).

      Paul

      Delete
  4. Good morning, this is one of the most interesting posts I have read and watched in quite some time. Thanks so much. I recall in primary 62-F (1962) there was a whole bunch (flight) 6 or 8 German fellows learning to avoid the edge of the air with us in the mighty Tweet. They were led quite strictly by an NCO of some certain maturity. He allowed no funny business nor conversation with us. On Friday afternoons through Sundays, though, they were pretty friendly and they loved the concept of the Wagon Wheel, Coors beer and the blonde girls of Big Springs Texas. Their leader's name was Horst. They were a lot different from us USAFers, but strangely the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a German F-4 squadron at Holloman when I was going through as a student. Didn't get to associate with them very much, but they were very much a part of the base community. I think we had better beer at the club then also. They had moved by the time I got back as an IP, so never got to fly against them. The beer had reverted back to O'Club standard by then also.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Göttsch commanded Jasta 19 from 14 February 1918 – 10 April 1918. He was KIA on 10 April. So yeah, bit of a typo on the date. I did it last week, I guess this week it's Juvat's turn.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Fixed. Too many numbers in that sentence to keep straight.

      Delete
    3. Great post. Really liked the research in depth and the film. This was the era I cut my reading teeth on back as a wee boy in Carlisle and the pilots of both World Wars were pretty awesome if perhaps over-daring. Now that I think about it that is probably what probably kept me reading. It would be nice if one could get a lot closer to the planes in the museums but I know very well why one cannot.....except Evergreen of course where put you right inside the plane more often than not, those on the ground at any rate.

      Delete
    4. Visit Pungo (Virginia Beach), most of their air museum's aircrft are flyable and they have a number of WWI replica aircraft (several DR1s and DVIIs, an SE-5A, and some other 3/4 size replicas) and you can touch them! (My profile photo shows me at Pungo, clinging to a Fokker DR1.)

      Delete
    5. Dang, East Coast, West Coast, which way do I go? There was a nice museum in Galveston, but the Hurricane put it out of business. Had a very nice Spitfire as well as a B-58. Hope they made it out ok.

      Delete
    6. A flyable one? That might make me steer eastward.

      Delete
    7. Flyable indeed! I presume they still have it. Their website is on the sidebar, down near rhe bottom.

      Delete
    8. Well then....Pungo is on the list of must see places.

      Delete
  6. At the kinetic point of the spear you have to be BOTH good and lucky. Goring survived the war. I have to think that it might have been better if he had not been so lucky. History would have painted him as a great pilot and as a hero of Germany rather than a monster and a Nazi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, both is better.

      Regarding Goring, on a personal level, you are probably right, he would have been better off. From the Allied point of view, his buffoonery probably made the Nazi defeat a little easier. That would be a fine and fun discussion (if served with good German Beer).

      Delete
    2. And sausage. Don't forget the sausage.

      Delete
    3. "...good German Beer..."

      Isn't that a redundancy?

      Paul

      Delete
    4. I know a small town in Texas that's well known for both its German Beer AND German Sausage. It also has a Smithsonian quality Museum that is of interest to historically, as well as nautically, oriented visitors.

      Just sayin'

      Delete
    5. Paul,
      Generally, yes. But...Not always.

      Delete
    6. Goring, a good aviator by all accounts in his youth, and a courageous warrior, lent his Blue Max, his reputation with von Richthofen's Flying Circus and so forth to the credibility of Hitler, the Brownshirts (while they lasted), and the National Socialist Movement overall. He sang the Horst Wessel Leid in the bars and marched next to Hitler, growing ever fatter on free beer and sausage (which are never low cal). Goring, a dunce when it came to strategy, was one of those loyal dupes who followed in Hitler's wake. Had he augered into the ground in flames at the Somme, maybe the Nazis wouldn't have gained the traction that they did with the German people. Of course, it's all hypothetical (can God make a rock so big he can't move it?).

      Delete
    7. LL,
      Hypothetically would be why we'd need the beer.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Unless you were looking over your shoulder at him, that is.

      Delete
  8. Another gem of a post by juvat. I think that there is just something about those ( mostly ) young men going into the thin air in those flying machines. Many people at the time thought that they ( the flyers ) were crazy to venture up in such crates; and many people of this time think that as well. Of course, 100 years from now, people will likely think that people of our time were crazy for flying in the aircraft of this time.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking teleportation. Beam me up, Scotty!

      Delete
    2. Teleportation is great ( unless your signal gets tangled up with another and you come out part you and part someone else ), but according to Star Dreck, it only works between two established stations. For venturing into the unknown, it wouldn't work. Plus, think of all the reading or work time you are loosing what with no time between leaving one place and arriving at another.

