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Lt Walter Bertram Wood, 29 Sqn RFC, mystery fights

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#1 Pete Wood

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Posted 24 September 2004 - 10:14 am

My Great Uncle, Lt Walter Bertram Wood, was a minor RFC ace. A small book was published after the war, by his grieving father, as a tribute to this man. Much of this was based on his letters home.

But he wrote an article for his Boy Scout magazine, and I have never been able to work out the details - and whether is was fact or fiction.

WBW describes a fight that took place on the 6th August 1917.

'The fight took place over the Ypres salient.... there were five of us on patrol... we dive on the boche... I make straight for the leader of their patrol.... I hear a faint pop, pop, pop and at the same time a number of small holes appear in my bottom planes. Jolly good shooting for he is still a 100 yards off.... I start turning, spinning, and diving away until I am behind him.... I get him in my sights.. Pop, pop, pop. About 20 rounds I fire at him. What's that? A small light appears in his machine. Hurrah! he's on fire. I have hit his petrol tank.

Now the whole machine is a mass of flames. Down it crashes and flaming pieces fall off during the descent. Poor beggar! I hope a bullet hit him first: but it can't be helped. C'est la guerre.

I watch him hit th eground, and turn to look for more Boche, but there is not a plane in the sky; so I point my machine home and am greeted by hand shakes and cheers. "Oh yes we saw the beggar go down in flames, so we came home."

"Anyone missing?" I ask.

"Oh yes, poor old C--- went down out of control."

"Ah well, I'm glad now that I got that blighter in flames," I reply.

"Let's have brekker."

And so ends a scrap. Next day all is forgotten, except that one of our chaps was killed, so woe betide the next lot of Huns we meet.'

Walter always claimed that he had 18 victories. But modern listings credit him with 13 victories. I can't work out when this fight took place, or who 'C' was. This fight took place before breakfast, and nearly all of Wood's claims, and those of 29 Sqn, appear to have taken place in the afternoon or early evening.

http://www.theaerodr...land/wood3.html shows the claims he is now credited with.

WBW left 29 Sqn immediately after his last claim, as he was then posted to Home Defence duties (it is a polite term for saying his nerves were shot). He was suffering from a bad case of flu, when he took up a new pilot to practice dog fighting and, apparently, passed out. His Camel crashed and WBW was killed on impact.

Any help/suggestions welcomed.

#2 katb



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Posted 24 September 2004 - 10:22 am

Just wondering whether you have cross referenced the date with 'The sky their battlefield'?

#3 Pete Wood

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Posted 24 September 2004 - 10:25 am

I have. Nothing adds up, though.

#4 BlackSeptember1918



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Posted 24 September 2004 - 12:05 pm

Maybe it was a bit of both Pete ?...I mean fact and fiction mixed together , maybe because he knew he was writting an article that young people would read and wanted to hear about amazing adventures , he put two story's together as one . Or possibly because of the battle fatigue , he accidently mixed two occasions together .
It seems interesting that the C type he claimed as a flamer was an early morning kill 0830 .
On the 6-7 August the Jasta War Chronology lists no claims - no losses .
But on the 9th you have Walter claiming an OOC at 1830 ( it's a C type though ) and also 29 Squadron lost a man to Obltn Dostler at 1855 . It was 2/lt HB Billings POW/DOW .
So perhaps it was a merging of 2 or more memories RT ?.