      Paul

      Delete
    3. Good points. I guess traveling has always and always will....suck.

      Delete
    4. You put me in mind of two things. The ones I thought were really crazy were the brothers that set an air endurance record in the air flying their little plane for something like 30 days back in the 30's.
      The beam me up, beam me down repeated over and over again in "Road to Omaha" by Robert Ludlum. It was the follow-on book to "Road to Gandolfo" and I thought they both hilarious.

      Delete
    5. Always looking for a good book. Might have to look into those. I read some Ludlum quite a while ago.

      Delete
    6. Juvat, try those two. They are nothing at all like Ludlum's other 200 books where all he does is change the names. These are truly funny.

      Delete
  9. Old AFSarge:

    I just noticed something:

    ► 2018 (381)
    ► 2017 (385)
    ► 2016 (398)
    ► 2015 (405)
    ► 2014 (432)
    ► 2013 (596)
    ► 2012 (162)
    In 2013, there were 596 posts ( if those numbers are showing posts ) and in 2018 there were only 381. From the high of 2013, there has been a steady decline in posts. WUWT?

    Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no ready explanation for the declining number of posts. I'd like to think the quality has improved over the years. The goal is 365 posts (366 for Leap Years), that is, one a day.

      And yes, those numbers are posts. Some of them are pretty small, like just a video and one or two lines of text. After a while one tends to run out of things to write about.

      Delete
    2. In cooking, it's called a reduction. It makes it sweeter and more tasty. The thoughts come together in a more informative mode.

      Delete
    3. Dave wins the Internet today, everyone else can go home now.

      😊

      Delete
    4. Thanks OAFS, I downloaded it to my Seagate drive and put it in the closet of "my room". Please don't tell Jeanie, she thinks I worry about it too much as it is.

      Delete
  10. Better quality posts nowadays, Paul. Back in 2012, they're weren't a lot of posts with a lot of good info in their. There content needed overseeeing....or something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're taunting him, aren't you?

      Heh.

      Delete
    2. That's ok, I'm sure juvat is just having a bad hair day.

      Paul

      Delete
    3. When you're as hirsute as I, there's no such thing as a bad hair day.

      Delete
    4. "When you're as hirsute as I..."

      Gee, juvat, I didn't mean to make you feel so badly that you would wear a hair suit.

      Paul

      Delete
  11. (I had a typo) Better to be lucky than good? A better phrase for this situation is "Quit while you're ahead" His good luck ran out a long time before he realized it, which was probably during that final shoot-down. You fighter guys- lots of bravado, and not enough sense! haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect you may be right, Tuna. Sees the target start lurching out of control, maybe on fire and it starts descending. Rather than move his aircraft, reposition, check six, and or leave, he stays in virtually the same position to watch and confirm its destruction. Thus he's in a stable, predictable, position where the observer can take a well aimed shot at him.
      That mistake was beaten out of me very early in my career. Verbally of course but with video evidence to back up how big that mistake is. Watching the video of a pipper on the canopy of your aircraft frame by frame for 5 seconds total time, or 500 rounds, can take some of the cockiness out of a young fighter pilot.

      Delete
    2. "...can take some of the cockiness out of a young fighter pilot."

      Some, but not all, I'll wager, after all--fighter pilots.

      Paul

      Delete
    3. No, Paul, not all...Fighter Pilots gotta be fighter pilots.

      Delete
  12. Well, he was apparently pretty 'stubborn' too. To keep going back to the well that many times was amazing. I guess he'd never heard of the golden BB, much to his regret at the last.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Well, he was apparently pretty 'stubborn' too. To keep going back to the well that many times was amazing."

      Perhaps, in his army, the alternative to climbing back into that crate ( aircraft ) was a tour of the trenches. If that were the case, I would have likely made the same choice.

      Paul

      Delete
    2. I was thinking along those lines also, Paul. The war wasn't going well for any of the original participants. Letting someone go home early would be difficult to explain to the guys in the trenches. "Alright Lads, up and at the Huns...Oh by the way, Johnnie, I heard your brother got to go home yesterday. Well best of luck to you now."

      Delete
  13. If the goal had been a minimum of one post a day, which is 365/year or 366, depending on the year...so the evidence shows above target on every year except when you were probably still getting your sea-legs, so to speak. But every year since, you have been an over-achiever!! Nothing to sneeze at there sir, nothing at all. And, obviously, the reduction method is working as the blog has only continued to improve over time...

    As to juvet's intrepid German pilot, he obviously never heard the saying "Three strikes and you're out!" Still interesting to read about tho'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suz:

      I don't think many Germans of that era were aware of American baseball. So you are right.

      Paul

      Delete
    2. Though quite a few learned starting around 1942.

      Delete
    3. What, when they got to vacation in the States?

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)